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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

Open Blog Thursday

February 28, 2008 at 07:00 AM

Still reeling from all those big bucks. Can you guys help me out here.

FROM Kathy Sours:

“I was happy to see your article on the red-tail hawks in the Sunday paper. For years I have noticed them sitting in trees along the Interstate, or on a fence post ... or on a street lamp that overhangs traffic. I wonder how many people actually notice them as they drive under the overhanging light. I have one that lives around my house and he is HUGE. I see him a lot in the trees around my home. Thanks for the article and the pictures!”

FROM Al Curry:

“I especially appreciated this week’s article on the red-tailed hawk. I teach biology at our local high school and try to encourage the students to see and appreciate the wildlife around them. I hope you will continue to occasionally present articles on wildlife species that are not hunted.”

FROM Mike Steffa:Illinois Outdoors
“Thought you might like to see this (picture at right). This is an immature Red-Tailed Hawk eating on a dead coon out here at Comlara Park. I actually drove by the thing and then backed up and took the pictures. It must have been pretty hungry or ignorant (or both) because this thing let me get within 10 feet of it.”

FROM Jim Miller of Dunlap:

“Enjoyed your hawk article. A little more anecdotal data underscoring your theme. Jayne and I make several trips to the Quad Cities, and for the last three months, multiple times per week. During these trips we informally count hawks, at least during the daylight portions of the drives. Typically we’d see 15 to 22- 23. But the last couple of months, the counts started rising to consistently in the mid to high 20s. About three weeks ago we counted 32. Typically two-thirds to three-fourths of these were between Peoria and Galesburg, with the proportions after Galesburg rising. In these counts there would be 1-2 kestrels and, occasionally, a rough-legged or broad-winged. But the rest all red-tails.”

FROM Roger Kortemeier of Bartonville:

“I was returning from Michigan on Feb. 24 on a clear day and about 4 p.m. turned off I 80 onto I 55 south. For about the next half hour, I saw more geese than I think I have seen in my entire lifetime (and I’m old). The sky was filled with them, literally horizon to horizon! They were flying, generally, in a northwest direction. Did notice a few fellow travelers pointing them out to each other, but most were just intent on flying down the highway. Instead of ‘stop and smell the roses,’  how about ‘slow down and view the wildlife!’”

FROM Paula Cirone:

“We own strip-mine land northwest of Farmington, near Yates City. We see otter in a couple of the lakes on our property plus evidence of their existence, especially the slides. We also saw a bobcat early last fall just after dark. The wildlife is amazing on our property. I also enjoyed the article on owls in the PJS. We often see owls, even in the daylight hours, while fishing. We probably disturb their naps! When I first read your article, I was opposed to hunting otters, but I understand now why their should be a limited season.”

Story and comments

DNR staff urged to go camping

February 27, 2008 at 08:55 PM

At the risk of starting a new weekly feature, here’s another use for a lede from a column last week that started ...

You want to know how bad things are in the Illinois Department of Natural Resources?

Since Feb. 14,  DNR’s Acting Director Sam Flood has authorized his staff to camp for free on DNR property instead of staying in a hotel. The camping option is apparently “in lieu of hotel reimbursement.”

Seriously. And yes, that’s the same Acting Director Sam Flood who is receiving monthly travel, loding and meal expenses merely to do his grueling job. Here are the first two lines of the memo:

“This memo authorizes the Office of Land Management to waive the daily camping and utility fees (where applicable) at DNR-managed campgrounds for Department staff who are on official business/travel status. This authorization is provided in lieu of hotel reimbursement and is designed as an overall cost savings to the Department.”

Just so you know we are not making this up, here’s a copy of the original memo:


There are so many places to take this. First and foremost, I assume Flood will be doing a lot of camping in the months to come, since he no longer has a need for his rental property in Springfield. That’s a savings of $550 per month.

Second, I bet the DNR staff will not be invited to as many out-of-town meetings. Who wants to be confined in a conference room with somebody who has been camping? Has Flood ever actually been camping?

Third, I bet this will actually prove costly. Because if DNR staff have to stay in DNR campgrounds, there are going to be some hasty improvements to showers and bathroom facilities.

Finally, this is so sad it is almost funny. But because it’s not made up, because this is the actual state of the organization, it’s yet another sad statement about how bad things are in the DNR.

Story and comments

A fish that could feed a village

February 27, 2008 at 10:40 AM

Eating fish has been on my mind lately what with this being Lent and all and me helping cook fish at St. Patrick’s in Elmwood (come on out and sample some Fridays from 4:30-6:30 p.m.) And when I saw this picture, the first thing I thought was, “We could make some money for the men’s club on this sucker.” Course it would take a long fight to cut this monster into fillets.

Illinois Outdoors

As the story goes, this 359.1-pound warsaw grouper was caught by a medical student from Thibodaux, La. named J.J. Tabor. He is said to blindfold people before showing them his fishing spots. The grouper is a Louisiana record but is well off the world record, a 436-pound, 12-ounce grouper caught off Florida in 1985.

Incidentally, the first fillet off Tabor’s fish weighed a reported 53 pounds.

Story and comments

Wacky racks also on display

February 27, 2008 at 10:18 AM

The Illinois Deer & Turkey Classic isn’t all about only perfect typical racks or jaw-dropping non-typicals with big club drop tines. Every show features some funk too. And this year’s display of trophy mounts had two true funky racks that got the cameras clicking. If you were there, surely you remember this one, the buck who hit the wall.

Illinois Outdoors

Then there’s this one, which had some real weirdness of its right side. Killed this year by bowhunter Steve Plunkett in Cass County, the buck had 17 points and scored 142 5/8 inches

Illinois Outdoors

I suppose these bucks got hit by a car or something. Whatever the cause, they sure were traffic stoppers.

Even Kevin Radke’s Best-of-Show Jasper County non-typical had its share of funk. There was so much going on with the brow tines on his deer that it’s hard to get a picture that really shows them well.

Illinois Outdoors

Story and comments

Cougar attacking elk picture

February 26, 2008 at 01:52 PM

Here’s a picture sent to me that was said to have been taken in Yellowstone National Park.

Illinois Outdoors

Story and comments

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