Illinois Outdoors at PrairiestateOutdoors.com
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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
 

Scattershooting

A Web log by Jeff Lampe of the Journal Star

A week in the uplands

November 30, 2008 at 01:12 PM

How to fill time between deer seasons? For me the answer was to chase pheasants and quail. Time was I would have gone duck hunting, but waterfowl action has been slow of late. So it was off to the uplands for several hunts this week.

Wednesday I spent the morning with Ted and Ron Gilles on some of their many acres of ground enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program. I consider their property the crown jewel of pheasant hunting in Peoria County, with wild birds in abundance. We saw plenty of birds, shot seven roosters and probably should have had a limit for our six-person group (which included Paul Cokel, Big Mike and Tom Heinz of Kickapoo).

My little setter had a tough day in the tallgrass and did not seem to be scenting well. Not sure if it was the dry conditions or what. Plus, the birds were running plenty. Oh well. Seven pheasants in Illinois is a great day by any standard.

Illinois hunting and fishing

From there it was on to a Stark County hunt on Friday with The Farmer, Springer, Springer’s son Alex and my brother-in-law, Tony Vandercar. We wound up with four quail and one rooster (shot by Tony, his first ever) and should have had a few more quail and one more rooster (he ran off). But once again we saw birds everywhere we stopped. We also saw some standing corn near one of our areas, which surprised me. The flushing dogs had a good day and Farmer’s Lab Indy even started pointing. She pointed quail twice, despite no indication there is pointing lab in her pedigree. Very interesting. Maybe she has decided to steal a page from my setter’s book.

Finally on Saturday was the youth pheasant hunt held each year by the Gilles family. It’s a great event. First they hold a hunter safety class for kids in the summer, complete with a meal. Then comes a trap shoot to get ready. Then on the day of the youth hunt (held on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving) 120 kids get a chance to hunt pen-raised birds in some of the Gilles’ ground. They also get cookies, soda and some more clay-bird shooting to get warmed up. At times it was like a sea of blaze orange out west of Princeville.

Illinois hunting and fishing

This is the second year I was asked to help and I consider the event a real privilege. The more kids hunting the better. And there are plenty of young hunters here, not to mention every type of shotgun you can imagine. My group (including The Farmer, Tim Donsbach and Marv Donsbach as well as dogs Hawk, Indy and Hershey) helped run 16 kids through the fields and set 30 birds. We had some great points, flushes and fun. In the picture below, my dog Hawk shows off his low-tail form (a problem for field trial dogs but OK with a meat hunter like me).

Illinois hunting and fishing

Because the kids are not real accustomed to hunting, we have to crawl ahead and flush the birds occasionally. Here, Marv shows his form. Not sure if he’s a Lab or a springer, but he got the job done.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Every kid we took hunting got to take home a bird. And I think all of them at least believed they shot a bird Saturday. All in all it was a great cap to a busy week of bird hunting. Hope your Thanksgiving week was similarly bountiful.

Illinois hunting and fishing

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