Pressure is a very important factor in hunting. It doesn’t matter what your goals are. Whether you’re a meat hunter, trophy hunter, or a little of both, the amount of hunting pressure an area receives can make or break your hunt, or even your season.
How we received these results is important to know. While one way to measure this is to compare the number of hunters per square mile, we opted to go another route. Instead, we compared the number of licenses sold annually to the estimated whitetail population. This provides a better idea of how many deer there are per hunter and how much those deer potentially get pressured each season.
Because of this method, some states were not included because their state agency could not provide (new) estimated annual whitetail population data at the time this was published. These states include: Washington, Indiana, Arizona, North Dakota, Oregon, Michigan and New Mexico. As for the rest of the country, each state was analyzed and ranked based on state-agency-provided data. So if you don’t like the results, don’t shoot the messenger. We’re just here to tell you the way it is.
Everything is bigger in Texas. Except the hunting pressure. Sure, there are a lot of deer hunters in the state. But so much of it is in managed private ground that hunting pressure is minimal compared to other states.
8. North Carolina
Deer-to-License Ratio: 4:1
North Carolina offers some pretty good deer hunting. And with nearly four deer per license sold, there’s several to go around. While we’re always wishing for a better situation, in the grand scheme of things, hunters in this state have it pretty good.
Deer-to-License Ratio: 4.2:1
Kentucky is where I live and hunt the most. And while some of the public lands can get a little crowded, the private land is much less pressured. Sure, it sounds like World War III on the modern rifle opener. But that’s par for the course in just about any state you go to.
Deer-to-License Ratio: 5.0:1
The Land of Oz does a pretty good job of regulating the number of hunters vs. the number of deer they have. While it isn’t quite as low as it once was, the hunting pressure is still fairly minimal in Kansas.
This might come as a shock to some, but South Carolina doesn’t have that much hunting pressure. The lack of deer and rapidly decreasing deer population isn’t a result of harvested deer. It’s primarily a result of degrading habitat and predation on fawns.
Deer-to-License Ratio: 6.3:1
You don’t generally say Florida and deer hunting in the same sentence. But you should. This is one state that has made great strides in recent years — especially in the Panhandle. It isn’t uncommon to see 110- to 130-inch bucks come out of this region.
Deer-to-License Ratio: 8.7:1
This is the state that no one ever thinks about. And that’s one reason why they have nearly eight deer per license sold. Idaho is a fantastic Upper Midwest destination.
Deer-to-License Ratio: 11.3:1
Mississippi hunters might think they live in a pressured state. But when you consider their enormous deer population, and compare it to all of the other states in the country, they have it pretty dang good — 11.3 deer per licenses sold good.
Deer-to-License Ratio: 13.1:1
The least pressured state in the country is none other than Virginia. That’s one of the reasons it has made the A grade in our Antler Nation grading system for three years running now. People don’t often think about this state for good deer hunting. But good deer hunting is here.
Whitetails make the hunting world go round. Josh Honeycutt, deer hunting editor and "Brow Tines and Backstrap" blogger, knows a fair bit about killing mature deer. He was raised up hunting the river bottoms of Kentucky. And he still hunts there—among other places—to this day.
Follow along as he shares his adventures, experiences and knowledge of the white-tailed deer.