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Jeff Lampe
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

A chilly but exciting opener

November 21, 2008 at 08:42 PM

Cold, yes.

But not as cold as I expected. Not with does and bucks walking into shooting range for a good portion of my first day of the first firearm season here in Illinois.

The morning started inauspiciously, as I bumped several deer while walking into my stand. Things were very dry and crunchy out there.

Just when I was worried all the deer had been run out of the Peoria County timber I was hunting, a doe appeared. At first I thought I saw a glint of antler following behind her. So I waited. My buddy Flathead had said he was going to count to 10 before he shot a doe, just to make sure. Well, I got to 3 and the doe stuck her nose in the air, got a whiff of me and bolted.

Hmmm. Not good. For 30 minutes I cursed myself for not shooting instead of counting.

Then another doe appeared. Any resolve I had about counting to 10 was gone in the blast of a shotgun. She went down hard. My spirits went up quickly. Amazing how much pressure is lifted when you start opening morning of deer season with a deer.

But within 20 minutes another dilemma erupted. A small buck walked into range. Six pointer. Big body. Tall rack for a little guy. But still a little guy. Normally, I would have shot at him. But here’s the dilemma. This year I promised to take my two boys hunting. Because they are 6 and 7, they cannot go together. That means two hunts. Because they are 6 and 7 and its cold, they don’t do mornings. That means two afternoon hunts.

If I had shot the buck, I would have been tagged out and in trouble with the boys. So I didn’t shoot. Instead Flathead and I dragged out two more does (he uses large ice-fishing sleds that slide great over oak leaves) and he taught me how to skin a deer. My next lesson will be on butchering.

Then it was back out for an afternoon hunt. And while I changed stands, guess who showed up to test my resolve. Little 6. He walked for a second time and he really ought to thank Victor, who gets to hunt Saturday afternoon, and Henry, who is scheduled for Sunday.

One reason I am not hunting Saturday morning is my fear that my resolve might weaken. So I’m going to sleep in and then Victor and I are heading out to shoot a buck. Can’t wait. This deer hunting is really becoming enjoyable.

Hope your opener went well too.

RACK ALERT: Best buck I heard of around here so far was an 18-pointer out of Marshall or Putnam counties. We’ll have more on Monday. Until then, send in news of your firearm hunts.


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