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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

April 30: Picture of the Day

April 30, 2010 at 04:41 PM

Spent some time looking for goslings this afternoon as the winds whipped, clouds darkened and a possible nasty storm rolled into the area.

Larry Karnes told me goslings had hatched at Spring Lake back on Monday, so I was sure I would find a few between Yates City and Farmington. There are some strip-mine lakes there where huge flocks of goslings are fairly common.

Instead, I found plenty of mother geese still sitting tight on the nest. Like this one. She’s on an island in the midst of a shallow strip-mine lake. Some years, the island is under water. Not this year. Not yet, anyway. Obviously, there’s not much room for error.

But her eggs have to be close to hatching. We’ll check back soon. Until then, I hope the lake doesn’t rise much more.


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Illinois hunting and fishing

Sangamon Co. three-legged doe

April 30, 2010 at 01:26 PM

The three-legged deer pictured above was submitted by Keith Dunlap, who first saw the deer while turkey hunting and then got the photo off his trail-camera.

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Turkey fever still strong

April 30, 2010 at 09:58 AM

Normally I shy away from things I can’t do well. Not turkey hunting. For any number of reasons, I have learned to truly enjoy turkey hunting over the past decade.

That point was made clear to me once again during the recently completed third season of North Zone hunting.

No, I did not bag a bird. That despite hunting for five days.

But I did see at least one turkey every day. And I had my chance to bag a jake. Three times he walked into close range, once just a few feet away from me on the other side of a fence. There’s a decent chance even I could have killed that jake, though given my track record with shooting at gobblers, you just never know.

I don’t really regret letting him walk, even though Chef Todd makes the accurate point, “Dude, we are not good enough to let turkeys walk. Who do you think you are, Ray Eye?”

For those who aren’t aware, Ray Eye is pretty much the all-time guru of Missouri turkey hunting. And no, I do not think I’m Ray Eye.

But by letting that jake walk I got to experience the greatest musical performance since the Rolling Stones rambled through “Exile on Main Street” back in the spring of 1972. (Incidentally, a remixed version of Exile will be released in mid-May. The re-release will have 10 new songs, including “Plundered My Soul,” “Dancing in the Light,” “Following the River” and “Pass the Wine” as well as alternate versions of “Soul Survivor” and “Loving Cup.”)

The performance I witnessed last Wednesday is one I won’t forget. I’d rank it as the second-coolest turkey hunt I’ve ever been on that did not end up with a gobbler in hand. The finest came in Missouri about 12 years ago when I was just starting on my long career of missing birds. That day, we set up right under a massive turkey roost. When the birds flew down I was surrounded by turkeys, some just 8-10 feet away. Hens and jakes were everywhere and a big tom was somewhere out on the unseen periphery, gobbling his head off. After the birds finally left, guide Wilbert Goldsberry whispered, “I guess you aren’t going to shoot any jakes, huh?” To which I said, “Which ones were the jakes?”

Well, I’ve learned a little since then. Enough to know that Wednesday was special. For more than three hours I watched a big old gobbler put on the show of shows. On a day when birds were gobbling everywhere, he gobbled the loudest and the longest. I first saw him at a little after 6 a.m. He was on the other side of a corn field with a few hens, strutting and gobbling. Almost every time I made a noise with the slate call, he answered. The same pattern continued over the next three hours, until I finally left him alone and headed for home.

Often he would double- or even triple-gobble in response to my calls.

Unfortunately, he never left the safety of that field. And, despite three moves, I was never able to get close enough for a good shot.

But at least I got to see him fight off another gobbler several times. I got to see him chase hens, only to be rebuffed time after time. I got to see his fan shining in the morning sunlight. And most of all I got to see his head go from red to blue to brilliant white as he gobbled time after time.

That alone was enough to keep me coming back for more. Next up, a quick trip to Missouri. And then I’ve got a fifth season tag. Will I bag a bird? Maybe. Will I have fun trying? Absolutely.





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