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

Giving thanks for the Gilles clan

December 05, 2008 at 03:00 PM

The first thing that jumped out at me were the guns.

Single-shot 20-gauge? Saw two. Single-shot .410? Saw a few.

Over-and-under? Yep. Same with semi-autos, pumps, Winchesters, Remingtons, Mossbergs, Brownings and a host of other shotguns including one old smokepole with what looked to be a 32-inch barrel.

When you bring together 60 young hunters, you can expect a little bit of everything in terms of firearms.

The second most notable thing Saturday at the Gilles farm west of Princeville were the smiles. Nervous grins at first, later replaced by wider, more confident smiles as youngsters walked out of the abundant grass with birds in hand.

For a few participants this marked their first pheasant hunt. But for most it was a return visit to some of the finest upland habitat in Peoria County. This is the fourth year the Gilles clan has opened their grassy acres to a youth hunt and the two-day event is rapidly becoming a Thanksgiving tradition around Princeville.

Last week’s hunt gave 115 youngsters a chance to stalk pen-raised pheasants. The hunt caps a progression that also includes a hunter safety class and a trap shoot.

“Some of the kids are young, but some of them we’ve made hunters out of them in one year. They really get to where they know what they’re doing,” said Ted Gilles, who along with brothers Ron and
Ray runs the event.

Thanks for the hunt also goes to donors Doug and Diane Oberhelman, Chris and Laura Curfman, Pat Murphy and the Illinois River Valley chapter of Pheasants Forever. And Ted Gilles credits dog handlers who volunteer time as integral to the whole affair.

Of course most of the credit goes to the Gilleses, who also put on popular conservation tours during the summer.

“All these people who help us feel the same way. They just want to do this and to do it right,” he said. “You get to see how the kids and parents are so hapy. It’s just a good feeling.”

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