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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 2-22-09

February 22, 2009 at 02:49 AM


Percent of attendees at the Illinois Deer & Turkey Classic who say they lease land for hunting.

Bluebirds arriving

As yet another sign of spring’s arrival, bluebirds are back in central Illinois. Herb Unkrich had a pair arrive on Feb. 7 and took the picture above on the deck of his Edwards home.

Unkrich puts out home-made food for his bluebirds. His recipe: mix one-half cup lard and 1 cup chunky peanut better; melt and add 2 pounds of yellow cornmeal, 1 cup flour, 2 cups old-fashioned oats, 1 cup sunflower hearts and mix well. You can also add chopped dried fruit.

Steve Havera of Lewistown has had bluebirds around for the past two weeks. “They are sitting on boxes already, they sure know when spring gets here,” Havera said. “But in terms of serious nesting that won’t be for another month or so.”

Havera has studied bluebirds since 1980 and said March 23 is his earliest documented nesting.

Wild on the Web

Want to learn more about Illinois muskie fishing? Click here to visit Pekin resident Duane Serck’s for maps, reports, guides and more.

Deer classic

A broadhead collection, seminars by firearm expert Ron Spomer and an increased emphasis on deer decoys are new features to look for at next weekend’s 18th annual Illinois Deer & Turkey Classic at the Interstate Center in Bloomington.

Old standbys like trick shooter Byron Ferguson will also return to the popular show that runs Friday (2-9 p.m.), Saturday (9 a.m. to 7 p.m.) and next Sunday (9-4).

If you attend, take time to visit our booth in spaces 801 and 802. On hand during the show will be Marc Anthony, Jonn Graham, Todd Clanin, Mike Steffa, Chef Todd and yours truly.

Gobble, cluck and hoot

The Mackinaw Valley Gobblers chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation has turkey calling and owl hooting contests Saturday at the Illinois Deer & Turkey Classic.
In addition to open and youth events, there’s a new hunter’s division designed to boost participation. Contests start at 2:30 p.m. and registration starts at 1:30. Or call Gary Eichelberger at (309) 454-6502.

Yugo for director?

Don’t be shocked to see new Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller arrive in an economy vehicle if you see him out and about. Miller turned down the usual state pool vehicle assigned to a DNR director and is driving his own vehicle to work. He plans to use pool vehicles only for travels outside Springfield.

“And I want the pool vehicle to be the most fuel-efficient possible,” Miller said. “It’s not enough of a savings (to fund a biologist) position, but every little bit helps.”

Contrast that with former acting director Sam Flood who averaged more than $700 per month in travel reimbursements in addition to a Ford Crown Victoria from the motor pool.

This ‘n that

Despite heated talk about whitetail bucks shedding early, several people report bucks with antlers. “I just saw two nice bucks on Tuesday that still had their antlersand a buddy had seven bucks with antlers under his bird feeder,” Phil Blackburn said.


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