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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

Planting duck food in the heat

July 17, 2010 at 12:25 PM

On last year’s opening day of duck season, the little wet spot pictured above was filled with water. And ducks. And geese.

Once the wet spot dried out, the ducks left. We still had some shots at geese from our blind, but the ducks wanted the shallow wet spot.

Well, when wet weather drowned out corn planted in the wet spot, a thought occurred to me. “Why not plant millet?”

Hey, if it works for duck clubs, why not for us? Besides, even if the ducks don’t use the spot, quail and other birds will.

So I bought 10-pounds of Japanese millet from Kelly Seeds. They said they had been selling lots of millet to duck clubs in the past few weeks. No wonder, as most corn was drowned and millet can develop seed heads in just 45 days (at least that’s what the seed sellers claim). My helper today, Victor, was pretty unimpressed with the sack of seeds. “Ducks will eat that?” he asked. Let’s hope so.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Everything I’ve read about the stuff says it is best to work up the soil some. But on state sites they also merely aerial seed the stuff. So I tried a combination of the two.

Victor and I worked up a few small spots, including the one below. Those are our test plots. We also scattered seed over the ground elsewhere and hoped it would fall in the cracks and find enough soil contact that way. We’ll check back frequently to see what happens. I may even buy another 10 pounds and seed some more later, depending on how this grows.

Before we had even finished, small birds were already showing up to enjoy the millet buffet. I’m betting doves will be in the worked-up ground in force by this evening.

Illinois hunting and fishing

We would have worked up more ground, but we were relying on hand rakes on a hot day. “This is too hard,” Victor said, shortly before running off to shoot at various things with the b-b gun. Can’t say I blame him. It was hot and the ground was harder than I expected.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Next fall, if we get another chance to do this, I will rig up something I can drag behind the truck to work the seed in better. A four-wheeler would be nice, but it’s not in the budget.

Until then, it will be interesting to see what grows in the area we seed. Even more interesting will be to see if the ducks and geese use the wet spot this fall.


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