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

One last Duck Commander plug

August 03, 2009 at 12:54 PM

This is the last time I’m going to plug The Duck Commander show that airs Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. on The Outdoor Channel (it also replays Sunday mornings).

Last Saturday’s episode was the best I’ve seen. The boys were all set to head off to Texas to go duck and buck hunting (remember, there is now a Buck Commander) since Louisiana duck season was closed (split season if I understand Phil’s mumbling about the subject).

Fortunately, before they packed up into the RV (that had no blinkers but whose “bigness will save us” according to Phil) somebody had the sense to call and find out that Texas duck season was also closed. That’s reality TV.

So they grumbled, then went to Kansas, whacked a bunch of ducks and made me laugh and get fired up for duck season all in the span of a 30-minute show.

I’ve been asking around and most people say they haven’t seen the show by that they’ve talked to someone who said the show was good. That includes calling guru Jeff Foiles, who was at Presley’s Outdoors over the weekend and said “my son likes it.”

Well, I’m telling you I’ve seen the show and I like it. Not that anybody needs another reason to wish for Saturday morning, but there it is.

Click here to see the promotional trailer. Click here to read a story about the show.

Story and comments
Illinois hunting and fishing

No duck blind, again

July 27, 2009 at 06:23 AM

The weather was nice. So was the company. And the food.

Truthfully, the latter two reasons are why I attend the annual duck blind drawing at Rice Lake along the Illinois River. I’ve already drawn a blind once in my life and the odds of that ever happening again are long. So I attend the drawing with no real hope of being drawn. That tends to make the day much more enjoyable when standing in a crowd of more than 1,000 people and hoping for one of 30 blinds available.

Here are a few observations after Sunday’s big event at Rice Lake:

  • So much for crowds being down due to a lack of food planted at Rice Lake. I’m betting this year’s crowd was as big as normal.
  • The white bass cooked up by Adam Jaegle and crew was excellent, far better than most white bass I’ve tasted in the past. I’m not sure if it was the setting or the cooking, but either way I ate too much.
  • Richard Bettler of Pekin will be hoping against hope that no dredge machine shows up at Rice Lake this fall. Bettler was first out of the hat and opted for Blind 27 in Big Lake. While that’s a hot spot, Big Lake has been slated for dredging for years and site manager Bill Douglass (pictured above running the drawing) said there’s a chance the process could start this fall. Horrible timing, of course, but what else would you expect from a project that involves federal dollars?
  • Represented in the crowd Sunday was the holder of the state smallmouth bass record, a man who has caught an albino mole in his yard and a man who recently shot a World Slam in 53 days while bowhunting for turkeys. More about this later.
  • I appreciate the cheat sheet put out by Rice Lake staff giving kill totals for all of the blinds for the past five seasons. Top blinds at Rice are: No. 30—339.2 ducks per year, No. 27—324.7 dpy, No. 3—318.8 dpy, No. 15—234.4 dpy, No. 4—234 dpy, No. 25—200.5 dpy, No. 26—194 dpy, No. 2—191.6 dpy. The top five on Sunday went: 27, 15, 3, 26, 30. So the fifth pick actually ended up with the top kill blind, based on average. That went to Mark Gilles of Kickapoo.
  • Even without a blind, I am more excited about duck hunting heading into this fall than I have been in years. I’ve already started working on decoys and scouting spots. I’ve just got a hunch we are due for a really good duck season. Now if the state could ever release duck hunting season dates…

 

Story and comments
Illinois hunting and fishing

Cool-looking waterfowl carvings

June 22, 2009 at 06:38 AM

The rich tradition of decoy carving in Illinois is still in good hands thanks to another generation of carvers.

That includes Christian Brown of Lexington, who carved the realistic Canada goose pictures above. Word is that Brown learned from Pat Gregory, another local carver whose decoys are in demand.

Brown carves under the name of First Shot Decoys and is said to be very reasonable in price. Call him at (309) 242-2800.

Story and comments

Duck hunters fretting about ice

November 20, 2008 at 03:56 PM

As if the below-average duck count wasn’t enough cause for worry, now waterfowlers must fret about ice.

Some clubs had one-half inch of ice already this week. By this morning some will be frozen solid.

Also troublesome is Tuesday’s survey showing 184,780 ducks on the Illinois River — more than 100,000 below average. The count of 140,300 mallards is nearly 70,000 off normal. Top totals were at Douglas Lake (50,000) and the Emiquon Preserve (48,895).

Things are slightly better on the Mississippi River where the count of 256,695 is only 10,000 below average.

A positive note for waterfowlers is that white-fronted geese are fair game starting today in the Central Zone. Several flocks have been flying over Fulton County this week. But you’ll have to wait until
Monday to target Canada geese in the Central Zone.

Story and comments

A fine day at Rice Lake

November 07, 2008 at 06:37 PM

We need new birds in the Central Zone. New ducks. Maybe this storm in the Dakotas will bring them, though there was no sign of it Friday morning at Rice Lake.

Hunting with Aaron Sapinski of Kickapoo, Todd Staley of Morton and Nate Herman of Peoria we managed to shoot six ducks. We did not have many more chances. And while we wound up with a nice mixed bag, we expected more. Sapinksi was third out of the hat at the Rice Lake drawing and picked blind 26—a good choice as evidenced by the 43 birds they shot on opening weekend. Hunting has slowed since, with ducks getting smarter.

Illinois hunting and fishing

But six ducks is a great day for many hunters, so who am I to complain. Best of all, I got a chance to watch Staley’s 2 1/2-year-old black Lab, Woody. What a nice dog. He has a great future. And Staley is thrilled to have such a good hunting partner. “Having a dog has changed everything for me about hunting,” he said.

I understand. So do many of you, no doubt. Duck hunting has never been the same for me since I lost my old buddy Buck. But seeing Woody work today, much better than my dog ever did, helped fill the void. Here’s hoping new ducks arrive soon so all the Woodys of the world get plenty of work this fall.

Not that hunting has been poor so far. To the contrary. Considering the conditions this year and the food situation on the Illinois River, hunting has been nothing short of surprisingly good. How else to explain that Rice Lake has had 997 hunters kill 1,539 ducks through Nov. 8. That’s a good season some places. And there’s still plenty more duck hunting to go.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

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