Whitetail season is finally upon us, which means we’re all itching to get out in the field and chase those monster bucks we’ve been dreaming about all spring.
It also means it’s time to unleash the 2013 NAW Power Rankings, our new way to help you track overall whitetail state performance on a week-to-week basis. Each week of deer season, we’ll rank the top 20 states based on trophies killed there and what you share in the NAW community rut reports. This means you have a legitimate shot at helping your state place high on the list each week. We’ll adjust the rankings and update our top picks every Monday.
So who’s looking the best as things stand right now? Based on our top whitetail state rankings, Oklahoma sits atop the list for Week 1, followed by Wisconsin, Missouri and Kentucky. Each state ranks high in B&C trophy production and has an overall excellent whitetail hunting experience to offer. You can see the full ranking system below.
Will Week 2 see a lot of shakeups? You better believe it. Stay tuned for trophy deer updates and follow the NAW community to track all the latest whitetail action around the U.S. Better yet, download the Whitetail+ App for your iPhone, update your state’s rut report and track the latest news from the field. Because the only constant in deer hunting is change, stay tuned to our NAW Power Rankings for one wild ride.
|1||Oklahoma||--||Oklahoma is one of the very best states to hunt whitetails, though it often doesn't get that kind of consideration. Over the counter tags all around, great opportunities, great population and low pressure. 500,000 population, 150,000 licenses sold annually. $45 res, $280 non-resident.|
|2||Wisconsin||--||Wisconsin is regularly one of the top deer kill states each year. Even more impressive, Wisconsin also leads in B&C trophy production over the last decade.|
|3||Missouri||--||1.3 million deer statewide, 2 million acres of public land, and a history for producing record bucks. The only knock is probably the pressure in gun season, and that it happens in the middle of the rut.|
|4||Kentucky||--||Kentucky has an estimated whitetail population around 900,000, relatively cheap licenses, low hunter density (4.5 deer to hunter ratio), and there are 200,000 licenses sold annually. Kentucky has more than 700 B&C trophies on the records.|
|5||Arkansas||--||Tags are available over the counter, trophies production is solid, 1 million whitetails and only 260,000 tags sold—there's not a lot bad to say about Arkansas.|
|6||Idaho||--||With 200,000 whitetails, Idaho has one of the best deer populations in the West. Tons of public land, most deer tags are reasonably priced and available over the counter. There is also a 40 percent success rate.|
|7||Texas||--||With 4 million whitetails, 3.6 deer to hunter ratio, 1,100,000 licenses sold, Texas is a true powerhouse. It is a whitetail Mecca, but 97 percent of the state is privately owned, so you pretty much have to pay to play. On the upside, combo hunts can be found for relatively low prices.|
|8||Indiana||--||About 950,000 whitetails, 275,000 licenses sold annually, and affordable licenses. So it's got a ton of deer, lots of public land, and some of the most affordable tags in the nation.|
|9||Ohio||--||Has an estimated whitetail population of 750,000, 420,000 licenses sold annually. Although pressure can be high, there are a ton of trophies to come out of Ohio.|
|10||Illinois||--||Especially in areas like Pike County, Illinois has a reputation for producing trophies. 711 trophies produced in the last decade. That said, most of the hunting here is private land, and opportunities can either be expensive or hard to come by.|
|11||Virginia||--||One of the best deer hunting locations on the east coast, Virginia has about 1 million deer, 72,000 licenses annually sold and tons of deer kills all around.|
|12||Kansas||--||Getting a license out of state is not that hard, but the price tag is certainly not small ($419). Kansas regularly produces a lot of great bucks and is a well-known whitetail hot spot.|
|13||Mississippi||--||Progressive deer management, 52 percent of trophies killed since 2000, 1.75 million deer, 222,000 licenses sold. Great deals for residents, steeper for non-resident.|
|14||Nebraska||--||Nebraska has 350,000 deer, 140,000 licenses sold, and hangs under the radar because it doesn't get a ton of national attention. There are some old deer in Nebraska, which means big—the state record non-typical is 284 B&C.|
|15||Minnesota||--||1 million whitetails, 800,000 licenses sold. There are a lot of great hunting opportunities in Minnesota. Let's just say the outlook for whitetail hunting is much brighter than it is for the Vikings.|
|16||Georgia||--||With a huge deer population (1.2 million), and 300,000 licenses sold, there are plenty of opportunities. Cost of licenses is reasonable.|
|17||Iowa||--||Iowa is known for producing homegrown megabucks, and it doesn't hurt that it gets quite a bit of pub in the hunting world. The downside, of course, is that it's great for residents, but not so great for outsiders (the draw is notoriously difficult).|
|18||Pennsylvania||--||With a 1.2 million deer population, and 800,000 licenses sold annually, Pennsylvania is a deer hunting hot bed. The only problem? Hunter density is extremely high and the hunting world can be quite charged.|
|19||South Dakota||--||South Dakota's licensing program is often complicated and frustrating, which keeps it from being in the top 10. Licenses for residents and non-residents are issued through a lottery system; if you're a bowhunter, getting a tag is virtually a sure thing. Rifle tags for non-residents are tough to get.|
|20||New York||--||Deer numbers are around 1 million, 800,000 licenses sold; it seems to be a bit of an underperforming state, pressure can be high and access low in many parts.|