Hunting is a lifestyle.
A coworker living in the vicinity of HUNTING’s home office here in the Midwest once remarked he’d rather live his days as a shiftless, dirty hobo with cardboard box residency in Alaska than spend one minute as a well-to-do suburbanite in the restrictive nanny state of Illinois.
Another editor had a better idea. “I’ve always dreamed of marrying a native girl from Alaska, strictly for the hunting,” he said. “We’d stay together as long as it took me to get my residency and check off every hunt on my bucket list.”
You can imagine where the conversation went from there. What would seriously throw grown men toward such desperate extremes? The chance to live in the best state a hunter could ask for, that’s what. (Also, the chance to leave a state where finding quality public hunting ground is next to impossible.)
To qualify for your hunting license in Alaska, you must maintain a domicile in the state for 12 months immediately preceding your application. But once you’ve achieved said residency, your hunting dreams await. Resident brown bear/grizzly tags are $25—think about that, seriously—and that’s only the beginning. There’s over a dozen big game species available to hunt in what we lovingly refer to as “The Last Frontier.”
This just goes to show you the absolutely life-altering effect the state you call home can have on the quality of your hunting. So to help you consider your best options, we’ve compiled the 10 best states for meat eaters. Of course, we’re only talking wild game meat here, no steroid-contaminated store-bought crap.
Those of us that eat wild game know that there’s nothing quite as satisfying as carving out a fresh backstrap. What better way to ensure your family will be fed than to set up shop in the most carnivorous state this great nation has to offer? I’m sure you’ve made important life decisions for more trivial reasons.
Factors considered by our editorial team include the following: variety of game, favorable regulations/laws, and unique meat eating opportunities. We also included style points for states that just know how to treat a hunter right.
We automatically excluded states like Virginia (PETA is headquartered in Norfolk), California (full of veggie eaters) and New York (we love everything outside of New York City, but can’t quite overlook it).
- A staple of the Midwest—a region that contributes 46.1 percent of the total venison donation nationwide—Kansas makes our list for a few reasons. First, it's got a diverse habitat holding a surprising number of game animals, including a herd of free-ranging wild elk on the 100,000-acre Fort Riley Military Reservation. Permits for these hunts are issued through a drawing, and divided between military personnel stationed on the fort and Kansas general residents.
In fact, all elk hunting in the state is open to residents only. With a limited number of elk, the state holds its tasty, tasty elk population close to the vest. Giant whitetails can be had in almost any part of the state, as well as antelope in the western units.
Besides big game, you can hunt both Eastern and Rio Grande turkeys—with a mix of hybrids—across the Sunflower State, and experience some of the best upland bird populations anywhere. In fact, the largest concentrations of both lesser and greater prairie chickens are found in Kansas. The duck populations are also burgeoning statewide, as some experts believe the Mississippi flyway is shifting west.
Why They Really Made the List: What landed Kansas in the Top 10 was its massive whitetail reputation, sneaky elk population, exploding duck populations and a season for one of the tastiest birds one the planet: the sandhill crane. If you’ve ever enjoyed the “ribeye of the sky,” you’d consider moving to the Midwest just for this great pleasure. We're picturing bacon-wrapped duck breast appetizers with sandhill crane kabobs for the main course.