Young hunter Waleed Rabbat sits patiently in the blind with the author on Maine’s 2022 Youth Deer Day. Contributed / Tom Roth

The tagging stations have their deer poles and scales up, hunters breakfasts are held at local churches and the sight of a buck or doe in the bed of a truck gets us all excited. It’s deer season!

It seems that this year, deer season got off to an early start. Youth Day kicked it off on Oct. 22. I was taking Waleed Rabbat of Cumberland on his first deer hunt. He took a nice gobbler during the spring turkey season and was excited to try his hand at deer hunting. After taking both the online and live hunter safety courses, getting comfortable with the rifles and shotguns we would be using, he was ready and eager.

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.

We had been patterning the deer on his mom’s farm and were pretty optimistic that we would be rolling into the tagging station sometime that Saturday. There was a group of three does that made a regular appearance on the dam by her pond. There was also a crotch-horn with one of his antlers busted off that was always around. On top of that, I had three game cameras set up that showed some decent bucks as well. I’m not sure who was more excited, me or “W.”

Five a.m. rolled around soon and we made up a batch of coffee and hot chocolate, packed some pastries to nibble on and headed out on the hunt. I decided we would hunt in the two-person stand I had erected a few weeks earlier overlooking where the does seemed to spend their time. We climbed up and settled in as the sun rose. To our right we could hear turkeys coming out of the trees and when one dropped down from a tree right behind us, a deer rocketed out of its bed and took off. I imagine it was there the whole time we climbed into the stand.

Although Waleed didn’t get a shot at it, this was a good sign. We sat tight in the stand for the rest of the morning but didn’t see anything. We trudged out for lunch at noon and discussed our strategy.

Since we were seeing deer in the backfield, we decided to sit in the blind overlooking that area until sunset. I was confident Waleed would get a shot at a deer here. We got in shortly after lunch and were soon visited by a flock of turkeys. They literally came within inches of our blind. They were still open, but we didn’t bring birdshot nor did I want to make any noise that would spook the deer.

Just as the sun started to set, I looked out of the blind to the left and saw three does enter the field. Bingo! They were still too far to shoot, but I was certain they would work their way down toward us. The wind was blowing toward them and I’m certain they winded us as they fed just at the edge of the field and retreated to the woods as the sun dropped on Youth Day.

Although he didn’t tag a deer on his first hunt, Waleed was excited to see deer and remained calm when they showed themselves. You can bet we will be back at it as the season progresses. With a whopping 11,510 any-deer permits issued for this region (WMD Zone 21), hopes are high for all hunters. With good weather predicted for the first week of the season, it should be a banner fall.

Good luck to all hunters!

Comments are not available on this story.