Deer food flourished across the Northeast. With such a warm, dry summer and early fall, agricultural did well, and, in most places, corn came off earlier than usual. Because the stalks were so dry, many of the ears broke apart when harvested, leaving large amounts of waste grains behind. Goose hunters first brought this to my attention, and, when walking a recently picked cornfield, the proof was not hard to see. Soft mast also boomed, with apples everywhere—trees so heavy with fruit that branches broke, especially in New Hampshire and Vermont. By the reports, hard mast was spotty. Below-average acorns were reported by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, but there was seemingly a bumper crop in New England and New York. The few red oaks near my house, in central New York, didn’t drop much, but 45 minutes west on my deer lease, it was like walking on marbles the opening day of gun season. There were so many acorns in New Jersey this year that deer weren’t showing up at corn piles with any consistency. Andy LaBonte, a Connecticut state wildlife biologist, keeps up-to-the-minute track of his state’s deer harvest, and as of December 14, 7,533 deer had been taken. In that same window in 2014, 8,847 whitetails were shot—reflecting a 17-percent decline. He blames acorns. “In 1993, when acorns were most abundant, hunter success was one of the lowest recorded, and in 2004, when acorns were least abundant, the success rate was highest,” he said.