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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

The ice didn’t kill all quail

December 29, 2008 at 10:47 PM

This latest ice storm was a bad one here in central Illinois. People lost power. Lives were disrupted. Trees were stripped of branches. Holiday plans were ruined.

And quail and pheasants died. No question in my mind this storm had to be hard on birds. Those that had good cover to get out of the ice still had to find food. And scratching through the icy cover to grain was no answer for several days.

But the amazing thing is that some upland birds still survive. Despite the lack of habitat. Despite the shrubs and hedgerows being torn out each winter. Despite the coyotes and hawks. And despite the icy winters. Some birds survive. I guess I should say despite the hunters, though I don’t think there’s enough quail hunters in the field in Illinois any more to make much of a difference.

Still, Tim Sefried of Elmwood (pictured above) and I made a three-hour jaunt through the uplands of Peoria County on Sunday morning, just to see what had survived. We visited four spots.

Two farms that have held coveys of quail this year yielded nothing on Sunday. That doesn’t automatically mean they’re gone. Most likely we missed them. At least that’s what I choose to believe.

One spot that has not produced a covey failed to produce once again.

And finally, one spot that always produces a covey produced again. Hawkeye doubled back after we had walked past a grassy spot and pointed birds we had already walked past (he had run past them too, but got real birdy and worked back to find them). As soon as he locked up I figured he was on quail, because his tail was almost to 10 o’clock (that’s good for Hawk). Sure enough, when I walked in a covey flushed. Eight, maybe nine birds. Not as many as I usually see. But Tim and I shot two.

I’m guessing a few birds may have died out of that covey (which earlier this year has been 12 strong or more). Still it was good to see survivors. Maybe if we can avoid ice storms the rest of this winter they’ll make it to spring. I don’t plan to take any more out of that covey. Next time Hawk and I visit that fencerow we won’t shoot any, unless more birds materialize. At this point in the season I’d rather see the point and the flush than fire up the skillet.




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