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Here are the top 10 most hunting-loving states. And here’s a newsflash: Texas ain’t one of them. . . not even close.

10. Vermont

Coming in at number 10 with 71,807 Paid Hunting Licenses, approximately 11.5 percent of the population hunts.

According to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, there are more bucks taken per square mile in Vermont than in any other New England state.

Ranked third worst deer hunting state by Wide Open Spaces, the Green Mountain State has been making quite a comeback over the last few years. A combination of mild winters and hunting regulations enacted to protect yearling bucks, Vermont has high hopes that 2017 could be their best hunting season ever.

2016 was the largest buck harvest since 2002, the season brought 9,968 legal bucks harvested which was 19 percent more than the past three years averaged.

But Bucks aren’t the only thing Vermont is hunting. It’s abundant in black bear and moose too. Apparently, Vermont has one of the densest black bear populations in the country, approximately one bear for every three square miles.

9. West Virginia

With 219,990 paid hunting licenses, West Virginia is sitting pretty at number nine, with 12% of the population being hunters.

West Virginia consists mostly of rural land and forest, which makes this state deer heaven. The Mountain State has so many deer the state’s taken “creative measures” to encourage more hunting such as urban deer hunts. Also in abundance in W.V., black bear and grouse.

8. Wisconsin

At number eight with 700,843 hunting licenses and 12.2 percent of the population hunting.

With 9,250 dairy farms, 1,279,000 dairy cows and 3,503,000,000 gallons of milk production per year, you’d think the Badger State was only cray about cows. Maybe so, but the cheese-loving farmers are also growing some big deer. Check out the 2015 and 2016 Deer of the Year harvested in Wisconsin. Them deers is bigguns (country accent). Also hot in the cheese state: turkey.

7. Maine

Maine’s home to 66,051 hunting licenses, with 12.5 percent of the population hunts.  Moose, deer and bears oh my!

Speaking of bears, OMG Maine has a 16-week fall bear hunting season! And there’s no shortage of black bears in Maine; they have the largest population in the lower 48.

I wonder if that’s why there aren’t any hogs in the Pine Tree State? (Click here to watch video of bear vs. wild hog.) The deer hunting in Maine is not so flexible. You practically need clearance from the CIA to get a permit (sigh).

6. Alaska

The state of Alaska comes in at six on the list with 108,487 hunting licenses and 14.6 percent of the population hunting.

I’d think it very strange to find a vegan in Alaska. In fact, the Last Frontier is the extreme hunting Mecca of the world. On the menu: bison, caribou, elk, black bear, dall sheep, moose, brown bear, grizzly bear, mountain goat, muskox, wolf, and oh, boring old deer.

After hearing that amazing list of options does anyone want to hunt Bambi in Alaska? Not me. I’ll take a wolf and a grizzly bear please. There goes my life’s savings and kids college fund.

5. Idaho

Coming in at number five with 273,887 hunting licenses and 16.2 % of hunters, Idaho makes my personal top three.

Idaho is a hunters paradise where you can take a multitude of big game. Hunting wolves is legal. And Idaho has an abundant elk population of about 107,000. Did I mention you can hunt wolves? Seriously, the Gem State is like a mini-Alaska without all the bad weather, strange bush people and UFO’s.

On the menu in Idaho: elk, deer, wolf, black bear, mountain lion, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, pronghorn, grouse, partridge, California quail, pheasant, and Wild Turkey (capitalized for you whiskey drinkers). If I ever leave Texas, you’ll find me in Idaho.

4. North Dakota

Coming in strong with 140,243 hunting licenses and 18.5 percent of the population hunting, we’re now entering serious hunter territory.

Most coveted hunting in North Dakota? Mule Deer. The Western Badlands has the highest concentration of Muley’s in the country. The vast majority of land is public and the hunting method of choice to harvest your muley in the Peace Garden State: archery. Wrong answer! (IMHO)

3. Wyoming

Coming in at number three, with 127,198 hunting licenses and 21.8 percent of the population being hunters, Wyoming, y’all some huntin’ fools. With a total population under 600,000 almost the whole dang state is hunting. Not to mention the fact that the Equality State has the highest concentration of gun owners in the country at 53 percent.

2. Montana

And the runner up is . . . Montana.  With 240,702 hunting licenses, 23 percent of this state is made up of hunters.

When I think of great deer hunting, I think of Montana. (Next to Texas of course.) Though this state isn’t known for producing booners, it’s the best public land hunting state in the country.

Big Sky Country has 31 million acres of public land hunting and another eight million enrolled in their block management program, encouraging private land owners to allow their land for public use. This state has plenty of land to chase deer around on.

The Treasure State has a treasure trove of other species: bison, black bear, deer, elk, antelope, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, mountain lion, turkey and last but not least wolf.

1. South Dakota

South Dakota scoops first place with 25.9 percent of hunters making up the population nd 223,394 hunting licenses purchased.

World renown for pheasant hunting, the Mount Rushmore State has harvest records averaging one million birds. That’s yearly. Two hundred thousand hunters participate in pheasant hunting yearly in South Dakota.

Deer hunting is also a big deal in this state. Available by lottery only though. With that many hunters don’t get your hopes up. Also, bow hunters have better chance than rifle hunters for securing a deer license.

How does your state rank on the list? Is your state hunting obsessed? (Click here to see my list Hunting By State).

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  1. Interesting, my state didn’t make the list despite 984k hunting licenses being sold and the kids still having off from school on the first day of deer season.

    • Hmm. My state is in the top three but still the keyboard hunters criticize me when I critique Ms Austin’s hunting ethos.

      Guess I’ll let the facts speak,for themselves.

      By the way, it’s rare for a hunter to sport a folding knife on a belt. Kind of a mixed message unless you are Lori Grimes on the Walking Dead. Miss Lib reminds me more of Andrea, however.

    • And…???? The significance of that is what exactly? Other than some childish ‘identity politics’ whine.

      Neighborhoods with a lot of blacks are going to play more basketball, Indian neighborhoods will have more kids studying for the National Spelling Bee….

      You do realize that a large percentage of blacks hunt, no?

      In Africa…

  2. I grew up in Vermont and I can attest to how much deer hunting there sucked. I kinda hated the boredom of Northern New England deer hunting in general. You get up before dawn and sit in the cold woods for hours and hours only to see a few chickadees and chipmunks at most. Every now and then a doe that you’re not allowed to shoot. Yawn.

    The ruffed grouse hunting, however, was awesome. Snowshoe hare as well. I miss that. Along with ice fishing. Nothing better than trout or salmon that never goes above 34 degrees before it hits the grill.

  3. Lots of USA states charge much more for visitors. Montana is 10 times more for a license and tag if your from overseas. Looked at tags there last month before we came home. Idaho seems to be the best for visitors and public land.

    About 10% of my state in Australia has firearm license. But as there are no tags for most animals and hunting is allowed 365 days a year on private land no real figure on harvest. Commercially hunted kangaroos have tags and quotas

    NSW and Victoria have hunting license but no tags. Most animals open year round and some deer for six months, other deer all year.

    Have been several surveys on how much people spend but no figures handy at present.

    • A buddy of mine has the #3 world record buffalo from Australia.
      Truely impressive.
      You could hide a 12 pound bowling ball in that bulls scrotum. (Yes, Bill had it tanned, it was that big)

  4. I’m not so sure that number of hunting licenses sold is the correct number to use when calculating the % of population who hunt. Unless it has changed, my state does not require license to hunt on family owned property. Also, many could not care less about buying a license. I purchased my last license (a lifetime license) over 30 year ago.

    Good to read some of the descriptions though.

  5. I guess the natural state, Arkansas, earned the nickname duck hunting capital of the world just because. Maybe only big game counts I guess, although you would probably serve more time for killing a mallard out of season than killing a man.

  6. Damned right Texas isn’t on the list.
    Until and unless we figure out an equitable way to stop making hunting such a rich man’s game, we’ll never be “hunting friendly”.

    • The real Texas state motto is ” We’re really good at bluster!”

      Since the end of the oil boom, there’s nothing left analyzing the TX economy vis-a-vis the .Gov. Not to mention if they were to go it alone, pulling the military bases, and the corporate relos to a wider market would make them the newest Mexican state in a heartbeat.

      Much akin to CA, there would be nothing left of their economies were they to actually leave the Union.

      • Texas would be fine if they never let the urban areas entrench like they did. That’s why they are close to being a permanent ‘blue’ state.Dallas – Fort Worth, Houston and yes, Austin are the problem.

        I’m becoming more convinced a long-delayed influenza pandemic like 1918 would do this country a proper political re-adjustment by clearing out the major cities…

      • Texas could go it alone….one of a handful of states that could…….i find it hilarious that people think Mexico is some kind of existential military threat to any us state, much less the US as a whole……..these dumbasses can’t even keep a lid on cartel violence…….their country is in much worse shape than us and is corrupt to the core…..they’ll disintegrate into a melange of warring stateless long before the US does.

        • So, the only thing that makes TX money, the oil and gas industry would stay in a failed/pariah/indy state. Right. Just keep telling your self that.

          Save for cattle, TX will starve. Were they to go it alone, Mexico would essentially walk in. TX wouldn’t get to keep US military bases, National Guard assets, or anything related to US defense. Some of the rural dwellers may put up a helluva fight, but without support from the air, logistics, and the rest, dream for anything other than The Alamo, Part deux.

  7. CA has about a quarter million license holders out of a population of 30+ million. Even on public land I do well with things like quail, my favorite; dove, rabbit, squirrel.

    Got into crow shooting this past season and had a ball. Yotes are here. There. Everywhere.

    Would like to get into the mountains and try snowshoe bunnies. And will give it a good go to scare up some chukar this year.

  8. Oregon-
    Mule deer, white tail and black tail.
    Elk, bear, mountain goat, bighorn sheep, turkey, mountain lion…

  9. Anyone want to let me hunt feral invasive hogs on their property in fl? Not much public land in south/central fl. Pay to play 200 + for hog cant affird it also barely hunting. God forbid fwc ever issue me a quota permit for deer or gator…hell might freeze over

  10. Chicago — no hunting or firearms license required. Open season on Crips, Bloods, MS-13, Latin Kings, Black Disciples etc. No limits either. Collateral damage OK.

  11. “I wonder if that’s why there aren’t any hogs in the Pine Tree State? (Click here to watch video of bear vs. wild hog.)”

    (Nice video of a bear munching a piggie.)

    Well, Texas, there’s the answer to your pig invasion apocalypse.

    A pig predator!

    Huh? What’s that? Your pig problem isn’t *that* bad now?


    (Kind of amazing what a little perspective can do for changing attitudes…)

  12. Perhaps success rates, length of seasons, number of tags and so,on should be considered as well as public land . NY while lacking the variety of big game animals , has about 600,000 hunters, long seasons ample public land , they pass out tags like candy .

    Last year between bow, gun , doe tags , extra 2nd round doe tags , the extra doe tags the farm gets and consigned tags from other hunters I could have taken 11 deer. Bow starts Oct 1 , ML ends around Christmas .

    Black bear pop.and take Is growing nice, the Moose in the ADK are approaching a level where they may need hunting not to many years away, and turkey and water fowl hunting is very good, but having two Great Lakes, the Finger lakes and many others are hard to,match .

    Sure having half our pop. Live in one remote city in a distant corner of the state throws off the numbers .

  13. Not surprised SD is #1 on the list, still #1 in CCW permits per capita too I think. If you removed the population of Sioux Falls from the calculation I’d bet that you’d see the percentage of hunters 10% higher than that even.

    If you’re rural here (which accounts for the majority of the population of the state) you hunt….. period.

    Good luck getting an out of state deer license though, you might wait a decade before your number is pulled.

  14. A little astonished that Pennsylvania isn’t on the list. First day of hunting season in my Lawrence County high school was a de facto holiday.


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