Places

Deer Hunting at Fort McCoy

March 24, 2023

Connor Merritt

Connor Merritt

Dan Beaudry is a lifelong hunting enthusiast: He started when he was 13 years old and hasn’t stopped since. He’s 68 years old now, but he still makes sure to participate in every deer hunting season with his longtime hunting party in Wisconsin.

A Deer Hunting Family

What started out as a group of friends hunting together eventually turned into a generational venture, as many of the hunters brought their children out to hunt with them. It’s grown over the years and now they all look forward to every trip together.

Over time, Dan’s become the group organizer, securing all the permits, planning the trips, and coordinating with the group — all to ensure they spend as much time hunting together as possible.

“I’m on top of it, as soon as they’re available online, I’m signing everyone up.”

Hunting Traditions

Dan has a set of traditions that he and his group honor every year to get the most out of their hunting seasons.

The first of these is a yearly trip to Costa Rica where Dan and his hunting group go deep sea fishing. Even though it’s not technically part of the hunting season, they always use this as a chance to kick back and relax in some warm weather in preparation for the cold deer season.

Once the deer season begins in full swing, Dan and his group have another ritual. First, they go to the bar on Thursday nights to play pool, drink and blow off some steam; then on Friday, they go out scouting together; and finally on Saturday, they’re up and at ‘em bright and early, ready to hunt.

“It’s like a religion to us.” Dan explains, “I’ve never missed an opening day in my life.”

Deer Hunting at Fort McCoy

On one recent trip to Fort McCoy in Wisconsin, the group downed three bucks—one by a friend’s son, another by Dan, and the final by Dan’s own son.

Dan got his opportunity when he was hunting over a big field on the south end, positioned on a small knob at the apex. He was surprised when, from the corner of his eye, he saw a deer emerge from the western tree line. Dan figured it was a late rut when they went out that season, due to a particularly odd encounter he had when the buck first appeared.

“He and I made eye contact and 99 out of 100 times, that deer is going to pivot and go the other way.” Describing the oddness of the deer’s behavior, Dan said, “But he was smelling something, and he just kept going.”

As the deer moved from the west, he crossed right in front of a parked Tahoe that Dan had noticed earlier. The car was parked by a tank trail, and it nearly put Dan’s hunt in jeopardy.

“I had to wait for him to clear the Tahoe before I could shoot him, so I wouldn’t shoot this guy’s truck.” Dan laughed.

He said to himself, “He’s gotta clear the Tahoe, he’s gotta clear the Tahoe.”

It took some patience, but eventually Dan had his opportunity.

 “I was on him and as soon as he cleared the Tahoe; I shot him in the neck. Down he went. He never took a step.”

Dan’s First Deer in 17 Years

Within half an hour of legal shooting time, the day was already over for Dan. It was an exciting moment, the first deer he had shot in 17 years.

Dan hopes that his age won’t keep him from pursuing his passion as the years progress. “I live for it. I’m getting older, but I don’t want it to end.”

Though he can no longer run around or climb trees like he used to but he’s still ecstatic to hunt on the ground any chance he gets. And that proved to be enough with last season’s success.

“I’m looking forward to next year already.”

Read more deer hunting stories on iSportsmanUSA.
Photo courtesy of Dan Beaudry.

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