"Here early, there is a tremendous apple crop," Ryan said. "Crabapple and hawthorn are also very good. But if hunters are able to find any oak, they should hunt there out of the gate. During the bow season, deer will be around any trees that have acorns.
"As the season progresses farther into October, hunters should look for late-dropping apple trees. And if there's any beech in the area, deer should still be feeding on beechnuts."
Late in the bow season, after much of the available mast has been consumed, Ryan expects whitetails to move out of the woods and into the edges of fields.
Ryan doesn't expect the acorn shortage to have nearly as much impact on the firearm season for bucks.
"Mast does have a small impact, but hunting pressure is the factor that has the greatest effect on the buck season, especially during the first three days. With this year's opening day falling as late on the calendar as it can [Nov. 25], and with the extreme oak conditions, I think hunters are more likely to see a lot of deer feeding along the edges of fields," he said.
The outlook for bears is a little harder to predict.
"This is one of those tricky years," Ryan said. "Bears will really be on the hickory, and they'll work on it early because there's so little oak. The lack of acorns should help the archery harvest, because bears will be roaming far and wide in search of concentrated food sources.
"The failure of the acorn crop will have an important effect on the traditional December gun season, too. If all the beech and hickory has been consumed by then, bears will go into their dens and the harvest will be reduced. Even so, we're still expecting a record-breaking harvest from the archery and firearm seasons combined."
Turkey hunters, Ryan said, should concentrate on areas where black cherry trees and grapevines are found.
"Black cherry had the highest percentage increase from last year," he explained. "This year's index is 64, which is a 79 percent jump."
His advice to squirrel hunters was similarly simple.
"Squirrels will be working beech and hickory, primarily. What oak is in there, they're on it right now, big-time."
Reach John McCoy at johnmc...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1231.