Illinois Outdoors at PrairiestateOutdoors.com
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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
 

Scattershooting

A Web log by Jeff Lampe of the Journal Star

Illinois hunting and fishing

Here’s why you play in church clothes

May 15, 2009 at 01:13 PM

During the process of downloading pictures, I came across this photo from last Sunday.

I’m filing this one under the category of “Why it makes sense that Dad let’s the boys play in church clothes.”

This was taken on Mother’s Day Sunday outside St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Elmwood. While we adults sat inside and sipped coffee, a few of the ruffians ran outside and got dirty. Problem is, they had come to me to ask permission. Now church clothes aren’t what they once were, but Mom still has a way of getting itchy when the boys get dirty in their white shirts. Naturally, it’s almost always my fault.

But the oldest boy Henry saved himself (at least in my eyes) when he found this morel around some old pine trees. Though the thing was dried up and appeared almost to be made of wood, it was still a morel. His first mushroom found entirely on his own. And in church clothes. Now about the tree sap on his pants…

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The perfect morel?

May 12, 2009 at 09:25 AM

Dan Pollard raised an interesting point in a recent e-mail he sent regarding Illinois hunting and fishingthe 8-inch morel found by his son, Charlie Pollard, on May 9 in Woodford County.

Wrote Pollard, “It may not be the biggest mushroom ever found but it is about the best looking big mushroom I have ever seen.”

Why is that interesting? Because in my experience, big morels are often pretty ugly, bent-over things with dark parts. This one is big but beautiful, which is an unusual combination.

What is not unusual is the use of a beer can (below) to help measure the morel. Hmmm. Do you think there’s a connection between morels and beer?

Illinois hunting and fishing

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Illinois hunting and fishing

Morels fair, not great in central Illinois

April 28, 2009 at 03:08 PM

Dave Scifres of Morton found these monster mushrooms last year in Tazewell County in the last week of May.

That’s worth noting, since many morel hunters have been hitting the woods en masse of late with limited success. I posted some success stories yesterday. And there have been more reported today. But so far there have been no tales of the morel motherlode here in central Illinois.

No question, yellows are up. And some decent-sized ones. But most mushroomers I’ve heard from today are talking about half bags. Some are still finding mostly grays. That should change as soon as we get a bit more warmth. And for a change, a little dry weather would help.

Maybe then we can start finding mushrooms as tall as those Scifres is hoisting above.

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One stinking morel. One. Wow.

April 27, 2009 at 11:37 PM

How is it possible to wander through the woods and find one morel? How. If I’d only found one for every dead elm I scoured, it would have been a great afternoon. But no, instead I found one morel.

Amazing.

The highlight of my hunt actually came not with that mushroom, but when I scared a hen turkey off her nest in a thick patch of multiflora rose.

From a distance I spied her nest that looked to have 11 or 12 eggs. Standing there, I said a little prayer: “Oh please let all these eggs hatch out to be jakes and please let them be dumb.”

Oh well. Maybe the morels will be up by fifth season.

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Illinois hunting and fishing

Yellow morel reports aplenty

April 27, 2009 at 10:48 AM

Yellow morel mushrooms are up and popping across parts of central Illinois judging by today’s reports.

I’ve heard several reports of smaller yellow morels up to 3 inches tall, several reports of mushroom hunters who are still finding only grays and one glowing report, which resulted in the picture shown above.

Phil Putnam of Abingdon and Rod Fleisher of Maquon hauled in this nice load of morels Sunday morning, then went back out and found several more. Nearly all of the morels were around two trees according to Fleisher.

Their e-mail was so compelling that it has forced me to rethink my plans for today. Hmm, should I sit here at the computer and hasten my carpal tunnel syndrome or get outside? I think I’m going to book a meeting today with Mr. Dead Elm.

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