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

Illinois hunting and fishing

May 31: Picture of the Day

May 31, 2010 at 08:32 PM

The boys know. They know I need a picture every day. And today I thank goodness for that, and for their young eyes.

We had just left the Lorado Taft Museum in Elmwood and were headed to the Memorial Day Parade when Victor yelled to me excitedly. “Dad come here, there’s baby doves over here.”

I came and looked and saw nothing. Another youngster came over and said, “Cool.” So I kept looking and still saw nothing.

Finally, in exasperation, Victor pointed to the exact spot where the two young doves were huddled up on a gray rock under a dark overhanging bush. Rain was coming and they were snuggled up under cover.

Story and comments
Illinois hunting and fishing

May 30: Picture of the Day

May 30, 2010 at 08:53 PM

Robins are one of those birds that are so much a part of our daily lives that they can almost become an oversight.

Except when they are nesting. The world is filled with pictures of robin nestlings in wreaths, arbors and trees across the United States. Here is one more.

This little robin is actually nesting in a small tree that is at eye level for an adult, but is observable from little guy level as well. In other words, youngest son Boo Boo, 2, knows about this nestling and is proud to point and say, “Birdy, Birdy.”

Today we went to visit and Momma Robin was sitting tight on the nest while this little one wiggled around behind her. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology says robins lay clutches of 3-5 eggs, but in this nest all we’ve seen is one little nestling. The little bird kind of reminded me of Boo Boo, actually, what with all its open-mouthed squawkings.

Cornell also said that while a robin can produce three successful broods in one year, only about 40 percent of the nests produce young. And of those, only 25 percent of fledglings survive to November. So the odds don’t favor this little rascal. But the good news is, if he/she makes it, robins can live up to 14 years.

Story and comments
Illinois hunting and fishing

Wild Things 5-30-10

May 30, 2010 at 01:10 AM

Turtle time

These are dangerous days for turtles in Illinois. It’s egg-laying season for many turtles and for some that means crossing roads, like the snapping turtle pictured above on a rural Peoria County blacktop.

All turtles nest on land in Illinois and most lay eggs from mid-May to early July. Snappers like this one may lay 20 to 40 eggs. In Illinois, turtle eggs generally require about two months to hatch. Hatchlings of some species, like painted turtles, stay in the nest over winter.


Illinois’ rank among states in sales of aluminum boats in 2009.

Boat sales down

Powerboat sales are down 12 percent in the first quarter of 2010 according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association. That’s better than last year’s 35 percent decline in the same quarter, a fact that’s credited to better sales of 18-foot aluminum boats.

That doesn’t mean people have stopped boating. Actually, the NMMA estimates boaters increased time on the water by 4 percent last year. And sales of used boats increased by 7.7 percent in 2009.

Kudos corner

Lewistown senior Risty Johnson was the top Illinois finisher at this year’s national tournament for the National Archery in the Schools Program. Johnson finished 42nd at the tournament May 7-8 in Louisville, Ky., with a final score of 288 out of 300 and 21 perfect 10s. Competing in the nationals for the first time, Lewistown finished 109th out of 301 team.

Birding bits

Mute swan cygnets have hatched at Spring Lake and are attracting photographers and sightseers on the south end of the Tazewell County lake.

Out-of-state archers

Non-residents can apply for combination archery deer hunting permits for Illinois starting Tuesday. Visit or call 1-888-673-7648. Combination permits cost $411 and the quota is 25,000. Antlerless-only archery permits will be available Aug. 10 for $25. 50 each.

Unique tournament

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Peoria have a unique fund-raising fishing tournament next Sunday, June 6 that will bring anglers to a weigh-in on Water St. at Kelleher’s Irish Pub and Eatery.

Teams will fish from 5:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for prizes in this fund-raiser, which includes a fish fry open to the public for $10 (free for children 10 and under). Call (309) 369-5548 or 303-5900.

Critter corner

In the wilds of Illinois in June ...
Most whitetail deer and bats born.
Biologists census bobwhite quail and giant Canada geese.
American goldfinches nest.
American toads transform from tadpoles to adults.
Box turtles and blue racers lay eggs.

This ‘n that

The Charles Perdew Museum in Henry is open today and every Sunday until Labor Day from 2-4 p.m. ... The Main Recreation Area boat launch at Evergreen Lake is closed from 6 p.m. on Friday to noon on Saturday. Part of the lake will also be closed to all watercraft from midnight to 10 a.m. on Saturday. ... The number of pheasant hunters in South Dakota dropped for the third straight year. The state saw 97,350 non-residents and 69,959 residents shoot 1.6 million roosters. Spink County led with 93,770 birds, followed by Lyman, Brown, Tripp and Beadle counties.


Story and comments
Illinois hunting and fishing

May 29: Picture of the Day

May 29, 2010 at 09:16 PM

Long day. Very good day. Not a lot of time for pictures, though. Saw a bee at one point. Saw some flowers blooming. Thought, hmmm, I need a picture.

Next thing I knew it was 9:06 p.m. and I had a Mickey’s Big Mouth in my hand and no picture.


Story and comments
Illinois hunting and fishing

May 28: Picture of the Day

May 28, 2010 at 09:04 AM

I’ve been trying to decide on a name for the eldest fox, but have been drawing a blank.

We’re tired of saying, “There’s a fox.” A name would make the relationship more personal.

What I’ve needed is a sign. Some divine inspiration.

And then this morning, like a lightning bolt from above, it came to me, “By George I’ve got it.”

Story and comments

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