Consider a quest to chase whitetails across the country next season. Photo Credit: John Hafner

How to Plan a 2024 Deer Tour

  Erik Barber   FeaturedLifestyle   March 1, 2024

The white-tailed deer is the most hunted big-game species in the world, and it offers bowhunters a unique opportunity to embark on a journey spanning across the United States. Generally speaking, whitetail tags are far more accessible and affordable than those for other types of big game, and with few exceptions, they can be purchased over-the-counter. Public land for whitetails is accessible across the country, too. And in areas where public land is limited, traveling hunters can consider networking with others to trade private-land hunting opportunities.

This challenge isn’t just about hunting trophy bucks; it’s about trying new tactics in diverse environments, from the dense forests of the North to the arid regions of the Southwest. For anyone who made a resolution to spend more time in a stand in 2024, this quest is for you!

Plan Your Own Deer Tour

Regardless if you plan on hunting public or private land, now is the time to start planning your adventure. Start by mapping out a high-level plan that highlights the states you hope to hunt in 2024, and then start researching the details. States have different rules on tag applications, season dates, and more. Starting your search early allows for plenty of time to contact a biologist or game warden in the area you’re interested in. Fish and wildlife professionals are typically eager to help hunters by pointing them in the right direction. Most agencies offer a staff directory that filters positions and counties served within the state, which can be a helpful resource for narrowing down who you should reach out to. If I was planning my own deer tour in 2024, here’s how I’d approach it:

Summer Rutcation in South Florida

Bowhunters can start their season as early as August by heading to the southernmost tip of the Florida Panhandle to chase the Seminole whitetail. Unique to the region, South Florida bucks begin to rut in July and August, giving bowhunters a chance to fill a tag before most other states are open. There’s a surprising amount of public land available to hunt, too.

September on the Plains


In Western states like Montana, deer have their velvet in early September when the season opens. Photo Credit: John Hafner


States like North Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming are known for early-season opportunities for velvet bucks. Opening day typically falls near Sept. 1 in these states, when bucks are still patternable and predictable as they congregate near destination food sources like alfalfa or hayfields. Whitetail hunting pressure is often low in these areas, as elk and mule deer are more popular with local hunters. With that in mind, don’t be shy about knocking on doors in hopes of finding permission to hunt.

Grind It Out in the Midwest

Since I’ve lived in Wisconsin for most of my adult life, I’m partial to the Midwest during the rut. Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio offer some of the nation’s best whitetail hunting. All have public land full of potential, with room to roam and an age class that creates the chance for seeing big, mature bucks. Spending a week of vacation here during the first 14 days of November is a wise strategy for any bowhunter hoping to cross paths with a rut-crazed buck.

Hunt the Late Rut in the Southwest Plains


The rut in Texas happens later in the year than it does in Midwestern states, so by traveling you can hunt multiple rut seasons. Photo Credit: John Hafner


As the rut winds down in the Midwest, states like Oklahoma and Texas are just heating up. Oklahoma has a lot of public land, offers affordable tags ($300 for a nonresident) and provides the opportunity to harvest multiple deer. Take advantage of the rutting behavior in a new environment to stack the odds in your favor.

Reap the Rewards

Hitting the road gives you the chance to immerse yourself in whitetail culture across the country. Undoubtedly, hunting new areas can be frustrating and difficult, but much of the fun can be found in the local experiences across the country, like a Friday fish fry at a bar in Wisconsin, pink shrimp from the Florida Gulf Coast, or barbecue in the Sooner State. No matter how the hunting has been treating you, these are the things that keep you coming back for more.




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