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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 chapter in the Apple Jack Chronicles

February 12, 2009 at 06:45 PM

Rambling through the outdoors pondering how Canada geese know ice is melting from hundreds of miles away.


So much for the greatest ice fishing season of my life. Warm weather and rain triggered a lightning-fast melt. The good news is we have plenty of open water. Muskie maniacs are out in force on Spring Lake, where the bite has been slow — unless everybody is lying.  A better bet is Powerton Lake, which opens to boats (without docks) Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hybrid stripers are still biting well most days. ... Oops: We ran bad information for a 6 p.m. bass angler gathering Sunday at Goodfella’s in Pekin. The meeting is for Peoria Bassmasters, not the Peoria Park District circuit. New members are welcome. Call (309) 657-7555. ... Speaking of bass, late winter and early spring is the best time to land lunkers. But don’t panic about wetting a line this weekend. A review of the area’s 10-pounders shows the earliest catch as March 27, 1988. That’s when Clark Wilkins of Wyoming hauled an 11-pound, 5.5-ounce monster from a Stark County strip lake. Now’s a good time to get ready for warm afternoons in March and early April.


Warm weather lured plenty of shed antler hunters into the timber. That includes 9-year-old Bree Keyt of Brimfield who found her first shed last Saturday. She was hunting with her father, Dan Keyt, who said, “It was awesome to see the look on her face as she held her trophy.” ... Suffering from cabin fever? Make a trip to the Henry Decoy Show this Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Henry-Senachwine High School. Home-made pie is one of the many attractions at the 41st annual meet and greet for decoy collectors. ... The sandwich business must be good for Jimmy John Liautaude of Champaign. The owner of the Jimmy John’s chain of stores just paid $245,000 for a license to hunt bighorn sheep in Montana. ... Evergreen Lake needs a boat rental attendant for weekends and holidays from April 11 to Sept. 20. Call (309) 726-2022, Ext. 221. ... Pheasants Forever’s Pheasant Fest attracted more than 20,000 hunters to Madison, Wisc. last weekend. Next year’s event will be in Des Moines, Iowa. If you enjoy chasing roosters, it’s a worthwhile stop.


Warm weather also impacted the airways, with geese flocking through in recent days. Bet some pilots had white knuckles this week. Most notable for hunters are snow geese, which can be shot through March. More than 15,000 snows are hanging around The Nature Conservancy’s Emiquon Preserve. Emiquon allows hunting at 12 sites on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Hunters must be out of the field by 1 p.m. “I saw several other big flocks (Thursday) morning in the river valley,” said Nature Conservancy staffer Tharran Hobson. Hunting is also allowed at Double T near Canton and at the Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge west of Havana. ... New Department of Natural Resources director Marc Miller is a busy fellow. In addition to trying to right the ship at DNR, he will speak at the Illinois Smallmouth Alliance’s annual banquet March 7 at the Elmhurst American Legion. ... Forest Park Nature Center is selling nature books Saturday ( 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and Sunday (1-5 p.m.). Peoria Audubon Society will also display bird books from around the world.


First chapter in my book “The Apple Jack Chronicles” traces the history of Canada geese voting Democrat. Listen next time you see geese in flight and you’ll hear them say “Barack” repeatedly, almost joyously. ... People who live outside Bureau County are still upset the Bureau County bear was tranquilized and moved to Niabi Zoo. Add me to that list of busybodies who don’t actually have a bear in their yard. Even so, the capture seems silly to me, though it probably saved Yogi from a bullet this spring. All the more reason for Illinois to protect bears from random slaughter. ... Everybody has an opinion about managing deer in Illinois. Roy Hopper of Canton wants the second gun season moved to early November. Many bowhunters want gun hunters to have a doe-only season in September. And frustrated coyote chaser Gene Mekley of McNabb ridicules proposals for a nine-day late-winter hunt. “If they want to kill deer, make them shoot a doe before they kill a buck,” Mekley said. Be careful what you wish for. I’ve seen several Wisconsin vehicles sporting bumper stickers.


Speaking of Al Gore’s invention, wants your big fish stories. Submit a story or picture to enter a drawing for free fishing gear each month from March through November. Online is also where you can find Stan Morris’ weekly fishing reports, which won’t make the print edition until March 6. ... The most recent winner in our Lone Wolf Stands giveaway is Jim Mordacq of Springfield, who won a $400 Omega ladder stand. Watch for upcoming giveaways of Camo-Flex concealment gear. ... Thanks to Bob Closen of Bellevue for a tasty jug of apple jack that pulled me through some tough nights recently. Our Neighbor Ash sez he hasn’t sipped shine that tasty since his pappy had a still in the hollers west of Sparland. ... Parting shot: Remember the flap about ending Illinois’ pen-raised pheasant program under Gov. Helmet Hair? The DNR plans a normal hatch this year that will provide pheasants for Moraine View State Park. Thank goodness common sense prevailed in regards to a program that pays for itself.


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