Special Report

Most Popular American Hunting Destinations

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Hunting, while no longer a practical necessity, remains a popular pastime in the United States – and one that has drawn rising public interest in recent years. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, there were over 15.9 million licensed hunters in the U.S. in 2021, nearly 800,000 more than there were in 2018. 

Between private hunting grounds and protected public lands, most American sportsmen and women do not need to travel far to enjoy their hobby. In fact, 89% of the 38.7 million hunting licenses, tags, permits, and stamps issued in 2021 were sold for in-state hunts. 

However, in a country as large and ecologically diverse as the United States, hunters who are willing to travel have many good options. Whether for the simplicity of hunting laws, the size of available game, or the variety and abundance of animal species, some states have become popular hunting destinations. 

Using data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 24/7 Tempo identified the most popular hunting destinations in America and ranked all 50 states on the number of paid hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps they issued to out-of-state visitors in 2021. 

Depending on the state, the number of hunting authorizations granted to out-of-staters ranges from as few as 1,253 to over a quarter million. Many of the lowest ranking states on this list are in the Northeast, a densely populated region with relatively limited public acreage open to hunters. Meanwhile, many of the most popular destinations are in the South and West, regions where much of the land is federally owned and open for hunters. (Here is a look at how much land in each state is owned by the government.)

For many of the top destination states on this list, big game animals – including moose, elk, and bear – are a draw for many hunters, whitetail deer is the most commonly hunted game in America, according to the latest National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Census Bureau. There are over 8 million deer hunters annually, more than four times the number who hunt wild turkey, the second most common game. 

Click here to see the most popular states for hunters.

Click here to read our detailed methodology.

In several states, hunters harvest hundreds of thousands of deer annually. But in many of the lowest ranking states on this list, the number of deer killed each hunting season is a small fraction of the nationwide highs reported in places like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Texas – states that each rank in the top 50% of states by out-of-state hunting licenses, tags, permits, and stamps sold annually. (These are the 14 most versatile rifle cartridges for hunting.)

50. Hawaii
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 1,253 (10.0% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $131,565 (the lowest)
> Public land area: 40.5% of state land (11th highest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: N/A

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49. Connecticut
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 4,353 (4.3% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $358,555 (3rd lowest)
> Public land area: 15.8% of state land (25th highest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 8,799 (65.3% antlered buck)

48. Delaware
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 7,161 (12.2% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $578,951 (5th lowest)
> Public land area: 14.6% of state land (22nd lowest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 15,383 (44.8% antlered buck)

47. Rhode Island
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 7,505 (12.7% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $137,436 (2nd lowest)
> Public land area: 10.9% of state land (17th lowest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 2,164 (56.1% antlered buck)

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46. Washington
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 15,289 (1.9% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $1,298,049 (9th lowest)
> Public land area: 38.3% of state land (12th highest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 24,318 (89.1% antlered buck)

45. Vermont
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 17,406 (8.8% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $1,008,154 (6th lowest)
> Public land area: 16.5% of state land (23rd highest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 15,858 (57.6% antlered buck)

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44. Massachusetts
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 21,719 (7.8% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $552,371 (4th lowest)
> Public land area: 19.4% of state land (18th highest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 12,403 (64.8% antlered buck)

43. New Hampshire
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 23,335 (13.9% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $1,615,871 (11th lowest)
> Public land area: 24.9% of state land (15th highest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 12,551 (64.6% antlered buck)

42. Indiana
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 24,141 (5.9% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $2,782,471 (14th lowest)
> Public land area: 4.7% of state land (6th lowest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 112,482 (47.8% antlered buck)

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41. New Jersey
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 24,457 (7.6% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $1,260,711 (8th lowest)
> Public land area: 23.6% of state land (16th highest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 36,787 (43.2% antlered buck)

40. Florida
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 25,391 (7.9% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $1,547,881 (10th lowest)
> Public land area: 27.0% of state land (14th highest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 74,071 (70.5% antlered buck)

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39. California
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 26,457 (2.6% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $1,246,471 (7th lowest)
> Public land area: 55.9% of state land (6th highest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 0

38. North Carolina
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 29,324 (8.8% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $2,852,672 (15th lowest)
> Public land area: 10.7% of state land (16th lowest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 168,427 (53.0% antlered buck)

37. Maine
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 35,496 (14.5% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $3,255,392 (16th lowest)
> Public land area: 18.1% of state land (21st highest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 38,947 (55.7% antlered buck)

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36. Nevada
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 36,583 (25.0% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $4,006,161 (18th lowest)
> Public land area: 83.2% of state land (the highest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 0

35. Virginia
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 48,382 (6.3% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $4,468,597 (20th lowest)
> Public land area: 16.0% of state land (24th highest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 191,731 (49.0% antlered buck)

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34. Louisiana
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 49,667 (8.2% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $1,991,037 (12th lowest)
> Public land area: 10.1% of state land (14th lowest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 233,400 (55.0% antlered buck)

33. Minnesota
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 51,635 (3.5% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $4,201,403 (19th lowest)
> Public land area: 18.9% of state land (19th highest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 184,698 (54.2% antlered buck)

32. Utah
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 53,883 (11.2% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $7,757,083 (19th highest)
> Public land area: 72.0% of state land (2nd highest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 0

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31. Pennsylvania
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 54,464 (5.7% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $7,365,668 (20th highest)
> Public land area: 18.7% of state land (20th highest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 376,810 (38.6% antlered buck)

30. Oklahoma
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 60,157 (16.2% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $6,852,283 (24th highest)
> Public land area: 11.7% of state land (18th lowest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 117,629 (58.9% antlered buck)

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29. Maryland
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 66,013 (20.5% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $3,294,085 (17th lowest)
> Public land area: 14.1% of state land (21st lowest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 67,445 (41.4% antlered buck)

28. Alabama
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 67,183 (7.9% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $8,605,656 (16th highest)
> Public land area: 5.9% of state land (7th lowest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 301,122 (40.9% antlered buck)

27. Alaska
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 70,920 (12.2% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $2,133,238 (13th lowest)
> Public land area: 56.2% of state land (5th highest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: N/A

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26. New York
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 70,991 (6.5% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $4,521,101 (21st lowest)
> Public land area: 15.3% of state land (25th lowest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 211,269 (52.5% antlered buck)

25. Oregon
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 73,412 (6.3% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $6,800,898 (25th highest)
> Public land area: 56.8% of state land (4th highest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 39,588 (91.4% antlered buck)

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24. Michigan
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 73,705 (3.3% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $4,851,976 (22nd lowest)
> Public land area: 15.3% of state land (24th lowest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 395,059 (56.6% antlered buck)

23. Texas
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 76,599 (4.2% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $11,730,687 (10th highest)
> Public land area: 4.1% of state land (4th lowest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 827,930 (54.1% antlered buck)

22. Iowa
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 79,161 (11.6% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $8,146,265 (17th highest)
> Public land area: 3.0% of state land (3rd lowest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 102,810 (43.9% antlered buck)

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21. Wyoming
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 79,569 (28.9% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $23,483,498 (4th highest)
> Public land area: 54.2% of state land (8th highest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 35,061 (68.3% antlered buck)

20. Nebraska
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 83,775 (20.9% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $7,225,808 (21st highest)
> Public land area: 2.4% of state land (2nd lowest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 44,802 (60.4% antlered buck)

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19. Ohio
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 85,336 (9.7% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $9,663,674 (14th highest)
> Public land area: 6.0% of state land (8th lowest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 196,988 (45.2% antlered buck)

18. Illinois
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 90,663 (6.1% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $16,790,777 (5th highest)
> Public land area: 4.3% of state land (5th lowest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 146,422 (47.3% antlered buck)

17. Missouri
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 98,132 (5.6% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $12,410,731 (9th highest)
> Public land area: 7.6% of state land (9th lowest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 295,143 (48.7% antlered buck)

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16. Mississippi
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 99,449 (23.6% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $8,926,508 (15th highest)
> Public land area: 9.8% of state land (12th lowest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 269,901 (42.6% antlered buck)

15. Arizona
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 100,746 (16.3% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $6,890,378 (23rd highest)
> Public land area: 55.1% of state land (7th highest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 14,416 (99.3% antlered buck)

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14. South Dakota
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 105,873 (29.4% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $12,822,125 (8th highest)
> Public land area: 16.9% of state land (22nd highest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 55,141 (62.6% antlered buck)

13. South Carolina
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 111,639 (11.3% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $5,546,379 (24th lowest)
> Public land area: 9.4% of state land (11th lowest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 182,880 (52.1% antlered buck)

12. Kentucky
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 112,806 (20.3% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $10,143,234 (13th highest)
> Public land area: 7.7% of state land (10th lowest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 132,328 (51.4% antlered buck)

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11. Arkansas
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 131,203 (25.7% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $11,056,366 (11th highest)
> Public land area: 13.6% of state land (20th lowest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 181,379 (47.7% antlered buck)

10. North Dakota
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 139,005 (24.7% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $6,916,885 (22nd highest)
> Public land area: 21.6% of state land (17th highest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 32,417 (59.8% antlered buck)

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9. New Mexico
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 144,624 (29.6% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $13,471,727 (7th highest)
> Public land area: 47.6% of state land (9th highest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 8,827 (98.4% antlered buck)

8. Kansas
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 148,657 (35.2% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $16,748,471 (6th highest)
> Public land area: 1.9% of state land (the lowest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 84,007 (53.8% antlered buck)

7. West Virginia
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 150,752 (22.0% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $5,045,931 (23rd lowest)
> Public land area: 12.1% of state land (19th lowest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 105,274 (61.0% antlered buck)

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6. Tennessee
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 159,023 (15.1% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $6,113,188 (25th lowest)
> Public land area: 10.2% of state land (15th lowest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 132,214 (56.4% antlered buck)

5. Georgia
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 178,466 (11.4% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $10,602,061 (12th highest)
> Public land area: 9.9% of state land (13th lowest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 257,454 (37.7% antlered buck)

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4. Montana
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 201,393 (18.5% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $27,449,806 (3rd highest)
> Public land area: 37.6% of state land (13th highest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 44,714 (62.5% antlered buck)

3. Colorado
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 234,856 (29.4% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $59,814,909 (the highest)
> Public land area: 44.7% of state land (10th highest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 40,561 (76.8% antlered buck)

2. Wisconsin
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 262,100 (5.8% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $7,957,866 (18th highest)
> Public land area: 14.7% of state land (23rd lowest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 309,392 (49.5% antlered buck)

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1. Idaho
> Non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued, 2021: 277,899 (20.4% of total)
> Non-resident hunting license, tag, permit, & stamp sales, 2021: $27,522,085 (2nd highest)
> Public land area: 68.0% of state land (3rd highest)
> Whitetail deer harvested, 2021: 47,502 (75.5% antlered buck)

Methodology

To identify the states that are the most popular destinations for hunters, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on hunting license apportionments from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. States were ranked based on the number of paid hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps issued to non-residents in 2021. These figures are a reflection of interest in hunting within a given state among out-of-state residents. 

Additional data on total sales revenue from non-resident hunting licenses, tags, permits, & stamps in 2021 is also from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

In season, public land is often open to hunters, and data on the share of land area in each state that is operated as public land is from the Protected Areas Database program of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Supplementary data on the number of whitetail deer harvested in 45 states is from the National Deer Association, a deer wildlife and habitat preservation organization, and is for 2021, the most recent year of available data. (There are no whitetail deer in California, Nevada, or Utah, and data for Alaska and Hawaii is not available.)

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