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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

The new coot capital of Illinois

October 28, 2008 at 01:48 PM

Once upon a time, Spring Lake was known as the Coot Capital of central Illinois.

The little black chicken-ducks would flock to Spring Lake’s weedy waters in impressive numbers. One winter hundreds of coots got caught when the water froze suddenly. People still laugh about the rescue effort that ensued.

But Spring Lake has lost its unwanted title. The new Coot Capital of central Illinois is Illinois hunting and fishingThe Nature Conservancy’s Emiquon Preserve, located on the west side of the Illinois River between Havana and Dickson Mounds Museum.

At last count there were 48,000 coots at Emiquon. And judging by this morning, the site may have picked up a few more of the curious little chicken-ducks. They are everywhere on Emiquon’s shallow, vegetation-filled lakes. Somebody said they look like freckles on a redhead. No doubt they are everywhere. So are ducks (as I will write about later today).

And at least one hunter is happy about all the coots. After Cordell Vaughn shot his six ducks early Tuesday morning, he begged for the chance to shoot coots. The only time I’ve heard somebody so excited about coots was at Reelfoot Lake where the guides swore the chicken-ducks taste as good as mallards. I’ve still not taken that challenge.

Cordell must have a little Reelfoot in him. Because he even took a few shots at coots as we waited for ducks (drawing the ire of Rusty Kaufman, who pointed out that was a bad idea). Finally we relented and let him wander off into the weeds, where he commenced blasting away. Cordell got his way and shot several chicken-ducks. Have you ever seen a hunter so happy about a coot?

Illinois hunting and fishing


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