Ohio's Top December Shotgun Hunts

Ohio's Top December Shotgun Hunts

Here's a look at where to go for some great December shotgun deer hunting on public land near you! (December 2007)

For Ohio's many whitetail hunting addicts, December is our favorite time of year. The shotgun season for deer will open soon, and deer populations throughout Ohio are strong as ever. World-class trophy bucks are taken every year, and statewide harvest numbers keep climbing.

Now's the time to dust off your favorite shotgun or muzzleloader and enjoy some of the best deer-hunting opportunities in the Midwest.

Ohio has numerous public hunting opportunities for white-tailed deer, but picking the "best" areas to go can be challenging.

According to Ohio Division of Wildlife's district biologists, here are the top picks for bagging a buck.

DISTRICT ONE

Delaware Wildlife Area

Ken Fitz, a District One law enforcement supervisor, said that it's a tossup between the Delaware and Deer Creek wildlife areas.

But he went with Delaware WA as his first pick for December deer.

Delaware Wildlife Area abuts Delaware State Park, which offers more public hunting opportunities.

"There are plenty of deer on Delaware," said Fitz, "including some big bucks. But they are smart."

Fitz suggests that hunters try staking out one of the area's ponds -- to catch a buck coming in for a drink -- or try the wooded areas, which make up most of Delaware WA. The areas farthest from the roads and open fields are usually the best places to look for deer, according to Fitz.

"There are some agricultural fields," he noted. "But whitetail hunters would probably do better hunting away from them.

"Pheasant hunters spend a lot of time in the fields because birds are released there in December." (Cont'd)

Delaware WA covers 4,670 acres and may be found eight miles north of Delaware or 10 miles south of Marion. The wildlife area lies between U.S. routes 42 and 23.

Hunters may reach it by traveling east or west on state Route 223. Hunters traveling north or south should use U.S. Route 23 or County Road 220.

Delaware Wildlife Area has an archery range on its eastern side. There is also a firearms shooting range near the Delaware Lake shoreline, but a permit is required.

For more information about hunting the Delaware WA, contact the ODOW's District One office at (614) 644-3921.

DISTRICT TWO

Lake La Su An

Wildlife Area

Scott Butterworth is the wildlife management supervisor for District Two. Lake La Su An WA in Williams County is his pick for December.

"The Lake La Su An Wildlife Area has a good mix of habitat," said Butterworth, "The area is primarily rolling hills, along with fields, wetlands, woodlands and agricultural fields.

"Hunters will find a lot of deer here. Though we don't keep statistical data specific to wildlife areas, Williams is always one of the top-producing counties in District Two."

Buckeye State deer hunters will find Lake La Su An Wildlife Area in Williams County's northwestern corner. The 2,430 acres comprising the area may be reached from state Route 576 by using county Road R or County Road 7 from U.S. Route 20.

For more information about hunting the Lake La Su An WA, contact the ODOW's District Two office at (419) 424-5000.

DISTRICT THREE

Grand River Wildlife Area

Dan McMillen is a private lands biologist with the Department Of Natural Resources. He said the Grand River Wildlife Area would be his pick for District Three deer hunting this month.

"There are limited public hunting areas in our district," said McMillen. "But the Grand River Wildlife Area is a good choice for whitetail hunters."

The 7,231-acre area has had its share of lost hunters, so McMillen suggests that hunters wishing to use this wildlife area do some pre-season scouting to learn how to get around:

"Beaver dams are everywhere and can make it tough to navigate through the area.

"Last year, some dandy bucks were seen here," he added. "Once the hunting starts, they move toward the swampy areas to hide.

"It can be tough to hunt," McMillen cautions, "but there are some good bucks here if a hunter is persistent enough to go after them."

Grand River in Trumbull County may be reached east of West Farmington on state Route 88. This Route bisects the area from east to west. State Route 534 borders the area's western side and may be used by hunters coming north or south.

For more information about the area, contact the ODOW's District Three office at (330) 644-2293.

Now's the time to dust off your favorite shotgun or muzzleloader and enjoy some of the best deer-hunting opportunities in the Midwest.

DISTRICT FOUR

Woodbury Wildlife Area

Experienced deer hunters know the reputation of Coshocton County as both a whitetail producer and a trophy hotspot. Jim Hill, assistant wildlife management supervisor for District Four, said that Woodbury WA fits both modes.

"Woodbury Wildlife Areas offers a good mix of habitat," he said.

"There are thick creek bottoms, hardwood stands, and strip-mined areas with thick vegetation and some open fields."

But he added, "Most hunters don't travel far from the road. I would suggest that serious whitetail hunters get a topographical map or a GPS unit and hunt the deeper areas."

Hill pointed out that pressured deer move toward the center of the area to get away from hunters.

Woodbury Wildlife Area's 19,050 acres in Coshocton County may be reached from state Route 541, which bisects the area from east to west.

A series of county and township roads branching from state Route 541 give good access to the area.

State Route 60, runni

ng north-south on the western side, and state Route 16 on the eastern can be used to access the wildlife area as well.

Whitetail hunters wishing to try out the great hunting at Woodbury Wildlife Area can reach the District Office at (740) 594-2211.

DISTRICT FIVE

Tranquility Wildlife Area

Adams County is another renowned whitetail haven in Ohio. Brett Beatty, assistant wildlife supervisor for District Five, is quick to mention two huge trophy bucks that came from the district last year.

Beatty's pick of Tranquility Wildlife Area is a personal one: "This is my favorite area," he said. "I used to work there."

Tranquility WA, like most perfect deer habitat, is a good mixture.

"This area is at the start of the Appalachian foothills," Beatty said.

"There are some hollows, croplands and hardwoods. The area is also convenient to get to."

Another benefit to hunters is that the wildlife area has a shooting range with no permit requirement.

Tranquility WA is 16 miles south of Hillsboro on state Route 770. Township roads 100 and 99 East offer access to parking areas, and township Road 100 also accesses the range.

Old State Route 32 borders the southern end of the wildlife area and provides access to more parking.

More information about Tranquility Wildlife Area may be obtained from the ODOW's District Five office at (937) 372-9261.

Before entering the woods, Ohio's public-land hunters should make certain they have their hunting license, Ohio deer tags and any other required permits. They should also contact the office of the wildlife area they intend to hunt for current information on rules, regulations and any special procedural issues they may incur.

Wildlife area maps and information about regulations, bag limits, etc., may also be found on the Ohio Division of Natural Resources' Web site at www.ohiodnr.com.

Hunters seeking information on lodging and accommodations near any of these wildlife areas may find it at www.discoverohio.com, or call 1-800-BUCKEYE.

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