Bowhunt for Deer
Travis Smola

Which Are the Top States to Bowhunt for Deer?

Here are some of the best states to bowhunt for deer.

We know deer hunting season can seem like it's an eternity away. Right now, you might just be thinking about hanging trail cameras to monitor the growing big bucks, working on your shot placement with your compound bow, or planning your stand sites.

But opening day of most early seasons will be here before you know it and you'll soon find yourself strapping into your safety harness and watching the wind direction. If you're a deer hunter who has been considering an out-of-state hunt, now is the time to plan that hunt. It does not matter if you use a compound, recurve, or even a crossbow, the time to plan is now.

Before you release that bowstring, it pays to do your research on the state that is best for you. These are eight of the best states to travel to for bow hunting deer this year.


For monster whitetail deer, you really can't go wrong with the Sunflower State. Every deer season, monster Boone & Crockett class bucks fall here. Plenty of other mature bucks here are ghosts that disappear without a trace. However, during the rut, this state is hard to beat if you want to get a true giant within bow range. 

The one downside is that you're likely going to have to lease land or go with an outfitter. Public lands are somewhat limited in Kansas, and the game animals there are more pressured than other states with more hunting areas.


Bowhunt for Deer

Travis Smola

The Equality State doesn't often make it onto lists of top places to bowhunt, but it is an awesome place for hunting whitetails and mule deer. The former probably more than the latter.

Wyoming has ample public lands and doesn't get quite as much pressure as some of the other more popular hunting states making it a good option for anyone looking for more of a wilderness experience away from the crowds.


The Land of Lincoln isn't a very exciting state terrain-wise. It's flat, open, and mostly farmland. But that makes it prime for whitetail deer hunting. No food plot required with the veritable feast farmers plant every year. Lots of these agricultural areas are just waiting for you to set up your treestand or ground blind. 

Remember, Illinois is home to the Pope & Young's top typical whitetail deer. Mel Johnson's 204 4/8-inch monster that has stood on top of the P&Y record books for over 50 years. Oh, and don't forget, last year Luke Brewster shot a 327 2/8 monster non-typical with his bow in Edgar County. This buck is now the biggest ever shot by a hunter and the third biggest ever behind two bucks that were found dead.

Really, do you need anymore proof that Illinois is one of the best states for bowhunting whitetails?


Bowhunt for Deer

Travis Smola

Another hidden gem; more and more bowhunters are discovering the Magnolia State's trophy buck potential since they implemented QDM rules. Just ask someone like Earl Stubblefield. He downed a massive 179 1/8-inch white-tailed deer there that was about as close to perfect as one can get. The deer only had 1 6/8 inches of deductions!

The state has around 1.5 million acres of public hunting land for out-of-state bowhunters to try their luck at a similar monster.


The Show Me State has proven time and again that it is home to some huge whitetails. The biggest non-typical ever, the 333-inch "Missouri Monarch," was found dead here. No wonder so many travel from so far to deer hunt there.

There are plenty of hunting options in Missouri public land. There are also tons of private land options if you're looking to hire an outfitter to put you on the big bucks.

Strangely, even though the state has such a big buck reputation, it doesn't receive a ton of hunting pressure when compared to other states in the Midwest making it a good option for bow hunters from the eastern part of the U.S. who don't want to travel too far from home.


For the bowhunter who wants to go after both mule deer and whitetails, you really can't go wrong with this state. Odds are good you are going to get on the blood trail of something while hunting in Big Sky Country.

Montana has millions of acres of public land. National Forests account for 16 million acres of that public access alone. That gives plenty of chances to hunt a healthy deer population of bucks that grow massive racks there.

Montana is perfect for the bowhunter who likes to combine camping with their big game hunting adventures for an experience you won't soon forget.


Iowa is a lot like Illinois in that both are flat and made up mostly of agricultural lands. All those crops allow the bucks to grow massive antlers. The 307 5/8-inch Tony Lovstuen buck is proof of that.

There is a downside to Iowa. If you don't already live there, you must apply for the chance at an archery season deer permit. Also, there is a real lack of public land access unfortunately.

But if you can find a place to bow hunt, you'll likely find yourself in a whitetail hunter's paradise!


Most people think of elk or bears when they think of Idaho, but there are some awesome bowhunting opportunities for mule deer to be considered too.

Whitetail deer can grow large here too, but they tend to fly way under the radar. This state gets bonus points for having nearly 35 million acres of public land to hunt them on too.

Another big plus for Idaho? You can buy non-resident deer tags over-the-counter!

For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis YouTube channels