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

July 31: Picture of the Day

July 31, 2010 at 10:42 PM

Spent a good part of today at Presley’s Outdoors manning the booth for the Friends of Rice Lake and had plenty of time to check out various t-shirts. This was my favorite.

The Duck Commander makes good television. He makes duck hunting fun. Makes me itch a little for opening day to get here.

And while I haven’t been able to see every episode this season, you can bet I’ll have the set fired up in a few hours when the latest show airs at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday.


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Illinois hunting and fishing

July 30: Picture of the Day

July 30, 2010 at 06:02 PM

Unlike every other adult killdeer I’ve encountered in the past few months, this little youngster didn’t fly away as soon as I approached. Ran back and forth along the ditch, but did not take off.

His parents were another story. One of them was frantically trying to lure me away with the old broken wing trick. Fun to watch.

These common shorebirds can be found all over Illinois.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s wonderful Web site says this about killdeer chicks: “Killdeer chicks hatch with a full coat of buffy down feathers and a single black breast band. They can walk out of the nest as soon as their feathers dry.”

Click here to learn more about them.

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Charity shoot for a good cause

July 30, 2010 at 12:06 PM

Archers looking for a good cause and a good time this weekend should consider the second Bradley Wallin 3-D archery shoot for St. Jude.

The shoot is held at the Chillicothe Sportsmen’s Club north of Chillicothe, with shooting hours from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday.

There will be a two-man blind draw scramble Saturday at noon, bucket raffles and a silent auction with food served both days.

Call (309) 208-5613.

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Illinois hunting and fishing

July 29: Picture of the Day

July 29, 2010 at 09:31 PM

Any hopes that The Farmer would draw a duck blind for us last weekend vanished pretty quickly at Rice Lake. His name was not called. No shock that.

Rice Lake attracted a crowd of 1,185, including Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller.

While that was down a little, it was still plenty of people.

So another season will likely open for The Farmer and me in the blind pictured above. You may recall I built this blind late last summer after the neighbor tore out his porch. Blessed with surplus wood, I had to build a blind. We didn’t shoot many birds, but optimism always reigns this time of year. At the very least, it will be much easier to get ready for the season now that the blind is already built. I’ll have plenty more time to cut willows and oak branches. Plus, there’s a nice natural stand of weeds and willows coming up around the blind, not to mention a fair stand of millet in a wet area not too far away. Oldest son Henry and I went out to plant a bit more millet this evening. I found some nice wet areas after last night’s 3/4-inch downpour and seeded some more. The work may not amount to much, but it’s fun to ponder the possibilities.

So while I would rather have received a frantic call from The Farmer telling me he was first out of the hat last weekend, I am still eager for duck season.

DRAWINGS DOWN: Rice Lake was not the only location where numbers were down last weekend. Anderson Lake had 300 and 260 showed up at Spring Lake. Anderson’s crowd was off the most, as the site typically attracts 700-800. “With no feed (in the refuges) the last few seasons, hunting has been poor and the hunters are catching on,” site manager Ed Oest said.

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Illinois hunting and fishing

July 28: Picture of the Day

July 28, 2010 at 09:21 PM

Now is the time of year when the tall grasses take over the prairie.

In particular, old turkey foot (pictured above) really takes off. Big bluestem once ruled this state and there are plenty of prairie plantings where big blue is once again king. Unfortunately, a prairie that is too dominated by big blue doesn’t offer as much diversity for wildlife. Longstanding fields of prairie need occasional disking to give annual weeds a chance to return and to provide more forbs (flowers) and bugs for ground-nesting birds.

Another option is to go easy on the big blue and substitute more Indian grass, which doesn’t come on as strong as fast and seems to give forbs more of a chance to do their thing. At least that’s what Ted Gilles of Princeville tells me. And around here, he’s had as much tall grass experience as anybody I talk to on a regular basis.

My own personal preference is still big blue and little blue, though. And during my drives through the country, I still enjoy seeing tall-standing big blue along an unmowed roadside—rare as that may be.


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