Illinois Outdoors at
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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

A fine day at Rice Lake

November 07, 2008 at 06:37 PM

We need new birds in the Central Zone. New ducks. Maybe this storm in the Dakotas will bring them, though there was no sign of it Friday morning at Rice Lake.

Hunting with Aaron Sapinski of Kickapoo, Todd Staley of Morton and Nate Herman of Peoria we managed to shoot six ducks. We did not have many more chances. And while we wound up with a nice mixed bag, we expected more. Sapinksi was third out of the hat at the Rice Lake drawing and picked blind 26—a good choice as evidenced by the 43 birds they shot on opening weekend. Hunting has slowed since, with ducks getting smarter.

Illinois hunting and fishing

But six ducks is a great day for many hunters, so who am I to complain. Best of all, I got a chance to watch Staley’s 2 1/2-year-old black Lab, Woody. What a nice dog. He has a great future. And Staley is thrilled to have such a good hunting partner. “Having a dog has changed everything for me about hunting,” he said.

I understand. So do many of you, no doubt. Duck hunting has never been the same for me since I lost my old buddy Buck. But seeing Woody work today, much better than my dog ever did, helped fill the void. Here’s hoping new ducks arrive soon so all the Woodys of the world get plenty of work this fall.

Not that hunting has been poor so far. To the contrary. Considering the conditions this year and the food situation on the Illinois River, hunting has been nothing short of surprisingly good. How else to explain that Rice Lake has had 997 hunters kill 1,539 ducks through Nov. 8. That’s a good season some places. And there’s still plenty more duck hunting to go.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

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Chuck Hamstra’s double-drop 18-pointer

November 07, 2008 at 03:38 PM

Illinois hunting and fishing

Who says you need to be scent-free to shoot a big buck. Chuck Hamstra shot this big Whiteside County 18-pointer on Nov. 4, 2008 at his farm near Albany while wearing blue jeans, a flannel shirt and a sweaty seed hat. And he had been wearing those same clothes and hat all day while combining corn.

Hamstra also has a shed from the buck and had spotted it in January while chasing coyotes. Word is Hamstra’s son, Dave, even missed a shot at the buck last gun season.

No such problem for the elder Hamstra, who got into his stand about 30 minutes before sunset and promptly scared several does on his way in. Even so, less than 10 minutes later the double-drop-tined monster walked past and stopped broad side 10 yards away. Hamstra made the most of his shot.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

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