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

Illinois hunting and fishing

No limit, plenty of satisfaction

September 01, 2009 at 03:59 PM

Opening day of my 2009 hunting season opened with nervous anticipation ... not to mention the embarrassing realization I had yet to buy my federal duck stamp. Thank goodness Jordan’s Mobil in Elmwood is open early in the morning.

But even buying my federal stamp didn’t ease my nerves entirely. I have been planning for this opener for weeks. My buddy Gordon Inskeep had a field that grew up in foxtail and other annual weeds and the doves had been using it some. Not huge numbers, but enough for a good shoot.

As an added bonus, a flock of Canada geese had become regulars at the pond near that field. Very regular. Most days they showed up around 10 a.m.

For days now I’ve been pondering whether the birds would show once the season opened. I figured they would. So did my hunting buddy, The Farmer.

“You’ve got me all pumped up on these geese,” he admitted.

And the day did not disappoint. Doves were surprisingly good, given that I’m sure we’ve lost several birds in the past few days.

We shot our share of doves and missed others. We never had large flocks or huge numbers. Just steady ones and twos and occasional threes. Just enough to keep us interested.

Geese were another matter. As 9:30 arrived, I got worried. We had not seen any geese. We had heard some, close enough that I turned off the robo-dove and ran over to where we had set the decoys ... twice.

But by 11 a.m., it looked as though we were going to end up with 21 doves and one fat, grey pigeon (I missed one and The Farmer missed a fat Eurasian collared dove that I just know flew out to the country from my yard in Elmwood).

Then it happened. The geese got up. I turned off robo dove and ran over to the decoys again. Farmer did the same. And the birds worked perfect, turning right into the northeast wind (which the weatherman actually got correct). They started to fall out of the sky in front of us ... but by the time we got up to shoot, the big flock had turned. They didn’t have room to get down. Had we stayed hidden in the weeds, they would have circled back and come right in. As it was, we sent an errant volley at them and then cursed our hastiness.

Depression almost set in.

Then three honkers appeared from the east, flying low. We ducked down just in time. The birds passed over and we dropped two. The third circled back and we dropped that one, too. The Farmer’s dog, Indy, made nice retrieves on all three birds.

Not long after we headed home, even though there were still a few doves flying.

The geese were the capper to a wonderful opening day—proving you don’t need limits to head home completely satisfied. We shot fairly well. The dog did very well, setting the scene for what should be a good year of wingshooting. My 20 gauge automatic worked well (and as an added bonus did not shoot up my doves as bad as Farmer’s).

All in all it was just about perfect. All except for that one collared dove….

 

 

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