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As I sit here writing this column from the comfort of our cabin, I am looking out at the lake that seems to resemble a mirror as it reflects the colors of the trees as they make the transition to fall. The trees are changing fast and I know that by the end of the week the colors will be even more plentiful in this part of the state.

I enjoy the early mornings at the cabin in the fall as the birds come to the feeders to begin their day the sun slowly rises giving more light to the golden leaves of the trees that are already getting colorful. Another plus for fall is the lack of bugs, (mosquitoes) which were more than plentiful this summer. My friend Mark came up to spend a few days fishing and just enjoying the outdoors. We took a trip to my favorite lake, which is Spider but unfortunately although the weather was great I can’t say the same for the fishing. It didn’t really matter because just being able to spend the day on that beautiful lake made it all worthwhile.

One of the many things that I like about this area of the state is that there are so many beautiful lakes and most of them don’t get fished very hard. I have always loved to lake hop; and this area of the state has an abundance of lakes to explore. To me there is nothing more fun than fishing a lake for the first time; I’d guess it’s all about exploring the unknown. Last fall my grandson Dylan and I decided to try fishing a lake that is just a few miles north of our cabin and one that I had driven past quite a few times over the years. On this particularly cold fall day we did manage to catch a few small northern in the short time that we were there. There was something about our trip to that lake that made Dylan want to revisit it again this summer, unfortunately we never got the chance but I know that the next time that he and I are up here I will make it happen.

The area of the state where our cabin is nestled in is north of Deer River and about 35 miles northwest of Grand Rapids. Highway 38 runs north out of Grand Rapids and is rightfully named Scenic Highway 38 for the way it winds through the Chippewa National Forest and around the many lakes that are visible from the road. This is what makes this area so special to me, always having that option of fishing a different lake or just driving down a scenic highway and taking in the scenery.

Pheasant population up slightly; habitat loss still poses biggest threat

Despite a short-term increase in the number of Minnesota pheasants, habitat loss continues to be the primary factor in the long-term decline of the state’s pheasant population, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR’s August roadside survey for pheasants showed a six percent increase in the pheasant index from 2013, an increase that occurred in spite of a severe winter, a slow start to spring and heavy rains in June.

This year’s statewide pheasant index was 28.7 birds per 100 miles of roadside driven. The highest pheasant counts were in the southwest, south-central and west-central regions, where observers reported 28 to 62 birds per 100 miles driven. Hunters will find good harvest opportunities in these areas.

Looking over longer periods of time, the 2014 pheasant index is 58 percent below the 10-year average and 71 percent below the long-term average.

Weather and habitat are the two main factors that drive pheasant population trends. Weather causes annual fluctuations in roadside indices. Available grassland habitat for nesting and brood-rearing drives the longer-term pattern.

Like other Midwestern states, the loss of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres is the primary reason there’s been a steady decline in Minnesota’s pheasant harvest since 2006.

Until next time; fall is a great time to do a little small game hunting, and don’t forget the fishing because fall is a great time to catch that lunker you’ve been looking for or you may just want to spend some time at one of our many area parks or lakes.

I will be heading to another of this area’s beautiful lakes tomorrow and the best thing about that is I have a choice. This great country that we live in gives us that right and that right was earned through sacrifice so please take a little time to remember those who served, those who are serving now and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we enjoy today.

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