What Are the Best States for Whitetail Deer Hunting?

A whitetail buck stands at alert in an open meadow on a foggy morning in Tennessee

If you’re ready to try out your new skills with a bow then you need to know what the best states for whitetail deer hunting are. Click here for a comprehensive guide to the best hunting locations on the map.

With deer hunting seasons starting within the next few months it’s about time you start planning on where you want to go.

You have the option of hunting in areas that limit hunters to bows or hunting in areas that have no limit and leaves the choice up to you.

However, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of the best places to go for recurve bow hunting or bow hunting in general.

With this guide, you’ll know exactly what the best states for whitetail deer hunting are and what you can expect from them.

There are even helpful tips on deer hunting practices near the end to look forward too!

Best States for Whitetail Deer Hunting

When it comes to bow hunting, you have two options, areas that restrict hunting to bows only or areas with no such restrictions.

Both options have their benefits, but it’s recommended you go for the bow-only areas first. Bow-only hunting areas offer much more game and less competition from other hunters who prefer rifles for hunting.

Bow Only Areas


Alberta is a province in Canada and while not a state of the United States like the other in this list, only bows are legal in Alberta’s Wildlife Management Unit 248.

Most of the hunting in Unit 248 is on private land, and nonresidents must have a guide with them while hunting.

Unit 212 is also a bow only area, but the majority of the game is mule deer with smaller populations of whitetail deer and elk mixed in.


In Arkansas, there are 31 Wildlife Management Areas for bow hunters with more than 62,000 acres of whitetail deer hunting.

However, be mindful of which are you choose to go to. While these areas are for bow hunters only, some areas only give out 40 tags at a time in a lottery.


Georgia has 27 Wildlife Management Areas open to only bow hunters.

One of Georgia’s key features is the large population of deer to hunt from as well.


Several of Kentucky’s Wildlife Management Areas are bow hunter preferred, such as Grayson Lake.

Kentucky also has a lot of access to its areas and a high population of deer for when the hunting season begins.


Missouri has 97 (about 103,000 acres in total) bow hunting areas for deer, making it a prime location for bow hunting enthusiasts.

Many of Missouri’s areas produce large bucks sporting heavy antlers as well, which is something you should keep in mind when choosing where to go.


Texas has seven areas that allow for bow hunting only. The largest of these areas is Unit 122.

Before the bow-only regulation came about, the deer population in Unit 122 was over-hunted. However, the population is growing back up again, and because Unit 122 is a bow-only area now, the bucks are able to grow much bigger antlers.

West Virginia

Four of West Virginia’s 55 counties have been restricted to bow-only for more than 20 years now. These counties are also known for yielding quality trophy whitetail deer thanks to this restriction.

General Areas


Like Alberta, Saskatchewan is also in Canada. However, this Canadian hunting ground proves rather lucrative for whitetail deer hunting if you’re willing to make the trip.

Saskatchewan also has a large deer population, so if you’re hunting with a group or outfitter then expect to see several deer a day.


Kansas also has a large whitetail deer population and has the added benefit of relatively affordable licenses.

Hunting in Kansas will likely get you a buck in the 150s, and there are plenty of deer in the trophy class if you have the patience to wait them out and skipping over smaller deer.


With a growing population of whitetail deer, Illinois is a good producer of large bucks. However, Illinois is also known for outfitted hunts, and certain areas are often over-hunted.

Make sure to pick an area only after doing your research on the better areas in Illinois to go, especially when bow hunting.


While not strictly meant for bow hunters, Ohio offers a variety of public and private land that bow hunters can benefit from.

Ohio also has over-the-counter (OTC) licenses for sale that are relatively cheap should you decide on this state.

Best Spots to Hunt From

When hunting for deer in general, a good practice is to know certain deer habits that will allow you to track and encounter deer more often.

Habits to be aware of include how and where deer like to move to and from.


While deer like to stay hidden amongst thick brush, there is rarely enough food for them to find for them never to venture elsewhere.

Edges or habitat edges (the areas where two habitats meet) are another place that provides deer with food, but edges also force deer out of their preferred cover.

Oak Trees

A favorite food of deer is the acorn. As such, oak trees (which produce acorns) attract deer. Deer are especially attracted to large strands of oak trees.

Find an area with oak trees and signs of deer tracks, and camp out in wait for any and all deer looking to get an acorn snack.


Deer tend to travel on the paths of least resistance and with a lot of covers to find behind or run away into.

A good place to set up is in an area well traveled by deer but also forces the deer to travel in a smaller, more concentrated area. This limits the deer’s escape routes.

Ready for the Season?

Careful research and consideration should go into picking the right place for you when it comes to bow hunting while looking at the best states for whitetail deer hunting.

If you’re especially enthusiastic about bow hunting, you might want to consider starting your own blog about bow hunting. Or you may even want to consider looking for ranches for sale and buying land of your own you can hunt on. 

Your experiences and knowledge about the subject may prove useful to other bow hunters. Besides, a personal blog is always a great outlet for any of your amazing stories that you can’t wait to share with friends and family!

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