Whitetail Hunting photo

What’s the number one state for tagging a trophy whitetail? Where’s the best place to take any deer, buck or doe? How about the prime destination for a big public-land buck? The answers are on this map, found on pages 48 and 49 of the February 2011 issue of Field & Stream. Part of our “Deer Crazy” cover story, it reveals the nation’s Top 10 Trophy Whitetail States, Top 10 Any-Whitetail States, Top 5 Public-Land Whitetail States, and more. That said, we figured you might also like to know where your state ranks, even if it’s not in the top ten. Maybe you’d like to see the stats behind our rankings. So, in a series of blog posts here on Whitetail 365, we’re going to lay out the complete state rankings and explain how we arrived at them.


On the cover-story map, we led with the Top 10 Trophy Whitetail States (shocker right?). But to create that list, we actually had to first determine something far more fundamental: the best whitetail states–as in any whitetail, buck or doe, big or small. We also realize of course that many of you are more concerned with filling the freezer and having fun than with adorning your walls with giant antlers. So let’s start there.

What follows is a list of the best states in the nation in which to take a whitetail–any whitetail. To rank each state, we divided it’s deer harvest by its number of deer hunters, based on the most recent 10-year-average statistics. The result show approximately how many whitetails the average hunter takes in a given state. In top-ranking Alabama, for example, deer hunters average an incredible 2-plus whitetails each. In Maine, a paltry 0.16. (Don’t hang your head, Mainers: Yours is one of the few states left where you can track a buck through miles of wilderness without seeing a posted sign or another hunter.)

Because these are whitetail rankings, we discounted states whose harvest includes significant numbers of mulies and/or blacktails. (Sorry western guys; but we’ll have something for you in an upcoming post.)

So here you go, The Best Any-Whitetail States In America:
[1] AL (2.05 deer per hunter)
[2] GA (1.50)
[3] MS (1.49)
[4] SC (1.27)
[5] VA (0.96)
[6] LA (0.91)
[7] MD (0.90)
[8] ND (0.88)
[9] DE (0.84)
[10] WI (0.794)
[11] FL (0.792)*
[12] IL (0.786)
[13] NJ (0.784)**
[14] MO (0.75)
[15] IA (0.7322)
[16] TX (0.7318)
[17] WV (0.715)
[18] OH (0.672)
[19] MI (0.667)
[20] IN (0.58)
[21] AR (0.57)
[22] MN (0.54)
[23] NC (0.50)
[24] KS (0.49)
[25] KY (0.45)
[26] OK (0.43)
[27] PA (0.42)
[28] SD (0.41)
[29] NY (0.40)
[30] NE (0.39)
[31] TN (0.32)
[32] RI (0.31)
[33] CT (0.27)
[34] MA (0.213)
[35] NH (0.211)
[36] VT (0.19)
[37] ME (0.16)

*Florida’s harvest statistics are not as recent as the others.
**This, sorry to say, reveals a mistake in the original map, in which we erroneously ranked New Jersey above Wisconsin, Florida and Illinois.