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

Canada goose season is over

January 31, 2010 at 09:05 PM

The marathon that is Canada goose season is over.

And not every living creature is happy at that news.

On Saturday I kicked a goose shell loose in a corn field. When I picked it up, about 14 field mice scattered from a grassy nest they had built. The mice looked dazed—not unlike the hard-core goose hunters I know. They’ve been hitting it hard for months now and can use some time off.

Myself, I gave up on the honkers weeks ago after too many depressing hours in the cold and mud.

And true to form last night, a big flock of birds passed just out of gun range over my house as they headed north.

Damn geese.

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Decoy maker needs reality check

January 01, 2010 at 05:07 PM

I have had some time to do nothing the last two days since I am going solo here at home with Boo Boo (our not quite 2-year-old).

As part of our babysitting today we drove around looking at people ice fishing, set mouse traps in the garage, sharpened the ice auger and put jigs on the ice fishing rods for next week. I figure that’s all good stuff for a kid to learn (just kidding Mom, we didn’t sharpen the ice auger).

We also checked out some of my new specklebelly goose shells, which included a piece of paper more ridiculous and more outrageous than anything Lungbuster has ever posted on this site. On the paper were Care Instructions for my new shells from Greenhead Gear. Here they are. I really feel like this list deserve a drum roll…

1. Never throw or toss your decoys into your truck or trailer or onto the ground. (COMMENT: Oh sure, this will never happen.).

2. Avoid getting mud, dirt, sand or clay on decoys. (COMMENT: This is so stupid it amazes me. Should we place the decoys only on cement? Hmm. Might actually work in Chicago.)

3. Do not heat heads or bodies with a torch and keep them away from open flames. (COMMENT: I can handle this, but do we need to tell people this?)

4. Do not store decoys outside for long periods of time. (COMMENT: Hmmm, does a hunting season constitute a long time?)

5. Do not expose decoys to long periods of direct sunlight as ultraviolet rays will ultimately damage decoy paint. (COMMENT: Are we supposed to hunt with these indoors?)

Anyway, reading these instructions makes me think I need to buy tougher decoys. Like those Herter’s decoys that used to have the ad with the truck driving over them. Ahh the good old days.

 

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Damn geese

December 14, 2009 at 10:01 PM

Damn geese.

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Illinois hunting and fishing

So many geese, so few shots

December 13, 2009 at 09:54 PM

Muzzleloader deer season went out the window sometime Saturday.

I think it was about the time the third phone call came in that followed the same basic pattern. “Dude, you gotta get out there. There are thousands of geese south of town.”

Get a few calls like that and a serious waterfowler had better drop any ideas of deer hunting. I had a chance at my muzzleloader buck on Friday. But Saturday, Sunday and the immediate future my life is revolving around a few thousand geese that showed up in Peoria County.

Big honkers. Cacklers. Specks. Snow geese. There are more geese around than I’ve ever seen. Maybe I’m just more attuned to the birds. At any rate, it has been fun but frustrating to chase these wily birds, which so far have been giving me the slip. The Farmer, too. He had a decent shot at one small bunch early this morning but struggled to come clean out of his layout blind. I fear the same problem, but so far have had no shots at feet-down honkers in my face.

The good news this evening was that oldest son Henry (below) got to spend a few hours in a layout blind and watch a few thousand geese honk around. He kept telling me to shoot, which is proof that he needs a little more time in the field, since most of those birds he was hollering about were 500 yards away. Brian and Jacob Rushing also joined us this evening, but to no avail. Such is goose hunting.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Meanwhile, across the road a group from town did a fair amount of shooting and wound up with five birds for the day. Pictured below is Cory Thompson of Elmwood. I think. He told me his name this evening as we left the field. But after two days of chasing these birds and losing sleep (in between child care, church and the other demands of life) I can’t even remember my own name. So Cory, if I got your name wrong, sorry. Don’t bother telling me my mistake tomorrow, though. I’m going goose hunting.

Illinois hunting and fishing

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Illinois hunting and fishing

An icy finish to duck season?

December 10, 2009 at 08:16 PM

I left the decoys out as long as I could.

The Farmer and I hunted Tuesday morning and picked up half the goose decoys and a few ducks.

We left a few behind because my plan was to return this morning, shoot some geese or ducks as the other shallower ponds froze, and then get the dekes out to safety.

Half the plan worked perfectly. More than half, actually. The pond did not freeze, thanks to strong west winds. The decoys came out safely, if a bit icy.

But as for shooting ducks and geese, well that part fell short. Not that it had to. It’s just that hunting all day Tuesday in the cold and rain with no luck took the starch out of me. In other words, I wimped out this morning. Instead of hunting, I slept in and then got the kids to school.

And then, while picking up decoys without a gun, I watched geese fly overhead for a solid 10 minutes. First a flock of 40 cacklers, two big honkers, one snow goose and three white-fronts soared overhead as I sat picking up decoys, with my truck running near the bling. Then came another flock of geese. Then another.

Oh well. At least the decoys are safe from gnawing coyotes and ice.

I’m not so sure about our duck season. North Zone hunters are done Tuesday and likely won’t get out again. We in the Central Zone have until Dec. 29 and will likely see a thaw ahead. But will we see any ducks once the ice goes out? Hard to say.

At least there’s still plenty of goose season left to even the score. No doubt the lake will freeze tonight. No doubt it will open again before Jan. 31. And when it does open again, I’ll be even hungrier.

Illinois hunting and fishing

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