Every hunter knows that the most crucial factor in making or marring any deer hunting expedition is the location. When mapping out a deer hunt, hunters need to make an essential decision of determining a model location.
However, selecting a proper hunting location with less competition and greater whitetail density is challenging. Thus, to help all the seasoned and beginner level hunters, we present this curated list of best deer hunting States to help you plan your trip.
We would also like to mention that these States have promising public land opportunities, easy license availability, economic tags, and trophy potential. If these factors noted above titillate you, we suggest jumping right into our first State listed in the article.
Wisconsin is our first preferred hunting State, with more than seven million pure public hunting land acres. Affordability and the sheer number of prize-winning deer are two of the many gold reasons to visit Wisconsin.
The State is easily the top producer of B&C-ranked whitetails, and its vast public land grows some of the best-in-class bucks for hunters visiting from various States. According to our experience, any hunter willing to research and go out of their way to out-hunt during the trip can surely bag big bucks.
Furthermore, Wisconsin’s Buffalo County has earned the #1 rank for all-time typicals and #2 for non-typicals. Additionally, the State’s 22 counties are in the United State’s top 50 counties for typical entries.
When it comes to the deer population, North American Whitetail’s report suggests a minimum of 33 deer per square mile. Similarly, according to the Deer Association’s NDA Deer Harvest Report, the Antlered buck harvest in 2019 was near 138,297, meaning the yield per hundred hunters was roughly around 22 deer.
Therefore, if you wish to hunt a big buck, consider visiting America’s Dairyland to hunt your fair share of prize-winning deer.
Although Kentucky has a one-buck-per-year state policy, hunters worldwide swarm here to showcase their skills and take home a buck. You can easily hunt in half a dozen counties in the Bluegrass state to bag a big buck.
Apart from the policy, hunters can take as many antlerless deer as possible in the famous Zone 1. If you prefer bow hunting, their bow season usually starts from September 2 and ends around January 15, which gives bow hunters ample time to scour and hunt a magnificent deer.
The deer population of this State is near 900,000, with an approximate 23 deer per square mile. The outright population ratio makes Kentucky one of the most renowned States with the highest deer density.
That said, the public lands can indeed feel a little stuffy compared to private land. The Average Deer-to-License Ratio in Kentucky is 4.2: 1. In 2019, the antlered buck harvest was 70,362, with a minimum of 20 bucks per hundred hunters.
Moreover, the State ranks #8 for non-typicals under all time entries since 2008.
Thus, Kentucky can be an excellent hunting location for your upcoming deer hunt with extensive hunting public lands, reasonably friendly regulations, and long-lasting hunting seasons.
If you’ve been researching States for a while, you must already know Illinois’s massive share in terms of popularity amongst the hunting community. This State is truly an exciting place to initiate your deer hunting expedition.
Illinois’ ‘Golden Triangle,’ consisting of Pike, Brown, and Adams county, are three of the most legendary deer hunting spots for bowhunters. With that, we would like to mention that the State is exceptional for bowhunters who are interested in giant and healthy whitetails.
Its considerably long archery season enables the bowhunters to scout, hunt, bag, and bring home a big buck. Many hunters believe that the early muzzleloader seasons help hunters get all the deer in the initial period.
However, since the gun hunting season is smaller than bow hunting, we believe that muzzleloader seasons give plenty of time for bow hunters. Despite the time discrepancies, Illinois provides quality deer for hunters irrespective of the weapon choice.
Bureau County and Fulton County are incredibly high up in the prestigious list of ‘Top counties for typical B&C ranked bucks.’ The deer population of this State roughly reaches around 850,000. In 2019 the antlered buck harvest crossed 71,186, wherein the antlered buck harvest per hundred hunters was 29.
If you are interested in hunting big whitetail bucks, the Land of Lincoln is undoubtedly an awe-inspiring location worth exploring. Thanks to the State’s credible wildlife management, hunters can enjoy reliable deer hunting without causing any steep decline in its population.
Ohio, without any doubt, has proven time and again that it’s one of the most promising States to hunt deer, especially if you are looking for a royally big score.
Much like Maryland, Ohio is relatively known for its velvet whitetails. Like Illinois, bowhunters in Ohio have a more significant advantage than gun hunters. The bow season usually starts before the rut and lasts for many months, while the gun season, on the other hand, starts post-rut.
Another thing worth noting is Ohio’s hunting policy. Hunters have to follow their one deer bag limit irrespective of the season and hunting type.
So to get the best out of any Ohio-based hunting trip, consider aiming for a big game worth your time. We recommend the Woodbury Wildlife Area; a public hunting space spread across 20,000 acres.
The deer population of this State crosses 800,000. Moreover, since 2008, Ohio has been ranked #1 for non-typical and #3 for typical entries.
Since 2010 skillful hunters have logged 370 bucks that made into the list of ‘B&C’s minimum score for non-typical and typical whitetails.’ Lastly, in 2019, the antlered buck harvest of Ohio was 80,138, with approximately 17 bucks per 100 hunters. Ohio is a fascinating spot for hunting either trophy kill or simply a freezer full of meat.
Iowa is famous for producing some of the best monster bucks available in the United States. The State flaunts over 450,000 acres of public land open to hunters; thus, people bear an excellent chance to hunt down a big one.
Hunters worldwide have killed approximately 264 B&C- qualifying bucks in Iowa since 2010. We recommend hunting in and around Allamakee and Clayton counties, as they rank #21 and #35 on the list – top counties for typical B&C deer over the last decade.
Even grounds near Winneshiek, Warren, Davis, and Decatur counties have a reasonable rate of whitetail bucks. The deer population of this State is nearly 400,000, which isn’t much, but since the hunter’s density is less, you have a high chance of making your hunting trip worthwhile.
In 2019 the antlered buck harvest was 44,093, with approximately 26 antlered bucks per hundred hunters.
However, hunters must note that Iowa follows a tag lottery system, wherein the hunting tags are always allocated via lottery. In addition, non-residents must accrue preference points before they get a chance to draw a tag.
The accruing process alone can easily take up to 3 to 4 years which may not be the most feasible plan for most non-resident hunters. But if you can manage overcoming the tag system, Iowa is truly a paradise for big antlers.
Your next location worth considering is the ‘Land of 10,000 Lakes’. Despite the lakes taking up a considerable chunk of acreage, Minnesota still has ample public land open to buck hunters.
Hunters can snag any medium-sized buck in all counties of the Minnesota state. However, if you long to take home a big buck, we recommend focusing on the northern half-section. The north land’s success rates are relatively high for big buck hunting.
In the past decade alone, hunters have managed to hunt more than 200 large bucks in the northern Minnesota regions. If you plan to target the south, we suggest visiting the southeastern part that borders Wisconsin.
In 2019 the State saw a harvest of antlered bucks numbering up to 97,960. Thus, in comparison, every hundred hunters had 21 antlered deer. Furthermore, the entire deer population of Minnesota ranges near a solid golden 1 million mark. We recommend Minnesota for hunters that live in the nearby State and wish to hunt at a safe spot with assured results.
One thing we can indeed say about Missouri is the State’s abundant buck population. The population of deer roughly reaches around 1.3 million, while its lower hunting population ensures that each hunter brings home a healthy and big game.
A total of 210 bucks taken from Missouri has made it into various lists and books since 2010. Counties like Lincoln, Chariton, St. Charles, Worth, and Miller are among the most sought-after locations for big buck hunting.
Missouri stands tall at #7 for non-typical B&C qualified entries and #8 for typical ones. In 2019, the State harvested 134,092 antlered bucks with an average ratio of 27 deer per hundred hunters.
Before sketching out your plan, hunters must remember that Missouri is a two-buck state. In addition to the restriction, one of the two bucks needs to be compulsorily taken with archery gear.
Not to mention the strict antler-point limitation (a minimum of four points per side at least) that every hunter must follow. However, the good part is that non-residents can easily hunt in Missouri without going through any tedious lottery process for drawing a tag.
Like in Iowa, non-resident hunters need to apply for a tag lottery. Additionally, the preference points to getting access to the tag may add up to another few years. However, we have noticed that it isn’t hard to draw a tag compared to Iowa.
We recommend planning out for a few years as good locations in Kansas will surely take some time. Once hunters cross the tag lottery system, they have acres of public land open to hunters via the landowner-access programs.
Since 2010 resident and non-resident hunters have tracked and brought home nearly 239 whitetails that made entries into the B&C’s book.
Even counties like Riley and Lyon have an astounding number of buck entries made into the book over the last decade. With a deer population of 650,000, the State’s Deer-to-License ratio is 5.0:1.
The Land of Oz does an excellent job regulating the number of deers per hunter. We can vouch that the hunting presure in Kansas is pretty lower than it is in Wisconsin.
While Kansas may not be on every hunter’s deer hunting list, it is one of the best lesser-known States for whitetail deer hunting with a less hunting population.
Every seasoned hunter can agree that the Lone Star State is a mecca for deer hunters around the United States. If you are eyeing a trophy whitetail, you need to shell some money and get into Texas ranches.
Another positive benefit to hunting on a Texas ranch is the added opportunity to pursue other animals such as whitetail does, javelinas, and pigs. However, the overall experience with Texas ranches can be a bit pricey because of its exclusivity.
With a vast 1.6 million acres of public land available and over 5.4 million whitetail deer spread across Texas, hunters can bag a great deer on public lands too.
The Texas state ranks an impressive #9 for typical entries and #11 for non-typical entries. The approximate antlered buck harvest per hundred hunters is a satisfying 62 bucks.
It is truly a haven for both novice and professional hunters with multitudes of geographical ecosystems, vast numbers of bucks, and an enormous landmass.
With Texas, we have come to an end of our best deer hunting States list.
However, before leaving, we highly recommend hunters to divulge into the basic rules of the selected hunting state, its hunting pressure, study the population statistics, and consider the QDMA practices. Lastly, the States mentioned above are ideal for both veterans and beginner-level hunters.
How many of these excellent deer hunting States made it into your next deer hunting expedition’s list?