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Jeff Lampe
Jeff Lampe

Jeff Lampe has been outdoor writer at the Journal Star in Peoria for 12 duck seasons. He lives in Elmwood with his wife Monica, sons Henry, Victor and Walter, and Llewellin setter Hawkeye. A native of Buffalo, N.Y., he is an avid fan of the Bills and still has mental scars from four consecutive Super Bowl losses. Outside of hunting and fishing, Lampe's main passion in Illinois was Class A boys basketball (which sadly no longer exists). Former publisher of the Class A Weekly newsletter, Lampe is a co-author of "100 Years of Madness" and "Classical Madness," both books focusing on prep basketball in Illinois.

Illinois Outdoors


A Web log by Jeff Lampe of the Journal Star

16 deer and 1 big buck

December 31, 2009 at 03:37 PM

We had barely started walking in when I heard Flathead’s muzzleloader go off.

Moments later, he texted me the news, “One down.”

He had walked into a herd of deer and shot a yearling before the group started running off in all directions.

So it went this morning in Peoria County for the start of the late-winter, antlerless-only firearm season. Plenty of deer. Some shots. And two deer, one for each of us.

Mine didn’t come until a little after 8 a.m. After watching deer pretty steadily all morning, a doe came running past about 60 yards away. She never really slowed to give me a shot, but I saw two deer trailing her and didn’t panic. One was a basket rack with only half a rack who was chasing her. The other was a small fawn. Both were trotting through the snow. But having read hundreds of your stories I knew just what to do: “Meppp.” Then bang. Fawn down.

That wasn’t really the highlight of the morning for me, though. Nor was the herd of 10 does that walked past on the other side of the creek out of my range. Nope. The highlight was a nice, tall buck who wandered within 60 yards of me, teasing me with his nice tall tines. Looked to be a 9 or 10-pointer. It’s probably a good thing he has another year to grow, because he’ll really be something next year. As it is, I’d have shot at him in a heartbeat if it was legal. Oh well.

Next came two bucks trailing behind him. Both were smaller basket-racks (one of them appeared to be the same buck who came past me later on when I shot my fawn, but you can’t be sure). Both had one side of their rack missing. I’m not trying to start a controversy here and say bucks are shedding early. But these two little guys were lucky they still had half a rack left, I can tell you that. I’m not patient enough (or savvy enough) to tell if a yearling with shed antlers is a buck or doe.

For that matter, both the deer we shot were button bucks, with tiny little nubs you could not see from a distance.

Food for thought, I guess.

Anyway, it was a nice, warm, productive morning in the woods. Still ahead is a dinner of fawn backstrap on the grill to cap off a perfect New Year’s Eve. I hope your celebration is as good. 



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