Hunting in Ohio

Last updated: 8th May 2023

An image of a hunter holding a rifle, wearing a hunting camo when hunting in Ohio

Cheaper hunting cost? Big bucks? Great landscape? That’s what you’ll get when you start hunting in Ohio!

But here’s the draw: the state doesn’t have the vast selection of big game species compared to other states, like Iowa and Illinois. But like West Virginia, the state has a rich wildlife habitat for game species to grow and inhabit. 

Wanna learn what’s there when hunting in Idaho in a single click? Keep reading, then!

General Game Season in Ohio

Ohio offers a variety of hunting seasons year-round. Of course, regulations and dates vary depending on species, weapons, and hunting zones. 

Hunters consider the seasons offered by the state as well-balanced. It’s enough for hunters to explore the state’s hunting opportunities while promoting species sustainability.

Here’s the rundown of the season regulated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources:

Whitetail DeerLate September to mid-January
Wild TurkeyFall: Early October to mid-November
Spring: Mid-April to mid-May
Youth Spring: Mid-April for two (2) days
Feral SwineYear-round
WaterfowlDove: September to early November & Early December to January 
Duck: Mid-October to early December
Snipe: September to late November & Early December to January 
Woodcock: Early October to late November 
FurbearerCoyote: Year-round
Fox and Raccoon: Mid-November to January 

Ohio Deer Hunting

An image of deer when deer hunting in Ohio

Sadly, the only big game experience offered by the state is white-tailed deer hunting. Well, that’s because the state does not have a healthy population of other big game species like elk, moose, or bighorn sheep.  

But still, Ohio has a rich hunting culture for deer. Ohio has a well-managed white-tailed deer population, with an estimated population of over 700,000 deer. The state offers both archery and firearm seasons for deer hunting.

Like in Idaho, Ohio also provides special hunting opportunities through controlled hunts. This program allows hunters to apply for permits on specific public land areas close to general hunting.

Deer Season

Are you interested in hunting deer in the state? Here are the specific Ohio deer seasons for your reference:

Note: hunting season varies depending on the weapon hunter uses. These seasons have different regulations for ethical hunting practices.

Deer Gun Season

Among all the deer seasons in Ohio, deer gun season is the most anticipated event for hunters.

Deer gun hunting helps control the deer population in Ohio, preventing overpopulation, which can lead to habitat degradation, increased deer-vehicle collisions, and the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease.

Here are Ohio’s detailed deer gun seasons:

Deer Gun Season Late November to early December.
Two-day bonus weekend in mid-December.
Youth Deer Gun SeasonMid-November for two days.
Deer Muzzleloader SeasonEarly January for three days. 

During the deer gun hunting season, the state only allows these firearms:

a) Shotguns: 10 gauge or smaller. Hunters can use slugs or legal straight-walled cartridge rifles.

b) Muzzleloaders: .38 caliber or larger. Hunters can use black powder or an approved black powder substitute.

c) Handguns: .357 caliber or larger. Hunters can use straight-walled cartridges with a minimum barrel length of 5 inches.

d) Straight-walled cartridge rifles: Specific cartridges are allowed. Hunters must follow the outlined ODNR regulations.

Deer Archery Season 

Like deer gun season, deer hunting is also popular for archery hunters in the state. It provides an ample opportunity to pursue deer while helping to manage the state’s deer population and maintain a healthy ecosystem. 

But unlike deer gun season, Ohio deer archery season is a considerably more extended hunting period. 

Deer Archery SeasonLate September to early February.

Ohio hunters must adhere to specific regulations for legal archery equipment. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the legal hunting equipment for crossbows and longbows:

Longbows, Recurve Bows, and Compound Bows:

  1. Minimum draw weight: 40 pounds.
  2. Broadheads: At least two cutting edges, 3/4 inch width, not barbed.


  1. Minimum draw weight: 75 pounds.
  2. Broadheads: Same requirements as other bows.

General Equipment Guidelines:

  1. Lighted nocks are allowed.
  2. Bow-mounted cameras and rangefinders are allowed.
  3. Expanding arrows and poisoned/drugged arrows are prohibited.

Deer Hunting Regulation

For legal deer hunting in Ohio, hunters must have a valid hunting license and a deer permit. The state has different deer hunting permits for resident and nonresident hunters, such as:

  1. Antlerless permits- This permit allows hunters to harvest deer without antlers. It includes female and young male deer.
  2. Either-sex permits- This permit allows hunters to harvest any deer. Essentially, it consists of those antlered deers.
  3. Bunos permits- This permit allows hunters to harvest more than the regular deer bag limit. 

The Ohio Division of Wildlife determines the number of deer permits available in Ohio. The decision varies depending on population management goals and other factors. In some cases, deer management permits may be limited or issued through a lottery system.

Ohio has county-specific deer bag limits. Those limits vary depending on the local deer population and management goals. Hunters are typically allowed to harvest one antlered deer (buck) per year, while antlerless deer (does) limits may differ by county. 

Ohio mandates that all deer be checked within 24 hours of harvest using the game check system. Deer harvested can be reported online, by phone, or through a licensed agent. 

Aside from deer hunting, Ohio has excellent hunting for small games like wild turkey and furbearer hunting. 

Ohio Turkey Hunting

Turkey hunting offers a fantastic and bountiful experience for novice and seasoned hunters. The state has a mix of public and private lands available for hunters to chase these elusive birds. 

The primary species of wild turkey found in Ohio is Eastern Wild Turkey. These birds are known for their elusive nature and keen senses, making them a challenging yet rewarding target for hunters.

Despite the decrease in its population, turkey hunting in the coming years looks good now. In fact, biologists expect a high turkey hunting success in the coming years. 

To have legal turkey hunting in the state, hunters must have a turkey hunting permit on top of their valid license. 

Aside from a valid hunting license, hunters must have turkey hunting to have a legal hunt. 

Ohio Furbearer Hunting

Furbearer hunting and trapping in Ohio are valuable activities for managing wildlife populations and contributing to the state’s ecological balance.

In fact, Ohio ranks among the nation’s leading producers of raw furs. Furbearers in Ohio include various species, such as:

  1. Foxes
  2. Raccoons
  3. Beavers
  4. Minks
  5. Muskrats
  6. Skunks
  7. Opossums
  8. Coyotes

All hunters and trappers must carry a valid Ohio hunting license. Regardless of age, hunters need a fur-taker permit to hunt or trap fur-bearing animals. Trappers intending to sell furs may also need a Commercial Fur Dealer’s License.

Furbearer hunting in Ohio is more lenient in terms of land access. Of course, the state entitles licensed hunters to hunt furbearers in public areas like state forests and wildlife areas. 

But what’s fun is private landowners are not strict on letting hunters access their private land for furbearer hunting. They are more lenient when you’re after a predator that causes problems to their property. 

Best Location to Hunt in Ohio 

Despite its shortcoming with big game species, the state still offers a variety of excellent hunting locations. These locations are prime habitats for deer, turkey, and waterfowl species. 

Hunters can find the best hunting locations in Ohio on both public and private lands. Here’s an overview of some of the top hunting locations in the state:

Wayne National Forest

Want to get out of the crowd? Going further to this 240,000-acre national forest is your best choice! 

Located in southeastern Ohio, Wayne National Forest offers habitats for the well-sought deer in the state. Aside from deer hunting, it also covers hunting opportunities for turkey and small game species. 

The rugged terrain, with its hills, valleys, and streams, adds to the challenge and excitement of hunting in this area.

Woodbury Wildlife Area

Woodbury Wildlife Area offers a diverse and challenging hunting experience in Coshocton County, Ohio. This 19,252-acre wildlife area is one of the largest hunting locations in Ohio. 

With its abundant game species and vast public land, it is a top destination for deer, turkey, waterfowl, and small game hunting.

AEP ReCreation Land

The American Electric Power (AEP) ReCreation Land offers a diverse and challenging hunting experience in southeastern Ohio.

It is a top location to hunt deer, turkey, and small game species. The area consists of reclaimed strip mines, creating a diverse habitat with woods, grasslands, and ponds.

To hunt on AEP ReCreation Land, you must obtain a free AEP ReCreation Land permit. This permit is available online through the AEP website or at designated locations near the property. This permit must be carried with you while hunting on AEP ReCreation Land.

Grand River Wildlife Area

This 7,453-acre wildlife area in Trumbull County offers a mix of wetlands, forests, and grasslands. That feature makes it an excellent location for hunting deer, turkey, waterfowl, and small game species. 

But its main feature is its wetlands and the Grand River. These two attract a variety of waterfowl species, making it a popular destination for waterfowl hunting. Hunters can target ducks, geese, and other migratory birds during the appropriate seasons.

Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area

Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area offers a diverse and unique hunting experience in Wyandot and Marion Counties, Ohio. 

This 9,230-acre wildlife area occasionally offers controlled hunting opportunities for hunters. It regulates controlled deer, waterfowl, and other game species. These special hunts have specific application processes and regulations. Be sure to check the ODNR website for more information.

Salt Fork Wildlife Area 

This 12,000-acre wildlife area in Guernsey County offers excellent deer and turkey hunting opportunities. The diverse habitat, including woodlands, wetlands, and grasslands, supports a healthy game population.

Like Killdeer Plains, this wildlife area also opens hunters to one-of-a-kind hunting experiences. That is by regulation controlled hunt in the area. Some areas in this location are off-limits to regular hunters. Drawing the hunting permit for this area will eliminate much of your competition to secure your desired animal. 

Private Lands

Private land hunting often experiences less hunting pressure than public lands. It leads to a more relaxed and enjoyable hunting experience. Lower hunting pressure can also result in healthier game populations and higher success rates.

Always obtain permission from landowners before hunting on private property and respect their rules and boundaries. 

Ohio Hunting Licenses

Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife manages the distribution of hunting licenses. They offer various licenses and permits to suit the needs of different hunters. Here’s an overview of Ohio hunting licenses. 

All first-time hunters born after January 1, 1975, must complete a hunter education course. This requirement is essential before you purchase a hunting license. Hunter education courses are available both in-person and online.

Resident hunters

Adult Hunters1-year hunting: $19.00
3-year hunting: $54.08
5-year hunting: $90.14
10-year hunting: $180.27
Lifetime hunting: $448.28
Senior Hunters(Ages 66 or older)1-year hunting: $10.00
3-year hunting: $27.04
5-year hunting: $45.07
Lifetime hunting: $84.24
Youth Hunters(Ages 17 or younger)1-year hunting: $10.00
3-year hunting: $27.04
5-year hunting: $45.07
10-year hunting: $90.14
Lifetime hunting: $430.56
Apprentice Hunters$19.00

Nonresident hunters

Adult Hunters3-day hunting: $40.00
1-year hunting: $180.96
Youth Hunter(Ages 17 or younger)$10.00
Apprentice Hunters$180.96


Yes, hunting in Ohio may lack in terms of big-game selection. But it still makes up for it by providing hunters with a thriving deer-hunting culture and a vast hunting landscape for hunters to enjoy. 

Happy hunting!