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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 deer, corn and poor old Ash

November 21, 2009 at 12:40 AM

EDITOR’S NOTE: This column ran Friday, Nov. 20 in the Peoria Journal Star.

Rambling through the outdoors wondering how many deer can hide in an acre of standing corn.


Speaking of crops in the field, there’s a running joke on about standing corn being the source of all Illinois deer hunting problems. Joking aside, there’s a very real chance for an impact this weekend, what with 48 percent of the crop still in the field heading into firearm season. My bet is hunters will do OK Friday and then struggle Saturday and Sunday as savvy deer head to the corn. ...That news pleased only Our Neighbor Ash, who sez he’s learned a lesson from the deer. Next time creditors hound him he’s headed for a cornfield. ... Corn or no corn, somebody will still shoot a monster. This has already been the best season on record for big bucks despite a slow harvest. Why should gun season be different? ... Corn has been the bane of upland hunters, with dismal reports from Iowa, Illinois and even South Dakota where standing crops offer birds too many safe havens. ... Bill Stephens of Industry won a set of Lone Wolf climbing sticks for his comments on outdoor television shows. For your chance at a free Lone Wolf tree stand, e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with your firearm deer hunting stories and pictures. 


Many hunters will butcher and process their own deer this weekend. But how many store deer meat in cans? That thought has stayed with me ever since Chicago hunter Jeff Hall talked about canning cubed pieces of deer meat in a pressure cooker for 1.5 hours at 10 pounds of pressure. Hall kept jars of venison on the shelves of his home and opened them whenever he wanted “a delicious meal.” Seconds anyone? ... Be careful around tree stands. Last year 30 of the 38 reported hunting accidents in Illinois involved falls from tree stands. So far this year, six of 13 accidents involve falls from tree stands. ... Need more incentive to be careful while deer hunting out of a tree stand? A 150-pound person falling from 20 feet up hits the ground with 2,994 feet/pounds. That’s equivalent to a .300 Win Mag bullet. If you are a 200-pounder (and let’s be honest, that’s probably a lie for most of us) you need fall only 12 feet to hit like a .308 rifle bullet. So wear your safety harness.


Old-timers love talking about how much better things were back in the day. But you never hear that about deer hunting. Poring through old files I came across a Nov. 4, 1958 article showing the Illinois harvest as 1,260 for a three-day firearm season open in 33 counties. Only Marshall and Putnam counties were open locally according to former Journal Star scribe Howard Kenny. ... Sadly, that same trip through memory lane visited an article from Nov. 13, 1942 with a headline blaring “Whow! We had 2,530,000 live ducks in our valley.” Of those, 1.15 million were on Goose Pond and Lake Senachwine and another 925,000 were at Chautauqua. And that was just the Illinois River. Two days earlier the Peoria Star ran a picture of four hunters (including Henry Dillon of Peoria) with a limit of “50 fat mallards” shot in a few hours on the Mississippi River. For duck slaying, those were the days. ... One more memory: Peak pheasant harvest in Illinois was 1963 when 242,000 hunters shot 1.064 million roosters and averaged .99 roosters per trip. That missing .01 must have been feathers shot off by a load of lead No. 7s.


Long-time LaSalle-Peru outdoor scribe Al Rostello passed away last week after spending 18 years informing readers about the outdoors in north-central Illinois. Al was never short on words or opinions and I learned to enjoy hearing him opine. But my favorite Rostello tale came a few years back at Donnelley-DePue. Al was hunting by himself in a blind near The Farmer and me and we watched ducks circle his blind for much of the morning. Later at the landing, Al — who wore what could only be called Coke-bottle glasses — said, truthfully, he had not seen a duck all day. ... Roger Woodcock has me worried. The former Farmington city officer retired this spring with plans to spend his days catching crappie, hunting turkeys and chasing ducks. But like too many retirees, Woodcock is busier than ever and somehow fished less this summer. And his duck season in the strip mines near Middle Grove has been painfully slow. At least breakfast is still excellent. ... Good news for waterfowlers is that duck counts in Louisiana are well below average. So there are still birds to come. ... While duck hunters struggle, trappers have it worse due to dismal fur prices. “The only thing we can sell for decent money any more is muskrats,” says veteran trapper Scott Davis of Elmwood.


Bass and sauger are biting. We’ve heard numerous good reports on chunky bass (many from Emiquon, which is still open to fishing) and last weekend’s first Illinois Walleye Trail event out of Hennepin showed there are plenty of sauger under the 14-inch minimum limit on the Illinois River. Sparland angler Rick Parrott placed second with partner Mike Tatera (six sauger, 12.23 pounds) behind winners Steve Sandor of Ottawa and Jeremy Piacenti of Tiskilwa (six, 12.51). ... Oops: Central Zone Canada goose season reopens Tuesday, Nov. 24. We had a wrong date last Sunday. ... Booths are filling fast for the Elmwood AllOutdoors Show March 6-7. Visit to learn more. ... Illinois River Valley Orienteering Club has its final event Saturday at Farmdale Park in East Peoria. This is a bike-o event that will likely require getting wet. Call (309) 494-4799. ... Parting shot: From the aforementioned Bill Stephens, “Sometimes I have to force myself to remember the only reason that the TV show you are watching is on the air is to ‘Sell you something!’”


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