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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

Wild Things 4-12-09

April 12, 2009 at 04:43 AM

New mushroom book

Just in time for morel season, the University of Illinois Press has published a new book entitled “Edible Wild Mushrooms of Illinois & Surrounding States.”
The 232-page book by Joe McFarland and Gregory M. Mueller features 291 color pictures and provides information on each edible species. Also included are pictures of look-alike species, so you can avoid eating poisonous species.

McFarland said he started picking black morels in southern Illinois the last week of March. “The forecast looks to be favorable for a good morel season ahead,” said McFarland, who once picked 1,300 morels in one day in the Shawnee National Forest. “Ground moisture throughout Illinois seems to be in good shape.”

The book is due in stores by April 24, sells for $24.95 and is also available at or by calling 1-800-621-2736.


Percent increase in popularity of camping between 2007 and 2008. So far this spring, family tent sales are already up 14 percent.

Tip of the week

Wild turkey hunting season opens Monday in the North Zone. Morel hunters are reminded they must wait until 1 p.m. to search for mushrooms at state sites that also allow turkey hunting.

Getting the lead out

The threat of a ban on lead in fishing jigs got Bob Platt of Sparland motivated this spring. While a proposed lead ban fizzled in Springfield, Platt has been tinkering with various alternative metals for the three-eighth-ounce jigs he sells to many Illinois River sauger anglers.

So far his best alternative is zinc, which at $1.79 per pound is cheaper than lead ($1.99 per pound) and weighs almost the same. But to make jigs with zinc, Platt said you must purchase ceramic coating for your pots or risk ruining them. As far as fishing, Platt said zinc jigs work fine.

“When the river reopened (in late March) I was whacking 3- and 4-pounders on the zinc jigs,” Platt said. “I pulled them for three days in a row and it didn’t even chip the paint off. They worked fine.”

Camping question

Camping season is almost here and with that in mind, we want to know about your favorite piece of gear. What’s the one item you won’t go camping without? What piece of gear makes your time outdoors better?

E-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with your answers by Monday. Please include your mailing address. Why? To sweeten the pot, three lucky readers will win Camp Stove Toasters courtesy of
Coghlan’s Ltd., the camping supplier which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Emiquon permits

Any angler who plans to fish at the Emiquon Preserve must obtain their own free permit prior to launching a boat.

Permits are available at Dickson Mounds Museum daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You can not pick up permit applications for other anglers.

Emiquon opens to fishing April 20. For more information call The Nature Conservancy at (309) 547-2730.

Rooting out hogs

How did wild hogs gain a foothold in southern Illinois earlier this decade?

Research by Blake McCann for the Department of Natural Resources and Southern Illinois University indicates most of the wild hogs seen in southern Illinois were not domestic hogs that got loose, but rather were due to illegal releases of captive-raised Eurasian hogs.

Attempts to eradicate feral hogs in southern Illinois have been successful so far. In Fulton County, though, there are still occasional reports of feral hogs along the Spoon River valley.

Anyone who spots a wild hog is asked to report the sighting to the state’s Living With Wildlife Internet site (


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