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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 6-15-08

June 15, 2008 at 02:15 AM


Number of eggs found in a turkey nest this spring by Pat Hanley of Kickapoo.

Probyn makes the hall

For years, Tim Probyn of Peoria has made regular visits to theIllinois Outdoors corner of Schooner’s tavern that serves as a local mushroom hall of fame. He’ll spend an evening in the corner, visiting with friends and admiring pictures of past winners in the bar’s annual big morel contest.

“I sit back there and say, ‘Man, I can’t believe they find (mushrooms) that big around here,’” Probyn said.

Now Probyn believes. That’s thanks to the 17.5-ounce morel he found on May 11 while mushroom hunting in a grassy area of Peoria County near a recently dead elm tree. The mushroom earns Probyn a spot on the wall as well as $100 and a plaque.

Bryan Hart of Washington took second (12.5 ounces) and third went to James Ramey of Trivoli (10.25), whose morel also won a contest held by Elmwood Insurance Company.

“At first I walked past it because when I looked it didn’t even register. It was so big it didn’t register,” Probyn said of his winning entry. “Then I told my girlfriend (Debbi Debernardi) to get the shovel because I’m digging it up.”

That capped a good, though late, mushroom season for Probyn, 51, who has hunted morels since age 5. A maintenance man for Peoria District 150, Probyn spends most spring afternoons in the timber.

While his winning mushroom was remarkable, it’s fate will be the same as most Probyn finds: sauteed with green onions, butter and Worcestershire sauce and placed on a grilled steak.

Benefit bass tournament

About 27 years ago, the late Gary Lee Weber helped organize the Peoria Sportsmens Club’s two-day spring bass tournament.

In the years since, that annual event has become the Peoria area’s biggest bragging rights bass tournament.

To recognize Weber’s contribution, the Peoria Sportsmens Club is holding a buddy bass elimination tournament at Spring Lake on June 28-29, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Registration is due by June 20. Cost is
$150. Sign up at the Sportsmens Club or call (309) 545-2761.

IHSA sets bass terms

Illinois’ first state bass fishing championship will be decided May 8-9, 2009, when 40 to 42 boats will meet at a yet-undisclosed-lake. That’s the latest word from the Illinois High School Association, which recently announced terms and conditions for its first prep bass tournament.

Each school will be allowed to enter up to two boats in sectionals on April 24, 2009, with up to three students in each boat (two of which may fish at one time).

Anglers in each boat will compete as a team, with each group allowed to weigh five bass.

Schools must enter the fishing series by Nov. 1. For a complete list of rules visit

Want to teach fishing?

Most years, the Peoria urban fishing program would open Monday at Glen Oak Lagoon. But thanks to extremely late posting of job openings this spring (thanks again Gov. Blagojevich), no instructor has yet been found for the Peoria clinics (or for clinics in Rockford and Moline).

Filling these jobs is normally not difficult. The job pays $15.10 per hour and requires four years of college studies. Teachers offer instruction in basic fishing to two classes per day of up to 25 students.

If you are interested in the job e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call (217) 782-1274.

This ‘n that

Starting Wednesday, Tom Grider is having a going-out-of-business sale at Riverside Bait in Pekin. ... Tours of the Gilles family prairie restoration near Princeville are set for July 14 and 18 at 6 p.m. and July 15 and 19 at 9:30 a.m. Call (309) 671-7040, Ext. 101. ... Tom Rowen of Deer Creek is predicting a bumper crop for raspberries later this summer.


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