Skip to main content

Choosing a New State or Area to Hunt

If you're ready to branch out a bit to hunt whitetails, there are tools to help you along the way.

Choosing a New State or Area to Hunt

Technology like the onX Hunt app and the P&Y trophy search engine are great tools to help you find the best places to hunt.

Q: I’ve been hunting whitetails for 10 years in my home state, but quality antlered bucks are rare. I want to hunt other states with the goal of killing a P&Y-class buck on public land. Any suggestions on choosing a state and area to hunt? J. Stanley via e-mail

A: It is natural for a bowhunter to evolve and want to hunt for “trophy” animals. While antler size doesn’t equate to the difficulty of a hunt, or how savvy an animal is, it does typically mean an older age class of animal. The easy answer is to hunt where trophy class whitetails exist. Thankfully, we live in a world full of information at our fingertips, so determining a state, and an area to hunt, is easier now than ever before. Using the onX Hunt app and the Pope and Young Club’s “Trophy Database” search engine, you can narrow your focus without ever having to leave your house.

Hunting public land adds an additional challenge to achieving your goal, since the majority of trophy whitetail country is comprised of private land. However, the tools I mentioned above will help you tremendously during your search.

The P&Y’s database is relatively new, but it’s a game-changer when trying to find areas with trophy potential. This tool allows you to search by species, typical or nontypical, state, and year of harvest. Start by querying entries within the last 10 years for the state you are researching. Keep the search broad to begin with, and then make a note of those counties you are seeing multiple times. You can also search by a specific county, which will be useful after you tighten your focus. While everyone would love to shoot an animal in the Top 20 for a state, be realistic in your goal and pay attention to counties that are producing P&Y qualifiers from the top to the minimum entry.


After identifying counties that consistently yield P&Y bucks, the next step is to employ the onX app to identify public-hunting opportunities. Include layers for all public access, from state and federally owned properties to private-land access programs. In a quick search of my home state of Kansas, I found very little public land in one of the top counties identified through the P&Y search. That is no surprise, considering Kansas is 97-percent private land. In states similar to Kansas, start with onX to identify areas with lots of public access, and then go back to the P&Y site and search by county to determine trophy potential. It will take time and effort, but eventually you will be able to identify an area to hunt with a potential for trophy bucks on public land.



Obtaining a permit is the next step. States vary from buying over the counter to a limited draw, requiring you to go through an application process. Building preference points may be necessary in states with a limited draw. State DNR websites will help you with the application process. If it isn’t clear on their website, you should then call someone in licensing who can explain the requirements to hunt in their state. This will ensure your trip isn’t spoiled by unknowingly breaking the rules, which could result in a citation.

States in the Midwest are always going to be at the forefront of the conversation when it comes to big whitetails. That said, don’t overlook states that have more public-land opportunities with easy to obtain permits. Whitetails have become widespread across the U.S., and some of the Western states are now producing tremendous bucks.

If you spend time researching, your goal may be easier to attain than you think. Good luck in your pursuit, and enjoy the journey!

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

Recommended Articles

Popular Videos

Pick a Spot!

Pick a Spot!

Bowhunter Sales Manager, Jeff Millar, heads to the Texas Hill Country for a true mixed-bag hunt with Keith Miller's Texas Trophy Whitetails.

Tree Saddle Hunting: Best New Climbing Aider Options

Tree Saddle Hunting: Best New Climbing Aider Options

A climbing aider is a device that you use in conjunction with a stick that helps you gain more height per stick, but at the addition of very little weight to the stick setup. An aider can provide one or two more steps per each stick section, thereby greatly increasing height potential when needed and allowing you to carry fewer total sticks to gain a specific height.

Tree Saddle Hunting: Tree Climbing with an Aider

Tree Saddle Hunting: Tree Climbing with an Aider

Go farther, hunt deeper, and trek lighter while enjoying all-day comfort with the newest tree saddle hunting gear and tactics.

See All Videos

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Bowhunter App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

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

Get the top Bowhunter stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Bowhunter subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now