MY 60TH DEER season has ended. If you measure the success of a season with a scale considering only whether you killed a buck or not, my season this year was not a success.

My string of seasons during which I killed a buck within the first two hours of the hunt came to an end. Truth is, not killing a buck was more my doing than anything the deer herd did.

For several years, my passion for killing a buck has begun to lessen. I’ve killed plenty over the years and for years, I have eaten a lot of venison. In the lean early years of being married and starting a family, all while still attending college, having venison in the freezer was an absolute must, a godsend. Now, it is an enjoyable perk for my palate, but not a necessity.

Without my heart being truly in it, I hunted, but a minimum number of hours all season. I saw a total of seven deer. After the first morning, I doubt that I heard a dozen shots anywhere that I went during the remainder of the season.

Mostly I watched chickadees, nuthatches, blue jays, woodpeckers and goldfinches going about their daily business. The thrashing of a couple gray squirrels and the squawking of a few ravens were the only wild animal noises I heard during my short trips to the woods.

The season ended for me the day after Thanksgiving, when I sat on a stump for a short hunt that afternoon, one of only about two hours. It was a pleasant time to just sit there amidst the pines atop a ridge with the soothing gurgling of Plum Creek below me as it headed for Big St. Germain Lake to keep me company.

Saturday was a no-hunting day, as I preferred the comfort of my recliner with a TV full of entertaining college football games in front of me. Entertaining, I say, except that the Minnesota Golden Gophers spoiled the day for the Badgers. And a poor player’s decision near game’s end, along with his coach’s poor decision (my judgement) not to go for two after a touchdown in overtime wound up denying me the supreme pleasure of seeing Alabama go down to defeat.

Then Sunday, with the hours drifting away, I let the season go peacefully as my lovely wife and I headed for the start of another season in Duluth, Minn.

Four years ago, she and I made our first trek to Duluth to see the fabulous Bentleyville Christmas lights. She is not the Christmas lights fanatic that I am, but she still very much enjoys them. I, on the other hand, am of the type of Christmas lights lover that, once you see Bentleyville the first time, you can’t help but go back to see them year after year.

For those who have never heard of Bentleyville, the display covers much of the 10 acres of Duluth’s Bayfront Festival Park.

The centerpiece of the display is a 128-foot tall, animated Christmas tree, the frame of which is constructed of 17 tons of iron and 24 tons of concrete. The star at the top is an 8-foot ball of steel with 28 3-foot spikes sticking out of it which allows the lights to form spheres or stars as the constant color and shape changes continue.

Walking the paved paths through the display reveals hundreds of different lighted shapes, some animated, some a constant glow. From the end of November to the end of December, hundreds of thousands of visitors, by my estimate, walk through Bentleyville.

To me, it is a wondrous display that reminds me and should remind everyone of how joyous the Christmas season is. While wandering through the park, I see parents with infants in strollers or carried in backpacks. I see people, from the very oldest to the very youngest, wearing looks of wonder on their faces every moment during their time in the park.

People warm themselves on cold nights at wood campfires kept burning every night the display is open. They enjoy free hot chocolate, cookies and popcorn.

The display includes lighted designs of tribute honoring every branch of the armed services, along with fire, police and any other agency that serves the public.

You can see it all every year and never get tired of it, at least I don’t. There is always something new and, of course, old favorite displays. My wife and I enjoyed the display this year with four of our friends who were first-timers.

I don’t know about anyone else, but you can lay even money that next year, I will be back again, as will be so many others from, literally, all over the world to enjoy the lights and the Christmas season in Duluth.

Oh, and by the way, my miniature Bentleyville is now up and lit every night on my house and in my front yard. So is the much larger and more impressive mini-Bentleyville my friends, the Minx family of Lost Lake along Found Lake Road in St. Germain put up each year.

Their display, some of which is seen from the road, the remainder from a walk along their extensive driveway, is one of the best yard displays you will ever see.

All the Christmas displays, large or small, make this the most joyous season of the year, even more joyous than deer season.