Fort McCoy News Jan. 8, 2016

2015 Fort McCoy gun-deer hunt successful

BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

More than 1,400 hunters took to the woods at Fort McCoy Nov. 21-29 harvesting 520 deer during the 2015 nine-day gun-deer season at the installation.

Photo 1
Chris Theder of Lake Mills, Wis., harvested this nine-point buck on Fort McCoy's South Post early in the season. Photo by Nathan Tucker

"We had a hunter success rate of 29 percent," said Wildlife Biologist Dave Beckman with the Directorate of Public Works Natural Resources Branch (NRB). "From a wildlife-management perspective, we met our goal to reduce the herd to manageable levels." Overall, 1,606 Fort McCoy gun-deer permits were purchased for the season.

The 2015 season was the first time the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources used an all-electronic deer-harvest registration system. Hunters registered their deer harvests through a smartphone app, through the WDNR's Web page, or by calling. And as a result of the electronic deer registration, the former deer-registration stations on Fort McCoy's North Post and South Post were used as biological-data-collection stations.

"We didn't have every deer harvested visit our data-collection stations, but I'd say we had about 25 percent of all deer that were taken brought to the stations," Beckmann said.

At a station, a deer's weight and age is determined, and a fat measurement is taken, said Nate Tucker, a contracted wildlife technician with NRB who worked at the collection stations. Information is recorded on Fort McCoy and state data-collection sheets.

Photo 2
Researchers from Michigan State University collect
data about ticks from a deer during the 2015 gun-
deer hunt at Fort McCoy for a study about Lyme
disease.
Photo by Dave Beckmann

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

The most hunters were at Fort McCoy the first two days of the season with 1,206 checking in on the first day and 1,017 the second day.

"The remaining days of the season had significantly fewer hunters on post than the first two days, but still numbered in the hundreds each day of the remaining seven days of the season," Beckmann said.

Though fewer deer were harvested than in previous years, Beckmann said some nice bucks were taken.

"On opening weekend, we had one big buck brought in to our station on North Post that weighed 199 pounds, which is rare and a size we may only see maybe once every 10 years," he said.

Chris Theder of Lake Mills, Wis., harvested a nine-point, 180-pound buck on opening day of the season on Fort McCoy's South Post. He said he's been hunting at the installation for nearly a decade and enjoys the opportunity.

"I like hunting at McCoy because it has a lot of nice country," Theder said. "The deer I got this season is at the taxidermist now. … I'd consider him a trophy buck by my standards. I got another nice buck like this about six years ago — a 10-pointer — while hunting at McCoy as well. We enjoy it and come back every year."

Beckmann said a mild winter forecast combined with plenty of food sources on the installation should make for a good deer survival rate over winter. "Also, once we analyze the data from this season, we'll know more about the health of our herd, but I think we'll be in good shape," he said.

Permit applications for the 2016 Fort McCoy gun-deer season will 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/.