Best Deer Hunting State: Kentucky Takes Top Spot in New Whitetail Scale

Article From Outdoor Life
by Darren Warner

Every year hunting magazines run stories about which states have become the latest trophy-­whitetail hotspots. There’s a problem with all of these stories: They only look at the total number of trophy bucks killed.

The trouble with this is that states with higher deer populations and more hunters have an unfair advantage. Take Wisconsin, which has 1.5 million deer and about 14 hunters per square mile. In comparison, Kentucky has 900,000 whitetails and seven hunters per square mile. Given that about half of all fawns born are bucks, Wisconsin has about 750,000 bucks and Kentucky has about 450,000. You don’t have to be a math whiz to realize that having more bucks and more deer hunters increases your odds of having more trophy deer harvested.

What’s needed is a real-world barometer of trophy-deer trends, and that’s what Outdoor Life is doing with our Whitetail Scale. It’s a metric that evens out some of the huge discrepancies between various states and considers trophy deer on an apples-to-apples basis.

Instead of looking at total number of deer, our scale considers the proportion of each state’s bucks that make the Boone and Crockett record book. Because looking at just one year of data can be misleading, we also crunched harvest data from the last three years, allowing us to spot trends.

And we look beyond the antlers. When deciding where to go to pursue the trophy of a lifetime, hunters consider other factors, like hunter density, the cost of a nonresident outfitted hunt, and even how accommodating each state’s deer regulations are.

Factoring in these measures gives us a comprehensive and repeatable method for determining the top trophy states.

1. MEASUREMENT: 
Trophy Production

States with top B&C entries as apercentage of total buck harvest

Indiana……………… 0 .084%
Kentucky………….. 0.082%
Kansas……………… 0.078%
Iowa………………….. 0.078%
Illinois………………. 0.065%

2. MEASUREMENT:  
Hunter Density

Firearms Hunter Density

North Dakota…………..0.8/sq. mi.
Nebraska…………………..1.0/sq. mi.
South Dakota……………1.1/sq. mi.
Kansas……………………….1.4/sq. mi.
Iowa……………………………2.6/sq. mi.

3. MEASUREMENT: 
Cost of Outfitted Hunts

Cost of Outfitted Hunts

Under $2,600 = 1 point
$2,601–$3,500 = .5
$3,501 and over = 0

4. MEASUREMENT: 
Hunter Friendliness

The Winner: 
The Bluegrass State

After tallying scores, we found that Kentucky is the clear winner. The western part of the state, in particular, is producing a ton of trophy deer, and many big bucks survive the early rut. “Hunt late in the season,” says Carl Doron, owner of Snipe Creek Lodge. “There’s nobody here.”

Here’s our ranking of the top 10 whitetail states.
1. Kentucky……………………….4.5 points
2. Kansas………………………….4.0 points
3. Indiana………………………….4.0 points
4. Iowa………………………………4.0 points
5. Minnesota…………………….3.5 points
6. Illinois……………………………3.0 points
7. Mississippi……………………3.0 points
8. Nebraska………………………3.0 points
9. Ohio……………………………….3.0 points
10. Oklahoma……………………3.0 points

 

To read the full story, go to original article at Outdoor Life
http://www.outdoorlife.com/blogs/big-buck-zone/2013/05/new-whitetail-scale

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