- Chris Campanelli
A Dream Whitetail Hunting Tour
Deer hunting season in America is here, and it is still very young. A solid number of states have yet to kick off their early archery hunting seasons, including the state that I am sitting in right now (Ohio).
This is a point in the year when anticipation is high and the book is yet to be written. Dreams run wild in the heads of deer hunting fanatics nationwide. I am certainly no exception. We're all dreaming of that 200" monster stepping out on November 1st. Dreaming a bit more realistically about the serenity of a cool fall breeze in a treestand.
Deer hunting also affords us a lot of downtime to slow things down and think deep. I do a lot of deep-thinking sitting in a deer blind or a treestand. I always make my way to the thought of being a full-time deer hunter. What a dream it would be, right?
I think of guys like Michael Waddell, Mark Drury, or any of the TV pros we all know and love. The guys who start deer hunting on September 1 and seemingly do it daily until February. Sure, I know it has to be an absolute grind. But any one of us would probably trade places with them in a second.
This inevitably leads me to wondering about what my fall whitetail hunting tour would look like. Where would I go? What order would I set up the various states in to maximize the potential of the tour? I love thinking about these far-fetched things during those slow hours before prime-time.
So I figured it could be fun to do this hypothetical dream deer hunting tour with you guys right here on the MPTV Blog! Let's gas up the truck, load up all of the gear and hit the road! I'll provide some commentary beneath each selection to give you some context.
Keep in mind that I am doing all of this with no regard to tags, licenses and all of the headaches that a real-life deer tour would present. It's just a dream.
State #1: KENTUCKY
Deciding on my very first stop would be a tricky task. I would be weighing some of the great states out west and the state of Kentucky. As you can see, Kentucky wins out for me. I have been supremely impressed by the caliber of early-season bucks coming out of Kentucky over the last 5 to 10 years. Most importantly, Kentucky kicks their archery season off on the first Saturday of September every season. That just happened to be September 1 this season. With the potential for absolute bruisers still in velvet and the opportunity to do it very early in September, I'd have to stop off in Kentucky before I went anywhere else.
State #2: MONTANA
Big Sky Country would have to check in at #2 on my list. It's definitely not far behind the Bluegrass State. Montana has a September 1 opener and some very respectable whitetails. Not to mention that it could very well be the most beautiful state in America. I grew up watching Bill Jordan and the Realtree crew hunting the Milk River in the early-season. I have dreamed of doing the same ever since. There are several states west of the Mississippi that I would love to hit in the early-season, but Montana would have to be the top choice for me.
State #3: WYOMING
This is another state that I have always dreamed of hitting thanks to the Realtree guys. I can remember watching Realtree's David Blanton and others having incredible success at Seven J Outfitters in Wyoming to begin every season. Like Montana, Wyoming could be one of the most beautiful states in the union. With great scenery, an early opener and a great whitetail population, I'd definitely turn the truck toward Wyoming. Kentucky, Montana and Wyoming could make for a September to remember for certain, but I have one more September destination before we turn the page to October.
State #4: KANSAS
The state of Kansas could be on my list at virtually any time throughout the season. Great early-season hunting, great rut hunting and absolute giants throughout the entire show. You can't go wrong in Kansas. The thing that would point me toward Kansas in mid or late-September would be their famed early muzzleloader season. I believe it's a lottery season where you have to get seriously lucky to draw a tag, but remember that we're dreaming here. If I was lucky enough to have a tag, I'd definitely be in Kansas for the last two weeks of September. I've seen some absolute giants fall during their early muzzleloader season.
State #5: NEBRASKA
Nebraska is something of a sleeper when it comes to big buck hunting states, but those Cornhuskers have some big boys. Nebraska is one of those states that is solid through the early and middle portions of the season as well. With tons of agriculture and a solid deer herd, Nebraska would be a great place to be just ahead of the fall harvest. A perfect holdover during that first week or two of October.
State #6: MISSOURI
As a big fan of Mark and Terry Drury, who are Missouri natives, I have always dreamed of hitting the Show Me State. It's not widely talked about when people discuss destination deer hunting states, but Missouri produces some quality bucks. Downright giants from time to time. There is a huge difference between northern and southern Missouri, with a definite edge going to the northern border against Iowa. With a mid-September opener and a very early rifle season, Missouri could be a great option. I'd definitely take my chances hunting the October lull against that Iowa border.
State #7: OHIO
Ohio is obviously very near and dear to my heart. I've grown up hunting in the Buckeye State. We have solid deer numbers, big bucks and some areas with that prototypical Midwestern scenery that we all dream of in late-October. I have also seen some monsters move pretty early in the pre-rut phase in my home state. That's why I would be keying in on Ohio during that last week of October or so. Looking for one of those big Ohio bucks to be checking for that first batch of does to go into heat.
State #8: IOWA
Simple math here: Iowa + the rut = must hunt. It's pretty much that simple. Iowa is the king of big buck states. The place where more hunters dream of hunting during those first two weeks of November than anywhere else. Heck, some hunting fanatics have even relocated to Iowa just to enjoy the incredible deer hunting. It's that good. With overwhelming amounts of agriculture to grow big bucks and a great DNR leading the way, Iowa is probably the best state to deer hunt in. I could think of nothing better than being perched in a treestand in Iowa during the first couple weeks of November.
State #9: ILLINOIS
If there was a close second to Iowa, it could very well be Illinois. At least when we are talking about the size of deer. Illinois is a legitimate big buck factory. A state that some may consider to be the very best in the U.S. I couldn't think of anything better than leaving Iowa and heading toward Illinois. I'd have to kick off the firearms portion of my hunting season in mid to late-November by bringing my slug gun to Illinois.
State #10: TEXAS
I wanted to cut this list off at 10 states, and that pains me to cut off some excellent hunting states in the process. But if I had to cap my season in December and pick one late-season destination, it would have to be Texas. Somewhere in South Texas. There is no question that Texas has an abundant whitetail population. The deer are much different than the bruisers found in the Midwest, but Texas bucks can still pack on plenty of antler. They also rut much later in the year than their northern cousins. That's why it would be hard to beat Texas as a late-season hunting destination. It's a target-rich environment and there is plenty of trophy potential as well.
Like I mentioned above, many states that are on my list had to be left off. You don't want to read through 2,000 words about a hypothetical deer hunting tour, do you?
I would certainly have to put some places like Alabama, Indiana, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania on my extended list. North Dakota, South Dakota and Oklahoma would definitely be on that list as well.
In the name of being as concise as possible, I wanted to do something of a chronological, 10-state list. I hope you guys enjoyed looking into my mind and some of my mid-hunt daydreams. Obviously every person is different. My list is far from definitive.
If you have a different set of states on your dream tour, go ahead and drop us a comment below or on social media!
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