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. 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 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
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 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
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
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!
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 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
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 Ohio deer hunting
- 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 Ohio 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 Ohio deer hunting lease of your own.
Ohio Deer Hunting Season
Ohio deer hunting season 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.
The best time to harvest a mature buck in Ohio is during archery season and the November rut!
Ohio Trail Camera Pictures
Check out these trail camera pictures submitted by Ohio deer hunting outfitters Wolf Creek Whitetails
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 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 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.
- Bow or Crossbow – You’d be surprised how many hunters have to turn around after they’ve started their trip because they forgot their weapon. Here is our guide to the best beginner compound bow.
- Broadheads – Here is our guide to the best broadheads for deer.
- Flashlight or headlight
- Rain Gear – Some of the best deer hunting in Ohio that I have had was in the rain. Don’t forget your hunting rain gear and your best tree stand umbrella.
- 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. Here is a guide to the best archery target for broadheads and field points.
- 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. Even if you are hunting with an outfitter, consider bringing a climbing tree stand. It will give you the ability to move on your own, if you see a pattern to the deer movement.
- Safety Harness and Rope or strap – Bring the best hunting safety harness that you can afford.
- Binoculars – Here’s our guide to the best hunting binoculars.
- Rangefinder – I actually bring two of these. Here is our guide to the best rangefinder for bow hunting.
- Cooler – For getting your meat home.
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 deer hunting report.