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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

How can a bear survive deer season?

January 11, 2009 at 07:50 AM

The fact that there’s a bear in Bureau County is not as amazing to me as the fact that bear somehow survived deer hunting season.

There are not vast stands of unhunted timber in Bureau County, after all. If there are trees, there are deer hunters, as in much of Illinois. Many of those hunters have guns. And since black bears are not protected by the state wildlife code, they would be well within their rights to shoot a bear.

So how did this bear survive? Standing corn may have helped him according to Kent Balensiefen, who spotted the bear himself on Dec. 30 south of Buda.

“I know of two farmers down south and he was spotted in those corn fields when those guys picked them,” Balensiefen said. “I wonder if he wasn’t hanging back trying to stay out of harm’s way.”

Then too, a bear’s inclination to hibernate come fall and winter helps protect them from hunters. But hunting pressure can also keep bears awake, says Dr. Lynn Rogers, director of the North American Bear Center in Ely, Minn.

“I can understand a bear in deer season being pushed around so he couldn’t sleep,” Rogers said. “Up here in northeast Minnesota we get a percentage of the bears that are pushed around.”

One other reason might be that nobody wants to be the person who shoots the bear. Word of anyone killing the 300-pound-plus bear would spread like wildfire. And while it’s legal, many people think there’s no reason to kill a bear that is merely minding its own business. Many, but not all.

“I’ve talked to at least two people that don’t want him around,” Balensiefen said. “They’re afraid they’re going to come up on him and they don’t know what he’s going to do.”


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Wild Things 1-11-09

January 11, 2009 at 01:43 AM


Number of animals and plants currently classified as endangered or threatened in Illinois.

Show time, slow time

The economy has not been kind to outdoor shows. Many organizers are struggling to fill booths, as evidenced by cancellation of the Feb. 20-22 Central Illinois Boating & Fishing Show in East Peoria. And vendors reported attendance was down slightly for the season opening show last weekend in Collinsville.

But Illinois Fish & Feather Expo organizer Larry Andris said he recently booked several new booths for the Jan. 23-25 event at Bloomington’s Interstate Center. Additions to the show include a junior duck-calling contest, recreational vehicles and a laser shooting gallery. Learn more at

We’ll give a pair of tickets to the Bloomington show to the first five readers who leave a message at (309) 686-3212 after 8 a.m. today.

Evergreen closure

With the exception of the visitor center and family campground, all areas of Comlara Park and Evergreen Lake are closed Friday through next Sunday for the late-winter deer hunt. Only shore fishing will be allowed and only at the Pumphouse, Campground Cove and Jone’s Pond inside the campground. Those are also the only areas open to ice fishermen.

Up in arms

On the surface it appears Illinois is taking care of residents on leave from the armed forces by providing free hunting and fishing licenses and camping privileges.

But there’s a catch that angers Harry Canterbury of Tremont, who runs Adventure Sports Outdoors. To get free licenses, active duty military must drive to Springfield to present necessary paperwork in person.

“My son Billy was home from Iraq for a few days and he was supposed to spend one day driving to Springfield? That’s ridiculous,” Canterbury said. “It’s easier to just buy a license. This has discouraged a lot of people who are on leave for a few days and want to go hunting or fishing.”

Canterbury is pushing to change the process. We’ll keep you posted.

Eagles may be delisted

The bald eagle, sandhill crane and Henslow’s sparrow may no longer be listed as threatened species in Illinois. That’s among the recommendations of the Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board, which will hold a hearing to field comments Jan. 23 at Department of Natural Resources headquarters in Springfield.

Visit for a complete list of changes made to the list of endangered and threatened species. Written comments will be accepted through Feb. 6 via e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or by mail at ESPB, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702-1271.

You speak

“We have been seeing a lot of good sized bucks that have already lost their racks. (The other night) I saw 5 big bucks that had already dropped. 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 (late-winter season) hunters about this. Many will use muzzleloaders and take shots at 100 yards. It’s hard to tell if the deer had antlers if you’re not looking for it. It would be a shame to take a big buck and not have the rack.”
— Jeff Yergler, Pekin

This ‘n that

Illinois fishing, hunting and combination licenses go on sale starting Jan. 19.

Archery deer hunters have shot 62,374 deer through Jan. 6, ahead of last year but behind 2005 and 2006. Bow season ends Thursday.

Pheasant and quail season ends Thursday in the South Zone.

The Illinois DNR acquired 1,232 acres in 2009 and 7,554 in 2007.


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