There has been a lot of writing recently comparing the best states to hunt with the worst.
The consensus of many of these articles is that New England is the worst part of the country for hunting. I understand where this is coming from. The data does indeed show that New England has the lowest success rates for whitetail hunting. I would like to clarify my New England pride in light of this.
I have hunted throughout the United States and harvested my fair share of Pope & Young class bucks. My experience has taught me that if you harvest a buck in New Hampshire regardless of size, you deserve a trophy. If you have challenged the unforgiving swamps of Maine to put meat on your table, you are accomplished. If you have conquered the Green Mountains of Vermont or any other mountains in New England, you are seriously tough. Even the grouse hunting is harder than the flat aspen cuts of the upper Midwest.
You can take pride in your accomplishment if you have hunted through the mecca of suburban deer hunting in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Despite the odds being stacked against us at every corner, we continue to do the impossible. The influx of suburban hunting has put many trophies in the Northeast Big Buck Club, which is far more challenging than the big buck mecca’s of the Midwest and South.
So what are the hard facts on deer hunting in New England?
For the 50,000 hunters in Connecticut, 12,897 deer were harvested. That puts the ratio at 25.7% between the number of hunters and deer harvested. Maine had the lowest ratio of 10.4% between 181,000 hunters to 18,839 deer harvested. This only exasperates the continued struggle with the Maine deer herd and the economic impact associated with it.
Rhode Island had a ratio of 12.1%, Vermont 13.4%, Massachusetts 19.9%, and New Hampshire 20.7%. How do these success rates compare to the rest of the country? Well, Texas has a hunter to harvest ratio of 150%. Over 58% of Texas hunters in 2011 harvested deer. South Carolina in the southeast has a ratio of 89.1%. Missouri has a ratio of 50.9%, Wisconsin 38.8%, and Ohio 39.2%.
To put it plainly: the odds are stacked against anyone hunting in New England.
Across the entire region, the ratio averages out to 17%. As a result, this is about three times less than the worst Midwest states. I feel compelled to mention our northeast sister states of New York and New Jersey. New York comes in at a 27.7% ratio of 823,000 hunters to 228,000 deer harvested (2011), while New Jersey had a 53.3% ratio.
The next time you hear someone bashing New England hunting or making comments about the size of a deer, remember to tell them that, not only is New England building the toughest hunters in the country, but every deer there is a trophy.
A.J. DeRosa founded Project Upland in 2014 as an excuse to go hunting more often (and it worked). A New England native, he grew up hunting and has spent over 30 years in pursuit of big and small game species across three continents. He started collecting guns on his 18th birthday and eventually found his passion for side-by-side shotguns, inspiring him to travel the world to meet the people and places from which they come. Looking to turn his passion into inspiration for others, AJ was first published in 2004 and went on to write his first book The Urban Deer Complex in 2014. He soon discovered a love for filmmaking, particularly the challenge of capturing ruffed grouse with a camera, which led to the award-winning Project Upland film series. AJ's love for all things wild has caused him to advocate on the federal and state levels to promote and expand conservation policy, habitat funding, and upland game bird awareness. He currently serves as the Strafford County New Hampshire Fish & Game Commissioner in order to give back to his community and to further the mission of the agency. When those hunting excuses are in play, you can find him wandering behind his Wirehaired Pointing Griffon in the mountains of New England and anywhere else the birds take them.