The US has over 30 million whitetail, blacktail, mule deer and millions of hunters in pursuit of them.
However, the quality of deer hunting varies immensely from area to area. Below are the 7 worst places for deer hunting you might want to consider avoiding.
The United States is home to over 30 million whitetail, blacktail, and mule deer, and millions of hunters hit the woods each year in pursuit of them. While there are populations of deer in all 50 states, the quality of deer hunting can vary quite a bit from state to state and even within individual states.
Theoretically, it is possible to successfully bag a deer virtually any place where deer live. However, some places are clearly better or worse than others. Lots of ink has been spilled about the best places to hunt deer over the years, but not nearly as much attention has been paid to the worst places for deer hunting in the United States.
What areas constitute the “best” or “worst” places for deer hunting varies depending on the individual hunter. There are always a few hunters who really know what they are doing and can be successful even when hunting in an area that might be considered one of the worst places for hunting deer. By the same token, there are also more than a few people who could go home empty handed after a hunting trip in a place known for having some of the best deer hunting around.
That being said, this article aims to identify some of the worst places for deer hunting in the United States for average hunters. Specifically, this is referring to “do it yourself” (DIY) hunters who hunt deer without the assistance of an outfitter or on a deer lease. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with going on a guided deer hunt or hunting on a lease, many deer hunters cannot afford it or just prefer not to.
With this constraint in mind, the conventional wisdom regarding many of the best places for deer hunting in the United States is often turned on its head. Indeed, many areas have very high populations of deer with lots of trophy bucks, but may be tough or even impossible for the average hunter to access.
Because of this, some of the spots on this list of the worst places for deer hunting go against conventional wisdom. This is because drawing a non-resident deer tag there is extremely difficult or because it may be virtually impossible to hunt there without the assistance of a guide.
It’s true that Wisconsin as a whole has some of the most outstanding deer hunting in the country. Southern and central Wisconsin still remain premier deer hunting destinations. However, the woods of northern Wisconsin have really been hit hard by harsh winters and wolves during the last few years. There are still deer up there, but they are under significant pressure and populations, along with the number of deer killed during hunting season, have been steadily dropping over the last decade.
To top it off, wolf numbers have been steadily climbing, but a federal court re-listed the wolf as an endangered species in the western Great Lakes region in December 2014, so Wisconsin was recently forced to close the wolf hunting season. Unfortunately, this means that the deer hunting in northern Wisconsin will likely get worse before it gets better.
Don’t get me wrong, lots of deer hunters successfully tag deer in southern Florida each year. However, that part of the state is not known as a deer hunting paradise for good reason. Bergman’s Rule states that animals living in warmer climates generally have smaller bodies than animals in colder climates. This seems to hold true in warm and sunny Florida, where the average buck in the southern part of the state averages 120-140 pounds. Additionally, the endangered Key Deer (which live in the Florida Keys and may not be hunted) is absolutely tiny and only weighs 50-75 pounds. At the same time, there are very few deer from southern Florida represented in the Boone & Crockett or Pope & Young record books.
At the same time, access to good public hunting land in Florida can also be pretty tough and there is lots of competition and hunting pressure in most of the WMAs. Additionally, the swampy conditions in parts of Florida also make certain hunting areas very difficult to reach without a boat.
The State of Illinois has a reputation for being a great state for hunting whitetails. To a certain extent, that is true and many Pope & Young and Boone & Crockett deer have been taken in the state over the years. So why is southern Illinois on this list then?
Part of the problem is the fact that since the state has a reputation for producing monster whitetails, lots of non-resident hunters have started traveling to Illinois in search of trophy deer. Because of this, competition for space on the good pieces of public hunting land in the southern part of state, like the Shawnee National Forest, is really starting to increase. There are always exceptions to the rule, but some of the best hunting in the state these days is on private property.
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