Ohio Deer Hunting

Written By John VanDerLaan 


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Ohio continues to top the list of trophy whitetail destinations due in large part to an excellent deer management program. Ohio's deer management program is designed to control the state's deer herd by harvesting does, while maintaining a very conservative buck harvest. Deer hunters are allowed to harvest one antlered deer in Ohio per year. This allows for a balanced population while maintaining the necessary conditions to produce world class deer like the ones below.

Record Setting Ohio Whitetails

Ohio's World Famous Hole in the Horn Buck

Ohio Hole In The Horn Buck

Ohio is home to some of the biggest whitetail bucks in the world, including the #2 non-typical of all time.The "Hole in the Horn" buck. This unbelievable buck is not the biggest buck ever killed in Ohio because it was found dead in Portage county in 1940 and scored an incredible 328 2/8 inches! An amazing Ohio record whitetail.

Ohio's Beatty Buck

Ohio Beatty Buck

Another huge whitetail buck exceeding 300 inches.Yes, I said 300 inches! The Beaty buck is the biggest buck ever killed in Ohio and was harvested in Greene county on November 8th 2000. The Beatty buck was 4 1/2 years old which was confirmed through laboratory testing in which a tooth is cross sectioned and studied under a microscope, similar to aging a tree. 4 1/2 years old! How is that for genetics! Another incredible Ohio record whitetail.

Ohio's CJ Alexander Buck

Ohio Alexander Buck

The 2023 deer season was a good one for big bucks in Ohio. CJ Alexander arrowed this giant on November 9, 2023 in Clinton County Ohio and recovered the buck the next day.

The giant typical whitetail was green scored at 206 7/8 inches, making it the number one Ohio typical whitetail buck and the number 3 typical harvested in North America.

Unfortunately, this deer was shrouded in controversy , as there were accusations that the deer was poached.

It is alleged that CJ Alexander killed the deer on land which he did not have permission to hunt.

We are all waiting on the results of the investigation into this amazing buck.

Ohio's Jason Thomas Buck

Ohio Jason Thomas Buck

2023 continued to a great year for giant bucks in Ohio. On October 28, 2023 Jason Thomas killed the biggest typical buck ever recorded in Ohio. The Thomas buck scored an amazing 208 5/8 inches, surpassing the old record of 201 1/8 inches of the Jerman buck below and the CJ Alexander buck above.

Jason killed the deer with a crossbow in central Ohio.

Ohio's Jerman Buck

Ohio Jerman Buck

On November 10th 2004 in Warren county, a giant typical buck fell to a well placed shot from Brad Jermans crossbow and became the new Ohio record typical with a score of 201 1/8...Unbelievable Ohio record whitetail!

Ohio's Mike Rex Buck

Ohio Mike Rex Buck

In 2005, on opening day of archery season, Mike Rex of Athens, Ohio killed this buck that had 17 points, 15 inch  brow tines and scored 218 6/8. What a beautiful Animal!

Ohio's Amish Buck

Ohio Amish Buck

Another record buck was harvested on opening day of archery season in 2006. The Ohio Amish buck. Jonathon Schmucker of Seaman Ohio, located in Adams, county downed the 36 point buck on the first afternoon of the 2006 season. The buck scored an incredible 291-2/8, making it the number two whitetail in the state and the biggest buck ever killed in Ohio with a crossbow.

The Amish buck was reportedly fed Lucky Buck deer attractant prior to being killed.

This combination of incredible genetics, proper herd management, and an abundance of agriculture and cover makes Ohio one of our top choices for bagging a trophy whitetail!

Ohio's Record Muzzleloader Buck

Ohio Record Muzzleloader Buck

This incredible buck was taken on opening day of the gun season in 2009 by Brian Stephens. It is Ohio's non typical muzzleloader record.

The deer was killed on the 180 acre family farm in Highland County Ohio.

The deer scored 232 5/8 inches, but the most incredible thing about this buck is the length of his main beams.

The right main beam was 34 5/8 inches and the left main beam was 35 1/8 inches, making them the longest main beams ever recorded on a whitetail deer in Ohio.

Top Areas For Deer Hunting In Ohio

While trophy bucks can be found in every corner of the Buckeye State, Coshocton, Licking, and Muskingum counties in east-central Ohio top the list of most deer harvested. These counties consistently produce massive bucks and offer some great opportunities for public land deer hunting.

For harvesting trophy bucks, three Ohio public deer hunting areas come to mind in this part of the state, Dillon Wildlife Area, Woodbury Wildlife area, and the Conesville Coal Lands.

We personally hunted the Dillon Wildlife Area during the first week of November in 2007, and we can tell you that, while receiving a fair amount of pressure, if you look closely, you can find unpressured deer. Study the maps and look for places that other deer hunters will overlook. We did exactly that and had a 150 inch 10 pointer at 40 yards chasing a doe recklessly through the woodlot. There was not another hunter around and we were within 100 yards of a main road!

The Woodbury Wildlife Area comprises almost 20,000 acres of prime whitetail habitat in east central Ohio. There is good public access along state routes 16, 36, 60 and 541, as well as numerous county and township roads. Again, the key to finding a trophy buck is to study maps of the area and find small spots that other hunters will overlook. These spots do not have to be miles into the timber. They can be right under everybody's noses!

The Conesville Coal Lands are another great place to hunt deer in Ohio and it consists of about 12,000 acres of prime whitetail habitat in Coshocton and Muskingum counties. Hunting here requires a free permit available at local bait shops or by contacting American Electric Power at www.aep.com/. Click here for tips on hunting AEP Land.

Perhaps the best way to bag a trophy buck, is to gain access to private land, and the way to do that is to hire an  outfitter. There are many to choose from, but we have hunted with Matt Hopkins and Jim Woodward from Wolf Creek Whitetails and we have been very impressed. These guys provide you with quality, unpressured, private land to hunt with treestands already hung and plenty of food plots. You can also bring your best climbing tree stand if you prefer. They have access to some of the best land in Morgan County. Check out their Ohio trail camera pictures!

Another Ohio  outfitter that we have heard good things about is Joe Miller from Woodbury Outfitters. They offer unguided and semi guided hunts for antlered deer. Whichever outfitter that you choose to hunt deer in Ohio, be sure to book early in order to get the dates that you want, good rut weeks fill up fast.

In addition to the east central part of the state, southwestern Ohio is rapidly gaining fame as a trophy buck hotspot, thanks in part to the Amish Buck and the Metzner Buck both taken in Adams county.

Ohio's Metzner Buck

Ohio Metzner Buck

Taken in Adams county in 2006 on land bordering Brush Creek State Forest. Justin Metzner's buck scores and incredible 196-6/8, making it the second biggest buck ever killed in Ohio by a bowhunter!

Top Ohio Public Deer Hunting Areas In Southwest Part of the State

RELATED: How Many Hunters In The US

Brush Creek State Forest

Brush Creek consists of over 13,000 acres of steep hillsides, deep hollows, and narrow ridge tops. Prime hardwood forests with supplemental feed for the whitetails on the private farms bordering the forest. This is where the Metzner buck was taken in 2006. Look for more huge Ohio bucks from this area in the future!

Tranquility Wildlife Area

Tranquility consists of over 4000 acres, about 400 of which are dedicated to food plots. Approximately half of this area is mature hardwoods and there are plenty of places for big bucks to hide, as evidenced by a 165 inch buck taken during the December muzzleloader season! Don't overlook this Adams county gem for antlered deer.

Shawnee State Forest

Consisting of over 60,000 acres, Shawnee is the largest state forest in Ohio. Ongoing logging operations make access easier along the many logging roads. This is extremely rugged country...So be prepared. There is a lot of 5 to 6 year old new growth which provides prime habitat for big Ohio bucks to grow old. Look for some monsters to come out of here in the next few years!

If you are looking for access to private land...Our choice for Ohio outfitters in this part of the state is David Lusk at Southern Ohio Outfitters. David has over 6,500 acres of prime whitetail habitat, including food plots, that has been managed to produce some of the biggest bucks Ohio can offer. Again, be sure to book early, good rut weeks go fast!

Here is our summary of why you should try your hand at deer hunting in Ohio

  • Ohio has the right terrain, habitat, crops, food plots and genetics that consistently produce big bucks.
  • Ohio has a short gun season, held after the rut and only allows shotguns and straight walled cartridge rifles.
  • Ohio sells Non Resident hunting licenses and deer tags over the counter for only $149.
  • Ohio has a one-buck per year limit and can be taken with any weapon, any county or in any zone on the same deer permit.
  • The deer hunting season runs from September until February, making it a four month season.
  • Ohio Department of Natural Resources has very consistent regulations with a great website www.dnr.state.oh.us/

Another option for hunting deer in the Buckeye state is to get an hunting lease of your own.

Ohio Deer Season

The deer hunting season in Ohio is one of the most liberal in the United States. The archery season season begins on September 27 and goes all the way to February 1st, with Sunday hunting allowed, that means a possible 127 days afield. That is a lot of time in the woods and reason enough to take up bowhunting. Keep in mind that crossbows are allowed in Ohio during archery season.

The deer gun season in Ohio is for shotgun and straight walled cartridge rifles, and is typically held after the rut.

The state also has a youth deer gun season that is held before the regular deer gun season.

There is also a muzzleloader season in January. This can be a great time to hunt big deer in Ohio, as they try to fatten up after the rigors of the rut.

If you are serious about harvesting a mature buck in Ohio, then you must hunt during archery season in order to take advantage of the rut.

Click on the link to visit the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website complete regulations regarding the
Ohio season dates.

Ron Parker With A Big Ohio Buck

The best time to harvest a mature buck in Ohio is during archery season and the November rut!

Howard With An 11 Point Ohio Buck

Ohio Trail Camera Pictures

Check out these trail camera pictures submitted by Ohio outfitters Wolf Creek Whitetails

2021 big ohio buck
Ohio Trail Cam Pic 9-19-21
Ohio Trail Cam Pic 9-29-21
Ohio Trail Cam Pic WCW

Holy Ohio big bucks.com batman!

Click here for more Ohio trail cam pics.

Planning Your Ohio Deer Hunting Trip

It doesn't matter if you are hunting Ohio public hunting lands or with one of the top outfitters, you need to be prepared.

So we have put together a checklist of some of the commonly forgotten items that you need for your deer hunting trip.

Those are just a few of the more common items that deer hunters forget to bring when they travel to hunt deer in ohio.

Leave your comments below. We would love to hear about your experiences or just leave us an Ohio hunting report.

Photo of author

John VanDerLaan

John VanDerLaan is the managing editor here at DeerHuntingGuide.net. He oversees a team of editors, writers and pro staff that are subject matter experts in hunting and hunting gear. John's expertise includes thoroughly testing all types of hunting gear, as well as hunting all over the U.S. and Canada. While his hunting expertise includes game birds, small game and large game, his favorite game animal is the whitetail deer and he loves to share the knowledge that he has gained over 40 years of chasing the wily whitetail with both archery gear and firearms. John is an active member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America.

24 thoughts on “Ohio Deer Hunting”

  1. I am thinking about coming down for some muzzleloading, thinking about big island game area. Any information on this area or other game areas? I’m open to any suggestions since I’ll be solo.

    • Only info I have is …It’s hard hunting. I went làst year and had bait out week prior. Has pics of bucks but never saw one during daylight. If fresh snow try to track them. Good luck

    • On top of that, Indiana and neighboring Ohio are two of the best deals going for out-of-state licenses so when you fill your single Kentucky buck tag, you ll have affordable options nearby to continue the hunt.

  2. Hey all I Just got access to some Amish owned farm land in Carroll County. I may not make it there until close to the end of the season or next year. Could anyone give me any tips, advice or info?

    • David, I hunted out near there November 10th through the 14th. I hung a stand and camera on public land on a Thursday afternoon at 2 pm climbed into my stand by 3 (late for me) I drove 5 hours to get there. First night I passed up a beat up broken rack 8 pointer.
      Got in there the next day and passed up a few more little bucks. Checked my camera from the night before and had 2 120 inch deer on camera that night. I did a lot of homework before I went out. I did end up shooting an 8 point Saturday morning after 5 hunters had walked by me on their way “out” of the woods at 930 am… I stuck it out and harvested a nice buck at 1130 am.
      Long story short I did see some monster deer on camera and on my rides home in the evenings.. There are huge rack bucks there and with more than 4 days I know I would’ve shot a much bigger buck. Do your home work and go where others aren’t willing to go and you will shoot a nice buck. Ohio is full of nice deer. I never saw a doe the entire time. Everything had antlers. Good luck out there, I wish I had some private land to manage out there, Id be shooting a giant yearly.

      M Web

      • Wow! Thanks a bunch for all the info. I was really hoping to hear some good news like that. I may be able to hit the end of archery season in January of February when work slows down and hopefully a quick couple of preseason scouts next year. It’s a 7 hour drive for me to get there but I couldn’t see myself passing up the chance to hunt some private land in Ohio. I have to pay for is tags, food and gas. Just my sleep in my truck lol. The Amish people that own the land hunt it as well, I may end up hunting with one of them. So I am not sure how all the particulars will work out. Either way I am stoked for the opportunity. If all goes well I wonder if they would be interested in a bit of deer management for future hunts but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Thanks again for replying and congrats on your buck!

  3. Does anyone have any info on Columbiana county? I have an opportunity to hunt there this November just curious if the public land is worth my time at all. Thanks!

      • That’s great! If you don’t mind updating me here when you’re done thatd be awesome! I’ll be there Nov 10 throught the 14th. A friend just sent me a photo of a huge 18 point taken out of that county 3 days ago, on private land. The rut is gonna be crazy! Good luckand I hope to talk to you soon.

  4. im headed down to pike state park do some deerhunting for 1st week of nov going the week before hang some stands have scouted some already would like to find some field edges or corn or ag fields any advice thanks scott

  5. To all that want to try ohio do it. Im from pa and we were 2 for 5 last year for our group. I saw the largest buck of my life. Im hoping to see him again this year. Yes there is alot of pressure but 90% of hunters don’t hunt like pa boys dark to dark. Ohio people are nice and give up info ask locals and preseason scouting is a must! Good luck boys its going to be a big inch year i can feel it.

  6. This coming November myself and a few friends are coming to Hocking County to do some deer hunting. Hopefully it will be our first of many trips to Ohio. I’m sending you this email to ask if you could give me some good locations to hunt to make our first trip some what successful. Any information you could give would be greatly appreciated. Looking forward to hearing back from you soon. Thanks Tony

    • Hi Tony,
      The best advice that I can give you is to find some private land to hunt.
      I would suggest hooking up with an outfitter or leasing.
      The outfitter that I recommend is Wolf Creek Whitetails, http://wolfcreekwhitetails.com/.
      For leasing or managed hunts, try my friend Jerry Meyer, http://www.huntdeerinohio.com/.
      If you decide to go the public land route, be prepared to deal with some serious hunting pressure.
      Get some good maps of the property that you are going to hunt and look for places that other hunters will overlook.
      Hope this helps!

    • I will be there from November 6-13 staying at lake hope for 12 years now. Public
      And hunting is just as good if you do your homework. My wife and I were out there in April shed hunting and brought home 5 sheds. Good luck. Look me up if you are there the same time I may be able to get you started


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