If you’ve ever shopped for real estate, you’ve heard that location is the most important factor in choosing where you’ll make your home. The same is true for hunters. The location you hunt can mean the difference in seeing zero deer and taking home a trophy. North American Whitetail made location — specifically public land — the first criteria in choosing the top 20 whitetail deer hunting states for 2013.
At the same time, there are general perceptions about which states are the best for whitetail hunting. If you asked the average deer hunter what the top states are, you’d probably hear a lot about Kansas, Iowa or Illinois. But the real question is, do those states live up to their mammoth reputations? Is the hunting as good as the hype?
In order to answer those questions, we examined data from all whitetail states and built a list of criteria as a filter for all that information. It’s not an exact science—even the choice of criteria is a somewhat subjective endeavor—but we’ve come as close as possible to identifying the most essential characteristics any state must possess to be considered the best.
First, we looked at the amount of public land in each state, which is a way to measure hunting opportunity. This was a crucial category to consider, especially since states like Iowa, Illinois and Kansas rank well in trophy production but have very little public land access. It’s impossible to say a state is the best for whitetail hunting when the opportunity to hunt is afforded only to a select, wealthy few.
Photos: Michigan State University (top); Robinson Outdoor Products (above)