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

Sika deer loose in Peoria Co.

September 03, 2010 at 03:42 PM

You never know what critter will show up on a trail camera these days. The latest surprise was a sika deer (above) that had Mike Bredernitz of Bartonville scratching his head last week after checking out his camera.

“I had no idea what it was,” said Bredernitz, who hunts in Peoria County. “My cousin (Greg Prichard) and I are debating what to do if he walks by.”

Most likely this deer escaped from behind a pen somewhere nearby. Whether the exotic buck will survive this fall is another matter. These natives of east Asia are not protected in Illinois, so all a hunter needs to shoot one is a landowner’s permission.

Illinois hunting and fishing

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Illinois hunting and fishing

Civet cat? Or cat? You make the call

July 18, 2010 at 02:31 PM

At first Jim Miller thought the funny-looking critter roaming in the driveway of his Dunlap home was a red fox.

“The first good sighting took place when about 10 p.m. one evening our cats called attention to an animal on our driveway dimly illuminated by exterior lights,” Miller wrote. “It was on its belly facing the garage door about 20 feet from the garage. I thought it might be a red fox and Jayne thought maybe a grey fox, but niether one of us was convinced.”

A few days later his wife Jayne saw an unusual critter stalking something in their backyard. She took two quick pictures of an animal with a cat-like body, a ringed tail and a fox-like face.

Some crazy hybrid? Maybe. Or maybe the critter was a ringtail, a cousin of the raccoon that’s native to the southwest U.S. and is also known as a civet cat.

That would be a very unusual sighting, since the closest their normal range extends is to east-central Kansas. Did a ringtail roam? Or did somebody release a pet they no longer wanted to feed? Hard to say. One thing the Millers are sure of is that their resident chipmunks are suddenly in short supply.

Incidentally, civet cats were once used to control rodents in mines, earning them the name Miner’s Cat.

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Illinois hunting and fishing

Wood duck stuck in chimney

June 08, 2010 at 10:31 AM

At first, Eric Swanson didn’t know what to think when he saw a drake wood duck perched atop the chimney on this Warren County farm home.

Nest inside? Keeping warm?

“The more I thought about it, I knew that chimney was open all the way to the bottom. I suspected the male wood duck was watching his girlfriend trying to get back out or the chimney.”

So he decided to check it out.

“Sure enough as soon as I turned on the basement light, I could hear her trying to get out. I pulled the chimney from the Franklin stove and there she sat. She dove back in to the chimney and fell back to the bottom. With my little mag light and a mirror I could see her in the bottom. I tried to figure out how I could get her out. Than I wondered if there might be a clean-out in the base of the chimney. Sure enough there were three bricks loose with insulation around them. I pulled them out and began to dig soot out of the hole. After about a half hour of digging I had about a bushel of soot on the floor and my wife poked her from above with a stick and down she came. After pulling her closer by her leg I realized the hole was almost too small so I reached inside and turned her head first and pulled her out.”

“She was dirty black but pretty lively. I took her outside for pictures and let her fly. She headed right over to our pond for cleaning and water.”

Good job Eric.

Illinois hunting and fishing

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Illinois hunting and fishing

Albino deer in Montgomery County

May 18, 2010 at 01:22 PM

Kelly Wells of Sumner snapped this picture of an apparent albino deer on Route 185, south of East Fork Church in Montgomery County.

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Illinois hunting and fishing

The real reason for antlers

May 17, 2010 at 03:45 PM

Here’s the real reason elk and deer have those long antlers.

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