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

September 15: PIcture of the Day

September 15, 2010 at 11:45 PM

Any day now. The leaves are turning. The corn is going out. Soon the arrows and crossbow bolts can be launched at real critters.

But be patient. The best time of year is almost here.

Story and comments
Illinois hunting and fishing

September 13: Picture of the Day

September 13, 2010 at 11:22 PM

The Lampe monarch factory is about ready to close down. And just in time. We are running out of milkweed in the neighborhood. Those little caterpillars can sure eat.

And we’ve gone through plenty of milkweed this summer. But from a high point of 10 chrysalises hanging and 20 little caterpillars crawling in the butterfly aquarium, we’ve fluttered down to a more manageable number.

I say we, but truth is this is all my wife’s project. Every now and then I hold the lid while she cleans out the aquarium. But that’s about my only contribution.

Even so, I do like releasing the monarchs. There’s something very satisfying about raising a monarch from a tiny egg to the point where it can fly away.

Sometime tomorrow, someone in the family will get a chance to release the butterfly pictured above still in its chrysalis.

After that we’ve got about another 9 or 10 more to release. Then we’ll have to wait until next summer for their descendants to return.

Story and comments
Illinois hunting and fishing

September 12: Picture of the Day

September 12, 2010 at 08:04 PM

For the past few days, a few flocks of Canada geese have been coming to the pond regularly.

Every morning they’ve been there, prompting calls from several sources telling me to get hunting.

So we did today. The Farmer, me and our weekend waterfowling apprentice Andrew Jordan spent a few productive hours in the duck blind. Andrew is an eighth grader here in Elmwood who is interested in duck and goose hunting. So we’ve taken him a few times this year and last. Unfortunately, we haven’t had much luck, though The Farmer did shoot a honker last weekend.

As far as that goes, today was the most productive yet. Andrew shot his first goose. He’s pictured above with the bird and with his young Lab, Sophie. I’d like to report that she also retrieved her first goose, but reality isn’t always so perfect. She was interested, but not interested enough to pick up the goose. Maybe next time.

More important to me is seeing another youngster learning to enjoy waterfowling. What I really want to see is the day Andrew gets in on one of those 18-duck days when you run out of shells and barely have time to keep track of how many birds are in the blind. That’s the day that will make him a duck hunter for life. Can it happen this year? Let’s hope so.

Story and comments
Illinois hunting and fishing

September 10: Picture of the Day

September 10, 2010 at 11:26 PM

New camera. Gotta figure out how to make it work before I can post a Picture of the Day with it.

So far I love it. Nikon D300S. Couple nice little lenses. A 60 macro and a 35 F1.8.

Fun stuff. Christmas came early.

Story and comments
Illinois hunting and fishing

September 9: Picture of the Day

September 09, 2010 at 10:06 PM

When we moved into the house, one of my early battles with my wife was the light over the shed door.

She hated the fact that it beamed over the yard all night.

I loved that fact it beamed over the yard all night.

Six years later, the light beams on. And aside from the million bugs that gather outside my shed door, I still like the light.

Well, this year, others have learned to love the light, too. Nearly eery night when I wander out to the shed, a fat toad is sitting under the door stoop, waiting for bugs drawn to the light above.

And this morning, early, I spotted this little fellow sitting on the siding. Though I’m no frog expert, I’d say he’s a gray tree frog—the first I’ve seen in my yard, though I’ve heard them calling often.

Anyway, the more I watched and clicked, the warier he became. First he hunkered back into this piece of trim around a window. Eventually, he slipped into a crack somewhere and disappeared entirely. My guess is he lives inside the siding, emerging only after dark to enjoy the bounty from the light.

One more reason I won that small battle.

Story and comments

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