It isn’t much of an exaggeration to say that ever since the dawn of man there has been hunting on the North American soil.
It was a big part of the natives’ cultures, a way of survival and co-existing with nature, and after the discovery of America in 1492, this has been transmitted to the newcomers.
It has since then become a very popular activity and when it’s that time of the year (usually fall), hunters and non-hunters alike flock to the best areas for hunting for that thrill of prevailing over nature and keeping in touch with their instincts.
The hunting tradition in the US is a long and proud one. Contrary to other parts of the world, the US hunting tradition considers that all who wish to do so can hunt, as long as it’s done with a sense of responsibility since the wildlife is for the benefit of all. Today, state and federal regulations that impose certain limitations are in place to protect the wildlife, while at the same time give hunters from all over the world the opportunity to hunt and get in touch with nature.
Hunting game in the US
Hunting in the US offers a wide variety of possibilities. You can hunt anything from deer to rabbits (obviously, following the local or federal regulation). Below you can find a list of the hunting game in the US and when it’s the official season or best part of the year to hunt it.
Keep in mind that the times of year here are approximate as each state handles its own exact dates. Therefore, once you decide where you’d like to hunt and what your weapon of choice will be, you should look for the exact hunting season dates depending on the game you’re after, the area in which you’d like to hunt and what weapon you’ll be using.
Anything from moose, deer, elk, bear, boar, javelina, bison, etc. The hunting seasons tends to start in September and last throughout the entire fall until late December.
Squirrel, opossum, rabbit, hare, raccoon, porcupine, skunk, armadillo, etc. This one is a bit longer. Based on where exactly you’d like to hunt, it can be done anywhere from late September or early October to late February of the following year.
Mink, red fox, beaver, otter, bobcat, pine marten, etc. The hunting seasons for this game is usually between October and February of the following year.
Cougar, wolf, coyote. The coyote can be hunted all year long in some states. There are some (Alaska, for example), who consider wolf as big game, therefore those regulations and dates apply.
Upland game bird
Pheasant, quail, dove, woodcock, grouse. The hunting season for these animals tends to be from August to February of the following year, depending on each animal and territory.
Geese, swan, teal, duck, merganser. Most states have open season for these animals between October and January of the following year.
Top 15 US States to Hunt:
The US is a great territory, and each state has its advantages when it comes to hunting. So, if you’re not from the US or are maybe looking for a change of scenery, how do you decide where to go? Which states are the ones that are most bullet-proof in terms of providing excellent conditions for an unforgettable hunting trip?
In this article, we’ve prepared a rank of top 15 states in the US for hunting to serve as a guideline to further research into each of these states before booking your trip. As mentioned previously, hunting regulations are state-specific for the most part, so checking every detail of this aspect during your planning of the trip is a must. You don’t want to get there and find out you can’t do any hunting because you don’t have the correct permit or can’t buy tags.
Starting at the back, Florida is the first state to make the list. It’s great if you’re interested in boar or alligator hunting (in fact, there are not many states where you can hunt alligators), but if alligators are not your cup of tea, worry not – you can hunt anything from deer to furbearers, birds, and bears, using a bow, crossbow or gun.
Florida is known for its hot and sunny weather, although it’s not year-round (beware of the hurricane season). It can easily provide a great and slightly different hunting experience, especially if you’re interested in prey that is not easily found (i.e. alligators).
Nevada, known for its desert territory and climate, is another great option to consider. Making it to this list as a great place to hunt bighorn sheep, mule deer and giant pronghorn (antelope), you’ll find other game there as well, making your trip interesting and exciting from beginning to end. According to the state’s regulation, there are specific dates for the use of a certain type of weapon (archery, guns), and based on the dates you’re interested in, the quotas might be higher or lower.
Nevada’s desert climate is most likely not the first choice for every hunter out there, but, if you can handle the heat, it is a wonderful option to put on the table.
Georgia offers a great mix of game, making it great for many hunters. The climate is not as harsh as the ones in Florida or Nevada, making it a bit more hunter-friendly. As in Florida, alligators and wild boars are fair game (during open season, of course), as well as deer, bear, small game and migratory birds. Whether you are a bowhunter or you’re using a gun, both types of weapon are allowed in this state and while the peak of the season for both big and small game is in the fall, you’ll want to visit Georgia in the spring if what you’re after is turkey.
Kansas is the best place to hunt bobcats according to Petersen Hunting, but it goes beyond just this predator. Deer, elk, antelope, turkey, birds (migratory and upland), furbearers, small game, etc. – whatever your favorite prey to hunt is, chances are you can find it in Kansas. You can pick up your favorite bow, crossbow or gun, pack your equipment, check the exact dates when you can hunt with your weapon of choice and head on there for a hunting trip that you’re most likely going to remember for a long time.
Oregon or, as it’s also known, the Beaver State is another state loved by many hunters, as it provides great conditions to hunt some of the finest big game on the US soil – bighorn sheep, elk, giant pronghorn, and bobcat. As per usual, the list doesn’t stop there. You can also hunt anything from bears, small game, cougars, upland birds to furbearers, and there are no restrictions as to what legal weapon you can use (bow, crossbow, gun), as long as it’s used within the timeframe and zone assigned.
Or, as an extra challenge to your preferred hunting technique and prey, you can check out the state’s beaver hunting tradition and try to actually catch a beaver if you’re there in the winter.
New Mexico offers a diversity in its terrain and habitat that is not easily matched. Whether you’re planning a small game hunting trip or you prefer to spend your time hunting big game, birds or furbearers, this is a great state to visit with your favorite (legal) weapon. You’ll find plenty opportunities to get exactly the prey you’re after while at the same time connect with nature and enjoy the climate. What’s more, if you’re looking for rare species to further enrich your trophies collection, part of New Mexico’s habitat are exotic animals such as Persian ibex, Barbary sheep, and Oryx.
There are very few animals you can’t find in Missouri, and most of them can be hunted during the specific season for each one. So, if you don’t like being limited to only a few options, this is a great state thanks to its variety, an abundance of prey, wonderful scenery, and good organization. Anything from coyotes, beavers, deer to fox, geese, and minks, to name but a few. As in other states, the seasons are detailed according to the weapon, so make sure you take a good look at the exact dates before booking the trip.
According to Game and Fishing Magazine, if hunting giant pronghorn (antelope) is what interest you most, then you should definitely check out Wyoming.However, this doesn’t mean that this western state is a wonderful option only for those who’re areaiming towards returning home with their very own antelope trophy. It’s actually quite the contrary – it’s also a great place to hunt elk, mountain lion and even bear. And should that not be enough, there are also deer, bison, and moose, as well as migratory birds, upland birds and small game. There are 130 different hunting zones to choose from, and there are specific dates during each season for your preferred hunting weapon.
Texas might not be the number 1 state for a specific type of hunting, but if you’re looking for good conditions and great habitat diversity, you really shouldn’t toss the idea of taking your next hunting trip the Lone Star state aside.
There’s a variety of big game, from deer to alligator, including antelope, bison and wild boar, as well as small game, upland and migratory birds, and it’s all set in a scenery that can easily take your breath away. Depending on your hunting weapon of choice, the county (or counties) where you want to hunt and the game you’re after the season dates vary, so make sure you take a good look at all of the available information.
Another great state, whether you’re looking for your next big game trophy, small game or birds, is Idaho. It is a state focused on providing the hunters with the perfect opportunities during each and every hunting trip. A wide variety of wildlife residing on the state’s territory makes for the setting you need to live your hunting experience to the fullest while hunting for prey such as mountain lions, mountain goats, bears, wolfs, moose, elk, deer, migratory or upland birds, etc. And while it can get cold, especially if hunting in the late fall or winter, the adventure of hunting in the Idaho mountains cannot be found in many other places of the world.
We down to the best 5 states now, starting with Arizona. According to the state’s Game and Fish Department website, there are 10 big game species residing on the Arizona terrain, along with many more small game, predator, waterfowl and furbearer species, which means there something for nearly all hunters. Great for hunting antelope, bear and number one when it comes to hunting mountain lion and mule deer, Arizona can provide a great setting for both bowhunters and hunters who prefer to use firearms.
This western state is known for its geographic diversity, it’s where you can find everything from snowy mountains to desert areas and river canyons. So, it’s no wonder that the wildlife situation there is attracting many hunters from the States and also from the rest of the world. It’s great for hunting big game, such as deer, antelope, mule deer, mountain lion and mountain goats, but it offers so much more than this. Small game, birds, and furbearers can be found and hunted in the state as well and, as in other states, bows, crossbows and guns can be used, depending on the time in the season.
The state’s nickname alone, Big Sky Country, implies that this is a state filled with nature and wildlife and once you visit this beautiful state, you’ll see there’s a very good reason why it ended up on the 3rd place on our list.The combination of mountains and wide open spaces makes it perfect for hunting big game, such as mountain lions, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, elks, antelopes, bisons, and so on, as well as small game, upland game, waterfowl, etc.Spending your time hunting in Montana will be an experience you won’t be likely to forget.
The runner-up, Utah, is yet another state filled with both mountains and wide open desert spaces where any hunter can find his next trophy. Number one state for hunting mountain goat according to Huntingnet forum, but also great for hunting bison, mountain lion, bighorn sheep, antelope, moose, bear, cougars, waterfowl, etc., in a setting that satisfies even the most demanding hunters. The seasons are organized per zone, species and weapon, so organizing a hunting trip that is exactly to your liking can be a rather simple task, although it might be a bit overwhelming narrowing it down.
There are many reasons why Alaska made it as number 1 on this list, although for many hunters out there it might not be the first choice. It cannot be denied that the conditions in Alaska can be very hard on a person, but the wildlife that can be found there, from bear, grizzly bear, bighorn sheep, to moose, caribou and everything in between, in combination with the challenge it represents to hunt in this state, gives a unique set of circumstances and a very special, non-comparable sense of accomplishment after the trip is completed. All hunters are welcome, regardless if they’re using a bow, crossbow or a gun, but, as in all other states on this list, depending on the weapon of choice, region, and species, the dates may vary.
In this article, we went through the best 15 US states for hunting. Since it’s such a big territory, it only makes sense that the 15 states are quite different from one to another, which means there is something for everybody. On this list, you’ll find options that are great if you are looking for drier climates or more humid ones, mountains or deserts, big or small game, if you’re looking for a big challenge or not. It’s a good starting point to start a deeper research, especially in the sense of regulations, licenses, and tags, as these are state specific and need to be followed to the letter.