HUNTING's Whitetail Forecast for 2014

HUNTING's Whitetail Forecast for 2014

whitetail_2_bgfHere's an overstated but critical point when it comes to whitetails: Hunters are largely responsible for the current big buck boom. We are passing up little bucks like never before in order to let them age a few years. According to the Quality Deer Management Association, just 37 percent of all antlered deer killed by hunters last season were yearlings, down from 62 percent in 1989. No single component is more important in the trophy buck equation.

As a result, states that never produced more than the occasional Booner are starting to produce more trophy-class whitetails than ever. Even states that don't carry the genetics necessary to produce 170-inch bucks are surrendering lots of 140-inchers.


whitetail_arrowMississippi is worth a look thanks to minimum point restrictions and abundant public hunting opportunities. Arkansas is also a great deer state with ample public land and high trophy potential in some regions.



There's no question, though, that the historic hotspots are as good or nearly as good as ever. Some are even better. Wisconsin hunters, for example, registered 93 bucks in Boone & Crockett's typical category in 2012, up from 38 in 2000. Other states have slipped.

Illinois, once the go-to destination for big bucks, dropped to No. 8 for the number of typical entries in 2012 and 2013, according to B&C's searchable database of trophy entries. This highlights the fact that it's not all roses in the whitetail world.


"Many states are reporting lower fawn recruitment rates, often a result of predation by coyotes and even bears," says Quality Deer Management Association Outreach and Education Director Kip Adams.


In some regions, habitat loss in the form of aging forests is a major threat. Coyote populations are a consistent problem, and widespread disease has proved to be no joke. The 2012 EHD outbreak was likely the second worst in history, and some areas are still recovering. Only time will tell what this all means.

Top Public Land Hunts

Nobody hunts public land anymore because it's too crowded, or so the saying goes. Not so in places like the 1.5-million- acre Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in northern Wisconsin. It's one of the best public haunts for big bucks.

Texas may be mostly private, but Texas Parks and Wildlife offers a number of limited-entry draw hunts on public land carefully managed for trophy bucks.

If you're looking for a great place to start, check out South Dakota. They've got plenty of big bucks, and archery hunters almost always draw a tag via the state's lottery. The non-resident license is only $200, and there's plenty of land and opportunity.

Big bucks on public land may be scarce, but Coshocton County in Ohio might just be an exception. Woodbury Wildlife Area in Coshocton County is the largest public hunting and fishing area in Ohio. There's nearly 20,000 acres with numerous access points, and if you can stake out a good spot, you might just get lucky.

2. Kansas

Kansas may rank at No. 8 in B&C trophy production, but the sheer potential to knock down a giant this season is overwhelming. On the heels of the palmated 312 1/8-inch, 51-pointer found dead in Kansas last season, we should all be excited to see what 2014 has to offer.

3. Ohio

Ohio comes in as the No. 3 overall B&C trophy state in the last decade with nearly 450 entries. Last season was highlighted by Mark Owen'™s 256-inch Ohio monster, killed in Wayne County on the third day of bow season. More good things to come in the Buckeye State.

1. Wisconsin

Wisconsin leads the pack in overall entries in the Boone & Crockett Club'™s record books and has produced some stellar deer in the last few years, including Jim Baker'™s 260 5/8-inch gross-score buck in Waukesha County last September.

Recommended for You

Pass on your passion and make hunting fun for children with these tips! How-To

How to Make Hunting Fun for Kids

Jeff Johnston

Pass on your passion and make hunting fun for children with these tips!

A record crowd of more than 67,000 people fell upon the halls of the Sands Expo & Convention SHOT Show

HUNTING's Booth Babes of SHOT Show 2014

David Draper - January 21, 2014

A record crowd of more than 67,000 people fell upon the halls of the Sands Expo & Convention

Craig Boddington picks his top five over-the-counter hunts to add to your bucket list. Adventure

5 Bucket List DIY Hunts

Craig Boddington

Craig Boddington picks his top five over-the-counter hunts to add to your bucket list.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 14: Swamp Bulls

With his Mozambique forest bull in the salt, Craig Boddington sets his sights on the Marromeu grasslands in pursuit of a swamp buffalo.

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 10: Snowbound Chamois

Host Brittany Boddington gets more than she bargained for on what turned out to be a grueling, snowbound and extremely physical hunt for chamois in Romania's Carpathian mountains.

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 13: Forest Buffalo

Craig Boddington returns to Mozambique's fame Coutada 10 for a shot a forest buffalo that's eluded him for 10 years.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

These rounds have proven themselves most worthy in the field. Ammo

America's Top 10 Big Game Cartridges

Joseph von Benedikt

These rounds have proven themselves most worthy in the field.

We evaluate the four factors in determining whether a cartridge is viable for long-range hunting: trajectory, wind drift, impact velocity, and accuracy. Ammo

Is the .308 a Viable Long Range Cartridge?

Keith Wood

We evaluate the four factors in determining whether a cartridge is viable for long-range...

What's The Best Coyote Cartridge? .22-250 Versus .223 Ammo

What's The Best Coyote Cartridge? .22-250 Versus .223

Joseph von Benedikt & David Faubion

What's The Best Coyote Cartridge? .22-250 Versus .223

See More Stories

More Whitetail

Craig Boddington arrives in Montana and gets his gear ready to track whitetails in the wooded Whitetail

Gearing Up for Montana Whitetails

PHTV Adventures - April 05, 2017

Craig Boddington arrives in Montana and gets his gear ready to track whitetails in the wooded

Life get in the way of your time in the woods this season? Don't fret. These spots are open late just for you. Whitetail

Late Hunts — Where to Fill Your Deer Tag Right Now

Jeff Johnston

Life get in the way of your time in the woods this season? Don't fret. These spots are open...

Mike Schoby takes his nephew, Mitchell on his first-ever whitetail hunt in Nebraska. Whitetail

A Boy's First Whitetail Hunt

PHTV Adventures - July 25, 2018

Mike Schoby takes his nephew, Mitchell on his first-ever whitetail hunt in Nebraska.

See More Whitetail

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×