X Factor: Other states in my region have yet to open, but things are looking promising:
• North Carolina: Deer biologist Evin Stanford also had good news to report. "We've had some hemorrhagic reports, but nothing like the devastating event we had in 2012," he says. "Also, we have the results in from our five-year intensive CWD surveillance study, which concluded at the end of last season. We collected more than 3,800 samples of brain and lymph node tissue from deer, but did not detect any chronic wasting disease. That's good news."
• Virginia: Matt Knox, the deer project leader for the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, says this is one of the quietest EHD years he can remember. "The mast report isn't in yet, but acorns are falling at my house and elsewhere," he says. "Last year we had one of the worst mast failures in the history of the Commonwealth. This year, at least, we do have mast." Knox also reported seeing several deer, like the doe in my trail camera photo above, which have shed their summer coats in favor of darker winter coats, many within the past 48 hours.
• West Virginia: Chris Ryan, who works for the Division of Natural Resources, says preliminary mast crop data looks good. "The official report will be released soon, but we seem to have abundant red oak acorns, and the white oak crop, while spottier, seems pretty good too," he says.