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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 hunting and fishing

No need to camp to see critters

August 25, 2009 at 02:57 PM

The kids have been perstering my wife and me to go camping again.

Myself, I’m not too fired up about camping right now. Here’s why: The way things are going we don’t need to leave our yard to eyeball half the critters in Illinois.

For that matter, we can be in the house and experience plenty of wildlife. Take Monday as an example. In the basement was the glorious sound of crickets chirping. On the first floor my wife had monarch butterflies, caterpillars and chrysalises in an aquarium. And that doesn’t count the chipmunk who lives under the front porch, the mouse I suspect has been visiting the basement cupboard, the state-record longear sunfish eating all my waxworms out in the shed, the Eurasian collared doves who perch above my deck (and make a mess every day) or the various spiders roaming our hold house. The other day while in the house I saw a spider that was a brilliant yellow in color—more colorful than any spider I’ve ever seen while camping.

Fortunately, the second floor of our hold house is relatively critter free, although Victor does have an aquarium full of fish.

But the real capper lately had been hanging out in the attic. That’s where we recently discovered the latest addition to the family, Ham Scamper the bat (pictured above). Why Victor named him Ham Scamper is beyond me (Henry voted for Fred, I didn’t care and Monica thought it was a mistake to even ponder names). She was probably correct. While Ham Scamper looks kind of cute in this picture, the little sucker has some mean-looking teeth. And he sure generates a lot of guano. Plus, on Monday Victor was giving tours to neighbor kids who wandered into our attic to see Ham Scamper. All I need is some kid to get rabies on my property.

As a result, earlier today, little Ham Scamper took a long ride into the country. Even without him around, there’s no need to camp. I’ve got enough wildlife without ever leaving home.




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