#1 Ohio County to Harvest a Muzzleloader Brute
Ohio’s muzzleloader season this year is January 8-11, 2022. If big racks intrigue you the following information may interest you, too! Since 1966 there have been 1523 entries of bucks scoring 140” or greater entered into the Ohio Big Bucks Club while using a muzzleloader. The largest ever taken with muzzleloader in Ohio to date was harvested by Kaleb Watson in 2016 in Highland County scoring an even 240”.
We love big bucks as much as you do so we took a deep dive into the last 5 years of muzzleloader entries by county to see which counties have been producing big bucks and which have not. 72 out of 88 counties have had at least 1 entry into the Ohio Big Bucks club in the past 5 years. There are a total of 140 bucks that have been entered into the record books in the past 5 years. If looking at sheer numbers the following counties have the most entries – Ross (7), Coshocton (6), Logan (5), Morgan (5), Perry (5), Ashland (4), Highland (4), Huron (4), Lorain (4), Muskingum (4), Richland (4), Athens (3), Defiance (3), Hancock (3), Preble (3), Tuscarawas (3)
So, it appears if you want the best chance at a trophy whitetail, you should be hunting Ross and Coshocton Counties. Not so fast! Not all counties are created equal in size. Ohio counties range in size from the largest Ashtabula at 701.93 square miles to the smallest Lake County 227.49 square miles. For example, Ross County is the 2nd largest county in the state with 689.19 square miles of land. To have the true best chance you will want to hunt the county that produces the most trophy bucks by square mile.
Crunching the numbers, it may surprise you but the #1 county for the best odds for a muzzleloader trophy based upon harvest history and land area is Perry County. The counties listed above fall in the following order using the same criteria – Morgan (2), Logan (3), Coshocton (4), Ross (5), Ashland (6), Lorain (7), Huron (8), Richland (9), Defiance (10), Highland (11), Preble (12), Muskingum (13), Athens (14)
The top 10 highest scoring deer harvested with a muzzleloader over the past 5 years are below. It does appear that if you are truly after a 180” deer or better Coshocton County may get the nod with 2 entries in the top 10. The beauty of Ohio is that any county can produce a world class brute at any time. Even one of the sixteen counties that has not had a record book entered in the past 5 years.
|Hunter||Harvest Year||County||Implement||Net Score|
|Brandon Ramirez||2018||Butler||Muzzleloader||208 3/4|
|William Shawver||2017||Huron||Muzzleloader||208 1/4|
|Pete Shaw||2018||Ross||Muzzleloader||200 7/8|
|Phillip Ferraro||2017||Coshocton||Muzzleloader||191 7/8|
|Raymond Lipps||2017||Preble||Muzzleloader||191 1/2|
|Greg Burke||2017||Auglaize||Muzzleloader||191 1/4|
|Tom Murphy||2019||Ashland||Muzzleloader||189 1/8|
|Andrew J Sparks||2017||Coshocton||Muzzleloader||189|
If you are more interested in putting meat in your freezer a good start would be to focus on one of the top 10 counties below for total deer harvest last season.
Last year’s muzzleloader season dates were January 2-5, 2021 and the total deer harvested were 9708. The top 10 counties for deer harvested during the 2021 muzzleloader season included: Coshocton (367), Tuscarawas (344), Licking (290), Guernsey (279), Muskingum (263), Meigs (260), Knox (256), Carroll (249), Holmes (243), and Ashtabula (238).
Keep your powder dry, shoot straight, be safe and best of luck to all muzzleloader hunters this year! Hope to see you at the Fin soon!