Outdoorsmen dreaming of taking the buck of a lifetime will want to check out the latest issue of Outdoor Life. The magazine uses real-world considerations to assess the top ten whitetail trophy states in the U.S., and has named Kentucky as number one. Outdoor Life’s June/July issue is available on newsstands and highlights of the story are available at outdoorlife.com/whitetailscale now.
“Every year there are stories about which state has become the latest trophy-whitetail destination, but frankly the equation has been wrong all along,” says Andrew McKean, Editor of Outdoor Life. “If you only look at the total number of deer killed, it gives an unfair advantage to states with high numbers of hunters and deer. When you’re considering investing the time and money it can often take to go on a trophy hunt it’s important to consider all the factors to get the most accurate picture—which is what we’ve done.”
To develop the list, based on what it calls the “New Whitetail Scale,” Outdoor Life considered a number of factors to create a real-world barometer of trophy-deer trends. First, the magazine looked at the last three years of Boone and Crockett Club record-book entries and noted the number of bucks that made the book from each state. Since trophy production is the most important factor, this category was weighted more heavily than the others. Next, hunter density per state was considered to determine the competition for trophy bucks. Since research shows that hiring an outfitter offers nonresident hunters the best chance of a taking a trophy deer, Outdoor Life also considered the average fee of a fair-chase, fully guided, five-day hunt during the rut in each state, as well as nonresident license fees. Finally, each state’s hunter friendliness was considered.
After tallying the scores, Kentucky emerged as the clear winner, with the western part of the state, in particular, producing a relatively high number of trophy bucks. Kentucky ranked second in the number of record-book bucks, but a low hunter density, relatively low cost for guided hunts, and hunter-friendly laws and regulations pushed the Bluegrass State to the top. Here are how the top states ranked:
Outdoor Life’s Top Whitetail States
To read Outdoor Life’s complete coverage, visit outdoorlife.com/whitetailscale.