Same experience with me. And this is a good case study of what happens when habitat changes. In the early 1930's my grandfather and some of his friends established a camp on state forest land in Potter County, Pennsylvania off of Route 144 close to Ole Bull State Park. The old timers would tell stories of the difficulties getting in to the place and not just the last five miles. What takes an hour today took 8 - 10 hours across deep, muddy roads in Model A's and T's. The point here is it was a very difficult place to access; hence, few hunters, many deer and prime woodland habitat filled with abundant browse.
As a kid in the 1960's I spent many summer weeks at the camp. My time there was filled with fascination and wonder at the seeming immenseness of the place. The family would eat breakfast, hop in the car around 10 am and drive the state forest dirt roads looking for deer. It was nothing to see upwards of a hundred in those two hours -- midmorning. It got even bigger in the evening hours. There were a few hunters. Then, Field and Stream, Outdoor Life, and a couple other hunting and fishing magazines that were my daily devotional reads featured the area and the race was on! As I became old enough to hunt at the age of 12 in 1965 I experienced opening mornings more like rush hour in the metro area where I now live. It sounded like a war for the first four hours of the morning. If it was brown and looked like it had antlers it was down.
Somehow, it continued for several years. I remember, after one particularly hard winter, driving to camp in the spring, the air was filled with the smell of death. A hard winter complete with deep snow had nearly wiped the herd from the public lands of Potter County. At the same time, the understory started to disappear due to many factors too common to our conversations here. Over browsing, lack of sunlight, and disease. The taller trees provided no benefit. While there were oaks, acorns were rare because of the spring freeze - thaw patterns. With no incentive to harvest mature trees Mother Nature provided adjustments and any local economies dependent on deer hunters flopped.
Blame some of it on the Pennsylvania Game Commission which was only interested in law enforcement and easy administration. The Pennsylvania Department of Forestry bears some responsibility, too. But, in their defense, the trees that should have been harvested probably had no takers as the land is steep and markets far away.
Don't blame Gary Alt. He saw and understood all the problems and knew what had to be done, but the Pennsylvania stakeholders wanted it to go back to the way it was, but the way it was, well, it was a once in a lifetime event never to be seen again - fortunately, I say, because the unmanaged deer populations we so loved decimated a massive forested area. But, maybe the real blame rests at the feet of the timber barons who clear cut the area in the 1880's in search of massive profits
I guess there's a moral to the story - if you can see it.