What is meant by the term semi-guided?
Our goal at ECI Outfitting is to let the hunter experience more than just the harvest of a deer. We don’t have meals or lodging, but we supply you with some of East Central Illinois best deer hunting land. As a deer hunter myself, I find scouting sign and setting up my stand as much fun as the hunt itself. There is something to be said for putting forth some effort for a great reward. Of course, when you are shown a piece of land to hunt you will be given all the scouting information that I have for that particular farm, which will then allow you to make YOUR best choice as to where to set up. If you are looking for a full service outfitter, who watches over your every move and waits on you hand and foot, then ECI is not for you. However, if you are a serious bowhunter looking for a trophy and want to participate in more than just the harvest of an animal, then you have come to the right place.
Will I see deer and will I harvest a deer?
The best way to answer this question is to establish what kind of hunter you are. Scent control, hunting pressure, patience, and, of course, luck are all factors when it comes to being successful on a deer hunt. I guarantee that there are deer on the property you will be on, however watching how and when you go to the stand is extremely important. If you tromp around in your tennis shoes or walk around during your hunt, you will be less likely to see a deer. The bottom line is, the more careful you are and the longer you sit on stand, the better your chances!
What hunting equipment do I need to bring with me on my hunt?
Typical bowhunting equipment is essential. Deer calls such as grunt tubes, rattling antlers, and doe bleat calls are very useful at the right time. A pull up rope, bow hangers, and range finders are also very handy to have. In terms of stands, I suggest ladder stands because of their easy set up. Hang-on stands and climbing stands can also be used, however the area we hunt does not have an over abundance of perfectly straight trees. Any other equipment questions you may have can be answered by calling ECI Outfitting and talking to Jonathan personally.
How much land does ECI Outfitting manage?
I have been managing about 2200 acres for 13 years. About 1400 acres of that land is in the outfitting program. The other 800 is not able to be used since other owners of that land prefer to hunt it. However, much of that land is connected to the ECI properties. The properties you will hunt are not one big chunk of land. Instead, they are broken up into 11 separate farms. Since I only plan to take a few hunters per week, this allows me to use a few farms, while leaving others unhunted for the following week. The properties range in size from 40 acres to 200 acres. Depending on the size of your group, the appropriate amount of land is assigned to you. If you are not seeing deer, you will be moved if you wish. My goal is to put as little pressure as possible on the land and at the same time put you on deer.
What do I need in terms of permits and licenses to hunt in Illinois with ECI Outfitting?
You should first contact Jonathan for available dates and accommodations. It is the responsibility of the hunter to secure an Illinois Hunting License, Habitat Stamp, and Tags before hunting in Illinois. For non-residents, there is an online application to be filled out for the State of Illinois at http://dnr.state.il.us/. Typically, there is a lottery drawing in June and if there are any left over permits, they are sold over the counter in August on a first come, first serve basis. Residents can simply get their tags over the counter. Proof that you have the required paperwork will be requested upon arrival.
What is the best time to come and hunt with ECI Outfitting?
There are obvious advantages to hunting with ECI Outfitting during the rut, often occurring the final week of October through the end of November. In some cases however, this is not the only time hunters will be successful. Many prefer to hunt in early Oct. while the deer are still in regular feeding patterns and have not yet experienced hunting pressure. We have also had success in the late season when the weather gets cold and there is some snow on the ground. We simply put our time in and scout to ensure our hunters will be on deer and have the opportunity they came for.
Are there any other services provided with the hunt?
I have a small bow shop at my house if you require work on your bow or arrows. I also have places you can shoot if you wish to check your equipment daily. There is a pole barn where deer can be hung until they can be transported home or to the processor. Unfortunately, I do not have a cooler or processing available, but there are ones available nearby for an additional cost. Taxidermy service is available for an additional cost.