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What Deer Eat: Understand the Hard Mast Puzzle

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What Deer Eat: Understand the Hard Mast Puzzle

We can predict the arrival of the rut nearly to the day. We can forecast the specific path of a ferocious storm. We can predict with some accuracy how many people will get sick in this year’s flu season.

So why can’t we predict America’s acorn crop from year to year, or even from ridge to ridge? The answer is important to anyone who hangs a stand in an oak tree, because the production of hard mast—mainly acorns, but also beech and hickory nuts—can make or break a deer season across our hardwoods belt.

Acorns deserve our attention as a crucial piece of a whitetail hunter’s forage puzzle, even though the little cones of fat and protein sometimes get more credit—and blame—than they deserve.

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