The Lakes Region Sportsman with a nice buck taken three seasons ago. Contributed / Tom Roth

What phrase is repeated more than any other this time of year at coffee shops, gas stations and convenience stores? “Did you get your deer yet?” There is no greater badge of honor than to proudly exclaim, “Yes, I did.” What follows next is typically a detailed description of the conditions, the deer and the shot. Then it’s time for making deer sausage, meatloaf, jerky or whatever it is you prefer to do with your prize.

Reports are good for this season and I have personally seen some good indicators it will be a banner year. To begin with, we had a wet summer, so everything is growing. That includes some deer food favorites. In my woodlot, I am seeing a crazy number of mushrooms. Every type and variety. They are everywhere and they are big. Next is the bumper acorn crop our oak trees threw this year. The forest floor is littered with acorns, a huge draw for deer.

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.

Several seasons ago, I was hunting in a tree stand over a clump of oak trees. We had similar bumper acorn crop that year and the there were tons of them all over the forest floor. I was up in the stand after work to sit for the final two hours of daylight on a mild November evening. I dozed a bit, so I crossed my arms on the safety rail of my stand and briefly caught a cat nap. I awoke startled as hunters often do, especially when they are in a tree stand. I opened my eyes and saw two deer grazing in the acorns. I blinked to be sure I wasn’t still dreaming but the deer remained. Hunting light was fading and we were three weeks into the season, so I decided to punch my doe tag and take a tasty deer for the season. My .30-06’ did the job and I was soon hauling a plump doe out of the woods to be tagged. When I processed her, she was full of fat, likely from her acorn diet.

The adage, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” may be true, but apples draw deer in, too. The trees are loaded with them, as well. I always get excited when I find an apple tree in the woods. These were likely planted centuries ago when a structure stood nearby. This year I found an apple tree I never knew about and guess what? Trail cam pictures show they are drawing in deer. Guess where I will be set up his month?

What I am not noticing this year is the deer grazing in our fields like they typically do. I’m seeing good numbers of deer on game cameras, but they typically graze in the fields heavily starting in September. I’m not alarmed and am attributing it to the vast array of food available in the woods. We shall see if my hypothesis is correct.

For those chasing the elusive white-tailed deer, good luck. Hopefully you will be able to answer in the affirmative when someone asks you if you got your deer.

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