Twenty-six hunters participated in Fort McCoy’s 2022 gun-deer hunt for hunters with disabilities Oct. 8-9. It was the 21st straight year this hunt took place on post.
Every October, Wisconsin holds a nine-day gun deer hunt for people with disabilities. From 2002 through 2019, Fort McCoy participated by holding a two-day hunt the first weekend of the statewide hunt. In 2020, Fort McCoy adjusted the season dates to the last weekend of the statewide hunt which also overlaps the statewide youth gun-deer hunt. This has enabled Fort McCoy to offer opportunities for both groups of these qualified hunters to participate over the same two-day period in October, said Wildlife Program Manager and Biologist Kevin Luepke with the Fort McCoy Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch.
“A total of 37 applications were received for the hunt,” Luepke said. “Out of the total applications, 28 hunters purchased their Fort McCoy Gun-Deer for Hunters with Disabilities permit. However, only 26 hunters came out with 24 assistants.”
Fourteen deer were harvested during the hunt for a 54 percent success rate based on check-ins, Luepke said. “This is one of the highest success rates that we’ve had in quite a few years now,” he said.
The event drew hunters from throughout Wisconsin, said Julie Steinhoff, a Colorado State University (CSU) employee, who supports Fort McCoy Permit Sales Office. Steinhoff added that although the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) has many participating landowners for the special hunt throughout the state, most of those landowners can only sponsor one or two participants.
Fort McCoy does not currently limit the number of hunters because of the number of acres open to hunting and the willingness of local volunteers.
“The WDNR often will recommend Fort McCoy to hunters who cannot find a location or miss the WDNR application deadline,” Steinhoff said. “The Fort McCoy Permit Sales Office can accommodate disabled hunters up to the Friday before the hunt.”
Hunters are required to have a WDNR Class A, B, C, or D disability permit to participate in the Fort McCoy hunt, Steinhoff said.
Each hunter received two deer harvest authorizations (carcass tags) with their Fort McCoy permit allowing the hunter to take two antlerless deer or one antlerless and one antlered deer, Luepke said. All deer harvested are required to be registered through the Fort McCoy iSportsman website.
The CSU Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands wildlife staff, who support Fort McCoy programs through an agreement, aided with collecting biological data from the harvested deer at the Deer Data Collection Point located on South Post, Luepke said.
The collection of biological data on deer harvested was mandatory to help with deer herd monitoring. It’s also recommended that all hunters have an assistant to aid them in accessing hunting areas, retrieving and field dressing deer, and providing comradeship. Applications for the hunt are accepted from June through mid-September each year. Applications are submitted through the iSportsman website at https://mccoy.isportsman.net.
For more information about application requirements, call the Fort McCoy 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 https:www.dnr.wi.gov/permits/disabled.html.
For more about Wisconsin deer hunting regulations and safety, go to https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/hunt/regulations.
Learn more about deer hunting at Fort McCoy by visiting the installation iSportsman page at https://ftmccoy.isportsman.net. Learn more about Fort McCoy online at https://home.army.mil/mccoy, on the Defense Visual Information Distribution System at https://www.dvidshub.net/fmpao, on Facebook by searching “ftmccoy,” and on Twitter by searching “usagmccoy.”
Also try downloading the Digital Garrison app to your smartphone and set “Fort McCoy” or another installation as your preferred base.
YOUTH GUN-DEER HUNT ALSO HELD ALONG WITH GUN-DEER HUNT FOR HUNTERS WITH DISABILITIES
In addition to the 26 hunters for the gun-deer hunt for hunters with disabilities, Fort McCoy also supported a youth gun-deer hunt for a third consecutive year Oct. 8-9.
A total of 43 applications were received for the 2022 youth gun-deer hunt and 28 permits were purchased, said Wildlife Program Manager and Biologist Kevin Luepke with the Fort McCoy Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch.
“We had 23 hunters with 32 mentors come to the hunt,” Luepke said. “During this hunt, six deer were harvested.”
While the success rate with the youth hunt was lower than the gun-deer hunt for hunters with disabilities, Luepke said it was great to see younger hunters out with their mentors and sharing the woods and field with the hunters with disabilities.
“With some of the hunters, they had a parent and a grandparent with them,” Luepke said. “It’s great to see the sport being passed on to another generation.”
Overall, the weather was favorable for both days of the hunt, Luepke said. He appreciates everyone’s support for making both the youth gun-deer hunt and the gun-deer hunt for hunters with disabilities a success for another year.
Learn more about deer hunting and the youth hunt at Fort McCoy by visiting the installation iSportsman page at https://ftmccoy.isportsman.net.
(The Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch contributed to this article.)