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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

Pondering doves and sunflowers

August 26, 2009 at 12:05 PM

With less than a week until opening day of the Illinois dove season, birds and sunflowers are on the minds of many hunters.

I spent Tuesday morning scanning fields and attempting to get pictures of big bunches of doves. Naturally, as soon as I pulled into my driveway I spotted a dove on top of the garage (pictured above).

While there are decent numbers of birds in town, the news from the countryside is not all good. And dove numbers don’t appear to be the problem. I’ve seen decent numbers of doves in the area and today spotted even more than on Tuesday. But most sunflower fields are well behind schedule due to the wet summer. And many fields are very weedy, again largely thanks to all the rain.

As a result, most land managers are delaying mowing their sunflowers as long as possible to let the plants mature. Some of the more aggressive managers get around that by spraying the flowers with Roundup to make sure they are dry by now. Those sites should be good. We’ll have a complete rundown on Sunday.

Dale Bowman of the Chicago Sun-Times reports “Delayed sunflowers or not, dove hunting at public sites almost certainly will be better than it was last year, when only 50,415 doves were harvested. That’s down significantly from 76,315 bagged at public sites in ‘07.” Click here to read his entire report.

So far the best concentrations of doves I’ve seen have been in weedy patches or areas where foxtail has grown up. Foxtail seeds are maturing nicely and have started to drop, leaving plenty of food for doves. The other day I flushed several doves out of just such an area. Let’s hope they stick around until Tuesday.



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