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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

Wild Things 11-30-08

November 30, 2008 at 03:39 AM


Department of Natural Resources workers laid off today due to budget cuts.

Too many old ducks

Duck hunters along the Illinois River are lamenting the same thing these days: educated birds. But there’s more than that working against waterfowlers. A below-average hatch for mallards means there are fewer young birds for hunters to shoot this year.

“We’re holding more ducks than usual for this time of year, however, our first half was average to a little below,” said Randy Root, who owns the Mallard Farms club near Spring Bay. “Not many young mallards.”

That’s the same word from staffers at Banner Marsh, where the refuge is loaded with mallards but hunters have struggled mightily.

Swimming for deer

Elation turned to frustration for Chad Johnson on Nov. 15 while bowhunting along the Spoon River near Ellisville.

The good news for Johnson was that he shot his first buck with a bow. The bad news was the 9-pointer made it into Spoon River and wound up on the opposite bank.

But Johnson was only slowed for a moment. He wasn’t going to lose his first buck. So despite the cold he stripped down, jumped into the river, swam across and retrieved his buck.

Wild on the Web

The Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, Wisc. has a new Web site ( that features historic information, articles and past issues of The Splash magazine.

Birding bits

If you are a birdwatcher and have not yet added The Nature Conservancy’s Emiquon Preserve to your must-visit list, do so now. Birders have regularly been spotting a wide variety of species this fall at the restored wetland near Havana, including white-faced and glossy ibises that had been lingering early last week despite ice. 

Gearing up

Anyone looking for a thoughtful gift for the cold-blooded outdoorsman in their life may want to consider Mr. Heater’s Portable Buddy heater. These are truly portable heaters that run on the small, 1-pound propane cylinders and can be carried easily into a deer blind, duck blind or ice-fishing shack.

Critter corner

In the wilds of Illinois in December ...
Raccoons den up during snow and ice storms.
Rabbits use abandoned dens during heavy snows.
Bald eagles move toward open water at locks and dams.
North American bats hibernate or spend winter in deep sleep in caves.
Screech owls, barred owls call.
Skunks sleep during weather of 15 degrees or colder.
Gray squirrels begin breeding now through February.
Red foxes begin mating.
Beavers feed on sapling reserves.
Evening grosbeaks eat sunflower seeds at feeders.
Unbred does enter second estrus.
Whitetails form winter groups.
Racoons begin to breed.
Badgers dig up, kill and feed on hibernating woodchucks.

This ‘n that

Turkey hunters in Illinois are reminded that Monday is the deadline to apply for the first lottery of spring permits. ... Fergie Jenkins and Ozzie Smith Jr. were back in central Illinois hunting ducks, deer and pheasants last week. They’ll return again Jan. 24 for the Independent Sportsman Club’s wild-game feed. Also expected for the banquet at the Kickapoo Sportsman’s Club are Lee Smith and Steve Trout, with a possible appearance by Harlem Globetrotters great Meadowlark Lemon. For tickets call (309) 691-9200.


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