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

Indiana mountain lion

May 19, 2010 at 09:08 AM

Here’s the picture of a mountain lion photographed by a trail-camera on May 1 in Indiana’s Greene County.

This one seems fairly indisputable compared to most trail-cam cougar pictures I’ve seen.

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Illinois hunting and fishing

Someone reported this as a cougar

May 17, 2010 at 11:19 AM

The phones were buzzing at the Journal Star this morning when a female caller reported seeing a dead cougar near the Interstate 474 bridge.

Was it possible? Could we have bears and cougars in the area in the same weekend?

Nope. At least not if the critter pictured above was the same critter that prompted someone to call us. Obviously this is not a cougar. It looks like a wet skunk or maybe a badger. But not a cougar.

Perhaps someone driving past stole the dead cougar. Perhaps a pterodactyl swooped down and snatched up the road-killed cougar to feed its young in a nearby nest. Or maybe Bigfoot grabbed the dead cat on his way back to his Woodford County lair.

Whatever the case, this was the only dead animal in the vicinity according to JS photographer Adam Gerik, who took this picture on the southeast side of the bridge along eastbound I-474. “I nearly killed myself on the I-474 bridge getting this shot in the rain,” he said. “I owe my survival all to an orange vest.”

Is it any wonder folks in the Department of Natural Resources get tired of calls about cougars, bears and wolves? Speaking of which, I need to call furbearer biologist Bob Bluett ASAP to check on the latest Bureau County bear.



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Illinois hunting and fishing

Cougar report from Illinois City

December 30, 2009 at 02:57 PM

While there’s no dead cat to prove the latest cougar sighting in the area, there are pictures of what are said to be big cat tracks.

This one comes from Illinois City, located near the Mississippi River roughly between Muscatine, Iowa and the Quad Cities.

Larry Dahl and son Greg took these pictures, which have been circulating via e-mail. The tracks are reportedly from a big cat that Larry Dahl saw crossing into a field near his house west of Illinois City. Dahl’s report is one of several in the area.

Here’s is Dahl’s report, apparently.

“Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. I was just pulling out of my drive with my truck and saw a huge cat crossing the road These pictures were taken a few minutes after the game warden was here. My son Greg and I measured the bound the cat took it was 14 and 6 feet The road was about 20 feet because it totally cleared the road
I only saw it for a short time and tried to chase it with my truck but it turned and went north west of my house back into the timber.”

Illinois hunting and fishing

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Would you shoot a cougar?

December 18, 2009 at 03:22 AM

Word that a male mountain lion was shot on Monday by a deer hunter near Iowa City hit home on several counts.

For one thing, just one week earlier I was rambling through the uplands of northwest and north-central Iowa hunting pheasants. To reach its final resting place of Marengo, the big cat likely passed through northwest or north-central Iowa.

Then too, Marengo is roughly 90 miles west of the Illinois border. Could that cat have reached Illinois? Surely. The way male mountain lions range, that’s not far at all.

This cat’s traveling days ended Monday afternoon at the hand of deer hunter Raymond Goebel, Jr., of Cedar Rapids. Goebel shot the cat out of a tree, where it was perched 15 yards above the ground.

When Goebel first spotted the cat he didn’t believe his eyes. Only after looking through the scope on his gun — and discussing game laws with his hunting partners —  did he shoot the 125-pound male.

The cougar killing raises an interesting question. Would you shoot a mountain lion if you encountered one?

Understand, that would be completely legal in Iowa and in Illinois. But is it ethical? Necessary?

Speaking for myself, I’d like to think I would let a big cat walk unless it approached in a menacing fashion. Then again, I’d probably miss anyway, rendering the
point moot.

But I’m probably in the minority. Most seem bound and determined to eradicate large predators. And there are enough hunters in Illinois to make it pretty tough for bears, wolves and cougars to stick around very long.

My prediction is that within the next decade, we’ll have a real debate on whether or not to protect these large predators under the Illinois Wildlife Code.

This is the first confirmed Iowa cougar in more than five years and the fourth killed in our western neighbor. Illinois has three confirmed cougar killings.

Those are official totals. I bet a handful of big cats were shot and never reported. Certainly there have been thousands of “sightings” that never panned outl.

“They are not here in great numbers,” Iowa furbearer biologist Ron Andrews said.  “But this shooting will likely prompt many additional unconfirmed sightings. Our experience investigating these reports has found that more than 90 percent are mistaken identity for bobcats, yellow-colored dogs or deer, which are the same color as mountain lions.”

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Illinois hunting and fishing

Not an Illinois mountain lion

October 12, 2009 at 06:49 PM

No matter what your e-mail tells you, this is not an Illinois cougar.

I’ve seen this about 20 times in the past three weeks and it still keeps coming. And if you Google “cougar dragging deer” you’ll find out he’s been spotted in just about every state from Georgia to Texas. I’m not sure where this picture originates from.

But I’m pretty sure it was not caught on a trail-cam near Lewistown, Astoria, Canton, Quincy, Ipava and Mackinaw—all of which are locations I’ve heard in the past few weeks.

Based on that I’d say this cat has got to be tired after dragging that same deer all those miles. You’d think sooner or later he’d stop and eat the venison instead of just dragging it everywhere.

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