Some people study tea leaves to forecast the future.  But the Department of Conservation studies acorns to forecast the success of deer hunters this year.

It’s been a bad year for acorns, generally, because of the drought.  But what’s bad news for deer can be good news for deer hunters. Deer eat acorns and when there are a lot of acorns they don’t move around looking for other food. 

Conservation department deer biologist Jason Sumners says the movement is noticeable.  “You can visibly notice it just by the sheer number of deer that are being observed out in the open areas, ” he says.

It has not been a good year for crops.  Sumners says he’s concerned that many of those farm fields where deer might go for food were harvested early and already have been plowed under, covering up the waste grain that had fallen on the ground.

Missouri has an estimated 1.4-million deer. Last year hunters killed almost 289,000 deer in all of the seasons. Sumner says the kill total is running ahead of last year’s numbers in the first archery season, which ends a week from today, the day before the firearms season begins.

AUDIO: Sumners interview 4:23