The nuts are falling and the squirrels are trying desperately to keep us from collecting them. Lots of husks were on the ground, but the nuts were gone. To keep the squirrels from scavenging all of the nuts, we shook the tree limbs until the nuts that were ready to fall fell to the ground. The reason I know it was squirrels is there was nothing left behind but the husks. If it were deer, they would have left their hoof prints in the soft soil (we've had an abundance of rain) and the outer coatings of the nuts would have been left behind. Also, I saw two squirrels scurrying to the field and disappearing near the trees. A good sign.
I never really thought about how chestnuts were made or how they were collected prior to planting our trees. However, I have a much greater respect for the people who collect them. If you will notice the spines around the nut covering in the picture, you will see they are long and pointed and very sharp. I had on heavy duty leather gloves, but I still have pricks in my fingers from recovering the nuts from their pods. I enjoy chestnuts with dressing around Thanksgiving, but the pain in collecting them make me appreciate the nut much more.