The author with his 2020 buck, taken from a favorite hunting spot. Tom Roth / For Lakes Region Weekly

This time of year, I like to think back on successful deer hunts of the past. Sitting with my back against a tree awaiting a deer to come into view, I often reminisce about those hunts. I have a list of all the dates I took deer. Some dates stick out like those taken on my youngest daughter’s birthday or one taken on opening day.

But more often, I think back to the exact spot I was sitting or standing when I took my deer. Some spots were one-time events, but many of my favorite spots produce deer again and again. These are truly the special ones.

One of my top spots is nicknamed Machine Gun Rock by my hunting partner and myself. This perfect deer ambush spot sits high above a crossing and a thick, almost impenetrable spot where deer love to hide when harassed. It’s always been thick, but over the 30 years I have been hunting it, it has gotten worse. Vines intertwine with thick alder stocks and you can barely carry a gun through it. But that’s why the deer hide there.

We hunt it the same way each year. One of us strips down to a shirt and orange vest and moves through slowly. If there are deer in there, they usually walk out slowly, right by Machine Gun Rock. Sometimes they wait until the last minute and bust out on a full run. I’ve taken three deer off that rock, missed one and saw countless does when I didn’t have a permit. My hunting partner, Rene, has taken many more from that exact spot.

Rene has a favorite spot that he has hunted for years. It’s a large, flat rock in an ancient rock wall that borders a lowland. It’s the perfect height to sit comfortably and survey the surrounding slope side. Bring along a seat cushion and you can rest your back against a tree that grew right against the rock decades earlier.

Rene has seen bear and deer from his perch, but never took one. I think he likes the solitude of the spot.


He was gracious enough to share it with me, and I took a nice plump doe from it one year. She was moving up the hill with three others in November 1994. I sat there all day, enjoying a sandwich and thermos of coffee, completely relaxed.

I’ll never forget that hunt. I heard the deer trotting toward me and got ready. I took aim and fired at the lead doe when she paused. She dropped to her knees but trotted off, tail between her legs. I gave her a few minutes as the sun set, then went to where she stood when I fired. No blood, but a clump of stomach contents. I saw the reason: My bullet nicked an alder whip and must have deflected, hitting her in her paunch. I went home and got a flashlight and a buddy, but to no avail.

That next morning, a Sunday, Rene and I went into the woods and found her, only about 100 yards from where I stopped looking. It was cold and wet that night and the coyotes hadn’t found her, so she was in perfect shape. I have never lost a deer I shot and I’m glad I didn’t on that evening from that gifted spot.

Sadly, some favored spots go away. Development, land posting or just the natural growth of the forest ends our ability to hunt a familiar spot. These occurrences are as lamentable as the passing of a close friend.

As you sit in the deer woods this month, I’m certain you will go back in your mind to those favorite spots you have. Here’s to happy memories and a safe, successful 2021 hunting season!

Tom Roth is a freelance outdoor writer who lives in Raymond on the shore of Sebago Lake. He has been fishing and hunting in this region for more than 30 years and is a Registered Maine Guide.

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