This country has many places to chase whitetails, but which are the best?
While its placement on this list may come as a surprise to many, the quality of whitetail hunting in Georgia has increased greatly over the years. While you’re less likely to tag a Booner here than in other states, the overall deer harvest numbers are incredibly high (#1 in anterless harvest in the country in 2011), the age structure of harvested bucks is good, the buck density is high, and over three percent of the state is open to public hunting. These factors, combined with a 55% hunter success rate, earns Georgia the 10th spot on our list.
9. South Carolina
South Carolina slides in at number nine for many of the same reasons as Georgia, with a few exceptions. The Palmetto State ranked number one nationally in bucks harvested per square mile (3.6 bucks per square mile) according to the Quality Deer Management Associations 2013 Whitetail Report, which also reported that 70% of South Carolina’s hunters reported a successful harvest. The chances of a monster whitetail may not be as high, but the chance you’ll have a good time, as well as tag a good buck, are higher than ever.
Everything is bigger in Texas, including the whitetail hunting. Hunters in the Lone Star State kill more bucks than in any other by a huge margin (309,207 bucks harvested in 2011 alone), and 60% of those bucks were 3 1/2 years old or older. Texas also ranks second in antlerless harvest numbers, and from 2005 to 2010 ranked 10th for most Boone & Crockett entries with 132. Combine these factors with the almost 1.6 million acres of public hunting land available, and it seems as if Texas hunters have a good thing going.
Not that we’d mess with them, of course.
If any state is a poster child for the effectiveness of QDM practices, then Mississippi is probably it. Mississippi ranks number one in percentage of harvested bucks being 3 1/2 years old or older, number two in percentage of yearling bucks harvested, and number five in the number of bucks harvested per square mile. While the Magnolia State might not be somewhere where you would expect to kill a trophy, your chances of harvesting a good buck probably won’t be much better anywhere else.
For many Midwestern whitetail hunters, seeing Iowa outside the top three of any list of top whitetail destinations is pure heresy. There is, however, a good reason for Iowa’s respectable, but not first place ranking.
From 2005-2010, only two states had more B&C entries than Iowa; Iowa also offers a 0.078% chance of harvesting a Booner, making it fourth best in the nation in that category. Those who hope to hunt in Iowa, however, have to apply and hope that they are drawn. Out-of-state license fees are huge, and hunting on an out-of-state license restricts you to certain parts of the state. Oh, and by the way, only 0.7% of the state (266,000) acres is open to public hunting; the only state with less public hunting land is… Hawaii.
So while Iowa may be the land of giants, only a privileged few get to hunt there.
Kansas is a state that has grown accustomed to being near the top of any “best whitetail destinations” list, and for good reason. From 2005-2010 Kansas ranked eighth in Boone & Crockett entries and, statistically-speaking, Kansas offers the third best chance of any state to kill such a buck.
Kansas, however, suffers from the same condition as Iowa. While the monster bucks are certainly there, the problem is getting to them. Only 420,000 acres, or 0.8% of its total area, are open to public hunting (Michigan, for example, has over 7.3 million acres of public hunting land). Also, while the state’s lottery system for deer tags seems to offer a better chance at being drawn than Iowa, the cost of a guided and/or private land hunt can be out of this world!
While the Sunflower State may be a top destination if your goal is to kill a record-book whitetail, it appears that you better be prepared to fork over some serious coin.