1 | Some State Wildlife Agencies Didn't Provide Information
Crossbow seasons have been a polarizing topic for nearly two decades. Some people love them. Others fear them (it seems). Nonetheless, regardless of which side you’re on, some states still haven’t fully adopted them. Or adopted them at all for that matter.
The 2018 QDMA Whitetail Report compiled a large list of state data and revealed what states those are. But first, state agencies that did not respond and provide information during the survey include: Washington, Oregon, California, Montana and Utah. All other states provided at least some data to go on. That said, it seems support for crossbows continues to rise. According to the QDMA, states that allow crossbows during archery season increased from 57 percent of the survey sample in 2012 to 78 percent in 2018.
Here are the states that do not allow crossbows during at least a portion of their archery whitetail season(s). Plus some general whitetail hunting information about what they do have to offer in their state.
Idaho has one of the strongest populations of whitetails in the entire West, with most being located on public ground. Furthermore, most deer tags are sold on a first-come, first-serve basis, with many units having available tags late into the year. The northern Panhandle and Clearwater regions hold the greatest number of whitetails, but virtually any of these areas north of the Salmon River have expanding numbers. Typically, Idaho whitetail hunters enjoy an annual success rate near or above 40 percent, and when you consider most are killed on public ground, Idaho is a very appealing option for the do-it-yourself hunter. In fact, when you take into account the relatively low hunter densities chasing whitetails in northern Idaho, the state’s quality buck production per hunter would rival many of the more popular whitetail midwestern states . . . continue reading . . .
The Grand Canyon State offers both mule deer and the Coues whitetail in solid numbers; and if you are looking to add a Coues whitetail to your trophy room, then look no further than Arizona. These pint-sized deer are spread across the central and southeastern regions of the state, most of which are on public ground, which makes them the perfect quarry for the DIY hunter. Although an Arizona mule deer tag tends to be more coveted and can take years to draw in some areas, whitetails are often overlooked making the odds of getting a tag much easier . . . continue reading . . .
Known more for mule deer opportunities, the Land of Enchantment also offers small pockets of whitetails around the river bottoms and agricultural fields along the Texas border, as well as its smaller cousin, the Coues whitetail, in the southwest corner of the state. The larger Texanus subspecies are mainly found on private land, but a few pockets do exist on BLM ground. New Mexico’s Coues deer numbers are stable, and for the hunter looking to add one to his trophy room there are good public-land opportunities in the Burro Mountains of unit 23, as well as unit 27. Generally, success rates hover around 30 percent most years . . . continue reading . . .
Although Colorado is king when it comes to mule deer hunting out West, its whitetail population is also doing well. Dominating the river bottoms that stretch from the Front Range to the Kansas border, whitetail populations have been growing in recent years causing state wildlife officials to open some unlimited whitetail-only areas to keep them from expanding westward.
Although the Centennial State boasts over 23 million acres of public ground, only a small fraction of that is located in Colorado’s river bottom whitetail country. That being said, there is over 80,000 acres of whitetail-rich public ground. And since tags are only offered on a draw system — often coming with a steep preference point price — and buck-to-doe ratios run about 40/100 in these river bottom regions, good whitetail opportunities do abound if you’re willing to wait . . . continue reading . . .
Even though whitetail numbers are virtually unknown across North Dakota, it has something going for it that many other whitetail destinations don’t: it has a low hunter density and high success rates, lots of hunting opportunities on public ground, affordable licenses and good numbers of trophy bucks. In fact, on a per-hunter basis, North Dakota has produced the third most Pope and Young bucks of any state in recent years.
That being said, EHD together with rough winters did have an impact on deer numbers across North Dakota recently causing the game and fish department to significantly reduce antlerless licenses; however, the latest models show that numbers are on the rise. Archery hunters have been seeing a 35 percent success rate, muzzleloaders a 47 percent rate, and rifle hunters nearly a 70 percent rate.
North Dakota's deer tags are issued in a lottery system and a rifle tag is extremely difficult to draw — even for residents. Archery tags for whitetails much easier to obtain . . . continue reading . . .
Wicked winters coupled with deer-killing EHD seemed to have a grip on South Dakota’s white-tailed deer herds several years ago causing deer numbers to decrease significantly. In fact, populations were hit so hard in some areas that the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks reduced license numbers and suspended antlerless permits, but now the tables are starting to turn. Successive mild winters coupled with good moisture and minimal EHD outbreaks have caused whitetail numbers to rebound. In response, the SDGF&P increased both buck and antlerless permits. Couple this whitetail boom with the ability to produce giant whitetails, low hunter densities and reasonable cost for deer licenses and the Mount Rushmore State earns a solid B in Antler Nation.
South Dakota's tag system is complex. All deer licenses are issued via lottery with archery tags generally being easy to obtain but rifle tags are much harder to draw . . . continue reading . . .
Eyebrows were raised when we gave Iowa a "B" the first time around. All were expecting an easy A. The same rationale that prevented Iowa from earning that coveted A rating the first time remains: Tags are crazy expensive for non-residents, a preference point alone costs you an arm and a leg, public land is hard to come by and it'll take you three or four years to draw a tag in many areas if you're a non-resident.
EHD took a significant toll on the herd in some areas a few years ago, but has rebounded fairly well. The state has received increased hunting presure and because of that you have a state that, while still great, isn't quite what it once was. Still better than just about everywhere else in terms of giant bucks? Well, yes . . . continue reading . . .
Minnesota used to be a lot better than it is now. After earning a solid B when we first issued Antler Nation grades, Minnesota's deer population has tumbled. Why? A combination of factors that include EHD, predators, and bitter winters. At least efforts by the Minnesota DNR are under way to rebuild the state's deer population. And they've recovered some, but not enough to bump the grade.
The Boone & Crockett records show how much trophy buck potential has declined in recent years. And until things start to improve for the state, the grade will continue to decline or stay the same . . . continue reading . . .
Massachusetts' deer herd benefited from a large mast crop and mild winter last fall and the fall before, too. The herd should be in great shape when the 2018 season starts. While public land is scarce and population density is high (third in the nation in people per square mile), good deer hunting can still be found for those who work at it. The increasing herd is starting to strain some local neighborhoods, and residents are increasingly looking to hunters as a way to protect their landscape and make their commutes safer. Bowhunters in particular are finding more and more openings in urban settings. Don’t overlook state-managed lands like parks and state forests which are experiencing the same deer overpopulation as surrounding neighborhoods. Hunters are needed there to help with population control, too . . . continue reading . . .
Even more for the experience than the actual deer numbers, Vermont holds a storied place among deer hunting legend and lore. Big-woods hunting rules in the state, but more and more in recent years, urban deer populations are coming on strong. For urban bowhunters, look for small woodlots and undeveloped lots that might hold high numbers of deer and offer enough room to work the wind for a favorable archery shot.
Another mild winter coupled with last fall’s heavy mast crop has the herd on the upswing. Hopefully, the forked antler restriction put in place in 2013 is starting to show results with increased numbers of older-age-class bucks. For public land, look no farther than the Green Mountain National Forest, nearly 400,000 acres of contiguous hardwood forest. Pack a tent and camping supplies and head into the back country for an old-style, big-woods deer hunt . . . continue reading . . .
While the New Hampshire deer harvest has been down the past few years, things are looking up. A stretch of bad weather during the firearms season the last few years kept many hunters from filling their tags. Couple that with three mild winters in a row and record acorn and apple crops last fall, and the deer herd came through the winter in great shape. New Hampshire biologists are expecting a near record harvest this season. Tags are easy to come by and, with around a million acres of public ground, there is plenty of room to hunt . . . continue reading . . .
Maine’s herd took a hard hit during the winter of 2008-09, but numbers have been on a slow and steady increase since then. Recent mild winters and good mast crops were just what the deer needed to continue increasing their numbers.
In an effort to increase deer numbers in the state, the MDIFW has limited most hunters in the state to one antlered deer per season. If you want to take an extra deer, check into some of the WMD’s that offer additional deer or even antlerless deer permits by lottery draw. While the northern Big Woods automatically comes to mind when most people think Maine hunting, the southern counties continue to hold higher deer numbers . . . continue reading . . .
The new Excalibur Assassin Crossbow in Realtree EDGE delivers all the advantages of Excalibur recurve limb technology – superior accuracy, no timing or tuning issues and bombproof durability – with a now virtually effortless draw cycle, thanks to the patented Charger Cranking System™. Generating up to 360 FPS from the world’s quietest crossbow is now virtually effortless. Designed around the industry-leading Micro platform, the Assassin is destined to dominate in tight quarters and in the stand. Two limbs and a string simplicity creates the reliability that no compound crossbow can deliver. Any perceived advantage of a compound crossbow dies the moment you shoot the new Assassin . . . continue reading . . .