The 15 States With the Absolute Best Deer Hunting

iStock.com/Ralph Navarro

Written by Joyce Nash

Updated: December 13, 2023

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Deer are abundant in almost every U.S. state, inhabiting forests, grasslands, prairies, and coastal areas. There are several species of deer throughout the country, although white-tailed deer are the most abundant. White-tailed deer have few natural predators in many areas, so state agencies use controlled hunting to manage their numbers. Each state has regulations regarding season dates, licenses, and bag limits. Keep reading to learn about the 15 states with the best deer hunting.

15. Florida

white-tailed deer buck looking at camera

White-tailed deer thrive in Florida’s coastal regions.

Deer hunting dates are staggered in Florida, with seasons opening in the southern part of the state as early as July. Florida has over half a million white-tailed deer. Additionally, the state is home to the endangered Key Deer, which are illegal to hunt. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission limits hunters to five deer, which includes up to two antlerless deer. 

14. Wyoming

In Wyoming, mule deer inhabit areas throughout the state and are the most abundant type of deer.

This state is home to mule deer and white-tailed deer, although mule deer are more abundant. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department offers general deer hunting and limited quota licenses. Hunters can choose from 10 different license types with options for the type of deer being hunted, the weapon used, and the geographic area. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department limits hunters to one deer per license.

13. Missouri

A white-tailed deer doe and its two fawns in an open meadow in summer.

According to Boone and Crockett, Missouri ranks seventh overall for deer hunting.

With a robust population of white-tailed deer, it’s no surprise that Missouri hunters have bagged several record-breaking bucks. The state offers a variety of hunting options, ranging from dense forests to rolling prairies. The Missouri Department of Conservation regulates hunting in the state. The agency generally limits hunters to one to two deer, but restrictions vary based on the season and county.

12. Montana

Large Mule Deer Buck on a frosty morning watching for hunters.

Montana has longer deer hunting seasons than other states, beginning in early September and running through mid-December.

There are approximately 500,000 deer in Montana, and about half of those are white-tailed deer, while the remaining half are mule deer. Hunters must acquire a General Deer License from Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. Each general deer license permits the harvest of one deer. However, hunters can purchase up to seven Deer B Licenses, each allowing for one additional antlerless white-tailed deer or mule deer harvest. 

11. Wisconsin

White-Tailed Deer

Wisconsin boasts over seven million acres of public land for hunting.

Some areas of Wisconsin have a deer population density of 42 per square mile, and the state’s overall deer population exceeds 1.5 million, making it one of the states with the best deer hunting. Deer hunters in Wisconsin must have a hunting license that stipulates the type of weapon they’ll be using. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources sets bag limits for one buck and one antlerless deer per hunter. Authorizations for additional antlerless deer are sold daily on a first-come, first-served basis.

10. Virginia

White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) leaping through field

Deer hunting in Virginia starts in late September and runs through early January.

Deer hunters in Virginia boast a 60% success rate due largely to the state’s sizable deer population and 200,000 acres of public hunting land. The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources sets bag limits and stipulates that hunters can harvest up to six deer a year with a daily limit of two deer, including up to three antlered deer. However, these regulations vary by region and county.

9. Oklahoma

Deer. The white-tailed deer also known as the whitetail or Virginia deer in winter on snow. White taild deer is the wildlife symbol of Wisconsin and game animal of Oklahoma.

White-tailed deer inhabit every county in Oklahoma.

With over 700,000 white-tailed deer and nearly a million acres of public hunting land, Oklahoma easily ranks among the states with the best deer hunting. The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation limits hunters to six deer, including two antlered deer. However, deer harvested during the holiday gun season or controlled hunts do not count toward this limit. The state is encouraging hunters to bag dogs and antlerless deer to help even out the buck-to-doe ratio.

8. Idaho

white-tailed deer

White-tailed deer are more abundant in northern Idaho, while mule deer are found in the southern and central regions of the state.

Deer hunters in Idaho can get an early start with a hunting season that begins in August and runs through the first of December. Idaho Fish and Game permits hunters to harvest white-tailed deer as well as mule deer. The agency sells tags based on the deer’s species and antler characteristics; each tag is good for one deer. 

7. Kentucky

There are over 1.5 million acres of land for public hunting in Kentucky.

Kentucky is home to nearly one million white-tailed deer in the Appalachian Mountains. Over 130,000 deer are harvested in Kentucky each year, and It is considered one of the top 10 states for bagging a trophy buck. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources limits hunters to one deer with visible antlers, except for “button” bucks. Depending on the hunting zone, the state allows hunters to harvest more antlerless deer.

6. Vermont

white-tailed deer in Canadian winter

Deer season in Vermont runs from the beginning of October through early December.

Hunters in Vermont are prolific, bringing in more bucks per square mile than any other state in New England, thanks to the area’s rural terrain and ample public hunting lands. The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department limits hunters to four white-tailed deer annually, including one buck. Novice and youth hunters can harvest two bucks as long as one is hunted during the novice or youth season.

5. Texas

South Texas Yearling Buck

Hunters in some Texas counties can only harvest bucks with unbranched antlers or an antler spread of at least 13 inches.

With around 5 million white-tailed deer, Texas has plenty of hunting opportunities. White-tailed deer are found in the largest numbers in the central and western regions of the state. Texas Parks and Wildlife requires hunters to acquire a license, and different areas may require additional permits or certifications. 

Hunters are limited to five white-tailed deer annually, including up to three bucks. Some counties limit hunters to two bucks, only one of which may have an inside antler spread of over 13 inches.

4. Georgia

White-tailed deer fawn walking in the dark forest in Canada

In Georgia, there are deer hunting seasons for firearms, archery, and primitive weapons.

Deer can be found throughout Georgia, living in areas that range from pine forests to swampy marshlands. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources requires hunters to purchase a state hunting license and a big game license, which allows for the harvest of 10 deer. This includes does, “button” bucks, and two mature bucks. However, antler restrictions may vary by county. In addition, hunters must maintain a harvest record and report the number and type of deer harvested to the Department of Natural Resources.

3. Pennsylvania

white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) running in autumn

The Pennsylvania Game Commission offers special licenses for youth hunters, active members of the military, mentored youth, seniors, and disabled adults.

White-tailed deer are so abundant in Pennsylvania that they are the state’s official animal. The state has separate seasons for archery, muzzleloaders, regular firearms, and flintlocks. Hunters are required to carry a general hunting license in addition to licenses to participate in the muzzleloader and archery seasons. The state permits licensed hunters to bag one antlered deer each year, and hunters may purchase additional permits for antlerless deer.

2. Tennessee

deer population

Deer hunting seasons in Tennessee span from August through January.

In Tennessee, deer season is divided into gun, archery, and muzzleloading seasons. The state has many prime habitats for deer, including the Appalachian Mountains in the eastern region. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency bases bag limits on the hunter’s county of residence and corresponding hunting unit. In most units, there is a limit of one antlered deer per day and two antlered deer per season. Depending on their unit, hunters can bag between one and four antlerless deer.

1. Indiana

White-tailed deer buck in snow

Hunters in Indiana can explore 55,00 acres of public lands, including state forests and wildlife management areas.

With over 55,000 acres of public land available for hunting, Indiana is easily one of the top states for deer hunting. Indiana has a higher population of white-tailed deer than other states, and their numbers have been increasing. The state allows a higher bag limit for hunters than other states, especially in reduction zones where it is necessary to manage the population of white-tailed deer.

Getting a hunting license in Indiana is straightforward and allows hunters to bag one antlered deer. However, hunters can buy additional licenses for deer without antlers, with bag limits ranging by county. 

Summary of the States With the Best Deer Hunting

RankState
#1Indiana
#2Tennessee
#3Pennsylvania
#4Georgia
#5Texas
#6Vermont
#7Kentucky
#8Idaho
#9Oklahoma
#10Virginia
#11Wisconsin
#12Montana
#13Missouri
#14Wyoming
#15Florida


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About the Author

Joyce Nash is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering travel and geography. She has almost a decade of writing experience. Her background ranges from journalism to farm animal rescues and spans the East Coast to the West. She is based in North Carolina, and in her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, and spending time with her husband and two cats.

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