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Bowhunting Destinations

20 Best Whitetail States for 2015

by Brad Fitzpatrick   |  September 9th, 2015 0

Ranging from Maine to Mexico and from the Northern Tier to the Deep South, whitetail deer are America’s most widespread and abundant big-game animal. But that doesn’t mean that all deer country was created equal, and for years hunters have debated which states were the best bets for big bucks.

Some statistics, like record-book entries, acres of public hunting ground and hunting permit prices are straightforward and easy to access. These statistics alone don’t necessarily paint an accurate picture of a state’s potential as a deer producer. Some states, particularly western states, offer access to millions and millions of acres of public hunting ground. However, much of it is devoid of whitetail deer.


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Some criteria, like genetics and the potential to produce record-book bucks, remain relatively constant from season to season.

Other variables, like weather and disease, can dramatically change a state’s position from one calendar year to the next. Outbreaks of EHD and CWD can reduce herd sizes, and the 2015 wildfire season was particularly bad in the Pacific Northwest.

So, what are the factors when selecting the “best” whitetail states for 2015? Primarily, cost to hunt, access to land, and trophy potential play into the final rankings. Each of those three categories was evaluated and states were given scores from 0-30 points based on a number of factors.


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Scores for the “access to land” category were based on the amount of public land, the number of licenses sold and the approximate public land acreage per hunter. This coupled with each state’s score in the “cost to hunt” and “trophy potential” categories gave a total of 90 possible points. States could earn up to an additional 10 “big buck points”, as told through the records from Pope & Young and Boone & Crockett.

How does your state rank? Check out the final tally here to see how your home turf fared in our 2015 selection of the best whitetail states.

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