Special Report

The States Where Hunters Get the Most Deer

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Hunting has long been a popular pastime in the United States, and for the nearly 16 million licensed hunters in the U.S., deer are by far the most sought-after game. Common across much of North America, the animals are typically hunted not only for sport, but also for food, as a single buck yields an average of about 55 pounds of meat. 

While it may seem counterintuitive to some, hunters also play an important role in wildlife conservation. Through the Pittman-Robertson Act, sportsmen and women pay an excise tax on hunting licenses, firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment – money that is distributed to state fish and wildlife agencies. These taxes generated $1.5 billion in conservation funding in 2022 alone. Helping to reduce problems associated with overpopulation, hunting is also an important tool for wildlife population management.

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 of Americans who hunt wild turkey, the second most common game. 

The most common species of the animal by far in America – and indeed in the world in general – is the white-tailed deer, of which there are about 30 million (counting subspecies) across the continental U.S. (The population of the second-most plentiful species, the mule deer, is only about 4 million, concentrated almost entirely west of the Rockies.)

Though deer are hunted in nearly every state, in some parts of the country, hunters are far more likely to have a successful season than in others. Using data from the National Deer Association, a wildlife and habitat preservation organization, 24/7 Tempo identified the best states for deer hunting. All data is from the NDA’s Deer Report 2023, and states are ranked by the number of antlered bucks harvested for every 100 hunters in 2021, the most recent year for which figures are available. In the case of a tie, the state where the most antlerless deer were harvested per 100 hunters ranks higher. 

Click here for a ranking of the states where hunters get the most deer

The NDA report only covers the contiguous 48 states, and as a result, Alaska and Hawaii were not considered in this analysis. Additionally, data on deer harvested per 100 hunters was unavailable in California, Idaho, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Utah, and West Virginia. Supplementary data on the share of deer taken with rifles and shotguns, bows and crossbows, or muzzleloaders in each state is also from the NDA’s report. (Here is a look at the 14 most versatile rifle cartridges for hunting.)

Among the remaining 41 states, the number of antlered bucks harvested in 2021 for every 100 hunters ranges from 11 up to 74. The states with the highest ratio of hunters to bucks harvested are overwhelmingly concentrated in the South, while the states with the lowest ratios are mostly in the Northeast. (These are the most popular American hunting destinations.)

41. Vermont
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 11 per 100 hunters (9,133 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 8 per 100 hunters (6,725 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 51% rifle/shotgun; 28% bow/crossbow; 21% muzzleloader

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40. New Hampshire
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 14 per 100 hunters (8,103 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 8 per 100 hunters (4,448 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 50% rifle/shotgun; 28% bow/crossbow; 21% muzzleloader

39. Massachusetts
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 17 per 100 hunters (8,042 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 9 per 100 hunters (4,361 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 32% rifle/shotgun; 48% bow/crossbow; 20% muzzleloader

38. Oklahoma
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 19 per 100 hunters (69,308 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 13 per 100 hunters (48,321 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 59% rifle/shotgun; 31% bow/crossbow; 10% muzzleloader

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37. New York
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 20 per 100 hunters (110,839 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 18 per 100 hunters (100,430 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 62% rifle/shotgun; 28% bow/crossbow; 10% muzzleloader

36. North Dakota
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 21 per 100 hunters (19,375 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 14 per 100 hunters (13,042 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 80% rifle/shotgun; 19% bow/crossbow; 1% muzzleloader

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35. Minnesota
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 21 per 100 hunters (100,028 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 18 per 100 hunters (84,670 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 81% rifle/shotgun; 13% bow/crossbow; 6% muzzleloader

34. Kentucky
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 21 per 100 hunters (68,035 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 20 per 100 hunters (64,293 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 73% rifle/shotgun; 21% bow/crossbow; 7% muzzleloader

33. New Jersey
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 21 per 100 hunters (15,896 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 27 per 100 hunters (20,891 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 26% rifle/shotgun; 64% bow/crossbow; 10% muzzleloader

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32. Washington
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 22 per 100 hunters (21,665 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 3 per 100 hunters (2,653 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 86% rifle/shotgun; 9% bow/crossbow; 5% muzzleloader

31. Pennsylvania
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 22 per 100 hunters (145,320 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 36 per 100 hunters (231,490 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 60% rifle/shotgun; 35% bow/crossbow; 5% muzzleloader

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30. Rhode Island
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 23 per 100 hunters (1,215 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 18 per 100 hunters (949 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 12% rifle/shotgun; 39% bow/crossbow; 49% muzzleloader

29. Connecticut
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 24 per 100 hunters (5,747 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 13 per 100 hunters (3,052 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 35% rifle/shotgun; 51% bow/crossbow; 5% muzzleloader

28. Wisconsin
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 25 per 100 hunters (153,112 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 25 per 100 hunters (156,280 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 66% rifle/shotgun; 32% bow/crossbow; 2% muzzleloader

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27. Indiana
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 26 per 100 hunters (53,752 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 28 per 100 hunters (58,730 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 62% rifle/shotgun; 28% bow/crossbow; 10% muzzleloader

26. New Mexico
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 27 per 100 hunters (8,689 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 0 per 100 hunters (138 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: N/A

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25. Nebraska
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 27 per 100 hunters (27,075 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 18 per 100 hunters (17,727 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 82% rifle/shotgun; 12% bow/crossbow; 6% muzzleloader

24. Iowa
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 27 per 100 hunters (45,181 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 35 per 100 hunters (57,629 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 62% rifle/shotgun; 24% bow/crossbow; 14% muzzleloader

23. Oregon
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 28 per 100 hunters (36,198 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 3 per 100 hunters (3,390 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 88% rifle/shotgun; 10% bow/crossbow; 2% muzzleloader

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22. Arkansas
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 29 per 100 hunters (86,557 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 32 per 100 hunters (94,822 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 74% rifle/shotgun; 16% bow/crossbow; 10% muzzleloader

21. Missouri
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 30 per 100 hunters (143,815 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 32 per 100 hunters (151,328 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 76% rifle/shotgun; 20% bow/crossbow; 5% muzzleloader

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20. Illinois
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 30 per 100 hunters (69,315 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 33 per 100 hunters (77,107 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 52% rifle/shotgun; 45% bow/crossbow; 2% muzzleloader

19. Ohio
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 30 per 100 hunters (88,969 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 37 per 100 hunters (108,019 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 44% rifle/shotgun; 48% bow/crossbow; 6% muzzleloader

18. Arizona
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 33 per 100 hunters (14,312 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 0 per 100 hunters (104 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: N/A

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17. Colorado
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 34 per 100 hunters (31,160 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 10 per 100 hunters (9,401 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 87% rifle/shotgun; 7% bow/crossbow; 6% muzzleloader

16. North Carolina
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 37 per 100 hunters (89,246 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 33 per 100 hunters (79,181 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 76% rifle/shotgun; 14% bow/crossbow; 10% muzzleloader

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15. Tennessee
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 40 per 100 hunters (74,516 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 31 per 100 hunters (57,698 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 66% rifle/shotgun; 13% bow/crossbow; 21% muzzleloader

14. Wyoming
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 41 per 100 hunters (23,957 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 19 per 100 hunters (11,104 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 93% rifle/shotgun; 7% bow/crossbow

13. Michigan
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 42 per 100 hunters (223,476 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 32 per 100 hunters (171,583 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 62% rifle/shotgun; 32% bow/crossbow; 6% muzzleloader

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12. Kansas
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 42 per 100 hunters (45,215 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 36 per 100 hunters (38,792 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 50% rifle/shotgun; 47% bow/crossbow; 3% muzzleloader

11. Maryland
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 43 per 100 hunters (27,947 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 61 per 100 hunters (39,498 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 50% rifle/shotgun; 35% bow/crossbow; 15% muzzleloader

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10. Delaware
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 44 per 100 hunters (6,891 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 54 per 100 hunters (8,492 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 70% rifle/shotgun; 20% bow/crossbow; 9% muzzleloader

9. Georgia
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 46 per 100 hunters (97,056 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 76 per 100 hunters (160,398 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 83% rifle/shotgun; 15% bow/crossbow; 2% muzzleloader

8. South Dakota
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 48 per 100 hunters (34,498 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 29 per 100 hunters (20,643 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 81% rifle/shotgun; 17% bow/crossbow; 2% muzzleloader

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7. Florida
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 49 per 100 hunters (52,254 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 20 per 100 hunters (21,817 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 67% rifle/shotgun; 22% bow/crossbow; 8% muzzleloader

6. Virginia
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 51 per 100 hunters (93,919 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 53 per 100 hunters (97,812 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 63% rifle/shotgun; 14% bow/crossbow; 23% muzzleloader

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5. Alabama
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 52 per 100 hunters (123,280 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 75 per 100 hunters (177,842 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 76% rifle/shotgun; 21% bow/crossbow; 3% muzzleloader

4. Texas
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 59 per 100 hunters (447,972 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 50 per 100 hunters (379,958 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 87% rifle/shotgun; 11% bow/crossbow; 1% muzzleloader

3. Mississippi
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 59 per 100 hunters (114,860 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 79 per 100 hunters (155,041 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 73% rifle/shotgun; 16% bow/crossbow; 11% muzzleloader

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2. Louisiana
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 62 per 100 hunters (128,370 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 50 per 100 hunters (105,030 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 79% rifle/shotgun; 9% bow/crossbow; 12% muzzleloader

1. South Carolina
> Antlered bucks harvested in 2021: 74 per 100 hunters (95,351 total)
> Antlerless deer harvested in 2021: 68 per 100 hunters (87,529 total)
> Deer harvested by weapon type, 2021: 90% rifle/shotgun; 8% bow/crossbow; 2% muzzleloader

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