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

Fun in the first snow

December 01, 2008 at 12:28 PM

What a great morning. I went to Jordan’s Mobil and got the report that people were sliding into the ditches everywhere. So I rushed home to explain my plans to my wife.

“The roads are too bad for me to drive into Peoria, so I’m going to work from home. But first I better go quail hunting.”

I needed a better lawyer to justify that one, but whatever. When the first snow comes, you’ve just got to go hunting. And I’m glad I did, even though my trip earned plenty of eye rolls and yielded nary a bird. When the day comes that I can’t get excited about snow, they better bury me. My only disappointment this weekend is that we missed most of the white stuff. Here in Elmwood we’ve got less than an inch on the ground most places. Even so, that’s enough to track birds, which is what Hawk and I did this morning.

We visited a fencerow that always holds a covey of quail and sure enough, they were there again this morning. Problem was, I got distracted by the prospect of a few hundred geese flying overhead. And while I was wearing more orange than a pumpkin, I somehow got the idea I could pass-shoot one of those geese if I stood real still in the fencerow. Naturally, that didn’t work too well, though I fired a warning shot anyway.

When Hawk didn’t come running after the shot, I figured he must be on point. Sure enough, 200 yards ahead on the fencerow he was standing stock still, glaring at me. First the wife gave me the eye, then the dog. What a morning. Unfortunately, when the quail flushed they went on the other side of the fence (off limits to me) so we were left birdless. Still it was exciting.

Later we visited another spot where the quail have been impossible to locate. This time we found the spot where they had been coveyed up for the night. And while there were no birds in the area that Hawk could find, seeing all those tracks will bring me back to spot again with much more confidence. One more reason to love the snow.

For now it’s back to work. But once the kids get out of school, I sense a sledding trip in my future.

Let it snow, let it snow.

NOTABLE: We have new geese here in the Elmwood area. And with overcast skies and the possibility of more snow in the future, the next few days might be good ones to target honkers.

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