100 Best Public-Land Hunts: Ohio

Tranquility Wildlife Area
Location
: southwest Ohio
Size: 4,254 acres
ZIP: 45660

Tranquility produced a 165-class buck during the December muzzleloader season last year. "Obviously, the big boys are finding plenty of places to hide during the November gun hunt," Beatty says. Also located in Adams County, this Division of Wildlife-managed area devotes 10 percent of its acreage to food plots. About half of Tranquility is mature hardwoods dominated by oak and hickory, with brush and grasslands completing the mix. This is Beatty's home base, and he says 140- to 150-class bucks are "definitely not out of the question" on Tranquility's steep ridges and deep ravines.

Shawnee State Forest
Location
: southwest Ohio
Size: 63,747 acres
ZIP: 45660

They call Shawnee "The Little Smokies of Ohio," an apt name for the largest state forest in Ohio-and one of the most rugged. Located in Adams and Scioto counties, Shawnee's mature hardwood stands were thinned out by a massive ice storm in 2003. "That has produced a lot of 3- and 4-year-old successional growth that makes great shelter for mature bucks," Beatty says. An active timber management program means there are logging roads hunters can use to hike around this massive spread. One of Shawnee's best features is the state park that lies at its center; you can't hunt it, but the camping facilities are excellent.