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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

Nothing like the sound of a gobbler

April 08, 2010 at 09:03 PM

Warm, southerly breezes had an amazing impact on the outdoor world last week.

Bass and crappie started biting like crazy.

Mushrooms started popping.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds began arriving.

Grass warranted mowing.

Dandelions turned annoying.

And male turkeys took to strutting, gobbling and generally carrying on like the lovestruck fools they turn into each spring.

That was good timing for last weekend’s North Zone youth hunt. And it could be good for adults eager to hit the timber Monday for the North Zone regular season opener.

First to the kids. Youngsters in the North Zone shot an estimated 440 gobblers last weekend — up from 363 the year before. One week earlier the South Zone hunt produced an increase of 43 birds to 297.

Given three years of poor turkey reproduction, those increases were surprising. Then again, when weather and birds cooperate, spring turkey hunts can end very quickly.

Among the happy hunters was Dillon Lyon, whose 20.89-pound bird with a 10-inch beard won the youth portion of Gobble Quest at Presley’s Outdoors.

Other big birds went to Colton Boyd, 12, of Rushville (25 pounds, 10.5-inch beard, 1.5-inch spurs), Travis Begner, 13, of Edelstein (9.5-inch beard), Brant
Welborn of Germantown Hills, Kyle Edgecomb of Granville and Kaden Schlipf of Dunlap.

Schlipf shot a double-bearded 21.5-pounder in Peoria County after watching six toms strut in front of the CamoFlex, DeadFall blind he shared with his father, Jared Schlipf of Lone Wolf Tree Stands. “I have killed many turkeys myself, but it’s always more exciting to me when my kids are on the trigger,” Schlipf said.

That went double for Bryan Anderson of Fairview, who got to watch both his sons shoot gobblers last Saturday. First Nick, 10, shot a 25-pounder before 7 a.m. to start the celebration.

“The entire time we were snapping photos we could hear other birds gobbling up along the ridge bordering the creek,” Bryan Anderson said. “Before leaving I told the boys that we should throw out some more calls and see if anything answered. After the first couple yelps, booming gobbles shot out just to the west of us.

“It was as fast as we could jump back in the blind and get loaded that we could see three more birds on top of the ridge directly across from us, on the other side of the creek. A couple more soft yelps and some cluck ‘n purr on the slate had them trotting our way and they actually glided over the creek landing directly behind our blind.”

Mathew, 9, made the most of his 6-yard shot to drop a 20-pounder with a 10 3/8-inch beard and wicked 1 3/8-inch spurs.

Not everyone reports similar gobbling activity. Many say birds have been noisy on the roost but immediately join hens on the ground and turn quiet.

Not so Thursday morning in my corner of Peoria County. While auto-scouting for birds I spotted a big gobbler in the middle of a remote gravel road. After jumping
out and closing the truck door to take his picture, another bird gobbled from a thicket just yards away.

The sound of a gobbler at close range is one of the many joys of spring. Turkey season can’t open soon enough.


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