Weather patterns over the fast five years have created some of the worst conditions for wildlife habitat we’ve seen in our area during our lifetime.
Drought, habitat decline and more drought took the habitat on our ranch from excellent five years ago, to bare bones in 2014/15.
My personal opinion is that deer numbers are down about 75%. I haven’t seen anything official to confirm that. Two years ago deer hit bottom and dropped like flies. A few survived – hopefully enough to make a comeback.
The silver lining is that 2016 has brought excellent rain and the habitat is rebounding. The reduced numbers of deer has created a scenario where the habitat is producing in some areas like never seen before.
Among the benefactors are oak trees. When compared to average years, the number of acorns that are hitting the ground and staying there are unusually high.
Deer, rodents and cattle normally scoop up acorns as fast as they fall, but this year the mast crop in exceptional and a lack of deer and other acorn eaters could potentially contribute to successful sprouting of new trees, which is unusual.
Due to this bounty of food, the deer we do have, should be healthy so let’s hope next year’s fawn crop will respond.