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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

Wild Things 11-29-09

November 29, 2009 at 03:45 AM


Number of trips on state aircraft DNR deputy director Deb Stone has flown from Chicago to Springfield since Rod Blagojevich was ousted, most by any politician.

Booner spooners

One night while working on duck decoys, Jake Meyer of Manito and some buddies had a revelation. They decided to create a contest to recognize the duck hunter who kills the shoveler with the largest spoonbill.

So was born the Big Spoon Contest, which has 60 entrants and is topped by a bill of 4.01 inches (under the Spoonmasters scoring system). Josh Spracklin of South
Pekin shot the super shoveler at Clear Lake and stands to win $600.

“We’re having a ball with this,” Meyer said. “We even use calipers to measure the bills.” While entries are no longer accepted, Meyer said next year’s Big Spoon will be even bigger.

Outdoors answers

Q: “Does Mason County have a late-winter antlerless deer season?”
— Carl H. Armbrust, Forest City

A: Yes, this is the first year Mason County is open to the late-winter hunt, which runs Dec. 31 to Jan. 3 and Jan. 15-17. Other local counties open are Bureau, Henry, Knox, LaSalle, Marshall, McDonough, McLean, Peoria, Stark, Tazewell, Warren and Woodford. Counties that will have unlimited late-winter tags on sale are Fulton, Hancock, Putnam and Schuyler.

Birding bits

The long-tailed duck, also known as the oldsquaw, have been known to dive 240 feet deep. That was determined in 1968 when a group of the ducks were caught in gill nets set 240 feet deep on Lake Ontario.

Critter corner

In the wilds of Illinois in December ...
Raccoons den up and breed.
Bald eagles move toward open water at locks and dams.
Some bats hibernate or spend winter in deep sleep in caves.
Screech owls, barred owls call.
Skunks sleep during weather of 15 degrees or colder.
Gray squirrels, red foxes begin breeding.
Beavers feed on sapling reserves
Unbred does enter second estrus.
Whitetails form winter groups.
Badgers dig up, kill and eat hibernating woodchucks

This ‘n that

Tuesday is last day to apply for the first lottery for spring turkey permits. Visit to apply.

... Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller will speak and answer questions Wednesday at Pekin’s Miller Center at 5:30 p.m.

... Jim Herkert of The Nature Conservancy will take over as director of DNR’s office of resource conservation.

... Conservation scholarships of up to $1,000 are available for high schoolers who work with Illinois natural resources. Applications are due Tuesday. Visit to learn more.



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