Young Waleed Rabbat of Cumberland bagged his first deer hunting with Tom Roth this fall. Tom Roth / For Lakes Region Weekly

As we close the calendar on another year and excitedly open a new one for 2024, it’s time to both reflect on past sporting adventures and look ahead toward those to come.

For this sportsman, 2023 was an overall good year. I had what I consider one of my best years guiding anglers on Sebago Lake. While the salmon were not as plentiful as I would have liked, we had a great time with lake trout. Not only did we experience many double-digit catch days, the fish were big, too. I was consistently catching 5- and 6-pound lakers trolling fly rods tipped with bait close to the surface. The alewife were all over the lake in huge bait balls and if you found the alewife, you found the fish. To me, catching a big fish trolling the traditional method with a fly rod is a great thrill, and I’m glad many of my clients experienced the same excitement.

Next up was bird season. I had a great grouse season in the Rangeley region despite low bird numbers. We hunted in remote spots and with less competition, so we limited out on most outings. I also enjoyed stocking pheasant for the state with my club, the Windham-Gorham Rod and Gun Club. The state buys the birds and local clubs like ours stock them on private land that is open to the public. It’s a blast, pun intended, walking up on a staunch pointing dog to have a pheasant explode from cover and attempting to down it before it gets out of range.

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.

I also managed to get in a few duck hunts. Although the ducks did not seem to be as plentiful as in years past, I bagged a few and enjoyed the beauty of a day breaking over a marsh, something you must see to appreciate.

Introducing youngsters to sporting ventures is something I’ve always enjoyed, and this year I had fun introducing one young man to pheasant, duck, grouse and deer hunting. Although he has already taken turkeys on the farm, Waleed Rabbat got his first duck, a limit of grouse, his first pheasant and even his first deer under my tutelage this past season. I think we both enjoyed the deer hunt the most. We didn’t see anything on youth day, but the second weekend we went out, a doe casually walked past him. We weren’t in the right zone for his antlerless permit, but it was good for him to see a deer up close and personal. Within an hour, a hunting friend pushed a small buck toward him and he bagged his first whitetail. Since then we have enjoyed deer burgers, venison pot roast and even made some delicious venison summer sausage. He’s hooked on deer hunting, for sure.

As I look into 2024, I am hoping for some cold weather so we can get onto Sebago Lake this year. Last year was a bust and the rainy, mild weather so far is not promising. Winter still has a few months, so there is hope. Before we know it, it will be ice-out and we can begin the season over again. I relish the memories of trips past as much as I look forward to coming adventures. Here’s to a banner 2024 for all.

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