Planning an Out of State Hunting Trip in the Midwest

This nice Michigan buck is considered average in some of the other mid-west states

With the costs of an out of state deer tag so high, it is important to get all of the details on which state offers the best bang for your buck.  I put this guide together to help somebody planning an out of state hunting trip in the mid-west.  This article was written to help a hunter narrow down their search but please research the state you choose to learn more about their rules and regulations.

Ohio seems to be the most reasonable cost for the amount of time you can actually hunt.  A non-resident tag will cost you 125 dollars for a hunting license and then 24 dollars for the actual deer tag.  The cool thing about Ohio is that you can hunt any season with that tag.  If you don't get a deer in the early archery season, you can try your luck at firearm and then muzzle loader and then back to archery.  Your tag is also good for a buck or doe in any season.  If that big buck eludes you, you can still bring home some venison.  There are some nice bucks in the southern part of Ohio along with abundant state owned land to hunt.

Archery - September 25th---February 6th
Gun - November 29th---December 5th
Muzzle loader - January 8th---January 11th

In Indiana you have to buy one tag for each season you want to hunt and one tag costs 155 dollars.  If you wanted to hunt archery only, you would buy an archery tag and the same goes for firearm which includes shotgun and muzzle loaders.  The archery and gun tag during muzzle loader season are good for a buck or a doe during that season but the firearm tag is good for a buck only during shotgun season.  The bucks in Indiana are about the same quality as Ohio with a handful of trophies taken each year.

Archery - October 1st---November 28th and then December 4th---January 2nd
Gun - November 13th---November 28th
Muzzle loader - December 4th---December 19th 

Illinois used to be the go to state with monster bucks tagged each year but has given up the crown to Iowa in recent years.  Illinois is still an awesome state to hunt but is getting harder each year for hunters to gain access to hunting land.  This would be the last state I would try because of the short seasons and hefty prices.  Illinois is also one of three states on the list that holds a lottery for deer permits.  The deadline for non-residents to enter into the lottery is August 15th.

An archery tag gets you a doe tag and a buck tag for $ 411 and a firearm or muzzle loader tag allows you to shoot a buck or doe for $300.  Non-residents also have to purchase a hunting license ($57.75 for the year or $35.75 for 5 days) plus a state habitat stamp ($5.50) so keep in mind these costs when evaluating tag prices.  

Archery west of Route 47 - October 1st---November 18th and then November 22nd---December 1st
Archery east of Route 47 - October 1st---January 16th
Gun - November 19th---21st and then December 2nd--5th
Muzzle loader - December 10th---December 12th

Iowa is the premiere state for whitetail deer hunting right now but is also the most expensive and hardest to get a tag for.  I hunt in Michigan and deer that my friends consider trophies are passed on every day in this state.  A tag for hunting a buck will cost you around 550 dollars because non-residents need to buy a deer hunting license,small game license and a habitat fee.  Iowa uses a lottery system and the deadline to put in for a tag is June 6th.  

When you apply, the hunter will have to send the full amount for a tag.  If your name does not get drawn, the state keeps 50 dollars and sends the balance back to you.  The 50 dollars that they keep, buys you a point for next year and you will have an advantage getting a tag the following year.  You can also elect to buy a point instead of actually trying to win a tag in a given year for 53 dollars.  This would be a good option if you didn't want to hunt during that year but wanted a better shot the following year at getting drawn.

Archery Early Split - October 1st---December 3rd
Archery Late Split - December 20th---January 10th 
Gun season 1 - December 4th---December 8th
Gun season 2 - December 11th---December 19th
Late muzzle loader - December 20th---January 10th

Wisconsin is one of the classic states for hunting whitetails because of the tradition and habitat.  The deer hunting is comparable to hunting Michigan because of heavier hunting pressure.  I would pick Ohio or Indiana over Wisconsin but a classic Wisconsin hunt in a heavily forested area is something every hunter should eventually experience.  One of the unique things about hunting Wisconsin, is the states earn a buck program.  In areas that have had deer infected with chronic wasting disease, a hunter has to shoot a doe before taking a buck.  I think this is a good idea and wish Michigan would institute something like this.  A non-resident hunter can buy an over the counter deer tag for 165 dollars for archery and 165 dollars for gun which includes shotgun and muzzle loader season.

Archery - September 18th---November 18th and then November 29th---January 9th
Gun - November 20th---November 28th
Muzzle loader - November 29th---December 8th

This state is another big buck location that has a lottery for a hunter to draw a tag.  Kansas is the home of big whitetails and also mule deer.  Kansas has an early muzzle loader season that is unique to most states in that it starts before archery and gives a hunter the chance to get out before the deer are pressured.  It won't be a walk in the park to kill a big buck though because this is a no scoped hunt.

The deadline for non-residents to put in for a tag is April 30th.  If you decide you want to hunt Kansas, you need to get your application in to them before most of the other states.  This lottery is like Iowa's.  The hunter must send in the full amount for his/her tag.  If you are not drawn, you will be refunded your money minus 22 dollars for the preference point.  A hunter can also spend 22 dollars to buy a preference point for next year. 

One whitetail license costs 322.50 per season and you can shoot a buck or a doe.  If you draw for the early muzzle loader season and don't get a deer, you can hunt during the gun season with a muzzle loader only.
When you put in for a muzzle loader or archery permit in certain zones, you can also try for a mule deer tag for 102 dollars.  This gives you a chance to tag a nice whitetail buck and mule deer in the same season.  This would be an awesome feat for any hunter. 

Early muzzle loader season - September 19th---October 2nd
Archery season - September 19th---December 31st
Gun season - November 30th---December 11th

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