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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

Illinois hunting and fishing

I let two deer walk, 1 on purpose

December 11, 2009 at 09:58 PM

My opening day of muzzleloader season was undone by Walmsley and a new gun.

First the Walmsley part. Time was I would have been happy to blast the young buck who walked right under my stand this evening at about 3:30 p.m. He was so close I could have jumped on his back. At one point, as he sniffed for the Hot Doe Hunziker’s Deer Scent, he stopped and licked the third step in the tree stand. Apparently I had spilled a little scent on it.

What a dope. Truth is, I was never even tempted to shoot him. I think he’s the same buck I let walk on opening day of firearm season. All this trophy deer stuff is in my head, big time. I’m starting to understand why guys like Walmsley and my buddy Flathead have big bucks on their walls.

They don’t shoot little ones. Plus, I don’t think bucks taste near as good as does. So from now on if I’m shooting for meat, it’s gonna be doe meat. And actually, it felt good to take some pictures of the little buck and then let him stroll away into the timber, dopey as ever.

What didn’t feel so good was what came next, the new gun part.

As Flathead and I approached the area we were hunting at about 2:30 p.m., he spotted a herd of does already in the field. As we flushed the deer back into the woods, with some careful herding practices, we saw two bucks fighting. One was a nice buck. Maybe even the nice new wide and tall 8-pointer that had showed up in the past few days. Hmmm.

Moments after I got into the stand (the worst, slantiest, slipperiest, most unsafe stand in the timber) I heard the same bucks fighting north of me. Between that the and little buck I never had a chance to get cold. Didn’t even need gloves until the very end of my hunt.

Well, eventually the nice, wide and tall 8-pointer walked my way. He was bigger than the buck I shot during firearm season and I quickly rated him a shooter. What happened next is a bit of a blur. He came closer, sniffing, then stopped. I figured he was almost downwind of me. Ideally, I would have liked him closer. But I took the shot, figuring he might bolt at any moment once he sniffed me.

It was a good shot. I had patterned the new Knight muzzleloader with my buddy The Farmer and knew it shot a bit low. So I aimed a touch high. I think.

But when the cloud of smoke cleared, there was the buck walking off in the distance. Was he hurt? Apparently not. He lingered around behind some downed tree-tops for the next few minutes before finally walking off down into a valley.

We found no blood in the snow.

“Well, looks like you let two walk away that will be bigger next year,” Flathead said matter of factly.

Guess I did.

Illinois hunting and fishing


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