Our Top Eastern Region Archery Deer Hunts

Try these popular public lands in eastern Ohio for some great early-season bowhunting action in 2009. (September 2009)

Fall means the return of archery deer hunting to Ohio, and bowhunters who have practiced all summer will be ready to go on opening day.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources estimated the deer herd at 700,000 before the 2008-2009 season. Despite that year's record hunter harvest of 252,017 deer, and with the addition of this year's spring fawns, there should be record numbers of deer in the woods again this fall. Of the deer harvested in Ohio last year, 85,856 were taken by archery hunters.

Southeastern Ohio's Wildlife District Four has over 600,000 acres of public land that is open to the public. With wooded slopes and ridges, reverting fields and brushy margins, southeastern Ohio offers some outstanding terrain for archery deer hunts.

Autumn in Ohio's southeastern counties means hunting conditions at their best. Temperatures begin to drop, producing crisp, frosty mornings and chilly evenings that hunters love. Sunny days usually outnumber rainy days during fall, although there may be a bit of light snowfall in November. In addition to great hunting in beautiful woods, comfortable lodging and campgrounds may be found less than an hour's drive from the following public hunting grounds in southeast Ohio.

Jim Hill, an Ohio Division of Wildlife biologist in District Four, said Wayne National Forest is loaded with excellent deer-hunting locations. White oak dominates the forest, along with numerous streams, small lakes and brushy cover, and deer are plentiful in the area.

Two locations that are recommended for successful deer hunting are the Trimble and Wolf Creek wildlife areas. Hill also recommends forested areas north of Zanesville for deer hunting. Three of these are the Dillon Reservoir Wildlife Area, the Powelson Wildlife Area and the Woodbury Wildlife Area.

The Trimble Wildlife Area and Wolf Creek Wildlife Area are near Burr Oak State Park. Burr Oak offers a large, comfortable lodge with full-service dining, as well as well-equipped cottages and a campground. To the north, there is also plenty of comfortable lodging in Zanesville and at several campgrounds that are located nearby.

In Wayne National Forest, hunting is permitted in areas that are more than 150 yards from designated areas, including campgrounds, picnic areas and buildings.

Also, ATVs may be ridden only on the main roads. Areas closed to vehicles are clearly marked.

Trimble Wildlife Area
The Trimble Wildlife Area lies about 45 miles south of Zanesville or 18 miles north of Athens. Public hunting grounds may be accessed from state Route 78. Wayne National Forest's Trimble Wildlife Area adjoins Sunday Creek Wildlife Area. The sign posted on state Route 78 designates the area as Sunday Creek Wildlife Area.

County Road 315, also called Houston Road, leads into the heart of the area. Access roads are reasonably well maintained and public hunting areas are clearly designated.

Approximately 90 percent of the region is forested, with oak and hickory along the many ridges and upper slopes. Elevations range from 700 to 1,005 feet above sea level.

For more information, contact the ODOW's Wildlife District Four office, 360 East State Street, Athens, OH 45701; or call them at (740) 589-9930.

Wolf Creek Wildlife Area is 32 miles from Zanesville northeast of Burr Oak State Park along state route 78. Hunting areas may be accessed from Route 78 or Route 555, which cuts right through the forest.

Mast-producing oaks and hickories are plentiful in the uplands, providing preferred food as well as cover for deer. Brush lands, which cover about 15 percent of the terrain, are maintained in old field condition. Local farmers practice crop rotations in the open lands as well.

Roads are in good shape, and parking spots are abundant. Private property is scattered throughout the area, but it is clearly marked.

For more information, contact the ODOW's Wildlife District Four office.

About 12 miles northwest of Zanesville on state Route 146, Dillon Reservoir Wildlife Area may be tough to get into. Turning south off Route 146, the road splits. There is a deeply rutted road to the right that leads into the hunting area. It may be a challenge to drive to the end of this road in wet weather, but there is plenty of parking on this well-marked public hunting area.

Dillon Reservoir is a flood control reservoir, so much of the wildlife area is a broad floodplain, but there are productive stands of oak and hickory on the wooded slopes. Brush land covers less than 10 percent of the area.

For more information, contact the ODOW's Wildlife District Four office, 360 East State Street, Athens, OH 45701; or call (740) 589-9930.

Powelson Wildlife Area is a five-mile drive north on state Route 60 from Zanesville, and then right on Powelson Road. Public hunting areas are also clearly marked in this region of hilly, wooded terrain. Once heavily strip-mined, some of this area is still in rough shape. Steep, graveled roads in this location can make driving tricky, but there is plenty of parking.

The area is reverted fields and woodland with 76 percent of the land wooded in stands ranging from saw log to pole-sized timber. Less than 1 percent is open land.

More information may be obtained from the Area Manager, Woodbury Wildlife Area, 23371 State Route 60 South, Warsaw, OH 43844.

About 30 miles north of Zanesville on state Route 60, or five miles west of Coshocton on state Route 755, lies Woodbury Wildlife Area. State Route 541 bisects the area, which includes a variety of wooded sections, brush and grass or cropland. Approximately 57 percent is woodland, 35 percent in open land, and 8 percent in brush land.

Most productive deer hunting areas are the old fields, cutover timber, and brushy transition zones between woodlands and open lands. The area is sprinkled with numerous ponds, which remain from old strip-mining activities. This area is typically rough Appalachian terrain, and some roads are very rough.

More information may be obtained from the Woodbury Wildlife Area Manager, 23371 State Route 60 South,

Warsaw, OH 43844; or call (740) 824-3211.

Ohio's 2009 archery deer season opens Sept. 27 and runs until Nov. 30. Hunting licenses may be purchased online at www.wildohio.com, or at licensed vendors.

More licensing information is available at (800) WILDLIFE.

Hunting licenses are $19 for Ohio residents and $125 for non-residents. A $24 deer permit must also be purchased, which allows the hunter to harvest one antlered deer per year. Hunters may harvest more antlerless deer if they add an additional $15 permit.

More information on deer hunting in southeastern Ohio is available from the Ohio Division of Wildlife's headquarters, 2045 Morse Road, Bldg. G, Columbus, OH 43229-6693; or call them at (614) 265-6300.

Topographic maps for all of the above wildlife areas are available from the District Four office in Athens, or on the ODNR's Division of Wildlife Web site at www.wildohio. com.

The Ohio Division of Travel and Tourism can provide more information on lodging and dining in Ohio. Call (800) BUCKEYE, or visit the Web site at www.discoverohio. com.

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