Illinois Outdoors at PrairiestateOutdoors.com
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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
 

Scattershooting

A Web log by Jeff Lampe of the Journal Star

Scattershooting at ice, deer and fried trout

January 22, 2010 at 01:04 AM

Rambling through the outdoors with fingers crossed, hoping ice will last through the Jan. 30 Lake Camelot tournament.

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While warm rain is preferable to freezing rain, this heat wave threatens to ruin a very good ice-fishing bite and jeopardize three weekends of tournaments. Everybody from the Head Worm to Art Mott of Toulon report excellent fishing in recent days. Mott spent last weekend at Lake Storey with buddy William DeWester of Farmington and they combined for slab crappie of 16.5, 13.5 and 13.5 inches. Minnows were the key. The Head Worm filled a bucket with bluegills using only a tube jig. So don’t let the crafty bait dealer tell you waxworms were the key. ... I spent Thursday afternoon drilling holes with The Pond Guy and the aptly named Chris Rock of Princeville, whose family runs a quarry. We caught huge bluegill and had safe ice. But that’s my last hard-water outing until cold weather returns. ... If ice does go bad, don’t forget Powerton Lake. Several blue cats, bluegill and a few smallmouth came in this week. The big news is hybrid striped bass up to 8-10 pounds according to Jason Grider of Riverside Bait in Pekin. “I can’t believe they are that big already,” said Grider, who has personally seen a few of the huge stripers.

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Two things are luring me to the Kickapoo Sportsman’s Club Saturday from 4-7 p.m. for the annual Independent Sports Club wild-game feed. 1. Where else can you appease a hankering for alligator, turtle and fried trout in one sitting? 2. Show organizer Dan Kelch asked me to judge homemade wine. Not sure what qualifications I have for that job, but how can you say no to a good cause? Tickets are sold at the door and there’s a bus to shuttle patrons from the ballpark in Kickapoo to the club if grounds get muddy. All proceeds benefit youth sports. ... Also Saturday is the Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever state meeting at Par-A-Dice Hotel. Here’s hoping the dice are good to those guys because they deserve recognition for their habitat work. ... Speaking of upland birds, Bill Moyers of Banner has had a quail roosting on his windowsill each night for the past week. “He flies up there most nights about 6 p.m. and some days doesn’t get down until 10 a.m.” Moyers said. This is the time of year quail are drawn to birdfeeders and barnyards to find food and get out of the elements.

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Is the Illinois deer herd declining? Or was standing corn the cause for fewer deer killed by archers and shotgun hunters this year? Or are fewer hunters reporting the deer they kill in the absence of check stations? Those are some of the items deer hunters are arguing in the wake of a season that saw 189,277 whitetails head to the freezer. While that’s slightly ahead of last year, it’s well off the 2005 record of 201,210, despite more permits sold and more hunting days available. Actually, the last few years are part of a steady downward trend from that record-setting 05 hunt. ... Also upsetting some deer hunters is a quietly orchestrated rule change that will allow non-resident bowhunters to obtain a second archery permit. At $410 apiece there may not be many sold. Even so, there’s no question this was done to appease outfitters. Also, non-resident youngsters can now participate in the youth deer hunt for the same $10 fee residents pay.

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The folks who spend each fall leading whooping cranes south to Florida define the word committed. This year’s flock reached its final destination in Florida on Wednesday, capping an 89-day, 1,285-mile journey. The irony is that the cranes are on their own from now on and will probably make the same trip in five days next fall. ... Darrin Symonds of Brimfield had trouble finding Dale Hamm’s out-of-print book, “Last of the Market Hunters.” Internet users can buy the intriguing story of a fun-loving Illinois River duck poacher at amazon.com and a few other booksellers. Presley’s Outdoors also has a few copies for sale. ... Bass 25 has sign-ups Feb. 21 from 9:30-10:45 a.m. at the Turkey Hill Saloon near Tremont. You’ve got to love bass clubs that meet in taverns on a Sunday morning. Maybe that’s one reason Bass 25 is so popular. Learn more at bass25.com.  ... Speaking of being popular, Our Neighbor Ash spent a few days luxuriating in the hospital recently but sez there’s no cause to worry. He just enjoys chatting up the nurses.

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Silver carp DNA has been found in Calumet Harbor, which feeds directly into Lake Michigan. Anybody still think spending millions to poison the Chicago Shipping Canal was such a good investment? Now there’s word the Illinois DNR may be adding five biologists to handle invasive species and to oversee the Asian carp containment effort. I sure hope those hires come after a turkey biologist is added. ... In an earlier column about top picks for outdoor shows there was no mention of the Henry Decoy Show, held this year on Feb. 14 at Henry-Senachwine High School from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. That was a major mistake. The decoy show is a must-attend event if you have any interest in ducks, carving, folk art or just need a chance to get out of the house for a few intriguing hours. Sadly, event founder Don Clark passed away Dec. 16. He and his trademark gray hat will be missed. ... Parting shot: Does it strike anyone else as hypocritical that most national politicians showed little interest in Asian carp until the Great Lakes were threatened?

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Flathead's Picture of the Week :: Big bucks :: Birdwatching :: Cougars :: Dogs :: Critters :: Fishing :: Asian carp :: Bass :: Catfish :: Crappie :: Ice :: Muskie :: Humor :: Hunting :: Deer :: Ducks :: Geese :: Turkey :: Upland game :: Misc. :: Mushrooms :: Open Blog Thursday :: Picture A Day 2010 :: Plants and trees :: Politics :: Prairie :: Scattershooting :: Tales from the Trail Cams :: Wild Things ::

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