The chestnut oak is a member of the white oak family. As mentioned in an earlier post, chestnut oak acorns are not particularly favored by deer due to their high tannin content which makes the acorns quite bitter. Despite their bitterness, deer will feed heavily on the chestnut oak during the early season, before more palletable species begin to mature. In middle Tennessee, there is usually about a one to two week window at the beginning of bow season (which starts the last Saturday in September) when chestnut oaks are the hot ticket. After that, the white oaks normally start to drop nuts and the deer move on to better tasting fare.
September 2008 Update: The chestnut oaks in middle Tennessee have a good mast crop this year. As a matter of fact, I will be hunting a cluster of chestnut oaks on opening morning this weekend. Despite there being white oak acorns on the ground everywhere, the deer are feeding hard on the chestnut oaks and ignoring the white oaks. My theory is that the white oak acorns were knocked down by several recent storms before they matured. They are not dropping nuts like they will in a couple weeks. The chestnut oaks, on the other hand, are actively dropping mature nuts which, for whatever reason, are more appealing to the deer. I noticed that the chestnut oak acorns are very firm. The white oak's that are on the ground are kind of rubbery. Maybe that affects the taste or the nutritional value.
The bark of the chestnut oak is easily distinguished by its light gray color and very deep ridges which can be seen with binoculars from hundreds of yards away. Often, trees will have multiple trunks.
If you are looking for a handy field guide that you can throw in your pack the next time you are out scouting, I recommend either or both of these books. I use both because often one will have a better photo or illustration than the other and two points of reference always helps. If you don't want to spend the cash for two books, I'd give a slight edge to the Peterson's Guide.
Next post: the pin oak.