Hundreds of hunters found success during the 2018 gun-deer season at Fort McCoy held Nov. 17-25.

There were 1,394 hunters who took to the woods at Fort McCoy, harvesting more than 440 deer during the post’s 2018 nine-day gun-deer season.

A final harvest total for Fort McCoy will be known later in December after Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources online harvest data are checked and verified.

The annual hunt is important in helping to control the deer population on post, said wildlife biologist Dave Beckmann with the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch.

For 2018, approximately 2,000 regular permits were made available as well as 400 antlerless deer bonus tags, Beckmann said. The final number of people selected for a permit was also 2,000, of which 1,485 were actually purchased, which is an increase from 2017 when 1,414 were purchased.

“Our goal again this year was to have a deer harvest of around 500, and we’re really close to that,” Beckmann said.

Going into the season, Beckmann said it was estimated that Fort McCoy averaged about 35-40 deer per square mile.

“Our goal is to have an over-winter population of 20 to 25 deer per square mile,” Beckmann said. “That’s why these hunts are so important—they help us meet our wildlife and training land-management goals.”

A deer population higher than that will start to impact the landscape that is important for all species and the military training mission.

A large number of big bucks were taken during the season.

“We had quite a few hunters get trophy-sized bucks,” Beckmann said. “We’ve had several winters now that were good for deer survivability, and as a result, we’re seeing a lot of older, bigger bucks being taken.”

In the 2018 season, all harvested deer had to be brought through the deer data collection point on South Post for collection of biological data by the Colorado State University contracted wildlife-management staff. The data is important to monitor deer health, especially going into the winter, and to calculate the overall installation deer population.

The 2018 season was the third season in which carcass tags were issued electronically through the DNR. It was the fourth year the DNR used an all-electronic deer-harvest registration system.

Hunters registered their deer harvests through a smartphone app, through the DNR’s webpage, or by phone. And at Fort McCoy, this was the third year that permit notifications for hunters were issued through the iSportsman website.

Looking ahead to the 2019 season, Beckmann said he thinks hunting possibilities should continue to be good.

“Winter always plays a role in forecasting the next season, but if we have another winter like we’ve had the last few years, then the deer will continue to do well,” Beckmann said.

Permit applications for the 2019 Fort McCoy gun-deer season will be available in late spring with an application deadline in June or July.

Starting March 1, 2019, Fort McCoy hunting, trapping, and fishing permits will only be available for purchase through iSportsman. They will no longer be available through the DNR GoWild system or local vendors. Further information on the new process will be posted on iSportsman throughout the winter.

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Tomah Journal editor

Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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