Illinois Outdoors at PrairiestateOutdoors.com
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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
 

Scattershooting

A Web log by Jeff Lampe of the Journal Star

Forget the work, it quit raining

April 13, 2009 at 09:40 AM

So much for working hard all day. It quit raining. The turkeys might be gobbling. Time to go see.

UPDATE: Well, I’m wet, tired and smiling. No, I did not shoot a gobbler. But I heard them. And saw one in a nearby field. And the forecast for the rest of the week looks much better than today. All in all, I’m thrilled to have stayed home early and gone out one the rain slowed. That’s one of the advantages of hunting close to home.

My hunt today started in depressing fashion as I drove past the same 30 turkeys on a different property that have been taunting me for the past week. They are in the same little clump of woods all the time and show no indication they plan to leave any time soon.

But after not hearing a bird on one side of the property (closest to all those taunting turkeys), I walked to the other side of my hunting spot. That’s where I finally heard and saw a gobbler in an open field, albeit on another neighboring property. At least that gives me hope for the morning.

Even seeing a bird across a fence was sure better than sitting home and working. Incidentally, I talked to at least four other turkey hunters who sat out today’s rainy opener and another who, like me, waited for the rain to let up to head out. No word on any kills yet, though I’m sure there will be several.

Good luck to all of you out there.

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Illinois hunting and fishing

A trumpeter swan at Banner Marsh

April 13, 2009 at 06:39 AM

Like the groundhog, Flathead has emerged from hiding and is once again busy taking pictures. So it’s about time to start again with Flathead’s Picture of the Week.

This trumpeter swan he photographed at the East Access to Banner Marsh on April 7 has apparently visited the area before. Natural Heritage biologist Michelle Simone spotted the same swan at Banner in April of 2005. The swan is believed to be an Iowa bird since they use red bands on the swans our neighbors have reintroduced successfully across the state.

Now the question is, will the native swan stay? Last week the big white bird was being closely followed by a mute swan, one of several of the non-native swans that now make Banner Marsh their home. Is love in the air, as Flathead pondered? Time will tell. For that matter, is it possible for the two species to mate?

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Wet and cold opener

April 13, 2009 at 05:23 AM

It has been raining hard since at least 3:40 a.m. when the oldest woke me for the second time. Maybe he’s excited about today’s turkey opener for the North Zone first season. I am not. After a careful review of the weather forecast, which calls for rain all day today and then better weather the rest of this week, my five-day first season just became a four-day first season. Now the plan is to work hard today, get ahead on stuff and then hunt like heck the next few days.

Is this the definition of being a fair-weather hunter? Yes. Is it wimpy? Maybe. But I just can’t see sitting in the mud and rain all morning when there’s better weather to come. By working today, I should be able to hunt hard the rest of the week. At least that’s my rationale.

I look forward to the many e-mails from turkey hunters who shoot birds today despite the rain.

NOTABLE: Eric Doubet of Elmwood is proof that crappie are still biting. Doubet caught a reported 40 fish last Friday that were all between 12-14 inches out of a deeper, murkier Peoria County strip-mine lake.

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