FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – Almost 80 beginner and seasoned hunters and guides came together, Nov. 6, for the second annual Commanding General Deer Hunt, hosted by Maj. Gen. Brian E. Winski, commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Fort Campbell.
For more than 50 years every spring, the commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division (Air As-sault), hosts an annual turkey hunt, last year Winski hosted the first deer hunt with the Fort Campbell Fish and Wildlife Program that has continued again this year in the woods surrounding Lake Kyle.
“I’m really glad we were able to do this,” Winski said. “One of the challenges of being a Soldier is you’re moving every few years, it takes a while to get linked up with someone with shared interests, and you can’t keep your hunting gear in your barracks room. There are inherent challenges, and what we wanted to do is get your fellow sportsmen and all of our guides linked up with you so you can see all Fort Campbell has to offer.”
Major Eric J. Gutierrez, S-3 operations officer, 21st Brigade Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Abn. Div., was the action officer for the event.
“We caught a few deer, which I think is success in itself,” Gutierrez said. “I think from the turnout we’ve gotten, over 78 hunters, is great. Getting the population and Army Family to do an activity together is good, especially with everything with COVID-19 these last few months.”
The event was created to get Soldiers out of the barracks and give them the opportunity to learn a new skill and connect with seasoned hunters and guides.
“Fort Campbell is a unique installation,” Gutierrez said. “It’s an outdoorsman’s paradise. If you haven’t really experienced it yet, it’s really easy to get out and become a part of the hunting community and learn something new. There is value in getting out of the barracks and learning something new and meeting new people. A lot of people love hunting and are ready to mentor younger Soldiers and hunters.”
Sergeant Hannah Turley, Signal Intelligence and Sustainment Company, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 101st Abn. Div., and her wife, Shelby, were among the few female hunters and guides who participated in the event. This was their first time attending a CG deer hunt.
“The best thing any female can do when she wants to start hunting is to connect with someone more experienced who can show the way, it’s the best thing to do,” Turley said. “A lot of time hunters are really excited and willing to show everything they know for newer hunters.”
Hannah opted to bow hunt for the event and her wife served as a guide.
“I don’t have a lot of experience with gun hunting, so I only bow hunt,” Turley said. “Bow hunting al-ways feels more challenging for me, personally, I feel like it feels more technical and you have to get a lot closer to the deer.”
The two developed their own communication system while hunting and met many fellow hunters at the event and enjoyed checking out harvests from the other hunting groups.
“We’ve worked out a system with hand signals, which can be pretty fun,” Shelby Turley said. “I grew up hunting but wanted to be her guide this time. It was fun, I was hoping to see her shoot something nice, but it was a beautiful day and we had a lot of fun.”
The event also promotes health, mission readiness and environmental conservation. Veterinarians with the Fort Campbell Veterinary Center partnered with environmental biologists from the Fort Campbell Fish and Wildlife Program to collect ticks from harvested deer to test for diseases that could potentially impact humans and pets on the installation.
“The role veterinary services had was working with the wildlife biologists to sample ticks from the deer and the lymph nodes for testing for Chronic Wasting Disease,” said Maj. Morgan Mander, 72nd Veterinary Detachment. “The tick surveillance allows us to see what species of tick are out here and we’re able to then test them to see what diseases they’re carrying, which helps us because we have Soldiers who train out here.”
This collaboration is part of One Health Week, which is observed annually during the first week of November. One Health Week is a drive for collaboration during which physicians, veterinarians, ecologists and Public Health officials work together to address health issues from all perspectives including animal, human and environmental.
“We’re supporting One Health, which is the collaboration between human, environmental, and animal medicine,” said Cpt. Luke Tomaso, 72nd Veterinary Detachment. “The interdisciplinary collaboration between these groups is extremely important to improve the health for people, the environment and animals. We’re the subject matter experts for domestic animal health, however in this instance, we’re not the experts on wildlife and environmental management, which is why we’ve come together to work with the Fort Campbell Fish and Wildlife Program to find solutions together.”
Together with the Fort Campbell Fish and Wildlife Program, they collected ticks from harvested deer and removed the lymph nodes. The ticks will be tested for diseases and the lymph nodes will be sent to The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to be tested for Chronic Wasting Disease, a neurodegenerative disease that affects white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose. This disease is always fatal and results in severe emaciation, loss of bodily functions and abnormal behavior, however, it has not been found in the Fort Campbell area. Testing ticks also ensures the people and pets of Fort Campbell are protected.
“Ticks are one of the species that we can also see affecting our companion animals, so we want to make sure our pet owners are using flea and tick prevention so they aren’t introducing them into their homes and potentially infecting their Families,” Mander said. “By coming out to these events we can share education and let people know what the risks are and how they can mitigate these risks.”
Ten deer were harvested during the CG Deer Hunt, said Jonathan Mills, manager of the Hunting and Fishing Program, Directorate of Public Works.
“It was great to get Soldiers out, especially young Soldiers, and introduce them to hunting,” Mills said. Getting them out and having some of them harvest deer for the first time was definitely a success in my book.”
In addition to building relationships and boosting Soldier morale, Mills said the event was a great opportunity to promote mission readiness across the board.
“Our Soldiers do a lot of training in the rear area, and they can be exposed to these ticks that we are collecting,” Mills said. “By testing these ticks, we can make sure our Soldiers are prepared and properly equipped with the correct PPE [personal protective equipment] in order to conduct their training safely.”
Hunting season continues through Jan. 3. To register to hunt on Fort Campbell and see the full list of requirements necessary, visit https://ftcampbell.isportsman.net.