Hocking Hills and the surrounding area isn’t only known for Old Man’s Cave, although that is what most tourists come to see. There are plenty of other things to see and do in the area and this time of year is no exception. In Ohio, deer season for bow hunters is in full swing and has been since September 25th, but what most hunters are itching for is gun season. Opening day for gun season is November 29th and runs to December 5th. You do need a permit to hunt in Ohio and you can find that here: https://ohiodnr.gov/wps/portal/gov/odnr/buy-and-apply/hunting-fishing-boating/hunting-resources/hunting-licenses-permits
You don’t have to be an Ohio resident though, to bag a white tail of your own! There are regulations as to how many deer you can tag antlered and antlerless; one antlered regardless of how or where it was killed and one antlerless may be taken from public land. An antlered deer has at least one antler three inches or longer in length. Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. Hunters must complete the game-check process after killing a deer. There are also regulations on the type of equipment that can be used in hunting a deer, these include longbow or bow, crossbow, shotgun, straight-walled cartridge rifles, muzzleloading rifle, .38 caliber or larger, muzzleloading shotgun, 10 gauge or smaller using one ball per barrel, and handgun, with 5-inch minimum length barrel, using straight-walled cartridges, .357 caliber or larger. You can check out the odnr.gov website for more details.
Wayne National Forest stretches from Logan, Ohio to Marietta, and Ironton. With a big portion of the WNF right here in Nelsonville, Ohio, and home to the WNF headquarters. WNF has camping for deer gun season available in designated areas such as Burr Oak Cove, Hune Bridge, Lane Farm, Lamping Homestead, Pine Knob at Vesuvius, Ring Mill, and Stone Church. While camping is fun, you and your guests can enjoy a weekend or an extended trip with 1st Choice Lodging. We have a variety of cabins and lodges that sit adjacent to thousands of acres of WNF. We also have several vacation homes and Bed & Breakfast rooms to choose from. No matter what accommodation you select, you are located in close proximity to trail heads, remote walk-ins, and accessible lands near roads into WNF.
Most lands are open to hunt on WNF except in developed recreation areas – think campgrounds, picnic areas, and trail-heads. Maps are available from any WNF office, while 2.5 inch to the mile topographic maps are preferred, half inch to the mile is also available for purchase. Be careful to stay back from oil and gas operations as they are private property and can be dangerous. You must never discharge a firearm within 150 yards of a trail-head and pay close attention as to where private land is, as it is interspersed with public land. You must obtain written permission to hunt private property from the land owners. We recommend downloading the app called On X Maps to determine the difference between public and private property. To learn more about On X Maps, visit their website at https://www.onxmaps.com/hunt/app.
While hunting, you can bring those off-highway vehicles (OHV) to WNF as they have plenty of opportunities for riding with 84 miles of trails on the Monday Creek OHV Area alone. There are 145 miles of trails total in WNF. Keep in mind there are regulations for bringing OHV’s to Wayne. You can find a complete list of rules and regulations here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/wayne/recreation/ohv/?recid=6203&actid=93
Some of these regulations include purchasing trail passes, which are available for purchase online or at Adventure Pro Outdoors, located in Nelsonville, Ohio. All riders aged 16 and over are required to have their own passes. Passes must be displayed while the vehicle is in operation on the trails and there are two types of passes available. It should also be noted that OHV trails currently cannot accommodate UTV’s wider than 50 inches, with no plans in the near future to widen the trails. OHV’s are not to be unloaded from your vehicle or trailer, unless you are in a designated OHV area. Hunters wanting to use an OHV to access a hunting spot or area are required to stay on designated OHV trails. While on your OHV, all guns must be unloaded and secured in a locked case.
According to the Ohio Division of Wildlife data, in WNF land, there are an estimated 21 deer per square mile. The Forest Service continues to manage the WNF to ensure there is ample shelter, cover and superb food sources available for all the wildlife species calling the Wayne home. The Forest Service and the Ohio Division of Wildlife have a strong partnership to provide you with the best hunting possible. Come on down to Southeast Ohio and find out why deer gun season is so popular in this region and try your luck in Wayne National Forest.
Adventure Pro Outdoors is located at 1299 E. Canal Street, Nelsonville, Ohio 45764.
Hours are Monday through Thursday 8:00 a.m to 6:00 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
You can find availability for cabins for gun season at www.1stchoicelodging.com or by calling 740-856-7848. There is a special going on for those dates, for 20% off, using the code HUNT20 when booking!
Athens Ranger District is located at 13700 U.S Hwy 33, Nelsonville, Ohio 45764.
Hours are Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
– Tabetha Dunlevy