Earlier than you may discuss in regards to the nation’s finest deer searching states, you want to slim the phrases a little bit. There are three species (and practically 50 subspecies) of deer on this nation, in any case. So, for starters, we’re going to slim this to one of the best whitetail searching states. (Don’t fear, we’ll cowl large muleys in a separate article.)

Then there’s the query of what constitutes “finest”—numbers of deer, public entry, low-cost tags? Nicely, we figured when you’re going journey to hunt whitetails, why not dream large. Antlers aren’t all the pieces, and, in fact, you may have an absolute blast deer searching with out ever incurring a taxidermy invoice. However for a lot of whitetail geeks tagging, or not less than having a official shot at a mature buck is an enormous a part of the fun. So, we analyzed the Pope & Younger (P&Y) and Boone & Crockett (B&C) document books, in addition to info from the Nationwide Deer Affiliation (NDA) and state companies to assemble this record (in no specific order) of one of the best whitetail searching states for taking a wall-hanger. So take a look and begin dreaming—and possibly planning.

Desk of Contents

  • Mississippi
  • Ohio
  • Kentucky
  • Oklahoma
  • Indiana 
  • Missouri
  • Wisconsin
  • Illinois 
  • Pennsylvania
  • Iowa 
  • Texas
  • Kansas 

The 12 Finest Deer Searching States for Huge Whitetails 

1) Mississippi

Mississippi is house to some giants. Joshua Bruce
  • Estimated deer inhabitants: 1.75 million
  • Variety of deer hunters: 288,000
  • Public land: 2 million acres, between state WMAs and federal areas.
  • B&C: Typical: 48, nontypical: 47
  • P&Y: Typical: 654, nontypical: 22

Mississippi as a deer-hunting state is just not solely well-established however on the rise. It has been ranked as one of many prime states for tagging a buck 3½ years previous or older for a number of years by the Nationwide Deer Affiliation (NDA) (79 % of greenbacks had been within the harvest in 2020). And success on antlerless deer borders on the ridiculous, with 81 does killed per 100 hunters afield. Whereas Mississippi isn’t a heavy hitter within the B&C or P&Y document books, what’s notable is that a lot of the prime entries are latest bucks. The state’s prime P&Y nontypical (236-⅛ inches, Tracy Laird) was killed in 2003 and the highest typical (181-2/8 inches, Earl Stubblefield) in 2016. Nearly all of the top-ten bow-killed bucks in every class have come throughout the final decade. And when you ever doubt Mississippi’s potential, contemplate Tony Fulton’s 295-6/8-inch large, which has remained because the state nontypical document and #9 B&C nontypical since 1995.   

2) Ohio

  • Estimated deer inhabitants: 680,000
  • Variety of hunters: 388,000 (bought permits)
  • Public land: 651,000 acres
  • P&Y: Typical: 4,247, nontypical: 404
  • B&C: Typical: 724, nontypical: 488

Not solely is the Buckeye State included in any dialogue of prime whitetail states, however making a powerful case for Ohio being the finest is just not arduous. Along with having a powerful deer herd, lengthy and cherished searching custom, and stable entry to good whitetail floor, hunter success is excessive, with 59 does killed per 100 hunters (one of the best within the Midwest, in accordance with the NDA). Plus, Buckeye State buck hunters have been shaking up the document books for many years. Want proof? Each the state document bow-kill typical (Tim Reed, 198-⅜ inches) and nontypical (Mike Beatty, 294 inches) whitetails are ranked #3 within the P&Y e book. Ohio has led all states for nontypical B&C entries in recent times, and their top-end bucks are unbelievable; even when you throw out the 328-2/8-inch Gap-in-the-Horn buck (discovered, 1940), second place goes to Jonathan Schmucker’s 295-⅜-incher, and it takes a 255-inch buck to crack the state’s Prime Ten. On the lookout for an enormous typical? Brad Jerman’s 201-⅛-i nch buck (2004) is ranked #13 in B&C, it takes a 188-inch typical to sneak into the state’s prime ten—and each a type of bucks has been recorded since Jerman killed his large.  

3) Kentucky

  • Estimated deer inhabitants: 900,000-plus
  • Variety of hunters: 300,000
  • Public land: 521,228 acres
  • P&Y: Typical: 1,507, nontypical: 166
  • B&C: Typical: 795, nontypical: 380

One other state with a powerful deer-hunting custom, Kentucky has produced top-end bucks in latest historical past. No less than a part of the Bluegrass State’s contribution to the document books comes from its one-buck restrict; whereas the state’s whitetailers can kill as much as 4 deer per yr, just one is usually a authorized buck. Because of its early-September opener, Kentucky is arguably one of the best place to kill a whopper velvet buck and the P&Y books (which embrace a particular velvet class) record 19 nontypical and 165 typical entries from the state on this class, together with a 248-⅛-inch monster (Weston Cartwright, 2012) and 181-⅜-inch typical (Martin McGinnis, 2021). However Kentucky isn’t any slouch in producing B&C entries, with two nontypicals over 270 inches and the state typical document, #7 all-time (Robert Smith, 2000) topping the 200-inch mark with 4 inches to spare. 

4) Oklahoma

Photo showing why Oklahoma is on our list of best deer hunting states
Oklahoma has flown below the radar for some time, however it’s house to some large bucks. Connor Webb
  • Estimated deer inhabitants: 750,000
  • Variety of hunters: 460,000
  • Public land: 1.7 million acres
  • P&Y: Typical: 770, nontypical: 104
  • B&C: Typical:112, nontypical: 151

Bordered by extra well-known neighbors Texas and Kansas, Oklahoma flew below everybody’s radar for a few years—till it grew to become not possible to disregard. With over 100 P&Y nontypicals–the highest ten of which had been all killed since 2000–and a state-record buck nearly as good as they arrive (Travis Ocker’s 245-2/8-inch whopper, tagged in 2016), the Sooner State is a bowhunter’s dream. General administration is great, because the NDA stories 83 % of harvested bucks are 3½ years previous or older—a stat that leads the nation in that class. Much more thrilling is the quantity of public land alternatives, which embrace state WMA’s (some managed for high quality deer), nationwide forests, and Military Corps of Engineers’ floor. 

5) Indiana

  • Estimated deer inhabitants: 680,000
  • Hunter numbers: 220,000
  • Public land: 502,000 acres
  • P&Y: Typical: 3,407 nontypical: 284
  • B&C: Typical: 604, nontypical: 345

Some whitetail geeks weren’t paying a lot consideration to the Hoosier State. However Dustin Huff corrected that in an enormous means final November when he shot the #2 B&C typical of all time within the state’s southeast nook. The 211-4/8-inch large is the very best netting typical ever killed within the U.S., and the buck shined a highlight on Indiana’s stable–and rising–presence within the document books. Over 3,000 typicals have flooded the P&Y books from Indiana, and it takes a 190-inch buck to crack the Prime Ten B&C typicals. Like a trashy rack? Rex Millspaugh’s 259-2/8-inch (2020) heads the state’s P&Y entries, and Timothy Beck’s 303-⅞-inch (2012) is eighth on B&C’s all-time record. With a decent quantity of public land, a one-buck restrict, and 41 % of harvested bucks not less than 3½ years previous (finest in all the Midwest), anticipate Indiana’s trophy run to proceed for an excellent very long time.  

Learn Subsequent: The Greatest B&C Nontypical Document Bucks From Each State

6) Missouri

  • Estimated deer inhabitants: 1.4 million
  • Hunter numbers: 500,000
  • Public land: Two million acres
  • P&Y: Typical: 2,440, nontypical: 251
  • B&C: Typical: 563, nontypical: 403

The Present-Me State is a type of stalwart Midwestern states that’s simply powerful to disregard. Whereas hunter numbers are excessive and the quantity of public land comparatively small, Missouri stays one of many best-managed whitetail herds round, with 33 does killed per 100 hunters and 33 % of greenbacks tagged at 3½ years previous or older. And naturally, it’s house to the Missouri Monarch, the “discovered” large that is still the B&C world document nontypical. Hunter-killed trophies are virtually as spectacular; Randy Simonitich’s 269-⅞-inch bow kill (2000) is the #7 P&Y nontypical and Larry Gibson’s unbelievable 205-inch typical (1971) sits within the Prime 5 of B&C typicals. 

7) Wisconsin

big whitetail buck in wisconsin next to hunter
Joshua Gawrysiak’s large Wisconsin buck grossed 216 6/8 inches.
Joshua Gawrysiak
  • Estimated deer herd: 1.5 million
  • Hunter numbers: 630,000
  • Public land: 5.5 million acres
  • P&Y: Typical: 13,187, nontypical: 805
  • B&C: Typical: 1,399, nontypical: 561

The Badger State is a little bit of an anomaly. Regardless of a yearling buck harvest as excessive as any Midwestern State (40 % in 2020), a ho-hum antlerless kill (29 does per 100 hunters), and one of many longest and hardest fights with CWD as any state, Wisconsin continues to cough up unbelievable numbers of mature bucks. The state has dominated the P&Y e book because the go-to spot for a e book whitetail for many years, and the top-end bucks (191-6/8-inch Typical, Adam Hupf, 2014; 249-6/8-inch nontypical, Jim Baker, 2013) aren’t solely spectacular they had been taken just lately. Buffalo County retains its lead as B&C’s prime county within the nation, however Wisconsin’s monsters are coming from all around the state, proof that hunters are managing for older deer. 

8) Illinois

The world record whitetail buck from Illinois shows why it's one of the best deer hunting states
Luke Brewster and his world document whitetail. Luke Brewster
  • Estimated deer herd: 640,000
  • Hunter numbers: 255,000
  • Public land: 698,000 acres
  • P&Y: Typical: 7,621, nontypical: 905
  • B&C: Typical: 854, nontypical: 709

Not way back, many whitetail nuts (a few of the state’s hunters included) had been murmuring that Illinois’ finest days had been within the rearview. Then in 2018, Luke Brewster had one thing to say to the doubters when he tagged the most important hunter-killed nontypical—a 327-⅞-inch colossus—within the B&C books. Whereas one buck is perhaps a lightning strike, the Prairie State’s document e book is as full of latest giants as it’s historic kills; of the Prime Ten Illinois nontypicals within the P&Y books, solely two had been killed pre-2000, and solely three had been B&C nontypicals. The Illinois information resume is just studded with world-class deer; it’s the one state with two hunter-killed bucks over 300 inches (Brewster’s buck joined Jerry Bryant’s crossbow-killed 304-⅜” titan) and two world information (Brewster and Mel Johnson’s P&Y typical, a world-leader since 1965). The state has finished a largely competent job managing CWD, rising deer numbers in below-goal models, and responding to different farm-country challenges. Anybody tempted to jot down Illinois off the nation’s prime spots higher assume once more. 

9) Pennsylvania

  • Estimated deer herd: 1.5 million
  • Hunter numbers: 663,000
  • Public land: 3.7 million acres
  • P&Y: Typical: 1955, nontypical: 82 
  • B&C: Typical: 92, nontypical: 43

No, the Keystone State is just not on the record of heavy hitters in B&C, and its top-end bucks can’t compete with one of the best of one of the best. However no dialogue of prime deer states could be full with out point out of PA, which rivals locations like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Texas. The state has staged a monster comeback by way of administration in recent times, with the adoption of Antler Level Restrictions and an elevated emphasis on balancing the herd with the habitat. Within the 2021 season, 62 % of harvested bucks had been 2-½ years previous or older, and the document books replicate that sea change. The variety of P&Y typical entries could be very respectable, and eight of the highest ten typicals (and 7 top-ten nontypicals) have all been taken since 2000. With a practice that may be traced to the roots of recent deer searching, Pennsylvanians live “the great previous days” proper now. 

10) Iowa

hunter sitting next to dead whitetail buck.
It’s arduous to beat Iowa for large whitetail bucks. This 198-inch monster was taken by Laran Kaplan. Laran Kaplan
  • Estimated deer herd: 445,000
  • Hunter numbers: 340,000
  • Public land: 763,800 acres
  • P&Y: Typical: 4,986, nontypical: 695
  • B&C: Typical: 831, nontypical: 630

There are at all times a number of no-brainer entries in a listing like this, and the Hawkeye State is actually one. You don’t have to look at out of doors tv very lengthy to search out reveals targeted on Iowa and its large whitetails, however what’s lesser identified is the general alternative right here to reap an important buck. Because of ample meals, comparatively straightforward winters, and glorious administration by the DNR, possibilities for a trophy buck are stable all through the state. Iowans are severe about killing does, and extra hunters are passing on youthful bucks, the proper formulation for rising mature deer. Iowa’s P&Y entries are as spectacular as wherever, particularly on nontypicals; Deric Sieck’s 2016  288-4/8-inch buck leads the group, and all top-ten nontypicals have been taken since 2000 (5 throughout the final 5 years). Tony Lovstuen’s 2003 “Strolling World Document” buck (307-⅝ inches) is ranked sixth on the B&C information and is the 4th largest hunter-killed nontypical. 

11) Texas

  • Estimated deer herd: 5.3 million 
  • Hunter numbers: 740,000 
  • Public land: 1.5 million acres
  • P&Y: Typical: 2,059, nontypical: 131
  • B&C: Typical: 550, nontypical: 311

There are many savvy and profitable whitetail managers throughout the nation, however nearly all of the fundamentals of the artwork and science of rising actually large deer will be traced to Texas. Whitetail hunters there have been managing for mature bucks for many years, and the document books replicate that success. With the lengthy and wealthy historical past of whitetail searching within the Lone Star State, it’s no shock that some historic bucks seem of their all-star record. However there are many latest stars in there as effectively. The highest P&Y bucks had been a typical shot by Thomas Friedkin (187-6/8 inches) in 2005 and a nontypical killed by A. Downs (256-⅞ inches) in 2012. The B&C typical chief for the state was shot simply final fall (Alberto Balleres, 197-2/8 inches), and the highest hunter-killed nontypical (Robert Baker, 268-⅜ inches) fell in 2020. Whereas a lot of the state’s top-end bucks come from highly-managed personal floor, there are sufficient public areas that may cough up a stable, mature buck.  

Learn Subsequent: The Greatest B&C Document Whitetail Deer from Each State

12) Kansas  

Hunter with whitetail deer shows that Kansas is one of the best deer hunting states
Pete Alfano took this Kansas beast in September of 2022. Pete Alfano
  • Estimated deer herd: 700,000
  • Hunter numbers: 108,000
  • Public land: 300,000 acres (plus Stroll-In Searching Areas)
  • P&Y: Typical: 3,279, nontypical: 547
  • B&C: Typical: 507, nontypical: 453

No record of one of the best deer searching states for big whitetails could be full with out Kansas. Along with a powerful variety of P&Y entries, Kansas additionally produced the #2 P&Y nontypical of all time: the Brian Butcher buck (321-⅜ inches, 2019) a buck that additionally sits at #4 within the B&C e book. On the everyday aspect, the Brad Henry buck (193-⅞ inches, 2001) leads the state P&Y lineup, which is full of latest kills. If there’s a draw back to the Sunflower State it’s the dearth of public land, however savvy hunters will concentrate on distinctive alternatives, akin to Stroll In Searching Areas (WIHA) and army installations. They’ll additionally acknowledge that, whereas most of the state’s top-end trophies come from the japanese (extra timbered) counties, there are nice bucks residing all through the state, typically in habitat that appears extra conducive to rising pheasants and quail.  

Finest Deer Searching States by Inhabitants

What’s that, you don’t care about antler dimension? You simply need to go someplace the place you’ll see a great deal of deer and have enjoyable chasing them. No downside. We get completely get that, so here’s a record of the highest 5 states with probably the most whitetail deer, in accordance with the most recent inhabitants estimates.

1. Texas

The Lone Star State is primary by far, with a whopping estimated herd of 5.3 million.

2. Mississipi

Mississippi is just not solely on a pointy upswing for large deer, however it additionally has a powerful estimated inhabitants of 1.75 million whitetails.

3. Alabama

And proper subsequent door to Mississippi is one other 1.75 million whitetails, within the state of Alabama.

4. Pennsylvania

The Keystone state is subsequent with an estimated 1.5 million whitetails.

5. Wisconsin

And Wisconsin rounds out the highest 5 with the identical quantity, 1.5 million.

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