Ohio deer hunting 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. Hunters are allowed to harvest one buck 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 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 was found dead in Portage county in 1940 and scored an incredible 328 2/8 inches!
Ohio’s Beatty Buck
Another huge whitetail buck exceeding 300 inches…Yes, I said 300 inches!… 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!
Ohio’s 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’s Mike Rex Buck
In 2005, on opening day, Mike Rex of Athens, Ohio killed this buck that had 17 points, 15 brow tines and scored 218 6/8. What a beautiful Animal!
Ohio’s Amish Buck
Another record buck was harvested on opening day in 2006. 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 largest ever taken with a crossbow in Ohio.
This combination of incredible genetics, proper herd mangement, and an abundance of agriculture and cover makes Ohio one of our top choices for bagging a trophy whitetail!
Top Areas For Ohio Deer Hunting
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 Ohio deer hunting destinations. These counties consistently produce massive bucks and offer some great opportunities for public land deer hunting.
For 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 hunters will overlook. We did exactly that and had a 150 inch 10 pointer at 40 yards chasing a doe wrecklessly 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 trophy bucks 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 Land consist 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/.
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 Ohio deer hunting 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…or you can bring your own. They have access to some of the best land in Morgan County. Check out their Ohio trail camera pictures!
Another Ohio deer hunting outfitter that we have heard good things about is Joe Miller from Woodbury Outfitters. They offer unguided and semi guided hunts. Whichever outfitter that you choose, 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
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 largest buck ever taken by a bowhunter in Ohio!
Top Ohio Public Deer Hunting Areas In Southwest Part of the State
Brush Creek State Forest
Brush Creek consists of over 13,000 acres of steep hillsides, deep hollows, and narrow ridgetops…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 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.
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 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 deer hunting outfitters in this part of the state is David Lusk at Southern Ohio Outfitters. David has over 6,500 acres of prime whitetail habitat, 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 Ohio deer hunting
- Ohio has the right terrain, habitat, crops and genetics that consistently produce big bucks.
- Ohio has a short gun season, held after the rut and only allows shotguns.
- Ohio sells NR 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 2008 Ohio deer hunting season runs from September 27th until February 1st making it a four month season.
- Ohio DNR has very consistent regulations with a great website www.dnr.state.oh.us/
Ohio Deer Hunting Season
Ohio deer hunting season is one of the most liberal in the United States. The bowhunting 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 alot of time in the woods and reason enough to take up bowhunting. Keep in mind that crossbows are allowed in Ohio. The Gun season in Ohio is shotgun only and is typically held after the rut. If you are serious about trophy whitetails in Ohio, then you must bowhunt in order to take advantage of the rut. Click on the link for complete regulations regarding the
Ohio season dates.
The best time to harvest a mature Ohio whitetail buck is during the November rut!
Ohio Trail Camera Pictures
Check out these trail camera pictures submitted by Ohio deer hunting outfitters Wolf Creek Whitetails
Planning Your Ohio Deer Hunting Trip
It doesn’t matter if you are hunting public land or with one of the top Ohio deer hunting 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 Ohio deer hunting trip.
- Hunting License – You’d be surprised how many people forget this!
- Boots and Socks – Click here for the best hunting socks you can buy.
- Flashlight or headlight
- Rain Gear – Some of the best Ohio Deer Hunting I have had was in bad weather.
- Hand Warmers
- Thermos – Very handy for all day hunts.
- Knife – Check out our guide to choosing the Best Deer Hunting Knife.
- Target – Always good to take some shots when you get to Ohio.
- Calls – I like to bring a grunt call, bleat call and a set of rattling antlers.
- Tree Stand – Here is our guide to the best tree stand.
- Safety Harness and Rope or strap.
- Binoculars – Here’s our guide to the best hunting binoculars.
- Rangefinder – I actually bring two of these.
- Cooler – For getting your meat home.
Those are just a few of the more common items that hunters forget to bring on their Ohio deer hunting trip.
Leave your comments below. We would love to hear about your experiences deer hunting in Ohio.