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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

Of geese, hair helmets and antlers

January 08, 2009 at 04:59 PM

Rambling through the outdoors wondering how Canada geese decide when and where to fly.

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Longer firearm deer hunting seasons and over-the-counter permits are among the final recommendations from the Joint Task Force on Deer Population Control. Department of Natural Resources staff is reviewing proposals to: 1. extend the first firearm deer season to Monday, 2. extend the late-winter season to nine days, 3. sell remaining firearm permits over the counter after the second lottery, 4. sell late-winter tags over the counter, 5. sell unlimited late-winter permits in some counties,  6. form a task force to review programs designed to reduce crop damage. Don’t count on all of these being implemented. ... But if the first firearm season is extended to a Monday, savvy observers say we should dedicate it as “John Sullivan’s Outfitter Day.” That’s to dishonor the Quincy state senator who surprised task force members with that proposal at the last minute. Money, not deer population control, is his obvious motivation. ... Muzzleloader hunters shot 4,310 deer in 2008 — down 23 from 2007. But archery harvest is up 1,200 from 2007 through Wednesday.

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This year is a perfect example of why buck hunters dislike the late-winter deer season. Ice and cold appear to be hastening the pace of antler shedding this winter. Several bowhunters report seeing bucks with half a rack and shed hunters are already busy. Derrick Hart of Yates City found eight sheds last weekend alone near Roseville. So be on the lookout for huge does that aren’t if you hunt this late-winter season, Jan. 16-18. ... Though he immediately started mumbling when asked, I’m betting Our Neighbor Ash has some experience with a doe that turned out to be a buck. ... Help: If anybody hears a cell phone ringing in a field near Secor, please mail me a letter. Or send word via carrier pigeon. At least pigeons fly home when you accidentally release them. ... Speaking of feathered friends, Helen Packard spotted a pileated woodpecker on Grandview Drive Wednesday. That big red-headed bird is proof Peorians are truly blessed with natural beauty close at hand.

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Our ever-worsening economy is taking a toll on the outdoors. Hardest hit so far have been boat dealers, some of whom report sales off by 17 percent or more in 2008. That’s one reason R&B Productions canceled its East Peoria Boating and Fishing Show scheduled for Feb. 20-22. And Mike Bolton reports in The Birmingham News that pro bass fishing is taking a hard hit. “Everybody is losing sponsors,” pro Randy Howell told Bolton. “The fishermen are losing sponsors. BASS is losing sponsors. We’re keeping the lure companies but the big, non-endemic sponsors are saying they can’t do it right now.” ... The economy hasn’t hurt gun sales. The FBI reports a 24 percent increase in background checks last December compared to 2007. Background checks are required for firearm purchased and overall in 2008 were up 14 percent. ... Have you seen the record elk shot last October on public land in Utah? The beast measured 478 5/8 inches and looks like a Photoshop fake. Check it out at

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While boat ramps at Starved Rock are open, sauger chasers are being kept at bay by high, dirty water and floating ice in the Illinois River. “We’re two to three weeks away,” said Darrell “Buster” Culjan. ... Ice fishing is a better bet, with good action on bluegill at Banner Marsh, the Hennepin Canal and farm ponds. Lake Storey crappie are best afternoons and evenings. Just be careful. Many report thin spots in odd places. Ice addict Rich Klockenga of Edwards is generally drilling 5-7 inches but said Oak Run is still dicey. ... Upland game biologist John Cole retired after more than 30 years of battling on behalf of birds and bunnies. Replacing Cole is unlikely since the DNR is such a mess and we are still awaiting a turkey biologist — an omission worth noting at a time hunters are being rejected for permits because quotas have not been adjusted. ... Another veteran stepping down is Don Baker. He spent 40 years writing Journal Star sports stories but still learned something new last summer. “I never knew catfish and carp ate mulberries,” said Baker, who helped with the weekly fish report. Don, when the time is right this spring, you can expect a batch of mulberry-flavored doughballs for fishing or table fare.

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Speaking of eating dough, if the extra pounds don’t kill me, Canada geese might. I’ve wasted too many hours driving and looking for honkers or sitting in a field waiting for them. Others report similar problems. “The Triple L effect is in,” said Dan Vinovich of Pekin, who hunts west of Ameren’s Duck Creek reservoir. “The geese we see Look, Lock and then Leave. We’re whittling a few down, but we haven’t had a flock of birds work in all year.” ... In the wake of hunters shooting a trumpeter swan last week in southern Illinois, here’s a timely reminder. If you see a huge, white bird overhead that resembles an airplane, don’t shoot. If you do shoot, don’t claim you thought it was a snow goose on steroids. That argument has been used. Unsuccessfully. ... Have you seen the world record elk shot last October on public land in Utah? The beast measured 478 5/8 inches and looks like a Photoshop fake it is so big. But it’s no fake It’s a real official record. Check it out at

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An anonymous letter being circulated touts Brent Manning as the answer for myriad problems plaguing the DNR. “There is only one man that can save me now, and you know his name,” reads the letter signed “The DNR.” While I agree Manning would be a welcome change from do-nothing Sam Flood, I can’t see Pat Quinn selecting the long-time Republican. ... Phil “The Duck Commander” Robertson is returning to Peoria. He’ll speak at a Wild Game Dinner Feb. 7 at Peoria’s Expo Gardens. Tickets are $10. Call (309) 712-1462 or 688-3641. We’re giving tickets to the first person who names the famous quarterback Richardson started in front of in college. Leave a message at (309) 686-3212. ... Parting shot: When I worry about the economy or the sad state of Illinois, there’s one mental image that always makes me smile: Rod Blagojevich coiffing his helmet of hair in jail.

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Illinois hunting and fishing

UPDATE: Monster buck near Petersburg

January 08, 2009 at 09:52 AM

Here’s an update on the monster buck found dead near Petersburg. We will have an in-depth story on the buck soon.

Two quail hunters found the buck dead on property owned by John Grosboll, who is pictured above holding the massive rack. They are allowed to quail hunt the area after deer season winds down.

Gabe Grosboll, John’s son, had hunted the ground during shotgun season but had not seen the buck. E-mails Gabe: “No wounds found on the deer, coyotes had eaten a lot of the carcass.” Gabe said the buck unofficially green-scored 246 inches.

As for the rumors about Stan Potts hunting the buck, we have not been able to track anything down. So that remains nothing more than a rumor.

Here are more pictures of the buck, including a trail-cam picture that has surfaced. Not sure yet who got the trail-cam shot, but I bet they had some sleepless nights after seeing this picture.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

Here is Nathan Grosboll holding the massive non-typical rack.

Illinois hunting and fishing

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Open Blog Thursday

January 08, 2009 at 07:23 AM

Today is the last day of North Zone upland game season. You think I want to be working in the office today? Help.

FROM Jeff Yergler of Pekin:

Don’t know if you have run any articles on the upcoming antlerless only season. We have been seeing a lot of good sized bucks that have already lost their racks. We have seen this before but it seems to be quite prevalent this season. You might want to put an article out that would alert the hunters about this. Many will be using muzzleloaders and taking shot at 100 + yards. It is hard to tell if the deer had antlers if you are not looking for it. It would be a shame to take a big buck and not have the rack to show for it. I have put all of my hunters on notice the past several years that we shoot no deer in that season over about 135-145 inches. We will kill a small buck once in a while that has shed,but we have not to this point taken any large bucks that have shed. Last night I saw 5 big bucks that had already dropped. I hope you can pass this on to as big of audience as possible.

FROM Ken Lance of Dillsburg, Pa:

My name is Ken Lance, I grew up in Illinois now retired and living in Pa. I all ways go on line and check out the hunting in and around Illinois. Question: Has any waterfowler that you know ever weighed their goose to see how big? I was hunting last month in Pennsylvaniaand got a BIG goose, largest I ever got weighed it on my scale 16.8lbs. Now on one of hunting sites here ( one post was “have you ever weighed your goose.” I posted the weight and others said that it was not true. Hunting in Illinois around Putnam, LaSalle counties we killed some big geese. I think at one time west of Peoria around some of the strip mines hunters were getting some big giants. Make a new post about weight and see what happens.

FROM Larry Kendrick:

Congrats to you and your son. My 12-year-old only child got his first deer also in the youth season. But I had to beg to find a place to take him. This state is getting so leased up you can’t find a place to take your kids hunting any small game. The deer kill in the state is a joke. I know for sure the outfitters are having some of their hunters call in and say they shot a doe and they didn’t. If they don’t take so many does they can lose their license. I think the only way to stop this is to put a quota on bucks and open the check stations again. I have hunted for 27 years and there are more deer now than ever before.

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Illinois hunting and fishing

UPDATE: Bureau County bear pictures

January 08, 2009 at 06:13 AM

Here are pictures of the Bureau County near taken by Cheryl Balensiefen southwest of Buda in Macon Township on Dec. 30 while her husband Kent drove.

This big bruin has been roaming Bureau County since June and I’ve believed in him (or her, since we aren’t sure yet) for months. These photos should clinch the deal for any non-believers.

Even oft-skeptical Bob Bluett, furbearer biologist for the Department of Natural Resources, had only one comment about the pictures. “It’s a bear.” That’s saying something, since Bluett has had to wade through plenty of pictures of cats, black Labs and blobs of dirt over the years that have been passed off as bears or black panthers. This one is the real deal. We can now say Illinois has a bear.

What does that mean? We’ll have a full story on the status of the bear and bears in general this weekend. Until then, here’s a good column on the Bureau County bear by Dale Bowman of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

Finally, here’s a picture taken by Chris Wilson that same day south of Buda. He said the bear ran right in front of his truck.

Illinois hunting and fishing

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