Best Deer Hunting States
The 2017 deer hunting season is just around the corner, and if you’re an avid hunter of whitetail deer you’d probably like to know where you have the best chances of bagging that trophy buck. We’ve done the legwork for you and compiled our list of the top 10 best places to hunt deer in the United States. We based our ratings on the following criteria:
- Access to land
- Cost to hunt
- Deer population
- Ease of obtaining license
- Harvests per hunter
- Hunter density
- License cost
- Reputation of area
- Trophy potential
If you love to hunt deer and are willing to travel to the best deer hunting spots in the United States, consider the following 10 locations for your next hunting destination.
The quality of whitetail hunting in Georgia has increased greatly over the years. While you’re less likely to tag a Booner here than in other states, the overall deer harvest numbers are incredibly high, the age structure of harvested bucks is good, the buck density is high, and over three percent of the state is open to public hunting. These factors, combined with a high hunter success rate, earns Georgia the 10th spot on our list.
Everything is bigger in Texas, including the whitetail deer hunting. Hunters in the Lone Star State kill more bucks than in any other by a huge margin, and 60% of those bucks were 3 1/2 years old or older. Texas also ranks second in antlerless harvest numbers, and from 2005 to 2010 ranked 10th for most Boone & Crockett entries with 132. Combine these factors with the almost 1.6 million acres of public hunting land available, and it seems as if Texas hunters have a good thing going.
For many whitetail hunters, seeing Iowa outside the top three of any list of top whitetail destinations is pure heresy. There is, however, a good reason for ranking Iowa number eight on my list.
Only a few states have more B&C entries than Iowa; Iowa also offers a 0.078% chance of harvesting a Booner, making it fourth best in the nation in that category. Those who hope to hunt in Iowa, however, have to apply and hope that they are drawn. Out-of-state license fees are high, and hunting on an out-of-state license restricts you to certain parts of the state. So while Iowa may be the land of giants, only a privileged few get to hunt there.
Kansas has grown accustomed to being near the top of any “best whitetail destinations” list, and for good reason. Kansas ranks sixth in Boone & Crockett entries and, statistically-speaking, Kansas offers the third best chance of any state to kill such a buck.
Kansas, however, suffers from the same condition as Iowa. While the monster bucks are certainly there, the problem is getting to them. Only 420,000 acres, or 0.8% of its total area, are open to public hunting (Michigan, for example, has over 7.3 million acres of public hunting land). Also, while the state’s lottery system for deer tags seems to offer a better chance at being drawn than Iowa, the cost of a guided or a private land hunt can be out of this world.
While the Sunflower State may be a top destination if your goal is to kill a record-book whitetail, it appears it can be costly.
Indiana is another Midwestern state making my list simply because no other state offers a better chance at taking a record book whitetail per square mile. Hunting here offers a .084% chance a taking a Booner, which is better than any other state in the country.
Indiana is also in the top ten for total B&C entries over the last 10 years, and despite a fair amount of pressure, hunters enjoy a 50% success rate. These factors, combined with a respectable amount of public land available, earn Indiana a number six spot on our list.
Illinois is a state that produces trophy bucks. Illinois has almost 200 bucks entered into the Boone & Crockett books from 2010 to now, the fifth most of any state. While some states on our list scored highly in one or two categories, Illinois did fairly well in several. The anterless harvest is large, the pressure is high but no more so than many other states, there is a reasonable amount of public land available, and as mentioned before, the trophy production is through the roof. If you have the opportunity, hunt Illinois.
Ohio produces some big trophy bucks and respectively is third in the Boone & Crockett books from 2010 to now. With an estimated high whitetail population, reasonably priced licenses, and plenty of public land to hunt, Ohio is a quality hunting destination and could easily be in the top 3 of our list.
Wisconsin is quite the destination for big deer with more Boone & Crockett entries than any other state. The state has nearly 6 million acres of public land with a commercial forest program that allows public hunting access to private lands enrolled in that program. Because of that, Wisconsin is a terrific DIY state. Not only that but also the non-resident tags are affordable. It’s hard to beat that price and that is why Wisconsin ranks number three on this list.
Missouri is prime ground to hunt producing big deer year after year. The trophy potential is huge, there’s an amazing amount of public land available, the pressure is reasonable and with 38% of the buck harvest being 3 1/2 years old or older, the state’s deer herd appears to have a healthy age structure.
If you’re planning on hunting the Midwest this year, don’t overlook Missouri.
The Bluegrass state seems to have it all. Trophy bucks, long seasons with friendly regulations, reasonable pressure, a large, healthy, and well-balanced herd (in some portions of the state hunters can harvest as many does as they are wiling to buy tags for), and lots of public land with trophy potential. In fact, the deer pictured above scored 246 3/8 inches, and was killed on public hunting land. Kentucky ranks second only to Indiana in likelihood of harvesting a Booner (0.082%), and all of these factors combined are enough to earn Kentucky the number one spot on our list of top 10 places to hunt whitetail.
So what do you think is the best states to hunt in?
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