Top 15 Deer Hunting States for Meat Hunters

By author of Brow Tines and Backstrap

Do You Hunt in Any of These?

Whitetails are what make the hunting world go ‘round. It’s that simple. If not for these critters, hunting wouldn’t be what it is today. Millions of hunters flock to the woods each year to pursue them. Some for meat. Some for antlers. Many for both. Regardless, some states are better than others for filling tags.

That’s why we set out on a quest to see which states offered the most target-rich environments. To achieve this, we simply divided the total deer population by the total square miles in each state. This leveled the playing field so larger states such as Texas and Montana would not have unfair advantages. Full disclosure, Indiana and Michigan were not included in this project since their wildlife agencies no longer estimate statewide whitetail populations.

Another thing to remember — not every farm or piece of land throughout each state will harbor this many deer. Some will have more. Others will have less. It’s all based on habitat, bedding cover, and available food sources. These are just the statewide estimations. That aside, here are the top 15 whitetail states (in order) for meat hunters.

Bonus read: Top 10 Booner States for Deer Hunting Since 2010 (You'll notice something interesting when you compare these lists.)

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15. Arkansas

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1 | 15. Arkansas

Deer Per Square Mile: 19.2

The Land of the Ozarks is one heck of a state to go deer hunting in. They have one of the finest hunting traditions in the country, even rivaling those of the Northeast. With 19.2 deer per square mile (PSM), the hunting is flat out incredible. And to credit the rest of the states on this list, it’s the only one in the top 15 with less than 20 deer PSM.

Click here for more on deer hunting in Arkansas.

Photo credit: Bill Konway

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14. North Carolina

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2 | 14. North Carolina

Deer Per Square Mile: 20.5

This is one of those states that doesn’t receive the credit it’s due. This place has quite a few deer to its name and offers deer hunters great opportunities. With 20.5 deer PSM, it’s hard not to argue its relevancy as a great deer hunting state.

Go here for more information on deer hunting in North Carolina.

Photo credit: Shutterstock/Ron Rowan Photography

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13. Connecticut

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3 | 13. Connecticut

Deer Per Square Mile: 20.6

The state might be small, but it packs a big punch in the deer hunting world, landing itself at No. 13 on this list. Many folks don’t talk about Connecticut. It gets lost in the fray when considering other northeastern states such as New York and Pennsylvania. But don’t overlook this sliver of dirt. It’s a target-rich environment.

Click here to learn more about deer hunting in Connecticut.

Photo credit: Shutterstock/Critterbiz

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12. Kentucky

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4 | 12. Kentucky

Deer Per Square Mile: 20.8

This is the first (and only) midwestern state to make this list. Surprised? I was. I know that many of those states don’t have huge deer populations like the Northeast and Southeast. But still, the likes of Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois not making a “Top 15” list? Pretty crazy. Still, here we are. As for Kentucky, it isn’t really even a true midwestern state. But it’s the closest thing you’ll find on this list. And it’s an incredible deer hunting destination.

Click here for more on deer hunting in Kentucky.

Photo credit: Kirsten Godfrey

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11. New York

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5 | 11. New York

Deer Per Square Mile: 21.2

This place offers pretty great deer hunting. You can’t argue with that. Furthermore, it has a fantastic deer hunting tradition. A lot of hunters. A lot of deer. It’s hard to beat that. I get a little giddy just thinking about it.

Click here to learn more about deer hunting in New York.

Photo credit: Shutterstock/FotoRequest

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10. Georgia

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6 | 10. Georgia

Deer Per Square Mile: 21.8

Good ol’ Georgia. Gotta love it. The land is beautiful. The peaches are juicy. And the deer hunting is grand. If you haven’t hunted game in Georgia, you should.

Go here for more information on deer hunting in Georgia.

Photo credit: John Bailey

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9. Maryland

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7 | 9. Maryland

Deer Per Square Mile: 21.9

Another one of those northeastern states that never gets any press time. Well, it’s getting it today. Within 21.9 deer PSM, it lands itself in the top 10 at No. 9. You won’t hear many of the locals talk about how good the deer hunting is. Maybe that’s by design. Maybe it’s not. But this place is one heck of a location to fill some tags. You might even stumble across a big buck, too, if that’s your thing.

Click here to learn more about deer hunting in Maryland.

Photo credit: Shutterstock/Kevin M. McCarthy

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8. New Hampshire

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8 | 8. New Hampshire

Deer Per Square Mile: 22.3

Who said big bucks couldn’t fare as good meat? I don’t care how old the deer is or how big the antlers are, they’ll still eat. Why not be able to stare at a big rack like this one while chowing down on some fried backstrap. I see nothing wrong with it.

Click here for more on deer hunting in New Hampshire.

Photo credit: Neil Pendleton

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7. Delaware

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9 | 7. Delaware

Deer Per Square Mile: 23.0

And coming in at No. 7 is Delaware. Noticing a trend here? The northeastern states are rocking it. They make up more than a third of this list. They’ve got the deer. That’s for sure. Don’t ignore Delaware — the other little sliver of dirt — when trying to map out your meat-hunting plans this season.

Go here for more information on deer hunting in Delaware.

Photo credit: Shutterstock/Scott Payne

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6. South Carolina

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10 | 6. South Carolina

Deer Per Square Mile: 24.2

Some might argue that the deer population isn’t up around that 700,000 mark anymore. But for now, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is sticking with it. Thus putting the state at No. 6 on this list. Do you agree or disagree? Regardless, the best hunting in the entire state is in the southeastern region many refer to as “The Low Country.”

Click here to learn more about deer hunting in South Carolina.

Photo credit: Scott Richardson

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5. Virginia

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11 | 5. Virginia

Deer Per Square Mile: 25.3

Virginia has come a long way throughout the last several years. It’s one of five states that offer more than 25 deer PSM. And it’s hard not to consider this place not only for meat but also for big bucks. Why not go fill the freezer and decorate the wall at the same time?

Click here to learn more about deer hunting in Virginia.

Photo credit: Shutterstock/PA

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4. West Virginia

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12 | 4. West Virginia

Deer Per Square Mile: 26.6

West Virginia is the “little brother” to Virginia in the deer hunting world when it comes to trophy whitetails. Seems that’s not the case when considering total deer population, though. It offers 26.6 deer PSM. Pretty good odds of filling a tag if you ask me.

Click here for more on deer hunting in West Virginia.

Photo credit: Shutterstock/Tony Campbell

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3. Pennsylvania

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13 | 3. Pennsylvania

Deer Per Square Mile: 29.0

Any state that has nearly 30 deer PSM has my attention. And with all of the deer hunters that Pennsylvania harbors, it’s a good thing they have this many deer. They kill a lot of deer up there. And now it’s easy to see why. They’re No. 3 on this list.

Go here for more information on deer hunting in Pennsylvania.

Photo credit: Shutterstock/BKP

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2. Alabama

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14 | 2. Alabama

Deer Per Square Mile: 29.6

Good ol’ Alabama. We’ve been raving over how good the Northeast is for filling tags and haven’t paid enough attention to the South. Alabama, with 29.6 deer PSM, claws its way to No. 2 on our list. Like South Carolina, some might argue it’s not this good anymore. But others will say it’s even better. What do you think?

Click here to learn more about deer hunting in Alabama.

Photo credit: Andy Cobb

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1. Mississippi

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15 | 1. Mississippi

Deer Per Square Mile: 42.6

Insert dropped jaw here. Insert it again. Leave it dropped for at least 60 seconds. No, 42.6 deer PSM isn’t a typo. Trust me, I checked. Then I checked 14 more times. Here, I’ll go through the math with you since I’m sure you don’t believe me (I didn’t believe me, either).

The state claims to harbor a deer population of 2 million strong. The state also claims to have approximately 46,900 square miles in its control. Some sources report 48,400. Doesn’t really matter either way, though. No state comes close to taking the No. 1 spot away from the almighty Mississippi. Now, for the math, divide 2 million by 46,900. What did you get? I got 42.6 all 38 times. And if you prefer the 48,400 figure, you still get 41.3. That’s pretty darn incredible.

Click here for more on deer hunting in Mississippi.

Photo credit: Shutterstock/Bruce MacQueen

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