Here at the OL office we’re working on a fall feature that will be titled something like “America’s Toughest Deer.” The headline got me thinking: Which state actually has the toughest deer to hunt?

I’ve been lucky to deer hunt in the Montana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, New York, and Massachusetts. For the most part, I’ve found that deer are deer.

But, BBZ blogger Craig Dougherty has often told me that deer in the Northeast/North Central (NY, PA, OH, MI, WI) are the toughest deer to hunt in the country — and Craig has a lot more deer hunting seasons under his belt than I do. Hunting pressure can be heavy up there, the timber is expansive, and truly mature bucks are scarce.

Those are all critical factors, but I think the real key to “tough deer” is the age class hunters target.

In a region where hunters are happy to shoot 2 1/2 year old bucks, a deer must survive at least three seasons of being targeted to reach maturity. Over that time he’s going to learn a lot about avoiding things like roads, food plots, drives, treestands, daylight, etc… But in a region where hunters target mature deer only, young bucks don’t have to work so hard to stay alive. They can feed out in food plots and chase does all through the rut without a single bullet flying over their heads. Then, by their fourth or fifth fall they end up on some hunter’s “hit list.” Before they fully get a chance to hone their survival skills, the party’s over.

But this is just one deer hunter’s observation. What do you think? Which state has the toughest deer to hunt in the country? Let us know in the comments section.