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Ohio DIY Hunt
A buddy and I are planning a public land DIY hunt in Morgan county Ohio on 11/3-11/10. A friend recommended focusing on the AEP (American Electric Power) lands and Wolfe Creek WMU so we booked a place to stay in Caldwell. I reached out the to Ohio DNR. They responded by just sending maps that I could find online anyway. Looking for any info that you guys would be willing to provide. Has anyone had experience hunting in this area? Is there a lot of pressure? Access unfortunately seems to be fairly easy, but according to the maps the DNR provided, the area we can hunt is approximately 60,000 acres. Any places to focus on or stay a way from? This will be my first DIY out of state hunt where I don’t know anyone that has been before so I’m looking forward to the challenge and also looking to exploit any resource I can. Thanks in advance
No matter how you slice it, your chances of having a decent hunt....maybe ending with a dead buck...will be positively affected by the amount of actual foot-time you can spend there. I hope you can find time to make trips to the area and scout / explore the region. It's asking a lot to show up in hunting season (in a new area) and expect to find good hunting spots...no competition...on public land. Remember Ohio is a state of about 11 million people with a lot of hunters. Public land gets a huge amount of attention from both in-state and nonresident hunters. I truly believe you'll benefit more from one 3 day scouting trip there than any amount of forum posting, but obviously you can do both and benefit from each. Good luck.
I agree with Kevin on the advance scouting trip. There is alot of area there to cover for the first time, and i promise that you will see plenty of evidence from other hunters in the area, past and present. Morgan county has some good deer in it, but the areas you listed do get hunted quite a bit. There is alot of thick brushy type area, as well as wide open timber to hunt. Water is available in quite a few places, as well as some decent oak flats. The week you are planning to hunt, dont plan on having much cover in the trees to use, most likely the leaves will all be down. Bring a blind as well. There is alot of reclaimed area in spots that you wont find a tree big enough for a stand in.
Thanks guys. I know nothing can beat boots on the ground and I am really going to try to get out there ahead of time but if we can’t our plan will be to walk and scout the first day or more till we find good fresh sign.
it’s too late now, but you should have planned a spring turkey hunt for your hunt area at the beginning of the season, when the vegetation wasn’t so green and thick and the deer sign from last fall was easier to see. In Ohio, the license year begins on March 1 so your NR license would still be good this fall and you could have “killed two birds with one stone”..... All the AEP land that I considered for hunting was basically reclaimed strip mines and very thick; it makes for challenging bowhunting.
Have hunted that area in the past. Hunting pressure during that time will be intense. More pressure than we see on NY public for sure. Everyone is doing the same thing looking for saddles, pinch points, funnels, getting way off the road, looking for overlooked spots... etc, etc. Not many secrets anymore unfortunately, and a lot of people are willing to work for it. Can be good hunting but be prepared to see a lot of pressure or you will be disappointed.
I agree with above, although if you can add a week to your actual hunt, that would be better than a 3 day scoutng trip early. I say this as what you find in August or Sept or even Oct will be very different than what you find in Nov. f you add a week you will be able to find unpressured spots and know what is happening at the moment not relying on info that may be a couple months old. I also disagree about the pressure. You can still find areas that are not pressured, you just have to look. Some may be 2 miles from a road but others may be next to a parking area with 5 trucks in it. I hunted public in 3 states last year all DIY and in NE and Iowa only saw and talked too 2 other hunters. Shawn
I live and hunt whitetial in Ohio a lot. I used to bowhunt 30-50 times a year.
1. You picked perfect dates. Literally perfect. I would not change it 24 hours either way. 2. Get away from roads. Hike further = better hunting. 3. Move stands often. It is a pain but odds go down drastically EVERY time you hunt the same stand. 4. I LOVE a good funnel but they are hard to find. 5. Be able to shoot the first and last minute of legal light. 6. Climbing treestands are awesome. Safety belt and you must break up your outline. Branches, a huge tree or climbing up to a big fork.
I disagree about scouting ahead of time being vital. Old rubs, were they made in September? December? Were they made at night? Sneaking around midday will teach you a LOT
Let me rephrase scouting is important - but covering ground dring the hunt is fantastic. I cannot tell you how many times I have snuck into stands and hunted and on short 80 yard blood trails learned a LOT because of fresh sign. Pic is my resume, not bragging but I spent an insane amount of time for 20 years bowhunting mature bucks and does in Ohio. 10 more years of mild hunting too.
The kind of scouting I'm talking about (ahead of time) doesn't have anything to do with rubs, tracks, scrapes, poop or deer beds. It's 100% about the land and environment. Terrain, water, benches, log roads, tree types, forest maturity, thickets and probable bedding areas, access...and many more things you can best understand by walking it and seeing it. Nothing takes its place, and frankly being afield is part of the deal.
As for actual deer sign, I agree that it's best left to evaluate closer to your hunt time, or during the hunt. Keep in mind having a very clear mental picture of the area/region (and the places which impressed you) will dramatically shorten the time required to locate good, current deer sign and activity areas when you arrive to hunt.
Lots of great advice from the guys above. I have been hunting Ohio for a ten years and agree whole heartedly with scouting. I normally scout in September because it worked with my work schedule. To close to season and it impacted on the actual hunt. Now, that I am retired this should not be an issue.
Of the deer that I have killed all can be directly connected to preseason scouting. Admittedly, I should have killed my first year even though I had not scouted so it can be done. Like DonV, I am an absolute believer in the first set being the best. Sometimes a little move can make all the difference. One year I moved my stand three days straight hunting the same buck never more than a hundred yards and ended up shooting him at eighteen yards. As a DIY guy I want to maximize my opportunity so I focus a lot on what it takes to be successful.
I focus on aspects that I think are critical to my success. Number one is time on stand. I have a saying that goes “any stand is better than no stand.” Your are truly going during prime time when bucks should be on their feet and moving. I told a young man from Michigan last fall who was lamenting about only seeing tails going away from him. The next day was his last day, so I told him to quit roaming around semi scouting and hunting and try to set all day from dawn to dusk. That evening he came in with a 150 inch ten point which was the third biggest of ten bucks seen that day. I am sure that come this fall he will be be setting more than walking.
My goal is to be on stand ten hours for every day that I am there. This is tough to do but If you are not careful your nine days may end up being fifty hours on stand! Since this is your first DIY hunt try and focus on your food so that once you are done in the evening dinner takes minimal time to prepare so you can get racked out because o’dark thirty comes early and you don’t want your nights impacting on your days.If you are not careful you will find yourself yourself sleeping more on stand than you want to. Yes, I’ve had a dandy wake me up going under my stand and there was no happy ending.
When I go out of state I am hyper focused on diligence. You are going at a time when deer can and do move at any time of the day. Be on stand and be alert! This is no time to be facebooking and posting on Bowsite! I have tried mobile hunts but ultimately find them distracting. Love to read them but I have missed opportunities messing around with my phone. Maybe you are more talented than me but I believe hunters fail to see many deer throughout their hunt.
These are just some of my thoughts on what it takes for me to be in the game.
Referring to the OP's first post; it looks like the objective is to begin scouting/hunting on 11-3. The size of the area at 60k acres equates to about 94 square miles of land to consider. That's a pretty imposing amount of property to have available. Knowing how many nonresidents I see here, I'm 100% certain the AEP lands (as I call them) will be very busy with hunters as the main pre-rut period accelerates. I personally wouldn't be too surprised if it takes 2 or 3 days to get things figured out and find an area that isn't being currently hunted.
On this hunt I would definitely be looking at all day sets and for me to pull ten plus hours hanging on a limb I need to feel positive about the the stand location. This would be true unless wind or other conditions forced me to change for the afternoon hunt. Again, scouting would be critical.
Lots of good guys could scout really hard for two days and have a positive experience. Frankly, let’s be honest most people come to Ohio for a chance at a bigger buck. I would throw some light hikers and blaze away looking for big rubs, bedding areas, and food sources. This is where studying maps will pay big dividends. In the areas that I hunt it is hard to find parking and access points. I first need to know this to have start point. If you have five trucks there every day it is going to be a bigger challenge than if yours is the only one. I watch lots of YouTube and it almost always confirms the fact big bucks like thick cover especially when the pressure is on! Many of the videos where bigger bucks are taken on public land the stand locations are really thick. This is often where I start scouting.
Thanks guy great information given from those that have experience.
Rocky- we do plan to have a few crock pot and quick meals so we aren’t getting back late and up all night preparing dinners.
I have been listening to a ton of pod cast and watching so many YouTube’s videos on mapping white tails, mapping white tails in hill country and studying onX that I may go cross eyed.
I asked for the “Mapping Trophy Whitetail” by Brad Henderson for Father’s Day. So I’ll be reading and studying that.
Please keep the information coming. Does anyone have any tips for escouting large properties? I was going grid it off on onX and scour the acres for saddles and possible funnels and bedding. I’ll have to get boots on the ground to find the food/ oaks.
Been hunting Morgan county now for several years. I bought a little place up there 6 years ago right on the muskinghum river and I was fortunate enough to get a good property leased right across the road. I killed the biggest buck of my life 3 year ago up there that was 190". I have a couple buddies that come up every year and hunt with is and they hunt AEP property. Year before last my buddy Jason took a great 160" droptine buck off the AEP, but he'd spent 3 years hunting and figuring out the land. He runs cameras on the public about all year and I can assure you they are some great bucks out there. But they are pressured hard and are tough to hunt. Shotgun season is borderline nuts out there, but during archery you can have a good hunt without being trampled on to much. Good luck to you this season and smart of you to book a room because it's definitely hard to find a hotel in the area during primetime. If you need any gear while there Maxwell's hunting in McConnelsville has a great selection
Here's one of the bigger bucks my buddy had on cam on the AEP this past season. Like I said there's plenty of good bucks but they are pressured
Not sure how old you are mike, or physical condition. But this situation I love my saddle! I’ve been hunting PA for years. All my buddies only hunt from the ground. This year and on I’m bringing my saddle. Lighter than a climber. Easier to get set up. And you can move where ever you want whenever you want. Can even set up on bottom of a tree and sit on top of a steep ridge etc and still be able to shoot and hunt without luggin a chair around with you. This and hunting at home where ever I want when I want were the big sales points for me investing in the saddle amd accessories over the winter
I hope you provide us an after-hunt Summary to compare your expectations with how your hunt ended up, hopefully with a great hero pic.
Nick- I started saddle hunting last year don’t think I’ll ever go back with a climber, but will be taking the climber as a back up and also a ground blind. I want to keep my options completely open to what I may encounter and how the set up works best for the area.
Jeff- I’ll do a write up after. Not sure what my expectations are at this point other than I hope we have a good time and come back safe.