Planning Your First Out of State DIY Whitetail Hunt

Planning Your First Out of State DIY Whitetail Hunt

In mid December of 2022 I ventured about 4 hours North for my first out of state public land hunt in Ohio. Even though I live across the river from Ohio in Kentucky, I’d never hunted anything over in the Buckeye State except for a couple squirrel hunts years ago. However, this year I decided to go for the experience and try to tag a late season Ohio monster. I did some research and found a place to camp all within about a 20 minute drive from 3 pieces of public ground in BIG Ohio Whitetail country. 

Me and my buddy Ethan Salyer met in Kentucky and made the trip up around Muskingum County, Ohio to meet fellow Hunt Lift Eat team member Perry Isner. The three of us hunted hard for 4 days, had opportunities with several does and small bucks, but did not fill our tags. I want to share with you what I took away from this experience and what I would do differently next time. Hopefully this can help you with your next adventure or help motivate you to take on a new challenge.


We hunted during the late shotgun weekend in Ohio and then transitioned to archery the last two days of our hunt. The amount of hunters we saw was something that’d I would have never imagined. During the first two days in shotgun season we ran into hunters who were doing deer drives. Imagine 10 hunters lined up across a bottom of soy beans or corn like they’re bird or rabbit hunting trying to push deer in a certain direction. You talk about desperation mode! Our next trip will most likely be earlier in the season as an all archery hunt. This will allow us to get in the woods way before the human presence and hunting pressure that comes with the desperation mode tactics that come with late gun season. 


So, that’s the question. How selective should you be on a four day hunt? Answers may vary depending on the situation you are in. For example, I chose to pass on several does the first two days and then couldn’t get a deer in bow range the last two days. My thought process at the time was that I knew I had a freezer full of deer and squirrels at home from a Kentucky season that had been kind to me, so that allowed me to be more patient. I passed deer and ate tag soup at the end of the trip waiting on that big brute Ohio Whitetail that never showed up, but I took home a wealth of knowledge to help me in the years to come. If your situation is different, fill that tag!


Even though you can use onX to map out public land hunting areas, sometimes there are other regulations that you’ll need to be aware of. For example, after running into a wildlife officer we learned the hard way that in Ohio you cannot hunt with a firearm on public land within 400 yards of railroad tracks. Luckily, the officer gave us a warning and pointed us towards a better (and legal) location. 


I saw more hunting pressure on this trip than I ever would’ve imagined. After the first day out, we went back to camp and tried to come up with a better game plan. Unfortunately, where we were hunting had a very large amount of access points. Meaning that when we tried to push deeper into the public we were actually getting closer to another access point. We actually found a spot on day two that was on the other side of the river and lake from where we hunted on day one. We found a smaller section of public that looked untouched and it could only be accessed by first hiking along the railroad tracks for a couple miles. Perry stayed on the other side of the river, Ethan split off from the tracks, and I made my way along the lake. Unfortunately, this was our game warden encounter day and we didn’t make it long on this section of public. Turns out the reason the woods looked untouched was because you’re not allowed to firearm hunt that piece. I was clueless and actually accessed the public while walking down the railroad tracks with my shotgun. Lesson learned!


During the afternoon of day two, Ethan spent his last few hours of daylight helping an elderly gentleman who was trying to drag out a doe. This man was old, down in one of the deepest hollers that country had to offer, and miles away from the parking lot. It sure was a good thing that he ran into Ethan. That brings me to my last point, have a plan. Without running into help, that gentleman would have been in a bad spot with daylight dwindling and an animal still a mile or two away from parking, without mentioning it was also only 20 degrees. Too many times we get fired up about the chase and the hunt and forget to devise a plan for what happens after pulling the trigger. Something as simple as getting dehydrated, hurt, or disoriented can get you lost or killed on large pieces of unfamiliar land.


Be prepared for what can happen when you least expect it. Thank goodness for Perry driving separate and having a reliable set of jumper cables!


Like always, we appreciate ya'll tremendously for reading! If you're planning an out of state hunt this year, give us a shout and let us know where you're heading! 

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