Fort McCoy News December 12, 2014

Fort McCoy's 2014 gun-deer season successful

BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

Hunters found success once again during the Nov. 22-30 gun-deer hunt at Fort McCoy, according to Wildlife Biologist David Beckmann of the Directorate of Public Works Natural Resources Branch (NRB).

Photo 1 for deer hunt article
Anthony Gelhaar of Milwaukee, Wis., with the large buck he harvested on Fort McCoy's North Post on the third day of the gun-deer season.
Photo by Nate Tucker

The harvest of 547 deer was just short of the 556 set as the goal for the 2014 season, Beckmann said.

"Everything went well," Beckmann said. "The harvest was in line with the goals we had set previously to maintain a healthy deer herd on the installation."

Of the deer killed, 209 were antlered and 338 were antlerless. Overall, the hunter success rate was 30 percent or greater based on the number of permits sold.

"Typically, about 50 to 60 percent of the harvest on Fort McCoy includes antlerless deer," Beckmann said. "The number of regular and bonus (permits) we sell is based on the deer population and projected harvest goal. That projection worked out well for the 2014 hunt."

The number of deer harvested on the installation is down from 2013's total of 692 deer taken. That can be attributed to lower fawn births resulting in fewer bonus permits being available to hunters, Beckmann said.

Photo 2 for deer hunt article
Wildlife Technician Nate Tucker checks the tag on a deer Nov. 25 at the South Post deer registration station.
Photo by Scott T. Sturkol

The majority of the deer killed during the 2014 hunt came on the season's opening day with 264 registered. On the second day of the hunt, fog and rain hampered hunters' efforts and only 45 deer were registered. Six inches of snow fell on day three of the hunt, where 52 deer were registered.

"We had two registration stations going on opening weekend — one on North Post and the other on South Post," Beckmann said.

"We usually have two stations on opening weekend because that is normally our big rush. Despite the weather though, hunters still did well that weekend."

Nate Prairie, a wildlife technician under contract with the NRB, worked in one of the registration stations through the entire season. He described some of the work they did at the station as hunters brought in harvested deer.

"We first check their Fort McCoy permits and licenses to make sure they were legitimate," Prairie said. "Then we record information about the deer, such as weight and age, and we record which license was used and where the deer was taken on post."

They also record a fat measurement on the deer because it helps track the health of the deer as well, said Nate Tucker, also a contracted wildlife technician with NRB who worked at the registration stations. Information is recorded on Fort McCoy and state data collection sheets.

Photo 3 for deer hunt article
Nate Prairie, a wildlife technician under contract with the Directorate of Public Works Natural Resources Branch, records the weight of a harvested deer Nov. 25 at the deer registration station on Fort McCoy's South Post
. Photo by Scott T. Sturkol

"The fat measurement also helps us index the status of the overall deer herd as we head into another winter," Tucker said.

From their initial survey findings, Beckmann said the deer herd looks to be in good shape for the upcoming winter. "We'll have an even better idea once we get more information put into our database and run some more analyses on what we found," he said.

People who hunted on Fort McCoy came from all across Wisconsin as well as from across the United States, Beckmann said.

"There are many hunters who might have grown up in this area and hunted here when they were younger," Beckmann said. "Many of those hunters come back to hunt with the other Family members. We see a lot of the same people year-to-year."

Upon completion of the gun season, the Fort McCoy archery season for deer reopened Dec. 1 and continues through Dec. 31. Permit applications for the 2015 Fort McCoy gun-deer season will begin to be available in late spring with a turn-in deadline in June.

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 http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/.