Ranking the Toughest Deer Hunting: No. 2 – The Northeast

By author of Brow Tines and Backstrap

Everyone likes to talk about how hard their bucks are to hunt. But are they really? We’re taking a look at each region of the country, and ranking how difficult they really are

Nate Hosie shows off his big northeastern buck. (HeadHunters TV photo)

When it comes to their deer hunting, northerners really do have reason to complain. As we continue our countdown, ranking the nation’s toughest deer hunting regions from easiest to toughest, the Northeast comes in at No. 2. Only one other region is consistently more difficult.

HeadHunters TV’s Nate Hosie has pursued whitetails for 23 years. He’s chased them in 17 states, but most of his time has been spent right there at home in the Northeast. Hosie loves Pennsylvania mountain bucks. “I love seeing them come through cover,” Hosie said. “There’s just something about matching wits with them in the timber. There’s nothing like hunting the woods that taught you how to hunt.”

“Things are a little different here come rifle season,” Hosie says. “I think — as far as the numbers go — Pennsylvania still has the largest opening day. Depending on the size of the property, you have to deal with a lot of hunting pressure here. But that’s not a bad thing. It’s great to be in a state where there is such a strong heritage. But pay attention to concealed funnels and other ways deer are avoiding pressure,” Hosie says. “Make sure you wear as much orange as possible (and legal). We even put blaze orange on our blinds.”

He also says New Jersey and New York are hotspots to try. While they might look scary on paper, the hunting is actually really good. And different. He says you're hunting mostly remote hill country in New York, while New Jersey deer hunting is significantly more ... urban. Human presence becomes more of a factor, and civilization is oftentimes in close proximity to good hunting spots.

Deer drives are popular in numerous states, too. “It’s popular throughout the country, but especially this part,” Hosie said. “I even see people do drives with crossbows. You see everyone and all their buddies jump into trucks and get ready to go push deer. They’re trying to punch a tag, and I think that’s cool.”

The region’s varying terrain makes it difficult. “The wind might read Northwest on the weather app,” Hosie says. “But depending on the way the ridges lay, you can get in there and deal with swirling winds. Wind patterns are different here because of the ground and the mountains. So, I hang stands in the areas with the most consistent winds that are still close to where I need to be.”

Patterns aren’t as easy to identify in the big woods, but they still exist. “Scouting takes more time here in the big woods. Look for natural pinch-points that neck deer down within the timber,” Hosie says. “It’s tough to hunt vast patches of trees while merely hoping one walks within range.”

Hosie has had solid luck on south-facing slopes, especially during the second half of deer season when cold weather, gun season and drives push deer to remote cover. But thick cover remains king, regardless of orientation. “I still find deer bedding in the thicker cover, whether that’s in the bottom or up on top of ridges,” Hosie says. “They’re bedding in the thickets. In higher elevations, you’ll even find them up against the rocks.”

Five guys from different states, regions and walks of life talk about deer hunting where they call home. (Ed Anderson illustration)

Make sure you follow up on the other regions. We have plenty of things left to discuss. Don’t miss out on the fun.

Ranking the Toughest Deer Hunting: No. 5 – The Midwest

Ranking the Toughest Deer Hunting: No. 4 – The Southwest

Ranking the Toughest Deer Hunting: No. 3 – The Northwest

Ranking the Toughest Deer Hunting: No. 2 – The Northeast

Ranking the Toughest Deer Hunting: No. 1 – The Southeast

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