If you have spent any amount of time on social media in the past few weeks you have undoubtedly noticed the hoards of ecstatic or enraged "Out of State" hunters who were awarded or yet again denied that illusive western tag or an Iowa or Kansas archery whitetail tag. As for myself this is the first year I didn't apply for a Non resident tag. Kansas used to be my destination of choice as I enjoyed success there and witnessed more rutting activity than ever before. But after being denied 2 years in a row I have given Kansas the perpetual "deuces". Why pay anywhere from hundreds of dollars just to apply for an out of state opportunity that will have to be refunded on their time table if you're not drawn? Sure Kansas, and Iowa hunts are what dreams are made of but there are a number of states that offer us non resident hunters OTC tags (over the counter). Just walk into Wal-Mart, buy your tag, and hit the closest public land or outfitter ready to slock! (I had to pay Tim Wells a royalty to say that... so worth it!) So do not fret or fear or cry any longer over missing the bus on an out of state lottery drawing. Here is a list of the top 3 Over the Counter states in the country for hunting whitetails on a budget!
Our neighbor to North has many similarities to Louisiana. But its the striking differences that set it apart. While south Arkansas is an already popular destination for many living in the I-20 corridor, central and northern Arkansas is a different story. Let me tell you why you should keep heading North!
South Arkansas is close. Its land feels and looks familiar and with the antler restriction in place it feels goods to hunt somewhere where at least the yearlings are being passed. Deer density is slightly higher in the southern counties than most parishes in Louisiana and the bucks are arguably bigger for one reason or another. But what I consider the crown jewel of Arkansas lays quietly in the Northwest corner counties bordering Oklahoma and Missouri. There are state parks and Game Management Areas that litter this section of the Ozarks just waiting on anxious bow hunters. Having hunted this area many times before, I have seen more deer in one day here, than in any other state I've hunted. "America's Best Kept Secret" is what I consider Washington and Benton Counties to be. Whether it be the nostalgic sunrises in the scenic mountains or the snow covered hill tops in late winter, NW Arkansas is a destination hunt you won't soon regret.
Non Resident Hunting License - $225
If you have ever hunted Kansas you already know why Oklahoma is #2 on this list! There are a hand full of public, Walk-In properties just across the southern boarder from Kansas. Driving north on I-35 gives you plenty of reason to stop and hunt before venturing across the boarder. If the deer lining the shoulder of the turnpike wasn't enough to make you pull over, a quick glance online at the amount of hunters joining together in the state to let young bucks walk lets you know the best is yet to come for the Okie State. Oklahoma features upland prairie in the West and panhandle which also offers Pronghorn hunting, a nice bonus hunt. While the Southern features a Texas feel of brush country and rolling hills with lots of sandy soil and mesquite trees. Eastern Oklahoma is thick hard woods and pines covering the Ozark foothills and Northern Oklahoma is a plateau of big buck heaven with agriculture galore and narrow hardwood creek bottoms running though rolling hills. This great state has a little something for everyone!
NR Deer Archery- $280
Ah, Kentucky. The reigning Pope and Young king! If you're a fan of monster velvet bucks then Kentucky is for you. With a season opening the first weekend of September your chances of snagging a velvet buck here are as good as your shot placement. With gun hunting only allowed a short period after peak rutting activity begins in the central and western parts of the state you are sure to have plenty of time to hunt the buck of a lifetime until mid November without the bucks going nocturnal from hunting pressure. Kentucky features a mixture of mountain ridges, and farmland spread in the valleys between them and is some of the most beautiful land I've been fortunate enough to hunt. Kentucky also boasts a massive amount of public land available to camp, and walk right in to your next dream hunt. Kentucky is also a great place to get your feet wet at rattling and calling in big bucks during the pre breeding season.
NR Hunting - $140 + NR Deer Permit $120
To be on the safe side always be aware of game laws in your destination state AND the states you are driving through. If you do kill a deer out of state it is now Louisiana law that you must cape the deer and have it quartered in an ice chest. The skull plate must also be removed and cleaned.
Honorable Mention States:
Illinois While it used to be the undisputed champ of monster bucks Illinois has suffered considerably from over hunting, disease, and well its just a really long drive! Illinois also has some of the most strict game and gun laws in the country. That alone kept it out of our top 3.
Texas It's close, convenient, and pretty easy to kill. But if you're like most bow hunters I know, you may not enjoy this trip as much. South and West Texas are the hunting hot spots but mostly because of the hundreds of high fence ranches and easy picking down the sandero watching deer eat from the corn feeder. Texas is a hunters dream if your young, bloodthirsty, or using a gun. It's a little less appealing for bow hunters unless you find a quality free range,bow specific outfitter or secret public land hideaway.
Nebraska A state overlooked often probably because of its distance from Louisiana. But it shouldn't be. If you don't mind driving all day you can have an experience very close to Kansas or Iowa. Both limited draw states.
Missouri The only reason the "show me state" didn't make the list is the flood of "Orange Army" during the lenient gun season that dominates the woods before during and after the peak of the rut. Also the fact that you must drive past Arkansas to get there is troubling. If you have to go through Arkansas you might as well stop and hunt there!
Justin Lanclos/ firstname.lastname@example.org