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8 Worst States to Bowhunt This Fall (Even with a Crossbow)

All images by Brad Smith

If you live in one of the worst states to bowhunt, you might want to think about an out of state lease. 

First off, I'm sorry for the crossbow jab. Truth be told, you could probably hunt with a hand grenade and still strike out in one of these below states. Of course, nothing beats time in the stand, but if you are hunting in one of the worst states to bowhunt, odds just are not on your side.

A lot of states are doing things right when it comes to deer and deer deer hunting. However, a few states are on a stark downward trend. So let's get down to it. Sharpen your knives, craft your witty social media jabs, and get ready to get angry.

Fortunately, the QDMA put out a lot of stats to back up what you are going to read and the trending numbers don't lie. Deer declines are a real thing in a lot of places for a variety of reasons. The trends also speak loud and clear as well. With that in mind, just look below to see what we predict will be the worst states to bow hunt in 2016, not just by the trends, but mostly our gut.


1. Louisiana

Louisiana has been in the bottom half of all states for bowhunting for some time. After last season, only 6 percent of the entire deer totals were accounted for by bow. The state also lists wild pigs being a major factor in the decline of deer populations.

2. Alabama


Alabama is a shotgun state. There's very little questioning this. However, 12 percent of the last three years of recent harvests have come by bow, so that's at least something!

Unfortunately, poaching and declining hunter engagement are combining to reduce state money into the herd. Not only that, heavy droughts will cause for some even more thinning.

3. Iowa

Iowa has been a state in decline all around for deer numbers in the last several years. However, 21 percent of all of last year's deer were taken by bow, that means there's a higher than average chance if you can find a place to hunt. Expensive leases and politicians are making Iowa a place to avoid in the not-so-distant future.

4. Minnesota

Minnesota has had a run of bad luck last the last few years. Numbers have been dropping, wolves are increasing, and deer hunters are feeling the brunt of it.

Hunters routinely say how it's getting hard to find deer in the northern parts of the state, but the southern parts are getting hit heavy with screwy regulations.

5. Wisconsin


If you need a reason to avoid bowhunting Wisconsin, just look at Minnesota. On top of that, add in the threat of CWD and you are looking at a developing perfect storm. Wisconsin was once the land of huge deer and plenty of them, but hard winters and hard summers have also taken their toll.

To make matters even a little more worse, Wisconsin is one of the highest hunter density states out there.

6. Michigan

Man, the upper Midwest is taking a pounding. Let's not stop the train now! Time to roll over Michigan. Hunter numbers have been plummeting in Michigan. CWD cases are increasing. However, on a yearly basis, a lot of deer are normally taken by bow in Michigan.

Large state forests dot the upper half and leased out acreage dots the southern half. If you can get a place to hunt, you'll probably see some deer. However, if you are looking for big ones, there are better places.

7. Indiana


Indiana was very close to taking the top spot as one of the worst states to bowhunt. Luckily though, it's the runner up. Things were on the right track in Indiana for a number of years, but politicians are now heavily involved and the deer population is just awful.

Extended doe seasons, practically unlimited doe tags, and a hard summer are going to equal another down year for Hoosier bow hunters.

8. Pennsylvania

Good old Penn is the unanimous winner as the worst state to not only bowhunt, but just really hunt in general. With the highest population of hunters in the country, averaging about 20 per square mile, finding a place just to bowhunt can be a challenge. On top of that, there are a lot of political motivations at play too with more hunting rules than most states. Public land can be a madhouse and private land is only getting more and more expensive. To make matters worse, CWD is only spreading.

These sort of posts are always open for debate. Love it or hate it, there you go.

Let the onslaught begin.


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