Wisconsin’s and Fort McCoy’s 2023 nine-day gun-deer season will be held Nov. 18-26.
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 in 2022, which showed 464 deer being taken.
Luepke said there were many healthy, large bucks taken during the 2022 season.
“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 lower fat measurements and focus some habitat work into those areas over the next couple years.
The 2022 harvest was above recent years, Luepke said, and the 2023 harvest goal will be higher than previous years at approximately 600-650 deer. “We have had a deer herd that has been slightly increasing over the past four to five years due to mild winters and limited issuance of antlerless bonus harvest authorizations. But with chronic wasting disease (CWD) found within 7-8 miles of the installation, it has lent itself in the decision to reduce the overwinter herd size slightly.”
Overall, Luepke said he hopes all the hunters have a successful 2023 season.
“It should be a great season,” Luepke said. “We are seeing a lot of deer that made it through last winter. Fawn production has been good. There have been reports of a lot of does with twin fawns and a few with triplets. We are also receiving observations of some good bucks on the property as well. Acorn production has seemed to be good to great throughout the installation this year, as well. Good luck to everyone.”
For the 2023 gun-deer hunt, Luepke said the deer data collection point will again be in operation on South Post in the same location just off Highway 21 as previous years. Biological data will be collected, CWD sampling offered, and a dumpster will be available to discard any carcasses. Collected CWD samples will be sent to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and he encourages all successful hunters to have their deer tested.
“That biological data we collect at the station is important to evaluate the herd health and calculate the installation deer population,” Luepke said. “We will also collect lymph nodes for chronic wasting disease testing.”
There have been eight CWD positive test results in the county over the past two years, Luepke said.
“The CWD positive deer were harvested 7 to 10 miles to the southwest of the installation boundary,” Luepke said. “Fort McCoy will offer CWD testing during the gun-deer seasons while the deer data collection point is manned.”
For information on local CWD sampling kiosks, deer carcass dumpsters, and deer donation locations, visit the Monroe County Land Conservation website at https://www.co.monroe.wi.us/departments/land-conservation.
To participate in the gun-deer hunt at the installation, 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 and the application period has closed for this year. There are still a limited number of permits available on a first-come first-serve basis, and anyone interested should contact the Permit Sales Office for more information at 608-388-3337.
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.
Fort McCoy hunters do not need to register their harvested deer with the WDNR, but they do have to register any harvested deer through the iSportsman check-out process, Luepke said.
Fort McCoy’s deer population should continue to have many larger bucks available to hunters, as well, Luepke said.
“There’s definitely some big bucks calling Fort McCoy home,” Luepke said. “And you could be one of those lucky hunters that are able to harvest one, they are running around out there.”
Hunters also need to remember that Fort McCoy requires all privately owned firearms brought on to the installation be registered through the Directorate of Emergency Services Physical Security. This includes the entirety of the federal land, including the training and housing areas.
Luepke also reminds hunters to review the Fort McCoy hunting regulations as changes have been made from previous years. More information about the regulations and about deer hunting at Fort McCoy can be found on the iSportsman website at https://ftmccoy.isportsman.net.
“And as far as deer hunting safety, remember what you have learned in hunter safety,” Luepke said. “Treat every firearm as if it’s loaded. Always keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction. Be sure of your target and what’s in front of and beyond. Keep your finger out of the trigger guard until you’re ready to fire. And just be safe and ethical.”
And 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. Fort McCoy is also part of Army’s Installation Management Command where “We Are The Army’s Home.”
(The Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office and the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch prepared this article.)