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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 2-8-09

February 08, 2009 at 01:18 AM


Number of spring turkey permits left in Peoria County. Monday is the deadline to apply for the third lottery.

Record yellow bass

Illinois has created a new category for state-record fish thanks to 18-year-old Jon Zettler of Chatham (pictured above). On Nov. 3, 2008 while fishing at Rend Lake, Zettler caught a 2.06-pound, 15-inch fish that looked like a yellow bass.

But genetic testing showed the fish was a yellow bass/white bass hybrid. That’s the first hybrid of its kind reported in Illinois, according to fisheries biologist Dan Stephenson. Zettler was happy the state created the new record.

“I was blown away and sure glad I went with my dad (Bob Zettler) and his friend (Nick Shafer) that morning,” said Zettler, who caught his fish on a Grizzly jig. “(My dad and I) don’t spend as much time together as we used to and catching this fish sure made the day that more special.”

Morel hunt cancelled

The loss of a sponsor and increased insurance rates have led to cancellation of this year’s Illinois State Morel Mushrom Hunting Championship, scheduled for this May near Henry.

Tom and Vicky Nauman of Magnolia started the event in 1996. Last year was the first time the championship was run by Tom Davis’ Choice Productions of Henry. “If we can get some more major sponsors, we may try again next year,” Davis said.

Love, wild style

At first, Barb Hoffman was excited to see two foxes run past her South Rome house across the frozen Illinois River. Then, as the two foxes became amorous, she had to laugh. “They were mating on the ice for 45 minutes,” Hoffman said. “Some people have X-rated things happen in their lives. We had a F-rated thing happen.”

Love is in the air for many furbearers breeding now through March, including skunks, mink, groundhogs and raccoons.

You speak

“I don’t care what the groundhog said. Spring is coming early. Last week while coyote hunting I saw a flock of robins. I have seen robins before in March, but never in February.

“Then the other morning I heard a gobbler going nuts behind my house. I had to check it out. So I got my snow camo and started down the hill and up to the corn field. There were three tom turkeys in full strut working a bunch of hens.

“It is February, isn’t it?”

— Brian McDaniel, Metamora

Monarch numbers up

In a bit of unexpected good news, scientists report that the number of monarch butterflies in Mexico this winter is larger than expected.

Monarchs this winter have covered 12.5 acres of roosting area in Mexico. While that’s ahead of last year, it is still the fourth-lowest total in 14 years of data collection. Actually estimating numbers of monarchs is difficult, since a 2.47-acre colony may include from 10-50 million monarchs.

Hefty honkers

A recent request for the biggest Canada geese weighed by area waterfowlers has produced two hefty honkers. One is from Michael Lock of Dunlap, who had 21- and 22-pound geese this season at Rocky Meadows Hunting Club in Fulton County. But Lock’s largest ever was 24 pounds.

The biggest for Ben Dzurisin of Princeton was a 16.2-pounder he shot this season at Princeton Game and Fish Club.


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