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KC's Corner

IL Deer Classic “Indefinitely Suspended”

Wed, August 30, 2017

From Field & Stream, the promoters of the Illinois show…

Effective immediately, the Illinois Deer & Turkey Expo will be indefinitely suspended. There are too many variables preventing it from being as successful as our other markets. We spent an unprecedented amount of marketing dollars, had top notch press coverage, great speakers and attractions at this year’s show. If you live in Central Illinois you could not escape our marketing for weeks leading up to this year’s event. Despite these monumental efforts we only saw a minor increase in attendance over 2016 and not enough return on investment for us and our exhibitors.

Attendees ranked their experience largely as a positive experience according to our exit surveys. Many people commented on how high quality our exhibitor mix was. Some vendors in certain categories said they even had one of their best shows ever. The 2017 show was high quality but without enough people coming through the gate to make it viable long term.

The forced facility closure in Bloomington (2010) resulted in the subsequent path of unavoidable facility and date moves. Without a large centrally located facility in mid-February it’s difficult, no matter how large the market, to recreate the glory days of 22,000 attendees.


Thats too bad.  I haven’t went in a few years but enjoyed it whenever I made it.  Once they left Springfield it was harder to justify the time commitment and cost to make the drive up.

Posted by buckbull on August 30

It was pretty bad this year.  Not too many vendors and probably 50 to 75 deer heads at most.  I talked to one of the vendors and he said it was horrible and the time I was there (Saturday afternoon) was the busiest it had been and it wasn’t too busy.  I told me buddies I think that year was the last year I would drive down from Chicago for it.  While I liked the July date because the season is right around the corner, I think the mid winter dates were best for attendance.

Posted by Bigb on August 30

I dont think many people remember when the hunting in this state was reflected at the classic.  20 years ago there were more net boone 8 pointers than there are booners.  You would go and there would be 500 deer at the classic.  Its been a shame watching the results of our DNRs stupidity ruin this show.

Posted by clintharvey on September 01

I’m afraid to say the DNR has less to do with demise of the deer classic than outfitters and property leasing did. No one wants to bring in their trophies to advertise their properties. I stopped bringing them when I caught a guy writing my name and county on a note pad and it wasn’t Jeff .

Posted by chrismaring on September 01

ChrisMaring, You buddy just hit the nail on the head! Most big deer taken now are kept top secret. And for good reasons.

Posted by WhitetailFreak on September 01

Couldn’t agree more with Chris!!!  I know IL scorers who have quit because they realized the record books make it too easy for the NR and wealthy hunters to come in and consume the top counties.

There are so many resources now that you can easily narrow down where a deer was “likely” killed.  All you need is a name and a county.

Posted by bw on September 04

Thank you, Chris.  I’ve been saying the same thing ever since hunters on this and other sites have been bemoaning fewer Illinois deer showing up at shows.  Several commented that I was wrong, but I think not. 
I know a guy who’s big deer made a local paper and a weekend or two later he was being followed every time he left the house.  He surmised what was going on and just rode country roads for the weekend, periodically stopping along good areas and sticking a pipe out the window. Guess the lurker thought he was a road hunter or figured out he was made and didn’t come back.

Posted by riverrat47 on September 04

Riverrat47, I understand the issue with people following hunters around. I was blessed with a couple nice bucks and now I have a regimen of changing trucks, hunting away from home and trying to tie up ground because most of the time I have treestands on both sides of my sets. This is counter productive for me and the hunters following me.

Posted by chrismaring on September 04

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