Going into the 2022 Fort McCoy gun-deer season, the minimum harvest goal was 300-350 deer, said Wildlife Program Manager and Biologist Kevin Luepke with the Fort McCoy Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch. And that goal was surpassed — by roughly 50 percent.
“The season went great,” Luepke said. “We definitely exceeded our minimum harvest goal. We currently have preliminary data, and it shows 464 deer being taken. We are still working on entering some data and analyzing, but that number shouldn't change too much.”
Luepke said there were many healthy, large bucks taken during the season, which ran from Nov. 19-27.
“Overall, our herd looked very healthy — we saw high fat measurements which shows an ability to make it through the winter months, and good body weights, which means the deer are getting ample food throughout the spring, summer, and fall,” he said. “We will continue to look at the data closer, and see if any areas showed lighter weights and fat measurements and focus some habitat work into those areas over the next couple years.
“Also, we ended up being able to sample 151 deer for chronic wasting disease (CWD) by removing the lymph nodes,” Luepke said. “Those samples were sent into the Wisconsin Department of Natural
Resources, and hunters should be getting results back in the very near future.”
Luepke said some hunters likely received results about CWD back quickly, especially if sampling took place over the opening weekend.
“Fort McCoy tracks the results of the deer sampled on Fort McCoy, so we don’t need to rely on hunters to report their individual deer results to Permit Sales or our wildlife program,” Luepke said.
And even though the deer harvest was larger than expected, Luepke said it will help keep the installation's deer population at a good number and will lessen any likelihood of the spread of CWD.
“Even exceeding the minimum harvest goal, I am very pleased,” Luepke said. “With CWD found within the county to the south of Fort McCoy, maintaining a deer herd slightly below the 20 to 25 deer per square mile goal is a good thing to reduce the number of interactions between individual deer. It reduces the risk of CWD being transmitted to other deer if CWD is on Fort McCoy. Deer are able to reproduce very quickly, and seeing a little higher harvest this year, should not impact the herd next year by very much but the harvests from this year will play a part in determining quotas for next year.”
The opening weekend of the season was favorable for hunters, Luepke said.
“The snow cover over the opening weekend, which held on through the first part of the week, definitely helped hunters see deer at further distances, and led to the higher harvest results over the opening weekend,” he said. “Also, we did not lose any days of hunting to rain. Typically, rain will keep a majority of the hunters indoors, but that did not happen this year.”
Prior to the season, Luepke and others with his team with the Colorado State University Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands as well as staff with the Directorate of Family and
Morale, Welfare and Recreation and Directorate of Emergency Services held a Meet and Greet with hunters for the first time since 2019. He said that was a great success for all involved.
“I really enjoyed meeting everyone there, and I think the hunters left with a good understanding of the Fort McCoy hunting regulations and what to expect of the deer herd as they ventured out into the woods the following morning for the Gun-Deer opener,” Luepke said.
A total of 1,800 gun-deer permits and 1,200 hunters choice approvals were made available, but bonus tags were not available for this year’s season, Luepke said.
To participate in the gun-deer hunt at the installation in the future, hunters must apply for a Fort McCoy gun-deer permit through the Fort McCoy iSportsman site, https://ftmccoy.isportsman.net, and then also purchase their permits through iSportsman if selected, Luepke said. Applications for the gun-deer hunt generally become available in late June every year.
In addition, hunters coming to the installation must also have an annual Wisconsin gun-deer license. The Wisconsin licenses are sold through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) GoWild system at https://gowild.wi.gov or a designated WDNR GoWild agent.
The cost of a Fort McCoy gun-deer permit is $21, and a Wisconsin gun-deer license for an adult resident is $24. Wisconsin offers some reduced pricing for gun-deer or combination permits based on categories such as first-time permit purchasers, for minors, for Purple Heart recipients, etc. See the Go Wild system for additional details.
And for more information 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.
(The Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office and the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch prepared this article.)