Acorns could determine the success of deer hunters in the season that starts Saturday. 

It’s the biggest hunting season of the year, with hundreds of thousands of hunters going to the woods with rifles and–this year, for the first time, atlatls—devices that allow spears to be thrown with great effect.

Hunters took about 300-thousand deer last year, thanks in part to a sparse acorn crop in the Ozarks. Department deer expert Lonnie Hansen says there are more acorns in that he expects the kill to be down.  He says big crops make the deer stay scattered in the woods where they are harder to hunt.  A poor acorn crop leads deer to leave the woods and seek food in more exposed areas.

North Missouri, though, had a low kill last year because so much corn was left in the fields, giving the deer good places to hide.  Hansen expects the harvest to improve in north Missouri this year because the corn harvest has cleared a lot of habitat.

The season goes from Saturday through the 23rd.

Here’s a lesson on atlatl throwing:   

 Lonnie Hansen talks deer with BP 12:23 mp3