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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

Illinois hunting and fishing

Dad, I’m sick of squirrels

November 23, 2008 at 09:23 PM

The final day of the first firearm season ended without a bang in our corner of Peoria County.

No shots for me, Flathead, Grampa Joe or Flathead’s wife. Slow night.

But not a bad night. This was the oldest boy Henry’s second deer hunt. And we all agreed it went better than his first last year. Same result: no deer. But he saw more. Watched more. Was quieter. Seemed to have a clue. And he came to a conclusion any deer hunter can probably agree with after a crunchy weekend in the woods.

“Dad, I’m sick of squirrels,” he said after being fooled yet again by a tree rat.

We were hunting in a hillbilly blind created by Flathead. When we showed up, Henry said, “Dad, this looks like the back of a pickup sawed off with a topper on it.” Smart kid. Because that’s what it is. Now before you go calling it an eyesore, understand the thing can still be towed out of the timber. So it’s only a temporary eyesore. And when you’re hunting with kids, as we were for the second straight night, the sidewalls help hide some of the fidgeting going on inside the blind.

Not that I blame the boy. The only deer we saw were out in a cornfield as we walked out. “Maybe next year,” he said. “Maybe next season,” I thought, but did not say it, because getting the hopes of a youngster up too high can be very dangerous.

At any rate, my first season ended as it started: one doe down, one buck let walk and two evening hunts with my boys that went better than expected. All in all, I’d call the season a success so far. Hope yours went well too.

Story and comments

Wild Things 11-23-08

November 23, 2008 at 01:08 AM


Days of hunting in Illinois first modern firearm hunting season from Nov. 1-3, 1957.

Share your stories

Were you fortunate to shoot a 30-point buck this weekend? Or did you break through a frozen creek and have to be rescued? Either way, we want to hear your compelling stories from the first firearm deer season.

E-mail your pictures and stories to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or log on to Those who submit stories to the Web site will be entered in a drawing for free Lone Wolf tree stands.

You speak

“First thing I thought when I walked up to him was, ‘Man is he ugly.’ But I guess he’s ugly in a good way.”
— Scott Dexter, Macomb, describing his first reaction to the 47-point McDonough County buck he shot on Nov. 21, 2004. The buck scored 295 3/8 inches non-typical and ranks second in Illinois history and sixth all-time in North America.

Big muskie of the year

A 49.5-inch muskie caught and released at Evergreen Lake on Sept. 6 by Chris Drury of Elgin is one of the longest reported in Illinois this year. While the list of longest muskies is not final, the fish Drury caught with guide Thad Hinshaw is tied with another 49.5-incher caught by Nick Cammaratta at Crystal Lake in January. Hinshaw also caught and released a 49-incher at Evergreen.
Kinkaid Lake in southern Illinois has five fish over 46.5 inches so far this year. The list reflects only muskie reported on green cards by members in good standing of Muskies Inc.

So far 218 cards have been entered in the creel survey run by the Illini Muskies Alliance and the Department of Natural Resources. That’s under last year’s 418 cards and does not reflect at least one 50-incher caught and released at McMaster Lake.

Tip of the week

Here’s an important reminder for hunters amidst the hustle of Thanksgiving: the deadline to apply for the first lottery of spring turkey hunting permits is Dec. 1.

Playing politics

As his time in the White House dwindles, President Bush is reportedly close to overhauling the Endangered Species Act. If passed, changes would eliminate the need for independent scientific reviews for federal plans involving endangered animals or plants.

Outdoors answers

Q: “My question has to do with fishing the spillway at Lake Shelbyville for muskie. Am I correct that they open the spillway on Dec. 15 and that is the time to go fishing?”
— Joe Wier, Gibson City

A: Yes, the winter drawdown is scheduled to start on Dec. 15. That may or may not be the prime to fish, though, based on the actual amount of water that is being released. Last year, for instance, fishing for the first week was fairly slow.

Did you know?

Illinois hunters shot 1,735 deer during the state’s first modern firearm hunting season in 1957. During last year’s first firearm season, six counties produced more deer than that: Pike 2,610, Adams 2,140, JoDaviess 2,055, Fulton 2,003, Jefferson 1,997 and Randolph 1,890.

This ‘n that

  • According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, firearm sales are up 10 percent this year and 15 percent in October alone based on gun owners concerns about the election of Barack Obama.
  • Young artists in kindergarten through 12th grade are invited to enter the Federal Junior Duck Stamp contest. Visit or call (217) 524-4126 for information. Applications are due by March 15. Story and comments

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