Want to bag a buck? Head to the South and Midwest, where the huntin’s good for America’s deer
Story by Chris Rice Photos by Shutterstock
The deer hunting sector has been changing over the last few years, with new entrants moving into the top positions as far as the number and quality of white-tail deer hunting is concerned. Judging which states are working hardest to produce a high number of deer for hunting can be difficult, but there have been many changes to the states that sit at the top of the list in the last few years. The best States for deer hunting are spread through the eastern half of the nation and take in areas from Kentucky to Texas and east into Georgia.
The state of Texas has been growing in white-tail deer hunting importance for the last decade or so. The Lone Star State has seen impressive gun-deer harvests for the last few years, with 2018 and 2019 being more than 800,000 with the success rate climbing. The rise in the number of bucks harvested over the last decade has been hugely moving from just over 300,000 to 800,000 by 2018, with the majority of these being mature deer aged over three years of age. There is plenty of public hunting available, with an estimated 1.6 billion acres of public hunting grounds across the state.
Back in 2017, Georgia was sitting in tenth place on the list of the top ten best white-tail deer hunting states. The state of Georgia has risen to the number two spot on the list with the consistency the state has shown over the last five years with a white-tail deer hunting harvest of over 350,000 in 2019. The state has become one of the most consistent bucks producers, with hunters in the state reporting a success rate close to 60 percent.
The Midwest has been changing the way it addresses hunting, with Michigan now at risk of falling way down the list of white-tail deer hunting states. Michigan is still ranked in the top echelon of deer hunting regions but runs the risk of falling away in the coming decade. The state recently outlawed baiting and feeding, but the harvest still sat above the 300,000 marks to keep the state rising in the annual lists of best white-tail deer hunting states.
Much like South Carolina and Georgia, Kentucky has been a well-kept secret in terms of white-tail deer hunting. The state has always had a strong reputation amongst its residents regarding the quality of its hunting, but few outside the state knew of its potential as a hunting destination. Hunting is a popular sport in the state, but the number of hunters has been so low that the only halt called on the long season is the number of tags an individual can afford to purchase.
Another state that may not have the history of success when it comes to white-tail deer hunting, but the vast amount of public land available and the low number of hunters makes this a top destination for deer hunting. The five-year average harvest to 2018 in Missouri was an amazing 274,000 with just over eight hunters per square mile. The pressure on the herd in Missouri is not high with just over one-third of all harvested deer aged 3.5 or older to show the state is moving int he right direction to become a long-term favorite for hunters.
Outside of these states, some of the most popular states for white-tail deer hunting lie in the Midwest and Southeast. South Carolina is continuing to rise the charts despite its herd not being as well structured as in Georgia, with fewer deer aged 3.5 and older. Another state that could feature heavily in the coming years is Iowa, which has always been known as a state with giant bucks on offer. However, the many restrictions that have been placed on out-of-state hunters mean the state remains a mystery to many who would love to hunt there.
Chris Rice is the content editor of Hunting Locator
, one of the USA’s most reputable sources for finding deer and other game hunting opportunities.