Hundreds of hunters found success during the 2019 gun-deer season at Fort McCoy held Nov. 23 to Dec. 1.
There were nearly 1,300 hunters who signed in and took to the woods at Fort McCoy, harvesting more than 300 deer during the post’s 2019 nine-day gun-deer season.
The 2019 harvest is down from the 440 deer harvested during the 2018 gun-deer season.
“The harvest this year was down like it was statewide,” said Wildlife Biologist David Beckmann with the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch (NRB). “Part of that decline was because the season was held later in the month this year. Still, we had a hunter success rate of approximately 25 percent.”
A large number of big bucks were taken during the season.
“We had many trophy-sized bucks come through the checkpoint,” Beckmann said. “There were a lot of large eight- and 10-point bucks and some with more points. All were healthy, large deer.”
Beckmann said the annual hunt is important in helping to control the deer population on post. For 2019, approximately 1,800 regular permits were made available as well as 200 antlerless deer bonus tags. These figures are a reduction from 2018 and are based on the deer population and harvest need. Approximately 1,400 permits were actually purchased.
Going into the season, Beckmann said it was estimated that Fort McCoy averaged about 30 deer per square mile.
“Our goal is to have an over-winter population of 20 to 25 deer per square mile of winter habitat,” Beckmann said. “That’s why these hunts are so important — they help us meet our wildlife and training land-management goals.”
All deer harvested during the season had to be brought through the Deer Data Collection Point on South Post for collection of biological data by the Colorado State University (CSU) contracted wildlife-management staff, Beckmann said. The data is important to monitor deer health and to calculate the overall installation deer population.
“Staff members also collected samples from deer to be tested for possible signs of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in the local deer population,” Beckmann said. “All data and samples were provided to the WDNR for testing and final reporting. This information is important in managing the deer herd on the installation.”
Fort McCoy hunters didn’t need to register their harvested deer with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) this year, but they did need to register any harvested deer through the check-out process on iSportsman. Fort McCoy reports harvest totals to the WDNR after the season is completed.
The 2019 season also was the first time the gun-deer hunting permits, and accompanying harvest authorization, were purchased through iSportsman. The newly established gun-deer permit harvest authorization allowed the hunter to still use their WDNR harvest authorization outside of the installation.
“Hunters adjusted to purchasing the permits through iSportsman just fine,” Beckmann said. “Overall, it was a good season despite the lower harvest numbers. This season, combined with the harvest numbers we’re seeing from archery hunters, will help us successfully maintain a healthy deer herd on the installation.”
For more information about hunting on Fort McCoy, call the Permit Sales Office at 608-388-3337, or go online to https://ftmccoy.isportsman.net.
For more information on hunting in Wisconsin, go online to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Web page at https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt.