Hunting Trends in America
In America, hunting is more than a mere pastime; it's a cultural touchstone that has evolved from a frontier necessity to a multi-billion-dollar industry. As of 2023, a staggering 38.69 million hunting licenses, tags, permits, and stamps were issued across the United States, underscoring not just its enduring appeal but its significant economic impact.
Hunting in America generated $10.8 billion in revenue in 2021, making it the third-largest outdoor recreational activity in the country. With so much variety in hunting across the country, from the choice of location and prey to the firearms and seasons, we thought we’d get under the skin of this age-old tradition.
With that in mind, the team here at Tier One conducted a nationwide survey of hunting habits to reveal what makes American hunters tick. Join us as we fire off the results.
Top Hunting States in the USA
Hunting is widespread across the US, with varied habitats providing the opportunity to employ different hunting techniques and stalk diverse game. Based on our survey responses, we developed a comprehensive picture of some of America’s best hunting states. We’ve also created an interactive map with the location of the best terrains and the favored trophy animals in each state.
Most Hunted Animal: White-tailed deer
Best Terrains for Hunting: Rugged and mountainous plains
Depending on the game, Texas is thought to be the perfect place to visit for year-round hunting. The state has become the epicenter of the hunting industry and is one of the best for deer hunting - particularly the Texas Hill Country. It offers abundant experiences for hunters of all levels of skill and experience.
Most Hunted Animal: White-tailed deer
Best Terrains for Hunting: Vast hilly areas of woodland and grassland
Although New York is well-known for its urban living, it’s still one of the most popular hunting states in the country. NY is a boon for hunters, especially its Adirondack Mountain region. It has diverse wildlife to hunt and scenic views to admire, making it an excellent choice for all sorts of hunters.
Most Hunted Animal: Deer
Best Terrains for Hunting: Steep, rocky mountains and forests filled with bushy vegetation
The Golden State has some iconic spots for long-range hunting, such as the Cache Creek Wildlife Area. There are also lots of excellent sites for early deer hunting. You can experience the raw beauty of Californian nature, with over 176 million acres of public land to explore.
Most Hunted Animal: Deer
Best Terrains for Hunting: From woodlands and rolling hills to swampy areas
Hunting season in Michigan attracts both locals and tourists alike, with a range of private and public hunting lands to choose from. Popular choices include the 95,000 acres of Seney National Wildlife Refuge and the 2 million acres of the Huron-Manistee National Forest. License fees for hunting here (for non-residents) are often lower than in other states, which is something to keep in mind.
Most Hunted Animal: White-tailed deer
Best Terrains for Hunting: Deep valleys with challenging hills and forests
Although white-tailed bucks are Ohio’s most sought-after game, coyote season is open all year, with no limit. One of the most popular hunting locations in Ohio is the Woodbury Wildlife Area, which is teeming with wildlife, including a thriving population of deer, wild turkey, and small game.
Most Hunted Animal: White-tailed deer
Best Terrains for Hunting: Vast forests and high mountains
Pennsylvania is home to one of the largest deer populations in the country, with the white-tailed deer enjoying its status as the state animal. There are millions of acres of land for hunting, including the Deer Hunter Focus Areas. That, combined with a diverse range of game species, makes Pennsylvania an excellent choice for long-range hunting.
Most Hunted Animal: Deer
Best Terrains for Hunting: From coastal plains to mountains and canopy forests
Take advantage of Georgia’s liberal white-tail limits, with the ability to harvest up to 10 antlerless and 2 antlered deer per season. From deer and turkey to hog and quail, the hunting opportunities are endless, especially in the foothills of Cooper’s Creek Wildlife Management Area. Georgia’s rich hunting culture and spacious hunting lands make it a paradise for hunters looking for the best spots for stalking game.
Most Hunted Animal: Deer
Best Terrains for Hunting: Farmlands and shaded forests
With 5 million acres of public hunting land to explore, there endless opportunities to bring home a deer, pheasant, turkey, bird, or other game. Traverse the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest during deer season for quality deer hunting. As well as the state’s abundant deer population, their large build and impressive antlers help to make Wisconsin a hotspot for trophy hunters.
Most Hunted Animal: White-tailed deer
Best Terrains for Hunting: Dense pine forests, wetlands and foothill regions
With the likes of alligators, turkeys, deer, waterfowl, hogs, and more, Alabama is a key state for southern hunters who want to stalk a variety of game species. Alabama’s National Forests, including Bankhead and Conecuh, provide more than 1.3 million acres of big game hunting. With its abundant game and varied hunting landscapes, Alabama has something for every enthusiast.
Most Hunted Animal: White-tailed deer and wild hogs
Best Terrains for Hunting: From sandhills and rocklands to forests and prairies
Its tropical climate and varied terrain can make Florida a challenging state for hunting, but that doesn’t deter its hunters. Florida offers some unique opportunities for out-of-state hunters. You can stalk the Osceola turkey, a prestigious subspecies that’s native to the area, or go in search of alligators or Burmese pythons, all while enjoying the natural beauty of the Sunshine State.
Top Hunting Types
How hunters stalk and hunt their game can vary hugely. Our survey has revealed the most popular hunting types and techniques favored by enthusiasts across the country.
Rifle Big Game (59%)
It’ll probably come as no surprise that rifle big game hunting is the most popular type of hunting in America, with 59% of hunters participating in it. If you’re looking for the ideal mount for your rifle, check out our X selection here.
Rifle Small Game (47%)
Following on from rifle big game is rifle small game hunting, a technique that just less than half of American hunters enjoy.
Bow Big Game (30%)
Bow big game hunting is a more challenging form of hunting that’s preferred by 30% of hunters. Requiring precision and skill, hunters must be calculated, calm, patient, and extremely fit.
Rifle Predator/Varmint (28%)
28% of hunters enjoy controlling wildlife populations through rifle predator/varmint hunting. It prevents coyotes, foxes, snakes, and other predators from maiming domestic and farm animals and plays a vital role in pest control.
More than a fifth of hunters participate in waterfowl hunting, with its small, swift targets requiring accuracy and good timing.
The Top 10 Most Hunted Animals
From deers to ducks, a range of animals are considered ‘game’ species in America and are frequently hunted. In some states, that also includes the likes of alligators and snakes.
With a variety of game species for hunters to choose from around the nation, we’ve put together a list of the most popular.
White-tailed Deer (64%)
White-tailed deer is the most hunted animal in the country, with 64% choosing to hunt this skittish prey. Most hunting states have an ample population of white-tailed deer, with ambush hunting by far and away the most common hunting strategy.
Wild Turkey (31%)
The second most hunted animal in the US is the wild turkey, which attracts 31% of hunters. Native to North America, this upland species was close to extinction, but thanks to conservation efforts, it’s now one of the most abundant species on the continent. Known as the big game of small game hunting, hunters require a solid understanding of stealth and camouflage and are rewarded by the animal’s well-flavored, tender, and versatile meat.
Mule Deer (22%)
In Western states especially, the mule deer is a popular game for 22% of hunters. It’s known as the holy grail of big game by many, with the challenge of stalking this animal making for a particularly rewarding hunt.
Coyote hunting is possible year-round in most states, with 20% of hunters helping to control the wildlife population and protect livestock. Coyotes are fierce predators and can damage deer, sheep, and moose populations if they’re not properly managed. Coyote hunting promotes the safety of cattle and even provides ecological benefits.
Elk/Wild Boar/Feral Pigs (16%)
16% of hunters target either elk, wild boar, or feral pigs. While elk hunting often involves long-range shots in expansive terrains, boar and pig hunting offer a different kind of thrill, often in denser settings but sometimes at night, with NVGs on, from the back of a truck - pest control is an important job. When done in the traditional way, these pursuits require not just skill but also real determination, making them a true homage to ancient hunting traditions.
In regions with moose populations, 15% of hunters choose to hunt this largest species of deer. Moose are known to be difficult to bring down effectively, but the reward if you succeed is bountiful, with quality venison that’s perfect for many homecooked meals.
Mountain Goat (12%)
Within the hunting community, 12% choose to stalk mountain goats, usually as a trophy hunt. Considered to be one of the most dangerous hunts to participate in, mountain goat hunting requires tenacious determination and perseverance. You should be in good physical shape and have highquality precision equipment if you’re going after this type of game. Check out Tier One scope mounts for repeatable long-range accuracy.
Black Bear (10%)
10% of thrill-seeking hunters target black bears, mostly for their luxurious pelt and meat. Elusive and solitary, black bears provide a thrilling experience for all hunters, and you’ll also contribute to stabilizing the black bear population. The dark, rich meat of the black bear is also delicious and an excellent source of protein.
Pronghorn hunting accounts for only 8% of hunting activities in America, but that doesn’t mean they should be overlooked. Naturally wary, pronghorns are often difficult to lure, which can lead to a challenging but exciting hunt. Hunters must be acutely aware of their surroundings at all times, as spotting the animal first gives you a far better chance of taking it down.
Bighorn Sheep/Bobcat (7%)
Although only 7% of hunting enthusiasts go for bighorn sheep and bobcats, these animals are often desirable trophy hunts with unique value. Bighorn sheep antlers are often treasured by hunters, and bobcat pelts are also prized. Don’t make the mistake of thinking they’re easy hunts. Hunting both animals can be physically demanding, as bighorn sheep reside on perilous terrains and bobcats are notoriously elusive.
Top 5 Prized Trophy Animals in Hunting
Trophy hunting has long been used to control predator populations throughout the country. Successfully hunting a big game animal can provide a tremendous sense of accomplishment and success, with the pursuit of hunting trophies becoming a lifetime pastime for many. According to our survey, these are the most highly prized trophy animals in America.
- Deer – Deer of all kinds are highly coveted by hunters and are widely available.
- Elk - The elk is a prestigious trophy that’s known for its impressive antlers.
- Bear – As stunning as it is intimidating, the bear is a formidable foe and a hardly-fought trophy.
- Moose - The significant size of its antlers and its large appearance make it a sought-after trophy.
- White-tailed Deer - white-tailed deer are the most abundant game animal in the country, making them a suitable target for trophy hunters.
Why People Hunt
There are all sorts of reasons why people hunt, from sport to pest control and the camaraderie it brings. According to our survey, the top hunting motivations in America are as follows:
The primary motivation for hunting among 62% of the hunting community is to obtain organic and high-quality meat. This can be a healthier, cheaper, and more sustainable alternative to purchasing meat from the store.
Adventure Sport (17%)
Hunting as a sport can be traced back to ancient times. 17% of people hunt primarily for the sport, with skills such as discipline, patience, alertness, and accuracy all important qualities that a hunter needs to excel.
Pest Control (5%)
It should not be overlooked that 5% of hunters do so for pest control purposes. They control the population of certain species of wildlife to prevent overpopulation and eliminate animals that cause ecological damage and are a nuisance to farms and others.
Trophy Hunting/Commercial Purposes (4%)
Only 4% of hunters are motivated by trophy hunting or commercial purposes. Their motivation to hunt is to bag an impressive trophy or generate an income.
Contributing to conservation efforts and wildlife management is a motivation for 3% of hunters in America. Managing the animal population is important in areas where the ecological infrastructure might not be able to support a large population.
Top Ranges for Precision Shooting
Individual hunters prefer different shooting ranges for effectiveness and accuracy. Our survey has revealed the favored shooting ranges among America’s hunters:
50-200 Yards (58%)
58% of hunters prefer shooting at targets within the 50-200 yards range. This relatively short distance allows for high levels of precision and accuracy and gives you the best chance of a humane, single-shot kill.
201-400 Yards (29%)
This range, favored by 29% of hunters, is further than the shortest range but still allows for precise shots that hit their mark, particularly for skilled hunters.
401-700 Yards (11%)
For experts in long-range hunting, shots taken from 401-700 yards provide a stern test. 11% of hunters prefer long-range game hunting from this type of distance.
701+ Yards (2%)
Of the American hunting community, only 2% prefer to take aim from 701 yards or more. This is the ultimate challenge for long-range hunters. However, any long-range hunting of 400 yards or more requires real skill and a very high-quality, precision rifle setup. We make the highest precision scope mounts in the world, and lightweight precision bipods precisely for this task.
Top 10 Firearms for Hunting
When it comes to long-range hunting, you need a firearm that delivers power, accuracy, and versatility. These are the top 10 firearms among American hunters:
Surprisingly, most hunters who responded to our survey hunt with a .22 caliber rifle, which is ideal for targeting game from up to 150 yards. Obviously, they're not taking down Whitetail with that, so it seems like there are a lot of hunters using a variety of calibers out there and not just fixating on a single species or single rifle.
22% of hunters agree that you can’t go wrong with a .308 caliber rifle. Its versatility makes it suitable for various hunting scenarios.
One-fifth of hunters prefer the .30-06 rifle, a firearm that champions versatility and aerodynamic bullets for long-range hunting.
.300 WIN Mag (17%)
Also known as the 300 Winchester Magnum, this caliber offers immense power and excellent accuracy for hunting all types of game.
.300 PRC (15%)
For big game hunting, 15% of hunters choose the .300 Precision Rifle Cartridge (PRC), which delivers optimal precision at extended ranges.
7 SAUM (14%)
The 7 Short Action Ultra Mag (SAUM) caliber is favored by 14% of hunters. It’s well suited to mid to long-range hunting scenarios.
.338 Lap Mag (11%)
11% of the hunting community use the .338 Lapua Magnum, an excellent caliber for big game hunting at long distances. Tough and heavy, it’s perfect for targeting bears, elks, and more.
0.243 caliber rifles are chosen by 11% of hunters for their mild recoil, power, and stability. It’s a well-balanced choice that’s perfect for beginners and young hunters.
For flat shots when big game hunting, 0.270 caliber rifles are an excellent pick. They offer exceptional penetration and energy and are popular among 11% of hunters.
.300 RUM (9%)
The .300 Remington Ultra Magnum (RUM) caliber is known for its extreme power and savage recoil. Used by 9% of the hunting community for its effectiveness in long-range hunting, it’s great to see this hugely effective, big game hunting caliber used as widely as it is given the increased cost of the ammo.
Favorite Time of the Year for Hunting: Most Popular Seasons
Hunting seasons are closely regulated and you must follow the rules about what you can hunt and when. With those rules in mind, these are our respondents’ favorite times of the year to hunt:
Autumn is one of the best times to hunt as most states’ deer seasons begin in early autumn and can last until December. The moderate temperatures at this time of year can help to create perfect hunting conditions.
Although it can be very challenging due to the cold and icy conditions, there is still some excellent hunting to be had in winter, with many species available to those who are willing to overcome the climate.
Spring hunting opportunities are abundant, especially for certain game species that are emerging from hibernation.
Pest control pursuits and small game hunting are popular during this season. There are also big game opportunities, with some of the best summer hunts including wild hogs and coyotes.
Hunting by Month
There are certain months of the year when hunting opportunities are at an all-time high. Things like the deer mating season are crucial, and this dictates when American hunters are most active. The most popular months for hunting are as follows:
The most popular month for hunting is November, preferred by 46% of hunters in America. This is the month when deer hunting opportunities are at their peak.
October is favored by 34% of hunters and provides plenty of opportunities to spot white-tailed bucks before and during their rutting season.
January is one of the best times to hunt small game and despite the weather conditions, it’s enjoyed by 25% of hunting enthusiasts.
December is another popular winter hunting month, with many hunters keen to make the most of the deer season before it comes to an end.
The deer hunting season starts in September, with the ample hunting and mild weather conditions attracting 21% of hunters.
The spring hunting season begins in March, with 15% of hunters using this time to stalk small game and big game.
February is still a relatively popular hunting month, with 14% hunting small game such as rabbits, raccoons, squirrels, and more.
In some states, the spring hunting season starts in April, with 12% using this time to hunt for turkey and other game.
Another 12% of hunters choose June as their favorite month, particularly those hunting for bears and squirrels.
Marking the end of the spring hunting season, May is favored by 11% of hunters. It’s particularly among for black bear hunting.
Some states open deer hunting season early in August, making it the perfect time to get out there for 9% of hunters.
The summer hunting month of July might be too hot for some, but it still provides a wide range of hunting opportunities and is favored by 7% of enthusiasts.
Top International Hunting Destinations
Hunting is thriving in America and the diversity and size of the country provide some fantastic opportunities. But for those who seek the thrill of hunting beyond US borders, there are also some top worldwide hunts, including these personal recommendations from our hunting experts.
Marco Polo in Tajikistan/Kyrgyzstan
Although they’re found in other areas of the world, Marco Polo sheep are primarily hunted in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The cost for Marco Polo hunting opportunities can go up to USD 50,000. Nonetheless, this species of wild sheep is the ultimate central Asian trophy hunt for ambitious hunters looking for a new challenge.
Although the terrain can be barren and remote, hunting this magnificent species is still very challenging. With steep mountains, hunters must be in good physical condition before attempting this hunt.
Ibex in Kyrgyzstan
The sub-alpine climate of the Kyrgyzstan mountains makes the hunt for the Mid-Asian Ibex a difficult one. Strenuous walks, horseback on rough terrain, and low temperatures mean that you’ll need more than thick skin to participate in ibex hunting.
Hunters seeking the challenge should be in good physical shape and have the determination to persevere through the harsh climate of the Pamir mountains. Although a physical challenge, the reward is more than worth it, with the potential to strike large trophies.
Those with experience in long-range hunting have a distinct advantage, as you can expect to shoot at distances from 200 to 350 meters away.
Red Stag in Scotland
The Scottish Highlands are teaming with wildlife, including the red deer stag. The demanding and picturesque terrain makes the Scottish Highlands a unique experience that draws hunters from around the world.
However, as well as the raw beauty of the Scottish landscape, hunters can also expect to encounter the unpredictability of Scottish weather, especially during the hunting season. Be prepared to face all manner of conditions, from torrential rain and freezing temperatures to storms. After the hunt, your reward is to put your feet up and relax in historic hunting lodges that are close to the hunting areas.
Mouflon and Chamois in Croatia
For trophy hunters, Croatia should certainly feature on your list, particularly for the excellent mouflon sheep and Balkan chamois, which are hidden away in the Croatian mountains. By hiking through the rugged sub-Mediterranean terrain, you’ll be rewarded with magnificent views and exceptional trophies.
Croatia’s Mediterranean climate can be challenging, but with a rich tradition of hunting, the rocky slopes and dramatic mountains offer unforgettable hunting experiences.
Dagestan Tur in Azerbaijan
The Dagestan tur can only be found in the mountains of Azerbaijan, with a standard spot-and-stalk hunt that requires patience, agility, and a moderate level of physical fitness. On horseback, you’ll be taken through mountain passes and up to the right altitude for Dagestan tur hunting.
Careless steps on rough terrain can be dangerous, making this hunt a precarious but noble one. You must be careful and alert, as the Dagestan tur are known to be elusive creatures, but the chance to bag this species makes it well worth the chase.
Key Hunting Trends in America
Our survey on hunting trends in America provides valuable insights into the favored hunting locations, prey, firearms, and seasons. From Texas and New York being two of the most popular hunting states to white-tailed deer and wild turkey the most hunted game.
Regardless of whether you hunt for meat, adventure sport, or conservation purposes, hunting has an enduring popularity, and the USA offers an abundance of top-quality hunting experiences.
As well as being a skillful, suspenseful, and exciting sport, hunting connects people with nature and is rooted in American tradition. It also has a vital role to play in conservation and sustainable living.
Whatever your preferences are, don’t be afraid to delve deeper into the world of hunting. The hunting community in America is vast and there’s an incredibly diverse range of opportunities out there that are waiting to be explored.Visit the Tier One website for all your scope mount and bipod needs.