The tags haven't yet been counted for 2013, but by all accounts the new, more liberal regulations didn't have much impact at all. Wildlife officials expect an antlerless-deer kill similar to 2012's or slightly above it.
A regulation change caused black-bear hunters to harbor unnecessary fears, too. Last spring, when Division of Natural Resources biologists proposed to allow bear hunting during the buck firearm season in 19 counties, an avid bear hunter complained that officials were "giving our bears to the (expletive) deer hunters."
Again, the bear tags haven't yet been counted, but it's likely the acorn failure sent bears into hibernation early enough to soften any potential impact the regulation might have had.
So, all in all, 2013 turned out better than it might have.
Sportsmen's fortunes in 2014 are far less clear. Part of that uncertainty stems from 2013's oak-mast failure. The rest of he acorn shortage's effects are yet to be known, but weather in January, February and March will probably reveal them.
Bitter temperatures and sustained, deep snow cover could cause deer to succumb to winterkill. Female deer that survive the winter in poor physical condition might bear only one fawn instead of the usual two - or, in extreme cases, perhaps none at all.
Also, pregnant sow bears that went into hibernation hungry might reabsorb their fetuses and have no cubs this year. And the lack of acorns almost certainly will keep squirrels from bearing as many young this spring and summer.
Those are worst-case scenarios, of course. The impacts of a mild winter would almost certainly be much less severe.
And if they are, chances are good that 2015's year-in-retrospect column would be even more optimistic.