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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

Illinois Outdoors

Memories of old Buck

March 25, 2008 at 09:18 AM

We were stopped at the Casey’s in Wapella Saturday morning, headed for a weekend of Easter relaxation with relatives, when a black Lab peeked out from the back of a truck topper.

“Looks like Buck,” I told the boys.

“Probably not as good of a hunter,” the oldest said, as though he had a clue.

And so a legend is born. A son who never really knew Buck will always remember him as the greatest hunting dog in his life. The truth, of course, is otherwise. Not that it matters. I don’t want to go back and learn the truth about all the wonderful childhood memories rattling around my head.

So I will let the oldest believe what he wants to believe about Buck. Maybe years from now he can even convince me it’s true. For now, the truth still gets in the way of that fantasy. I’m not yet senile enough to tell people Buck was the best.

Some not-so-fond memories will not dim with time or memory loss. Like that Easter years ago when I went to Adams County to turkey hunt. Easter was late that year. So we went to mass in the morning and I left in the afternoon to get to buddy Tim Walmsley’s house in time to hunt.

That same winter I had planted winter wheat in my small garden behind our Peoria house. The wheat grew lush and tall. Unbeknownst to me, a mother rabbit decided the wheat was a perfect place to raise a family. It was not. There was no fence around the garden. And there was Buck. But until the babies got old enough to move, they were safe enough.

Naturally, they chose Easter morning to move. By the time I pulled up to Walmsley’s, my wife was on the phone. “Do you know what your dog did?”

One by one, he brought those baby rabbits to the sliding door in back of the house. There he left them in various stages of life for my wife to deal with, since I was gone for a week of turkey hunting. Dead Easter bunnies piled on the deck on Easter morning. Can it get much worse?

So I never question her when she says, “I don’t miss Bucky at all.”

I just don’t agree.

Illinois Outdoors


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