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Here we are, well into my favorite season of the year and I almost haven’t had time to stop and smell the leaves. It’s been a pretty busy time of year with hockey and work, but I’m still taking a little time to savor the moment.

There are some evenings when I can catch the distinct smell in the air of someone burning leaves. That is a smell I have always enjoyed because it was always been a part of what fall is to me. Unfortunately in the city, the smoke became too unbearable for most folks and the city has, for some time, had an ordinance banning the burning of leaves within the city limits. I sure do miss that smell and occasionally someone else must miss it also because I have from time to time detected that unmistakable odor emulating from someone’s backyard.

I have a fairly good sized pile of twigs and tree branches that old Mother Nature has seen fit to deposit in my yard over the summer months. I will be burning them in my backyard fire pit, which I still actually need to build. I know that it will be about as close as I will ever get to burning leaves again so you could probably call it the next best thing.

I am hoping to find the time to clean up the overabundance of leaves that are falling from my seemingly ever-bearing maple trees in the back yard. As I was driving home from work the other evening it was cool and the sky was clear and winds were calm and I had the window down, taking in the smell of fallen leaves that only fall can provide. I’d suppose that if I had hay fever and allergies this would not be my time of the year.

I have noticed a pair of rabbits that have taken up residence in my backyard. I would venture to guess there will be more than two before too long if they can avoid the numerous felines we have roaming and hunting in the neighborhood. The squirrels are also in abundance this fall, but that is nothing new to my backyard; the good thing is they have built nests in the neighboring trees and they are no longer residing in my shed or garage.

I have talked to some folks who have been stopping and looking at the small fish that can be seen swimming in Albert Lea Lake. This bodes well for the future of fishing in our area if the lake can indeed avoid another total freeze-out. I have been told by a spokesman from the DNR that Pickeral Lake should be fishable again in another couple of years. I know that the last time it was stocked it didn’t take very long for the pike to get to a decent size.

The only down side to all of this positive talk about the fish population is the possibility that another freezeout can happen at any time. Being the Minnesota sports fan that I am, I kind of get the same feeling about this that I do when the Twins go on a winning streak or the Vikings win a couple of games in a row – I seem to be waiting for the inevitable to happen, but hopefully not any time soon.

With the beginning of the deer hunting season upon us. the DNR reminds us of the reduced bag limit for this year’s season.

Hunters in most of the state are not allowed to use bonus permits to take antlerless deer during the 2014 season, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“Bonus permits are only allowed in seven of 129 deer permit areas this year,” said Maj. Greg Salo, DNR Enforcement Division operations manager. “You cannot use a bonus permit to tag a deer if it was harvested outside of these seven areas.” Salo added that bonus permits are also allowed in some special hunts and encouraged hunters to review the regulations as described in the 2014 regulations synopsis.

Permit areas that allow use of bonus permits in 2014 are:

• Intensive deer areas 182, 346 and 349.

• Managed deer areas 114, 287 and 343.

• The metro deer area 601.

By design, more deer will be off limits this year as a one-deer bag limit rules most of the state and opportunities to take more than one deer are few and far between. The DNR implemented these regulations to help increase Minnesota’s deer population.

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Our little granddaughter Ava has been in ICU at St. Mary’s in Rochester with a respiratory virus, but with the great care she received she is now on the mend and back home. When something like this happens it makes you realize just how precious and fragile life really is.

Until next time, get outdoors and enjoy the fall before the snow begins to fly.

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers because they are the reason that we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.

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