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Trophy Bucks

20 Best DIY Whitetail States for 2014

by Mark Kenyon   |  April 23rd, 2014 1

No matter where you hunt, killing a big, mature buck is no cake walk.

In some states, however, the opportunities are next to nonexistent. For that reason, hardcore whitetail hunters pack their bags in the fall and travel to new locales in search of greener pastures.

If you’re one of those hunters who dream of chasing whitetails away from home, you should absolutely go for it. A big part of the planning process is choosing the right state to hunt. And while there are plenty of great destinations for DIY whitetail hunters, the opportunities in some states are definitely more plentiful, affordable and realistic.

To better understand how each whitetail state stacks up for the DIY hunter, we considered a broad range of criteria relevant to the quality of an out-of-state hunt. From my own experience as a DIY hunter, I want a relatively affordable hunt with plenty of options for land access, a good opportunity to see lots of deer, low pressure from other hunters and decent odds to harvest a quality animal.

Keeping that in mind, we ranked states based on criteria like the cost and ease of acquiring a license, quantity (and quality) of public land, and hunter density. We also wanted to get a better idea of odds for success, not just by looking at sheer quantity of kills or record book bucks, but also by the ratio of kills to the number of hunters. We wanted to understand, per hunter in each state, how many deer total and record book bucks were harvested.

We looked at overall harvest, Pope & Young record book kills and Boone & Crockett bucks together as a ratio compared with how many hunters were in each state. This gave us a much better understanding of just how likely a hunter is to have success in each locale.

I’ll be the first to admit that while we used as much hard data as we could to develop these rankings, this is still a largely subjective analysis. I’m sure a few of you (or a few hundred of you!) will have different opinions on how certain states rank. We welcome the debate.

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