Boone & Crockett has released their list of the top whitetail hunting states and provinces.
For many deer hunters, planning an out-of-state hunting trip to one of the "destination states" can be a bit daunting. There are plenty of legendary whitetail deer states out there, but which ones are the best odds for the biggest bucks?
Well, Boone & Crockett may have the answer. The storied conservation club has just released the "6th Edition of Records of North American Whitetail Deer." The newest volume of records contains nearly 700 pages and 17,000 listed deer records.
Using the data from the latest record book, Boone & Crockett has now released their list of the top eight whitetail states based on the number of entries. Looking at the results may give some insight into where to plan your next hunting trip.
Wisconsin is the top state once again.
It should come as no surprise to any hunter that Wisconsin is at the top of this list. Six of the top 20 counties for B&C-class entries in North America are in Wisconsin and the state accounts for a whopping 1,822 total entries. It should also be no surprise that the number one overall county in the country is here and it is Buffalo County. The combination of rolling hills, plentiful agriculture, and a border location on the lush Mississippi River probably all help in creating prime whitetail habitat. The county boasts a whopping 150 entries now, 48 more than the number two spot. The next best producing Wisconsin County is Crawford with 58 entries. Trempealeau, Vernon, Richland, and Sauk are the next best, in that order.
"Notably, however, the state's top five typical bucks ever taken did not come from these high producing counties, instead coming from Burnett, Kenosha, Wood, Columbia, and Dodge Counties," their list reads. "This shows the quality of deer management across the entire state."
Of course, that Burnett County buck would be the world-famous Jordan buck, the former world record typical at 206 1/8, and generally considered one of the most beautiful deer ever taken. The Badger State is probably poised to hold that title for some time.
Illinois holds the #3 all-time non-typical, and the number two spot.
Another state that is no surprise to us here at Wide Open Spaces. The Land of Lincoln shocked the world in 2018 when Luke Brewster harvested his massive 327 7/8-inch state record non-typical that will likely ascend to the number three spot all-time for whitetails after a judge's panel review in 2022. That massive buck fell in Edgar County.
Of course, it was the ever-famous Pike County that was the top county for Illinois, producing 57 B&C entries in the latest edition of the record book. That number is good enough to rank the county at number ten overall too. In their press release, B&C notes that big buck paradises Fulton and Adams county are not far behind Pike but are now tied with 55 entries each.
It all seems to show the future of deer hunting looks promising for the Midwestern state.
Iowa comes in at number three for giant whitetails.
The Hawkeye State retains its reputation as a big buck factory thanks to 1,330 entries now in B&C's record book. Out of the top 20 counties in the United States, Iowa is home to three of them. Allamakee County sits in the top spot for Iowa with 60 entries, which helps it rank number eight overall. Warren County is the next top county with 50 entries, ranking 16th in the nation. Clayton County rounds out the list of top spots with 47 total entries, ranking number 19 overall.
It was not just those counties that were producing big bucks either. The release notes that the state's top five typicals came from Decatur, Des Moines, Plymouth, Monroe, and Hamilton Counties.
States four through eight.
The next four states also contain some expected names, although perhaps not in the order you might expect them. One that took us by surprise was Minnesota coming in at number four overall with 1,194 entries. St. Louis County, Minnesota just happens to be the number two overall county in the U.S. for B&C entries with a whopping 102.
Ohio was number five with 1,049 entries. What is notable about the Buckeye State is that most of the big deer kills have been recent. The move to number five is a jump up in the rankings for Ohio.
"Of particular note, all of the new typical records in the state's top 10 and six of the 10 non-typical state records were taken in the 2000s - this shows that current state management is producing consistently large bucks," the press release reads.
By just a hair, Kentucky was dethroned for the number six spot with this latest edition of the record book, but still holds an impressive 1,048 entries. Missouri came in at number seven with 896 entries and Kansas moved up to the number eight spot with 867 entries, not surprising given how the Sunflower State has surged in popularity with hunters in recent years.
Other notable numbers.
Canadian province Saskatchewan is the number nine spot in North America to bag a Boone & Crockett and sleeper whitetail state Indiana comes in at number ten to round out the list of top big buck states. Boone and Crockett is highlighting several bonus states which had notable entries and numbers. The Lone Star State of Texas came in at number 11 overall with 767 entries and four of the top six counties in the nation. Maverick County is the top Texas County overall with 92 entries, Webb was number four with 87, and Dimmit and La Salle are tied for fifth position with 73 each.
Arkansas also got a special shout-out thanks to the William Loyd buck in 2018. It became one of the rare typicals to break the magical 200-inch mark with a score of 200 1/8 and became the 17th largest typical of all time. It is set to become the state record pending a judge's panel in 2022, but Arkansas has now made its way to the number 15 spot, which B&C says is thanks to their management practices.
B&C also notes Stephen Tucker's monster Tennessee non-typical, which was taken in 2016 and is now officially the state record. The buck has an even bigger distinction for being the fourth largest non-typical of all time at 315 1/8 inches.
For more information on Boone & Crockett's sixth edition record book of whitetail deer and to read more specifics about how entry numbers broke down, see the Boone & Crockett website.