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October 24, 2007

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100 Best Public-Land Hunts: Ohio

Brush Creek State Forest
: southwest Ohio
Size: 13,502 acres
ZIP: 45660

Southwest Ohio is fast becoming legendary deer country: The Amish Buck, the 34-point behemoth that gross-scored 300-plus Boone and Crockett and set the whitetail world abuzz last fall, hailed from Adams County. So did the Metzner Buck, a 196 6/8 12-pointer taken with a compound bow last fall at Brush Creek that is the fifth largest typical in the Pope & Young record book. Deer at this state forest in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains get "the best of both worlds," says assistant wildlife management supervisor Brett Beatty, of the Ohio DNR's Division of Wildlife. "They get all the natural cover and wild mast they need" in oak-hickory hardwoods on Brush Creek's deep hollows and steep ridges, while privately held farmland interspersed among the public holdings supplements the deer diet with corn and alfalfa. Deer numbers, already good, are building, suggesting this region still has headlines to make.

Tranquility Wildlife Area
: southwest Ohio
Size: 4,254 acres
ZIP: 45660

Tranquility produced a 165-class buck during the December muzzleloader season last year. "Obviously, the big boys are finding plenty of places to hide during the November gun hunt," Beatty says. Also located in Adams County, this Division of Wildlife-managed area devotes 10 percent of its acreage to food plots. About half of Tranquility is mature hardwoods dominated by oak and hickory, with brush and grasslands completing the mix. This is Beatty's home base, and he says 140- to 150-class bucks are "definitely not out of the question" on Tranquility's steep ridges and deep ravines.

Shawnee State Forest
: southwest Ohio
Size: 63,747 acres
ZIP: 45660

They call Shawnee "The Little Smokies of Ohio," an apt name for the largest state forest in Ohio-and one of the most rugged. Located in Adams and Scioto counties, Shawnee's mature hardwood stands were thinned out by a massive ice storm in 2003. "That has produced a lot of 3- and 4-year-old successional growth that makes great shelter for mature bucks," Beatty says. An active timber management program means there are logging roads hunters can use to hike around this massive spread. One of Shawnee's best features is the state park that lies at its center; you can't hunt it, but the camping facilities are excellent.


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I want to go deer hunting big bucks in Ohio!


i hunted ohio last year took a nice doe and saw several young bucks.cant wait to go back looking for my first pope and young with my bow.Adams co. Ohio should be a good place to start. I live in ky we have some very nice deer hanging around.Maybe a pope and young in two states.Never hurts to dream.

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100 Top Public Lands
Field & Stream reporter Steven Hill spent two months interviewing state game agency officials, deer biologists, and whitetail experts to identify the absolute best public whitetail hunting grounds in the nation.

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