Earlier this fall, with the launch of AmericanHunter.org's Whitetail Week, we took on the task of running down the nation's top whitetail states, beginning with No. 20. We're nearly to the finish line, now—it's time for the Top 5! Is your state among the nation's finest? Before we find out, let's take a look at the road so far:
• 20. Louisiana
• 19. Alabama
• 18. Mississippi
• 17. Nebraska
• 16. South Carolina
• 15. Oklahoma
• 14. Indiana
• 13. Virginia
• 12. Pennsylvania
• 11. Maryland
• 10. Michigan
• 9. Ohio
• 8. Missouri
• 7. Kentucky
• 6. Kansas
Now, for the cream of the crop...
It shouldn't surprise anyone that the Lone Star State cracked the Top 5. Texas whitetail might not possess the big bodies of some of their northern neighbors, but they have no problem competing when it comes to scoring racks. You're also looking at one of the most flush whitetail populations that you're going to find. Better yet, the state's a haven for mature bucks—the QDMA reported that Texas had the highest of 3½-year-old and older bucks in 2012, with 67 percent of its reported kills coming in above that line. It also had the third lowest percentage in regards to yearling-buck harvest rates. Only Arkansas and Kansas did better. You can't argue with that.
Illinois' history isn't a secret to anyone. The state has one of the most renowned big-buck reputations that you'll find, and it has the Boone & Crockett and Pope & Young entries to back it up. It's also the top-rated state out there for non-typical whitetail. Access can be difficult and costs can be high, but Illinois will always present one of your best chances to knock down a truly remarkable deer.
Situated in a whitetail-rich part of the country, Minnesota offers no shortage of opportunities. It helps, of course, that two of its neighbors are the definitive No. 1 and No.2 entries on this list—but more on that in just a moment. The Land of 10,000 Lakes is also home to an awful lot of whitetail, and its varying regions present hunters with a number of options when it comes to selecting hunts. Trophies can be found, too—in recent years Minnesota has submitted just as many entries to Boone & Crockett as many of its neighbors.
Boasting arguably the proudest whitetail traditions you'll find, Wisconsin was a no-brainer for the Top 5. There will probably be quite a few Wisconsinites out there that are aghast that we didn't name it No. 1. But we're getting to that. Wisconsin's not short on bucks—according to the QDMA, its 2.5 bucks per square mile is tops in the Midwestern region. They grow 'em big, too. In the last five years, excluding 2011, Wisconsin has added 383 bucks to the B&C book—more than any other state—and likely boasts the most top-producing B&C counties. It's one of your the best plays on the board for a jackpot, and out-of-state hunters have a decent chance of getting access, to boot. Hunt Wisconsinbly.
So, now that we've gotten you all hyped up for a Wisconsin whitetail hunt, we've got to somehow convince you that our No. 1 selection is even more desirable. In this case, that selection is Iowa. Yes, nostalgia is probably playing a bit of a factor in this decision. But no one can deny that the Hawkeye State's place among big buck havens. No state has tallied more Boone & Crockett submissions in recent years. Iowa's the home to giants. Getting yourself access and actually finding yourself on a hunt is a challenge in itself—but the rewards can be even more substantial. It's a very deserving champion.
So, what do you think of our list? Sound off in the comments section below!