Fort McCoy News October 24, 2014

Participants find success during disabled hunt

BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

Fifty-four hunters took to the field on Fort McCoy's North Post Oct. 4-5 for the installation's 12th straight year hosting a disabled deer hunt.

Photo for disabled hunt article
Jeffrey Rechek of Markeson, Wis., shows a mature eight-point
whitetail buck he harvested on North Post during the Fort McCoy
disabled hunt.
Contributed photo

Each year, Wisconsin holds a nine-day gun deer hunt for people with disabilities in October. Since 2002, Fort McCoy has participated in the hunt, but for only two of those days, according to Wildlife Biologist David Beckmann from the Directorate of Public Works Natural Resources Branch (NRB).

Overall, Beckmann said 72 people applied and 63 purchased a permit for the 2014 Fort McCoy disabled hunt.

"This hunt is for those people who qualify for a Wisconsin disabled hunter license," Beckmann said. "Back when we first started doing this in 2002, we had only nine hunters participate. Since then, it has grown to the 54 we had this year.

"Those hunters who participated this year also had some success," Beckmann said. "During the hunt, there were 22 deer harvested."

In all 12 years of the hunt, Fort McCoy has provided volunteers who serve as hunting assistants for those who request support.

"More than 80 percent of the hunters bring people they know to assist with their hunt," Beckmann said. "For those who need support, we have some great volunteers who have done scouting for hunters, helped them get to hunting sites, and even helped move and field dress a deer that's been harvested."

The 2014 hunt included 18 volunteers who helped out.

"Some of volunteers have been hunting at Fort McCoy for years, and their support has been invaluable," Beckmann said. "Over the years, as the interest has gone up, we have had to build our list of volunteers."

Nate Allen, from the Logistics Readiness Center Plans and Operations Office, has served as a volunteer for the disabled hunt the past two years. He said the experience is rewarding.

"I support the hunt because I have a pretty good understanding of the terrain of Fort McCoy," Allen said. "It also feels good to give back and help out other hunters — especially those who can use the assistance."

Allen added Fort McCoy is a unique area to hunt.

"There is such a varied array of terrain on post," Allen said. "You can go from a thick forest, to a swampy area, to high hills to open prairie. It's an amazing area where deer are in many places, and it's also why it's important to have volunteers who know the area to help disabled hunters."

Participants also are thankful to have had the opportunity to participate in the installation's disabled hunt. Edwin Henleben of Middleton, Wis., said in a letter to the NRB from the 2013 hunt that he was grateful for the opportunity. Henleben was assisted in his hunt by Sgt. John McCollam, who then was a member of the Fort McCoy Garrison staff.

"John McCollam and the many persons behind him and your staff all made this (disabled) deer hunt one of the highlights of my life," Henleben said. "Thank you! You made my dreams and wishes come true, plus you made an old Sailor walk with a strut."

Cheryl Nortman of Black River Falls, Wis., spouse of Ronald Nortman who participated in the 2012 Fort McCoy disabled hunt, also sent a letter to the NRB describing how much her husband enjoyed the hunt. Ronald Nortman died in April 2013. "The volunteer (who) helped made a huge impression on Ron," Nortman wrote. "He talked about him for weeks.

"My thanks to all who make these hunts available," said Nortman. "It was a great experience for (Ron) and I hope it continues for others for years to come."

Beckmann said the NRB is thankful to all the volunteers who make each disabled hunt successful. Anyone who would like to volunteer for future hunts should call Beckmann at 608-388-5374.

The NRB accepts applications for the disabled hunt from June through mid-September each year. More about the application process can be found online at http://ftmccoy.isportsman.net, or by calling the Permit Sales Office at 608-388-3337.

For more information about how to obtain a disabled hunting license, visit the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website at http://dnr.wi.gov/permits/disabled.html.