Living The Lifestyle: Youth Turkey Hunt

At Base Camp Country, we believe that “It’s more than just dirt, it’s a lifestyle” and we live our motto every day. We believe that in order to grow the tradition and leave behind a lasting legacy, teaching the youth of America to hunt in a responsible, safe, and ethical manner is important.

Follow COO, Nathan Mrnak as he takes his daughter on her first Turkey hunt.

If you’re looking to have your own piece of land to live the outdoor lifestyle, contact our agents below!

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Covid-19: The Growing Value of Rural Land Ownership

The Impact of Covid-19 on Hunting and Outdoor Life

The most commonly used phrase for 2020 will likely be “social distancing”. If you are like us, we’re growing a little weary of reading it and hearing it everywhere we turn.  Mainly because of the impact it has had on all of us. Whether it be for the inconveniences of shopping and entertainment. Or for the air of uncertainty that it makes us all feel. But as the weather has made its annual turn, and spring has begun showing its renewing and refreshing effect on the dull and drab of late-winter, optimism and life abounds in our land! There has never been a better time than now for Rural Land Investment.


If you are reading this you are very likely an avid outdoor enthusiast. Spring season is absolutely a favorite time of year for folks like us. By getting outside we can be filled with anticipation, enjoying the fresh air, vibrant and bursting colors and the sounds of songbirds brought on by the welcomed sunshine and warming temperatures. Participating in your favorite outdoor activity this season should hold some extra special meaning.  Whether it be attempting to call in a gobbling turkey, looking for a big batch of morel mushrooms. Or fishing for crappies ,bass and beginning the next chapter of habitat improvement projects. There is no shortage of outdoor opportunities during this time of year.  We will all be extra thankful for our health and the opportunity to pursue our passions in the outdoors. In this great country that we are all blessed to live in.

Base Camp Country Difference

Base Camp Country Real Estate is focused on helping folks find their favorite place to be out in the country. We are talking to customers daily who have come to realize during this crisis, that re-connecting with the outdoors, often with their family, is of highest importance to them.  Slowing down, re-evaluating priorities, and longing to get back to a healthier, land-connected lifestyle is a trend that we feel is only just beginning.  Whether you are looking for a recreational tract for hunting, a large rural tract to build a new home or investing in quality farmland we are here to help you!

Why NOW is the right time for Rural Land Investment

A couple of the notable effects of a strong economy before these events took place were fantastic interest rates for buyers. With gas prices like we haven’t seen in a long time.  All the more reasons for folks to be “chomping at the bit” to get back to pursuing their passions.  Along with enjoying outdoors with their loved ones.  Maybe you are new to the prospect of owning your own land, expanding your current property. Or it has been a strong desire for years, there may never been a better time to get it done.  The recent stock market volatility has also had a negative effect on many 401k’s and portfolios. Land investments can provide a safe harbor for your money, enable memorable experiences with family and friends while creating a family legacy.


We understand land, the draw that it has, and the intrinsic value that it holds.  We know first-hand the enjoyment that comes and the memories that can be made.  Allow one of our land buying professionals to assist you in finding exactly what you are looking for.  Our team is trulyRural Land Investment Rural Land Investment professionals. Who more than happily represent buyers and sellers in safe and efficient transactions.  For Base Camp Country it truly is “More Than Just Dirt, It’s A Lifestyle.”

Base Camp Country Turkey Season Preview

Are you ready for Turkey season this year? Get pumped with a preview from Connor and Tom on their season!

Frost Seeding – When, How, and What

By: Patrick McFadden

Frost seeding is the surface placement of seed in late winter into early spring. The freeze-thaw-freeze-thaw cycle and spring rains establish proper quality seed to soil contact. This time of the year, the nighttime temperatures are below freezing and the daytime temperatures are above freezing, causing tiny cracks to form in the earth essentially working the seed into the soil. There is no need for disking or dragging and is an effective way to let Mother Nature do your dirty work, ultimately saving you time and money. Before you head out to frost seed, there are a few things you need to know


When should I frost seed? 

Timing can vary from year to year, depending on your location and how long Ole’ Man Winter hangs around. Generally, the best time to frost seed is when there are three to five remaining frosts. Seeding on a thin layer of melting snow is also a common practice.  


How do I Frost seed? 

Broadcasting seed with cyclone-type spreaders that are mounted on ATV’s, UTV’s, tractors, or hand spreaders are the most commonly used. Broadcasting clover seed into an established clover field or winter wheat are two very common methods.   


What should I frost seed and how much should I broadcast? 

Only a select few seeds work well. Species that germinate rapidly and are small hardy seeds work best; clover is the most common seed used in frost seeding. Red clover is the easiest to use due to its good vigor, shade and cold tolerance. A good second option would be ladino clover. Using a good mixture of clover is also a good option. Using properly inoculated seed, having the soil pH in the proper range, and good soil drainage is also needed to be successful. I normally use these seeding rates. Seed red clover at 4-8 pounds per acre, and ladino clover at 1-2 pounds per acre. If combined, seed 3-4 pounds of red clover plus 1-2 pounds of ladino clover per acre.  


Frost seeding is an effective, economical way to improve your food plot program; in fact, it may be one of the most cost effective and energy efficient seeding methods. Good quality seed and the proper conditions will yield great results. I have only mentioned the basics of frost seeding as always do your homework and pay attention to the details and you will be successful.  


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Timber Stand Improvement

By: Tom James, National Sales Manager, Base Camp Country

Timber Stand Improvement, or “TSI” for short, is an umbrella term used frequently by professional forestry consultants and woodland managers when discussing methods to improve the quality of a particular woodland property that essentially relies on one fundamental action.  That is the reduction or elimination of non-desirable species that are competing directly with the ones that we want to encourage.

The question most commonly asked by a professional consultant to a landowner would be “what is your primary objective for your woodlands, and what use is most important to you?” The 2 most common responses are “to maximize the marketable trees for optimum profits” and “to create the best and most attractive deer habitat as possible.”  The third and least common is to create an aesthetically pleasing (to the human eye), park-like atmosphere.  Luckily for us hunters and habitat managers the first 2 objectives can go hand in hand and complement each other nicely. Unfortunately the third objective results in a barren landscape, devoid of wildlife food and cover from the eventual maximized shading that a closed-canopy forest creates.  Luckily, the practices for optimizing marketable trees by eliminating competitive, low-value species does several things; It allows precious sunlight to the ground floor causing vigorous growth of nutritious forbs, weeds, and saplings, which conveniently double as ideal hiding and security cover for many wildlife species. It also releases water, sunlight and nutrients that would otherwise be used by competing trees to maximize the health and production of trees such as oaks and other mast producing species to put on good annual growth (maximizing market value) and produce high quality and quantity hard mast crops (maximizing wildlife attraction and sustenance).

So, when digging a little deeper into the methods for TSI, and more specifically, competition reduction, we find that there are a handful of commonly used successful practices. Although selective timber harvesting can actually be considered a form of Timber Stand Improvement when the action removes trees of a lower market grade, but still having some economic value, for purposes of this article we will be discussing the maintenance methods used in between timber harvests:

1.) Vine removal; This involves cutting wild grape and other vines by hand or by chainsaw that climb trees and over a period of time can successfully put such a burden on a desirable tree through shading and sheer weight that it weakens the host tree, stunting its growth and potentially killing it altogether. It’s also commonly recommended that the vine “stump” be treated with a herbicide such as Tordon to kill it and prevent it from sending out new sprouting vines.

2.) Girdling, Ringing, Hack and Squirt; These are all methods used to kill a standing tree without actually felling it.  The girdling or ringing method involves cutting a groove all the way around a tree well under the bark into the cambium layers where the transpiration occurs moving water up and nutrients down the tree.  Many consultants advise creating 2 rings one just above the other to ensure a thorough effective kill.  The hack and squirt method involves cutting a notch into that same tissue of the tree with a sharp hatchet in multiple places around the circumference and “squirting” in some herbicide that will be carried to the roots of the tree eventually killing it. There is also a hybrid method of girdling with a saw and introducing the herbicide into the fresh ring to achieve the same results.

3.)  Foliar and basal bark spraying; is the practice of spraying a herbicide on the actively growing foliage or applying it to the lower trunk area to introduce a killing chemical.  These practices are most commonly used on non-native, invasive brambles, shrubs and trees to eliminate them as quickly as possible. These invasive species are also mechanically removed by machinery if the situation allows.

4.) Finally we are to the method that this article was to focus on and that is Hinge Cutting.  This is the practice of cutting partially through a live, actively growing (most commonly competitive) tree and pushing or pulling it over to lay the trunk down horizontal to the ground. When done properly the tree will remain alive and retain its’ leaves and continue to send out new growth causing it to further “bush out.”  There are several benefits to doing this, the primary reason is that you have essentially eliminated this tree as being a competitor for sunlight to surrounding desirable trees, but now the tree has just created instant cover and possibly browse for the whitetail deer.  To encourage deer to move about under and among hinge-cut trees, the cut should be 4-6 feet above the ground.  This will allow enough space under the horizontal trunk to allow movement.  In certain situations where you want to influence deer to move a certain direction, the trees can be hinged much closer to the ground to create a fence or hedge effect.  It is very important to not cut any further through the trunk than necessary to ensure there is plenty of tissue to support the movement of water and nutrients up and down the remaining trunk. A tool used to hook and pull or push the tree over is invaluable as it is often impossible to push a larger tree over by hand with the lack of leverage the person cutting has. Then cutting the tree further to get it to tip over has greatly reduced its chance of survival.  A property that has undergone a well-executed hinge-cut operation will immediately become more attractive to the resident deer offering great security and escape cover.  Many trees offer desirable leaves, buds and twig ends that will also put a lot of food within reach where it wasn’t before.  But the additional benefit of now having more open canopy to allow the penetration of sunlight will cause an explosion of growth further enhancing the available food and cover on the ground.

Hinge cutting can be done with some very simple basic tools most importantly an easy to operate, light weight chainsaw with a good sharp chain.  The “top handle” professional types make this job a lot easier and effective. It doesn’t require a long bar either, something in the 14” range is ideal, but that is a matter of preference. As mentioned above the hooking tool is very important. A commercially available product available online is the “Habitat Hook”. Several models are available at varying prices. Please don’t forget the safety equipment! Chainsaw chaps to prevent accidental leg cuts when you’re tired or lose balance or control will help deter a serious accident. A hard hat with hearing protection is available everywhere and at farm supply stores and chain saw dealers. Safety glasses are also a must for not only preventing sawdust in the eyes but the constant barrage of twigs coming at your face when pulling over a hinged tree.  It is also a great idea to have a light weight dead-blow hammer and a couple of plastic tree felling wedges to encourage some of the more stubborn hinge-cut trees to go the direction you need them to fall.  Always work with a partner, and evaluate each tree and situation to be sure your action won’t cause a dead limb or a hung-up leaning tree to fall. This is a hugely necessary precaution.

Lastly, if you are new to tree identification it would be a very good idea to get the advice of a professional to help you target non-desirable species (and the good ones!) so that you don’t inadvertently do more damage than good by killing a crop of young mast and timber producing trees. Many species are difficult to identify when they are younger, but with a little guidance to get you started you will soon be able to recognize your targets and the desirables that you need to protect and release from competition.   For more information about hinge cutting and other ways you can improve the habitat and hunting potential on your property, check out the online resource “The Management Advantage” where we cover lots of relevant topics concerning land and wildlife management.

Get to Know: Rod Shepard

Get to know your West-Central Illinois Farm & Recreational Land Professional, Rod Shepard!

Rod was raised in North-Central Pennsylvania, where it all began and the seeds were planted for him to develop into an avid whitetail deer hunter. At the early age of eight, his father started taking him hunting, trapping and fishing. Like many hunters, Rod credits his father for introducing him to the outdoors and passing down his passion to pursue the whitetail deer. Little did he know at the time, not only would it become a passion, but rather an obsession.

Hunting is something he absolutely loves and has appreciated throughout the years. Upon retiring from a very successful 28 ½ year career with United States Army and moving to the Midwest, Rod has taken his passion for hunting to another level. He now has the time to correctly set-up the properties he’s planning to hunt; from running trail cameras, planting food plots, and strategically placing tree stands. Like any serious hunter, he truly enjoys the game of cat and mouse with a big mature buck.

Today, Rod says he’s very blessed to be able to work his dream job, where he now shares his passion for the outdoors with others, as his father did with him. While serving in the Army and having a father who raised him to firmly believe a handshake is just like a contract, there are two things he holds very close; honor and integrity. They are not only his foundation as a Land Professional, but his foundation in life. Rod resides in Central Illinois with his wife and their two daughters.

If you are considering selling or purchasing land, please contact Rod for a free and no obligation, professional consultation on the current land market. He is very experienced in land transactions and fully understands the gravity of any land sale or purchase. Rod will guide you from the beginning to the closing, ensuring your experience is an enjoyable and rewarding one.


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Improve Your Shooting in the Off-season With These Archery Tips

By Curt Myers – Western Illinois Recreational and Farm Land Professional

As an archery pro shop owner and avid hunter, I feel hunters simply do not practice enough, myself included. If you’re reading this article thinking it is going to be another one of “Dad’s Lectures” regarding how you should shoot your bow more, you’re right, and wrong. With some constructive criticism, I would like to give everyone some tips, pointers, tricks as well as things to try this off season to help you become a better shot. This may ultimately help to avoid the gut-wrenching agony of wounding or missing your target next fall.

For starters I would like to say there are no excuses as to why we cannot shoot more (i.e. I don’t have time, I’m too busy, It’s too late). In my opinion there is always time, we just have to make a point to put in the work. Although it may not be in the cards for all of us, practicing at home if available is the easiest. If shooting at home is an option, take 10 minutes to make 10 great shots. I would rather see a person take a dozen shots that feel good while hitting their mark over an individual who find themselves twenty shots in causing the loss of strength from spraying arrows. Doing so is not only devastating for your muscle memory it can ultimately cause you to create bad habits (i.e., poor form and shot placement) plummeting your confidence into the dirt.

If shooting at home is not an option, try joining a league at your local pro shop this winter. For years, the highlight of my week was going to Crooked Creek Outdoors (here in my hometown of Macomb, IL.) to shoot with my buddies! The comradery, the razzing, the fellowship that is involved in joining a league is something I miss doing and hope to get back into this year. I am admitting my own faults here, but also have targets at my house to shoot. If you are one of those people that say you aren’t a “paper puncher,” I would like to hear your reasons as to why. Maybe you don’t like shooting paper targets because you fear the outcome.  Perhaps, shooting paper exposes some target panic, or other minute flaws that you have. If any of these are the reasons, embrace them and learn from them! Shoot in a league this winter and get over that target panic or fix slapping the trigger. Not only can you work on your shooting it also keeps you mindful of the proper care and upkeep of your equipment.  Just remember complacency will come back to haunt you.  You do not want to find as hunting season approaches the excitement quickly fading because your bow string has mysteriously broken.  Had you been practicing and properly maintaining your equipment, more than likely, this would not have occurred.

Off- season shooting keeps us in tune with our equipment and techniques.  If you pick up your bow next September and your group is eight inches high and four inches right, you’re not doing something that you were doing last year. Immediately you start to wonder what is wrong, which is not a confidence booster. This winter I encourage you to take that leap and committing to your passion. I don’t know about everyone, but I know I personally put a lot of time and effort into hunting. Shooting is something that a lot of people take for granted. It takes the smallest effort and the least amount of effort. Yet can cause you the biggest heartache of your life. Don’t get me wrong, don’t think that shooting year around will solve all your problems. If you hunt with a bow long enough, things will happen, you will miss, you will wound a deer. It’s the nature of the beast. As an archery hunter we owe it to not only ourselves but to the animals we are hunting to make a quick, clean, ethical harvest.

In closing I would like to give some tips that I have found useful over my years of shooting. Comfort is the biggest thing. If the bow is not the right draw length, you are sacrificing accuracy. If you feel a little scrunched and find yourself “leaning to your string” your draw length could need extended. If you feel a little over extended or have to lean your head back to get your anchor, your draw length could be too long. A good tip for proper draw length is to grab a buddy and have them stand behind you while drawing your bow. If your rear arm is not in a straight line with the string coming off the top cam, you could potentially have a draw length issue. If you experience this, take it to your local shop and have them take a look at it. After comfort comes mechanics. If you have poor mechanics, there is no way to get consistent impact on the target.  Slapping the trigger, target panic, inconsistent anchor and sight alignment are all intricate parts of your form. If they are not consistently executed, they can throw your shot placement off by six inches or more. Any multitude of the above mistakes while you’re at full draw on your target buck, could possibly make your worst nightmare become reality.

Practicing all year around keeps you in tune, your mechanics fresh, and always striving for perfection to be a great shot. Muscle memory is also key in archery. We all have a checklist we go through when drawing our bow. My personal list is as follows: “Anchor, knuckle right behind the jawbone with the kisser button in the corner of the mouth. Concentrate on peep alignment with the sight housing, check the level while finding the correct pin for yardage. Next, settle the pin on a spot, when the pin settles squeeze until the shot goes off.” Make your own checklist and go through it every time you pull the bow back. Burn it into your brain, take hundreds of shots while executing your checklist. Say it out loud in the beginning if you need to. Shoot everyday if you can, it will only benefit you. When the weather gets nice, round up some buddies and go hit a 3D shoot. Be competitive, be confident. As the sun’s setting, you’re the only person to blame when the shot hits where the pin wasn’t!


Thanks, and don’t forget to support your local archery/pro shops!!!


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reflective pond on a piece of hunting land

How to Find: Hunting Land

By: Patrick McFadden

Perfect Land

What is the perfect hunting land property and what should I know before I purchase? There are so many variables in that question but also many similarities. What you consider the perfect hunting property may be 100% different from what I consider a perfect property. However, these things should be considered before purchasing your – proverbial slice of heaven.



What can you afford? Not what can you borrow, what can you afford? Purchasing land, regardless of whether it is 10 acres or 1000 acres, may be one of the largest investments you will ever make. Defining your budget before your search begins is an essential factor to predetermine. Finding a piece of property that you love but cannot afford will force you to compare affordable properties with those out of reach. This could make you think the affordable property is mediocre. Which could make you may miss an opportunity on a great affordable property. Be honest with yourself and set a budget for what you can afford. However, if the idea of owning is too daunting, leasing a hunting property is now easier than ever.


Potential Herd Quality/Deer Hunting

Can the property produce and hold quality deer? Most individuals cannot own enough land for deer to live exclusively on their property. I prefer to have quality land to quantity. You do not need to own a whole section of land to produce quality bucks. Ideally, you need good habitat, oaks and hardwoods, bedding opportunities, water, and a year-round food source. Deer cannot live by food alone; water is essential, and properties with ponds, creeks, rivers and springs are a haven for deer and other wildlife. Swamp and marsh areas can also provide water, as well as cover for deer hunting . Having a 20 acre tract or smaller in the right location may pay big dividends. Personally, I killed my largest buck on a 15 acre wooded parcel surrounded by agriculture fields. Remember quality over quantity!



Do the surrounding landowners actively manage their own hunting land? The old saying, good fences make good neighbors is true. However, it is critical to build good relationships with your neighbors. You may want to try and work together on a management plan. Harvesting mature bucks is usually a collaborate effort with neighboring property owners. The ideal situation would be that you and your neighbors work together. Which will allow deer to reach maturity or take “management” bucks to remove bad genetics. Usually three years of good deer management can and will completely change and improve the quality of deer seen.


Hunting Land Accessibility

Accessibility is another key factor. When I am looking at properties I think, where do I park, can I get equipment in and out, is there an established trail system, prevailing wind direction, will I be able to get to the stand locations undetected, drive time to and from the property, and the availability of nearby supplies. All of these factors and more should play a big part in your decision to purchase.


Before you decide to put in an offer on a property, investigate the surrounding landowners and try to meet them. Use all of your resources to research the property, topography maps and the local county GIS page will allow you to see the property and its demographics. Walk the property with a qualified land specialist and ask many questions. A qualified land specialist should be able to tell you the soil quality, approximate timber value, property tax burden, assessed value, etc. Write your questions down and ask them, remember this is a big investment and you do not want any surprises or disappointments.

It’s no secret that owning your own hunting land gives you the freedom to manage the deer on the property as you see fit: plant food plots, plant or cut trees, let the young bucks walk, choose who you let hunt, set your stands wherever you want — the list goes on. There is also the added bonus of having the property during the off-season; perfect for camping, hiking, small game hunting, fishing, and family excursions. Before you purchase do your homework and do not settle for a property you really do not want! Be patient, save your money, and you will own your slice of heaven and Base Camp Country Real Estate can help you find it!


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Top 5 Ways to Get The Most Return on Your Investment Property

Maximizing Your Return on Investment

Whether your land is mainly used for farming, timber, or recreation there are plenty of ways to get a higher return on your investment for your properties. Besides the obvious ways to make money of off your land like timbering your woods or farming your tillable land, here are our top 5 ways to get the most return on your investment property!


1. Leasing The Hunting Rights

Depending on your specific property’s details you may be able to lease the exclusive hunting rights to your property and make some yearly income on your land. Our friends at Base Camp Leasing have been in the business of helping landowners lease the hunting rights to their property for over 20 years! They will have an experienced leasing agent inspect your property for what they call the “huntable” acreage of your land and find a fair market value for the exclusive hunting rights based on the leasing price of similar properties in your area.


2. Leasing The Farming Rights

Crop leases are another great way to let your property make money for you. If you are not a farmer yourself and have land that would be good for agriculture, your neighbors who farm may be interested in leasing the agricultural rights to your property to plant and harvest crops. Ag Leases are a very DIY process and will most likely require some sort of lawyer to make sure everything is on the up and up but they can be mutually beneficial for everyone when done right. You can find more on AG leases from The National Agricultural Law Center.


3. Grazing Rights

If you don’t like the idea of having your fields planted every year, another type of Ag lease is a grazing rights lease. If your neighbors have livestock, then those livestock need somewhere to graze and a neighboring farm is the perfect spot for those farmers who might not have enough land themselves or for those who want to expand the amount of livestock they raise and don’t have the option to buy more land. If you know that your neighbors are raising livestock and you are interested in leasing the grazing rights, reach out to them and see if they are interested! It could be another win-win situation!


4. Wind Leases

You’ve probably been driving down the interstate and seen the giant windmills generating electricity, but had you thought about how they got there? Energy companies will pay you to lease the land that the turbines are erected on and it is a great way to make some passive income. If you don’t mind looking at giant wind turbines out your window, this is a great way to earn a better return on your investment!


5. Solar Leases

Another alternative to traditional leases for land is a solar lease. With the cost of solar energy equipment dropping in recent years, many energy companies are investing more of their time and money in solar. They are always looking for land to lease and if you have large amounts of land that you don’t farm that is open to the sun, your property could be a perfect fit! Check out this Renewable Energy Reading Room for more info.


While not every option listed above is a good fit for every landowner and every plot of land, you can do even more research on the ones that pique your interest! When it comes to making a final decision, make sure you are sure and have talked to other landowners who have made similar agreements. The more research you do on these topics, the better off you will be as these are major decisions on your properties.

If you are looking to buy or sell property, you can fill out the form below and one of our experienced land professionals can help get you started on the right path!

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