Ohio Deer Hunting

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

Hole in the horn buck

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!
Beatty Buck

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!
Jerman Buck

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!
Mike Rex buck

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

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 deer hunting Metzner buck

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.

Ohio deer hunting

The best time to harvest a mature Ohio whitetail buck is during the November rut!

Ohio deer hunting

Ohio Trail Camera Pictures

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


Ohio Trail Cam Pic WCW

Ohio Trail Cam Pic

Ohio Trail Cam Pic


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.

About the author

John VanDerLaan

Hi folks! I'm John VanDerLaan and I have a deep passion for the outdoors, and deer hunting in particular. I am what you call a year round deer hunter. I am in the whitetail woods year round preparing for the next years season and I love to share the knowledge that I've gained over 40 years of chasing the wily whitetail! In full disclosure, it is safe to assume that I am an affiliate for products that I recommend. I will make a commission if you buy through my link. You will not pay more when buying through my link. In fact, oftentimes I have negotiated a lower price (or bonuses) for my readers than you will find anywhere else online. Also, when you buy through my link, it allows me to continue to provide you with tons of FREE valuable information through this website!

chad - December 22, 2016

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.

    Todd - December 23, 2016

    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

    info - November 1, 2019

    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.

David - November 29, 2016

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?

    Matty Ice - November 30, 2016

    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

      Todd - November 30, 2016

      Ya.great week I was in Columbiana county the first week , it was hot. Where what county did you Hunt.

      David - December 1, 2016

      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!

        Todd - December 1, 2016

        Dave where you from. I live 7 hours away.

          David - December 1, 2016

          I’m from Richmond VA. Where abouts are you from?

            Todd - December 1, 2016

            Upstate NY

          David - December 1, 2016

          I see you are about getting after it just as much as I am.

MJ Web - October 28, 2016

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!

    Todd - October 30, 2016

    I’ll be hunting in that county also this week, when the rt is starting, anything goes.

      MJ Web - October 30, 2016

      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.

        Todd - October 30, 2016

        I have friends out there seeing some good ones. Really looking forward to getting in stand…then headed to Illinois the following week.should be intense.

          MJ Web - October 30, 2016

          Awesome man! I wouldn’t mind hunting Illinois too! howd you score that license?

          MJ Web - November 7, 2016

          Hey sir, how did you fare in Columbiana county??
          Im leaving for there Thursday!

Todd - October 17, 2016

This is my first year hunting Ohio, be there on Nov 1, 4 days in Colombiana county. Any info

scott holbrook - October 10, 2016

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

    John VanDerLaan - October 11, 2016

    Hi Scott,

    We have not hunted that area, so I can’t help you, but maybe one of our readers can.

    Good Luck!


Jason bubb - September 10, 2016

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.

Tony Koelker - May 6, 2016

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

    John VanDerLaan - May 6, 2016

    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!

    Jason hankee - August 31, 2016

    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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