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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 6-29-08

June 29, 2008 at 05:31 AM


Hours per week on average that American children spend in front of an electronic screen: TV, video game or computer.

Urban fishing update

Barring complications, urban fishing clinics should start July 7 at Peoria’s Glen Oak Park Lagoon. An instructor for the clinic has been selected and training is scheduled for this week according to Dan Sallee of the Department of Natural Resources.

Clinics will be held twice daily through Aug. 15 and target youngsters 16 and under, though anyone may attend. Youngsters learn fishing techniques and can then test their knowledge in the stocked lagoon.

Register for a clinic at (309) 681-2865.

Wild on the Web

Visit for a free online version of the Quality Deer Management Association’s June 2008 issue of Quality Whitetails.

The biggest snapper?

What’s the biggest snapping turtle you’ve ever seen? That’s the question to be asked in wake of a debate this week following claims by Nate Herman of Peoria that he corralled a 30-pound snapper.

Illinois Outdoors

Most area turtle experts contacted agreed that seemed large, though you can draw your own conclusions by eyeballing the above picture of the big turtle.

A 30-pound snapper is possible. In his “Handbook of Turtles,” Archie Carr wrote there are numerous records of 40- to 50-pounders, a few 60-pounders, a couple 70-pounders and “one hand-fed and abnormally obese individual of 85 pounds.”

Here in central Illinois, where fried turtle remains a cult favorite food, humans are the limiting factor in the lives of most big snappers.

Smallies still slow

Usually by now, Jonn Graham of Pattonsburg has stacked up a series of great smallmouth bass stream fishing trips. But this year’s wet, weird weather has not helped smallmouth fishing in central Illinois.

“The fishing has been so bad I even took my kids to a pond and caught largemouth bass the other night,” Graham said.

And Graham said smallies he has caught recently on the Vermilion were very thin and “looked like they hadn’t eaten in months.”

Tip of the week

Deadline for the first lottery for fall firearm wild turkey hunting permits is July 7. The season runs Oct. 25 to Nov. 2. Applications are at

Duck food in doubt

Another casualty of ongoing flooding may well be refuges planted to attract ducks at many Mississippi River waterfowl areas.

Here on the Illinois River, flooding is less severe but managers at Rice Lake and Anderson Lake are watching river levels nervously. On Thursday, water was still present in Rice Lake’s Barton Field, though the site has a supply of 85-day corn on hand and can wait until July 10 to plant.

Less promising are prospects for planting the Rice Lake walk-ins and Lake Carlson at Anderson Lake, where   flooding has hampered levee repairs.

Critter corner

In the wilds of Illinois in July ...

  • Bald eagles, Canada geese fledge.
  • Squirrels have second litters.
  • Young raccoons leave dens.
  • Weasels breed through August.
  • Young hummingbirds visit feeders.
  • Blackberries, mulberries ripen.
  • Tiger salamanders take adult shape.
  • Biologists band wood ducks and plant warm season grasses.

This ‘n that

Hunters in Iowa last year shot an estimated 630,000 pheasants, down 16 percent from 2006. 


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