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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

Scattershooting at ice, ducks, deer & carp

December 11, 2009 at 02:27 AM

Rambling through the outdoors wondering why some people argue that deer do not hide in standing corn.


Given all the grumbling through the first two firearm deer seasons, the upcoming late-winter hunter (Dec. 31-Jan. 3 and Jan. 15-17) will probably be a record setter. Best ever for that late hunt was just over 12,552 last year. Look for this one to top 20,000. ...  Speaking of the late-winter hunt, permits for the antlerless-only season go on sale Tuesday. But for those with leftover tags from the firearm seasons, the youth season or the muzzleloader season you can just use those, provided the county for which they were issued is open. ...  Here’s how the duck/goose season has gone for me. Spent all of Tuesday trying to shoot something in the wind, rain and cold. Never fired a shot. Thursday, while rescuing decoys from the onrushing ice, I had geese of all sorts overhead. Of course, my shotgun was back home, cozy and warm, while I sat there shivering and cursing the bird gods. ...  Missouri has got Illinois beat in one regard in the world of deer hunting. The Show Me State has already issued more than 2,000 tickets for deer poaching this year.


How good is this season for big bucks? Even busy taxidermists are shooting 200-inchers. On Nov. 2 Robyn Rocke arrowed a 19-point buck that had a third beam growing over its left eye. Rocke’s Woodford County giant was green scored at 206 4/8 inches gross. “I rattled him in that morning,” said Rocke, who runs Rocke’s Wildlife Studio in Eureka. He is contemplating doing a full-body mount. ... Speaking of big bucks, this is the last Illinois Deer & Turkey Classic that will be held in Bloomington, since part of the Interstate Center has been sold to an implement dealer. The dealer will move in after the Feb. 26-28 show. Organizer Glenn Helgeland assures his very popular show will remain in central Illinois. Given that it will be interesting to see if the show returns to the Peoria Civic Center, a much better venue than Bloomington’s barn. ... Those who want to stay closer to home to have their buck measured should consider the Elmwood AllOutdoor Show on March 6-7, where both Boone and Crockett and Pope & Young measurers will be on hand.


Duck season is drawing to an early, bitter end for many. As of Thursday afternoon, Emiquon had frozen, Rice Lake was almost unhuntable and even the deep lakes at Banner Marsh were holding ice. Now’s the time to hope for a thaw before the Dec. 29 close to Central Zone duck season. ... Better yet, head to a goose pit. Reports of new honkers have come in from all corners. “I’ve seen cacklers all over,” said the Head Worm. Warmer weather this weekend should have honkers flying. ... Not all duck hunters struggled. The Princeton Game and Fish Club was well over 2,300 ducks and on a pace to post its top total in nine years prior to Tuesday’s end of the North Zone season. ... And Our Neighbor Ash sez he’s been able to duck out of household chores for the entire season. ... Hottest duck shooting of late has been on the Mississippi River, where duck counts topped 500,000 earlier this week — double that of the Illinois River. There were numerous reports of hot mallard and goose shoots in the Oquawka area during Wednesday’s windstorm.


Gov. Blagojevich’s failed regime just keeps on embarrassing us. Under Blago, William Richardson of Benton was named general legal counsel of the Department of Natural Resources. Earlier this month Richardson received six citations for hunting-related offenses, including taking more than two bucks during deer season, failing to tag two deer and failing to check deer in by 10 p.m. Fortunately, Richardson is no longer with DNR. Since June he has been working with the Department of Corrections. Unfortunately, no matter where he’s working he’s still a sad example of what machine politics too often delivers. ... Late-winter pheasant hunting forays to the west can be wonderful, as my buddy Springer and I learned last week in South Dakota and northwest Iowa. Birds were plentiful, limits were common and the dogs had plenty of scent to chase. But I shudder to think what that trip would have been like this week given the blizzard that chased us home. 


Forget the next world record bass. The world’s most valuable fish is the bighead carp netted out of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal last week after the canal was poisoned. While no total has been released, some speculate poisoning the canal will wind up costing at least $2 million and possibly as much as $3 million. All that to kill one costly carp. ...  Chef Todd is itching to go ice fishing and can drill holes this weekend if he’s willing to travel. Brave anglers hit the hard water on the Fox Chain O’Lakes on Thursdsay and were also out on northern Mississippi River backwaters. ...  Met a fascinating guy named Jim McDonnell (712-933-5532) of Spirit Lake, Iowa. A retired school teacher,. he’s 72, runs a 250-mile trap line daily and works as a fishing guide. He also rents ice-fishing shacks and business should be hot this winter. They’ve already got 3-6 inches of ice on Spirit Lake and Lake Okoboji and fishing is expected to be so good for perch, bluegill and walleye that a return visit to northwest Iowa is in order — if I ever get brave enough to tell my wife. ...  Parting shot: It’s muzzleloader deer season this weekend, so be safe if you take to the timber.


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