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Bloody Arrow = Happiness!
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Thinking of making a trip to Ohio next year for some whitetail bowhunting. Anyone ever hunt around Zaleski Forest? If so what was your experience.
 

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Used to be pretty good hunting but in the past few yrs the herd has declined big time. That's not to say you can't kill a good buck there but you can do a lot better on other public land but it too will be tougher than in the past. Best of luck to you !
 

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I hunted there for four years. (2008 - 2011) The years I hunted there I would hunt for 7 - 10 days. The first year there was a fair number of deer. I would see deer about 50% of my hunts. After the first year there was a considerable decrease in population. Each subsequent year I saw fewer and fewer deer. Culminating during the last year, when I hunted for seven days, and saw 2 deer.
The hunting pressure is mild during bow season and high during gun. There are places where you can get away from other hunters but you'll need to do a lot of "off season" scouting to find them.
Look for very thick or very steep terrain.

There's a hunters campground at the South end of the forest you can stay at for free. It's a primitive campground with a few outhouses. The horse campground is a few miles from there and it's very similar. At the north end of the forest there's Lake Hope State Park and the campground there is very nice. Prices to camp are very reasonable. Many of the sites have electric and water service. There's also a shower house and small laundry mat.
The challenge at this place is the terrain and low deer numbers. Don't expect to see a lot of deer and be ready to move stand locations constantly. The years I hunted there I did see some nice bucks and managed to kill a very nice 8 point.
These deer seem to be "nomadic" with there feeding areas but bedding areas seem to be consistant. The key is constant scouting. No resting between morning and evening hunts.
Good luck!
 

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Hey Hawkdriver
Check out some of the AEP lands in the same area as the Zaleski. Still very tough hunting but the deer numbers seemed "slightly" higher.
 

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If you do hunt there you have a chance to shoot a hog.
I have passed on some small deer and have taken a nice turkey.
Just like any new place it's all about the scouting.
 

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I would love to hear an Ohio DNR biologists explanation as to why deer numbers have fallen so drastically on the public grounds in that area of the state. There's not a high population of people and few major highways so traffic /deer collisions were not a problem to be resolved. Neither is there much row crop agriculture there so crop damage was not an issue either. The DNR had no reasonable motive to reduce the deer numbers in these areas to the extent they've been reduced. So, if their answer is that hunter over harvest is what took place, my question to them would be: "why not limit permits, access, or season length and types permissible to let the herd recover?" And furthermore, if the DNR were doing its job as biologists and managers, they should have seen the decline as it was happening and stepped in to remediate the situation as it developed. The state has got to shoulder some of the blame for the dwindling whitetail numbers on most of the WMAs in the state of Ohio as well as many areas of private land. I think deer management should be regional and sometimes location specific. To adopt a monolithic statewide management strategy is absurd especially given the great differences that exist from area to area in regard to terrain, human population, agriculture or lack thereof. Of course, I'm just a dumb ol deer hunter that does not have a degree in whitetail management or wildlife biology so I should keep quiet. However, the fact that a layman can see the problems that exist and can offer solutions even further indicts the DNR for their negligence with this matter.
 

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Man that would be a very tough hunt!!! Not so much the terrain but the deer numbers are horrible around zaleski or and the whole county wide area. Things have changed alot in SE Ohio the last years would be a major understatement
 

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I would love to hear an Ohio DNR biologists explanation as to why deer numbers have fallen so drastically on the public grounds in that area of the state. There's not a high population of people and few major highways so traffic /deer collisions were not a problem to be resolved. Neither is there much row crop agriculture there so crop damage was not an issue either. The DNR had no reasonable motive to reduce the deer numbers in these areas to the extent they've been reduced. So, if their answer is that hunter over harvest is what took place, my question to them would be: "why not limit permits, access, or season length and types permissible to let the herd recover?" And furthermore, if the DNR were doing its job as biologists and managers, they should have seen the decline as it was happening and stepped in to remediate the situation as it developed. The state has got to shoulder some of the blame for the dwindling whitetail numbers on most of the WMAs in the state of Ohio as well as many areas of private land. I think deer management should be regional and sometimes location specific. To adopt a monolithic statewide management strategy is absurd especially given the great differences that exist from area to area in regard to terrain, human population, agriculture or lack thereof. Of course, I'm just a dumb ol deer hunter that does not have a degree in whitetail management or wildlife biology so I should keep quiet. However, the fact that a layman can see the problems that exist and can offer solutions even further indicts the DNR for their negligence with this matter.
Real easy answer why, money. They can't take a hit to the bottom line so they just hope things don't get to bad and keep going to the well.
 

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Their bottom line will eventually suffer. Many hardcore enthusiasts will continue to hunt and pursue what's left of a dwindling herd. But, new hunter recruitment will not even come close to the attrition of older guys leaving the sport due to age, health, or death. And further, many casual hunters will just find other hobbies. Some smart asses will say "good, more for the real hunters." But that's just a selfish and foolish way to look at it. We need hunter numbers to face the political pressures that are gonna be brought to bare against all hunting in the future by the well funded and connected anti-hunting groups. Furthermore, the so called casual hunters still introduce many youngsters and women to our sport that often take up the game in earnest and contribute a great deal to the image of hunting. It won't take many more years of declining deer numbers to get many hunters out of the sport which will snowball and further hurt hunter recruitment. I hate to be gloom and doom but the writing is on the wall. More folks just need to open their eyes and read it!
 
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