Let’s face it, there is no better place to shoot a huge trophy whitetail than the Midwestern states or western Canada. Hands down, these locations dominate the records books.
A couple problems exist with that dynamic. In Canada you need a guide. In the Midwest, you need access to deer ground, which has become less accessible and more expensive in recent years. Factors of cost and access can be an insurmountable hurdle for some. Where can you enjoy trophy whitetail hunting with vast tracts of public land? Look west to the Rocky Mountain states where the whitetail has quietly existed in the shadows of his big-eared cousin, the mule deer.
Eastern Colorado, eastern Wyoming, Montana, Northern Idaho, and northeastern Washington hold great numbers of whitetails and though the top-end bucks may not be what you see in the places mentioned above, the average size in these states is very good.
By my standards, anything over 135 Boone & Crockett points is a trophy whitetail. Many hunters never see a buck that big, while those with access to the special hotspots may see a buck that big every day. The beauty of western whitetails is the lack of pressure they experience. For you Eastern and Midwestern hunters, you know what it takes to consistently take big bucks. Those same tactics will have the same results out west.
Since 2000, the Boone and Crockett record book entries for rifle entries from theses states are:
Though these numbers are not great, relative to Midwestern states, as a percentage of the bucks harvested, the rate of trophy bucks may be higher than some of these whitetail hotspots.
Other western states with great trophy potential are North and South Dakota, Nebraksa, and Kansas. I have left those from this list, as lack of public land can create access problems similar to that found in the Midwest. If you have contacts, these states should not be overlooked.
Another ever-expanding avenue in these states are the walk-in programs. You may have company, but each year, some tremendous bucks come from these publicly accessible grounds. Montana is the leader in this program with over 7 million acres enrolled in their Block Management Program. Most other states have similar programs, though not to such a large extent.
Better yet, many of these hunts can be obtained over the counter and may be combined with an elk or antelope hunt. Most people think of elk and mule deer when they come west to hunt. Those in the know are finding the whitetail to be a challenge and opportunity worth pursuing.
An experienced whitetail hunter applying his skills and experience in any of these locations stands a great chance at a true trophy buck. Enough 150-inch bucks run these ridges and creek bottoms to keep the interest of even the most experienced whitetail hunter. Much of the Western whitetail hunting occurs on timbered national forest lands or agricultural ground that is enrolled in some of the state hunter access programs. The possibilities for putting together a whitetail plan are endless.
Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado have application deadlines in the spring, while Idaho and Washington are over the counter opportunities. See the links below to the state fish and game websites giving you more details on this untapped trophy opportunity.