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

Nothing like the sound of a gobbler

April 08, 2010 at 09:03 PM

Warm, southerly breezes had an amazing impact on the outdoor world last week.

Bass and crappie started biting like crazy.

Mushrooms started popping.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds began arriving.

Grass warranted mowing.

Dandelions turned annoying.

And male turkeys took to strutting, gobbling and generally carrying on like the lovestruck fools they turn into each spring.

That was good timing for last weekend’s North Zone youth hunt. And it could be good for adults eager to hit the timber Monday for the North Zone regular season opener.

First to the kids. Youngsters in the North Zone shot an estimated 440 gobblers last weekend — up from 363 the year before. One week earlier the South Zone hunt produced an increase of 43 birds to 297.

Given three years of poor turkey reproduction, those increases were surprising. Then again, when weather and birds cooperate, spring turkey hunts can end very quickly.

Among the happy hunters was Dillon Lyon, whose 20.89-pound bird with a 10-inch beard won the youth portion of Gobble Quest at Presley’s Outdoors.

Other big birds went to Colton Boyd, 12, of Rushville (25 pounds, 10.5-inch beard, 1.5-inch spurs), Travis Begner, 13, of Edelstein (9.5-inch beard), Brant
Welborn of Germantown Hills, Kyle Edgecomb of Granville and Kaden Schlipf of Dunlap.

Schlipf shot a double-bearded 21.5-pounder in Peoria County after watching six toms strut in front of the CamoFlex, DeadFall blind he shared with his father, Jared Schlipf of Lone Wolf Tree Stands. “I have killed many turkeys myself, but it’s always more exciting to me when my kids are on the trigger,” Schlipf said.

That went double for Bryan Anderson of Fairview, who got to watch both his sons shoot gobblers last Saturday. First Nick, 10, shot a 25-pounder before 7 a.m. to start the celebration.

“The entire time we were snapping photos we could hear other birds gobbling up along the ridge bordering the creek,” Bryan Anderson said. “Before leaving I told the boys that we should throw out some more calls and see if anything answered. After the first couple yelps, booming gobbles shot out just to the west of us.

“It was as fast as we could jump back in the blind and get loaded that we could see three more birds on top of the ridge directly across from us, on the other side of the creek. A couple more soft yelps and some cluck ‘n purr on the slate had them trotting our way and they actually glided over the creek landing directly behind our blind.”

Mathew, 9, made the most of his 6-yard shot to drop a 20-pounder with a 10 3/8-inch beard and wicked 1 3/8-inch spurs.

Not everyone reports similar gobbling activity. Many say birds have been noisy on the roost but immediately join hens on the ground and turn quiet.

Not so Thursday morning in my corner of Peoria County. While auto-scouting for birds I spotted a big gobbler in the middle of a remote gravel road. After jumping
out and closing the truck door to take his picture, another bird gobbled from a thicket just yards away.

The sound of a gobbler at close range is one of the many joys of spring. Turkey season can’t open soon enough.

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Illinois hunting and fishing

April 8: Picture of the Day

April 08, 2010 at 07:58 PM

This flower of a magnolia stellata was not the picture you were supposed to be seeing today.

But maybe it worked out well that my work computer somehow decided to eat an entry.

Let me explain.

Earlier today I snapped a few pictures of wild turkeys on one of my favorite auto-scouting routes. They were not great photos, but one of them would have sufficed. So before I left work this evening, I loaded the picture into a Scattershooting entry to be finished later this evening after I got home.

Well, a strange thing happened between Peoria and Elmwood. By the time I sat down to finish that entry, there was no entry. And I had formatted the memory card, so there were no files there to draw from. So either I was going to have to drive back to Peoria to retrieve the photo off my computer, or I was going to have to scramble fast and get a shot.

Further complicating the issue was the fact my wife had left me with the three boys this evening. That meant there could be no quick jaunt into the wild (since they do nothing quickly and since it was nearly bedtime).

While they watched SpongeBob, I ran outside in a panic, hoping perhaps I could find the dead mouse our cat had killed earlier in the day.

Failing that, I looked around, my glance as always straying to the star magnolia. To me they are the most regal of all flowering shrubs. The white flowers smell good and are gorgeous. But they are also tempermental and some years an early frost kills them off. This year was fortunate. The magnolia flowered beautifully and just in time for Easter Sunday.

Alas, the flowers may be gone by morning if we get the frost predicted. So in an odd way, I’m glad to get a chance to showcase one picture of my favorite flowering shrub.

Story and comments

Open Blog Thursday 4-8-10

April 08, 2010 at 06:50 AM

Fish are biting so well it’s hard to keep up with all the pictures of bass of 5 pounds or larger. Help.

FROM Tom Bodtke of Peoria:

“It is about mushroom season and I wanted to recommend to all the hunters out there to be sure and use mesh bags when harvesting the mushrooms.  I use onion sacks, also some hams and turkeys come in nice big mesh bags. When you use mesh bags you scatter the spores from the mushrooms you have harvested for next year. Good hunting to everyone!”

FROM Roger Woodcock of Farmington:

“I have went bass fishing three times during the past six or seven days. I fished from the bank also. Too windy for a boat. But I have learned to use the wind to find the fish. And your reports are correct. The bite is on. Using a jig and Berkley power craw I smashed the bass. On March 31 I enjoyed using my 2009 license for the last time. Fished for only an hour and caught 14 including one that went 4-4 (digital scales) and one that went 3-12. Got out the next day (April Fool’s Day) and used my 2010 license for the first time. Caught 13 in the 45 minutes I had to fish. That included one that went 5-6 and one that went 4-12. Same deal, they were all stacked up in a small cove with the wind blowing into the cove. Went last night and only had half an hour until my evening meetings.Caught five in the half hour. Total weight 19 pounds. First cast nothing, second cast 4-9, third cast 5-14.”

FROM John Winkler

“I am the president of Beyond Measure. We’ve invented and patented a scale that will go into all boats. The scale itself will be inside your rod locker lid on the storage side. It will be a lid inside the lid. When you open the lid you will see the tray, 8”x 30”, that you can weigh and measure your fish. The scale weighs fish when the boat is moving or the fish is moving. It will display the weight on a monitor, 1-5, or different colors to match your tagging system. Then you can see your fish weights at any time or cull fish when you need to without pulling them back out of the live well. It also records, at the time the fish is weighed, the time, GPS location, water temp., depth. Then when you’re done fishing you can down load this information onto you computer for your records. You can use this information to pattern fish. It also has satellite hook up. During tournaments it will send just the weight of the fish that is weighed back to shore. The tournament directors can either display the information or use for live.”

FROM Dan Stephenson:

“You may not have heard of Larry Dunham and I’m sure most anglers haven’t either but, he has been working tirelessly behind the scenes in the Fisheries Division forever. Nothing has happened in the past 44 years without his fingerprints on them. He is retiring now and the state will miss him.

“After receiving his Bachelor’s of Science degree from the University of Iowa and a short stint with the Iowa Conservation Commission, Larry began his career with the Division of Fisheries.  That was 44 years ago.  Larry came to Illinois initially as a district biologist in Ogle County then accepted a promotion to become the first “River” biologist in the state’s history.  He was assigned to the Mississippi river in 1970 and quickly gained notoriety among the Division as well as neighboring state biologists.  Larry developed routine long-term monitoring protocols for riverine fisheries that, for the first time, allowed biologists to assess fisheries changes over time.  His work created river management strategies which demonstrated the value of long-term monitoring.  Larry became the “father” of what later became the Division’s Rivers and Streams Program.  Larry’s long-term monitoring protocol was adopted by the member states of the Upper Mississippi River Conservation Committee and led to the acquisition of federally funded resource monitoring under the Environmental Management Program.  This program continues today and is the backbone of the all research, management and monitoring of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers (soon to expand to the Ohio and Wabash rivers).

“Larry moved to Springfield in 1975 where he briefly became the Division Chief of Fisheries.  From there he took a Section Head position, as the Chief of Fiscal Management and Operations for Fisheries. In addition to the duties listed below, in the early 1980’s Larry oversaw the expansion and renovation of the Illinois Hatchery System, including the construction of the Jake Wolf Memorial Fish Hatchery (which, at that time, was the most modern hatchery in the nation).  In the early 1990’s Larry oversaw the multi-million dollar expansion of fisheries management in Illinois when the increase in fishing license price went into effect.  He developed and supervised the Aquatic Education Program and the Statewide Kids Fishing Project and began both the Chicago and the Statewide Urban Fishing programs.  Larry currently handles all fiscal matters including overseeing all program budgets, coordination of Federal aid projects, coordination of administrative rules, supervising the preparation of the fishing regulation booklet and processing all travel and invoice vouchers.  He purchases everything from waders, to fish food, to boats, motors and vehicles.  Larry is in charge of all printing, represents the Division on the Contract Committee, supervises the Fisheries’ State Fair exhibit and monitors the surplus-deficit report.  He coordinates the monthly I&E reports and all Division times sheets.  Larry buys all of the fish for the Chicago and Statewide Urban Fisheries Programs, hatchery and field operations and finally, he is the editor of all fisheries’ publications. As you can imagine this requires much longer than a 7.5 hour day.  Larry has worked countless hours of unrecorded overtime over his long career. 

“Larry has been one of the main-stays of the Fisheries Division for nearly a half century.  He stays in the background providing rock-solid support so all in the Division can get their jobs done. His long hours and constant devotion to the Division of Fisheries are greatly appreciated and will be sorely missed.  Some people are impossible to replace and Larry is most certainly one of them.”



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