[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                               December 12, 2008
Ourdoors

Deer hunting harvest close to goals

By Rob Schuette, The Real McCoy Staff

Hunters participating in the 2008 Gun-Deer hunt at Fort McCoy harvested 533 animals, just short of the harvest goal of 545 deer. David Beckmann, installation Wildlife biologist, said the harvest goal was based on the deer population prior to the 2008 hunt. "We based (this yearís) harvest quotas on the projected pre-hunt deer population, including fawn births and outside recruitment of deer from other deer populations," Beckmann said. "Iím happy with the results we had."

Photo: Allyson Czechowicz, a researcher from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, collects debris from a deer hoof to examine the role deer have in spreading invasive plant species. (Photo by Wildlife Program staff)
Allyson Czechowicz, a researcher from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, collects debris from a deer hoof to examine the role deer have in spreading invasive plant species. 
(Photo by Wildlife Program staff)

Last winter, Fort McCoy met its overwinter target population of 20-25 deer per square mile for the first time since 2003. Harvest quotas for 2008 were determined to keep the deer population within this overwinter goal.

In addition to the 545 deer-harvest goal, Beckmann said personnel hunting at the installation take about another 200 deer through archery, muzzle-loader and disabled hunters hunts, in a typical season. That would make a total harvest goal of about 750 deer for the combined hunts.

Fort McCoy has a very good database of yearly deer statistics, which dates back to the 1980s when Beckmannís predecessor, Kim Mello, began documenting the deer population numbers.

Deer harvest goals are based on population models and calculations refined from these numbers as well as trends seen over the past years, Beckmann said.

Hunters had a 30 percent success rate this year, Beckmann said, which is very good and comparable to previous hunts when the deer population were at similar levels.

Although the installation did not get measurable amounts of snow during the opening weekend, hunters did harvest a total of 307 deer ó 187 antlered and 120 antlerless. During the entire season, hunters took 283 antlered deer and 250 antlerless deer, a split of about 53 percent antlered to 47 percent antlerless.

From Nov. 27 (Thanksgiving) on, hunters did pretty well, registering 100 deer, Beckmann said. This was up from the 80 deer anticipated during the four-day period and helped to get the total harvest closer to the harvest goal.

Photo: A hunter displays a nine-point buck shot on North Post at Fort McCoy during the gun-deer season. (Photo by Wildlife Program staff)
A hunter displays a nine-point buck shot on North Post at Fort McCoy during the gun-deer season. (Photo by Wildlife Program staff)

Among the management programs contributing to the success of the hunt was the introduction of seven-day Gun-Deer permits, which werenít valid during the opening weekend.

"I think it helped hunter pressure on the deer, allowing us to meet our harvest goals," Beckmann said. "It also gave others, who were not selected or missed the application deadline, a chance to hunt."

"Itís a good deer management tool to keep in mind when we sit down to analyze the numbers (and determine next yearís quotas)," Beckmann said. "Weíll look at the data and decide if we should continue the program."

The early data from this hunt also suggests that the deer are healthy going into the winter, Beckmann said. The fat content seen on the deer is a good indicator of how healthy and prepared they are for the winter.

Last year, winter conditions, especially the deep snow, may have contributed to the loss of some deer; however these losses likely did not severely affect the overall deer population. If these conditions repeat themselves this year, the deer should be able to get through them without much problem.

Another aspect of the 2008 hunt included researchers from Luther College of Decorah, Iowa, conducting on-site inspections for the second consecutive year to examine the role deer may have in spreading invasive plant species. During the opening weekend, students took more than 200 samples from the hooves of harvested deer.

Seeds from these collections will be planted in the spring to determine the number of native and invasive species being picked-up and transported to other areas.

"The results will be helpful in understanding other mechanisms that contribute to the spread of invasive plants," Beckmann said. "Their research will give us another piece of information that we can use to develop and adjust our invasive species management plans and strategies."

 

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