Best States In The Midwest For Hunting Whitetails

When it comes to hunting trophy whitetails, it is hard to beat the Midwest.  The genetics produce big antlers and there are plenty of high quality food sources.  Where deer are allowed to mature in the Midwest, they produce breathtaking antlers.  This is why hunters from all over the country come to the Heartland to pursue America’s favorite big game animal.  


Wisconsin has led the nation in Boone & Crockett bucks for years.  In fact, Buffalo County alone has more record book bucks than most states.  While Buffalo County is well known for big racked bucks, it’s not alone.  Some giant bucks have recently been taken along the Fox Valley in the eastern portion of the state as well.  What puts Wisconsin at the top of this list is accessibility.  There are no draws or points systems to hunt in the Badger State.  Buck tags can be bought over the counter for every management unit in the state, for residents and non-residents alike.  Getting on prime land in places like Buffalo County may be a challenge but there are plenty of public options in the northern portion of the state.  If you’re planning a trip, keep in mind there are more deer hunters in Wisconsin than any other state. 


Illinois is consistently at or near the top of the annual list of Boone & Crockett bruisers.  Like Wisconsin, Illinois also has a premiere whitetail destination.  Pike County deer hunting is about as good as it gets.  If you’ve seen television hunters deer hunting in Illinois, there is a good chance they were in Pike County.  Brown and Adams counties are also great whitetail destinations.  What do they have in common?  All three counties are in what is known as The Golden Triangle.  This area is along the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers and it offers both the food and cover bucks need to become record book brutes.  There are several Pike County deer hunting outfitters.  Look for an outfitter with a long history of producing before making a deposit on a hunt.  A quality Illinois outfitter with an excellent reputation is Harpole’s Heartland Lodge.


Speaking of television shows, outdoor television has made Iowa the holy grail of whitetail hunting states.  The Hawkeye State has everything a deer needs to grow into a trophy.  From acres upon acres of cropland to river bottoms and woodlots, they grow them big in Iowa.  Drawing a non-resident buck tag takes a few years and land access can be tough at times.  But those obstacles are a big part of what makes the state so attractive to those who do hunt there. 


Ohio may not have been on this list ten years ago but the Buckeye State is churning out some whoppers these days.  In fact, from 2009 to 2011 only Wisconsin put more trophy bucks in the record books.  Non-resident deer licenses are relatively inexpensive and regulations and bag limits are liberal.  Coshocton County, Tuscarawas County, and Licking County are top spots for Ohio deer hunters. 


The northern portion of Missouri is known as the buck belt and it is for good reason.  Missouri consistently ranks in the Top 10 for B&C bucks.  Macon County and Pike County are top producing areas.  Habitat is diverse within the state with agriculture dominating much of the north and wooded mountains covering southern portions.  Licenses are inexpensive and can be purchased over the counter.   


Indiana isn’t a state that comes to mind when most people think of best states for big bucks.  But that is quickly changing.  The second largest hunter killed deer ever taken was killed in Indiana in 2012.  The Hunting County non-typical giant officially scored 305 5/8”.   It’s astounding considering the state was completely devoid of deer in the 1930s. 

Note: Kentucky and Kansas are two great whitetail states that didn’t make the list due to geography.  Both states border the Midwest but Kansas is considered a plains state and Kentucky is south of the Ohio River.



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