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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

Gone fishing, sort of

March 26, 2008 at 10:05 AM

The plan today is to go fishing. The sun is shining. The forecast looks dismal for the days to come. Today looks like the best chance to wet a line for awhile. And in spring, when you get a decent day, you’ve got to go or suffer through the comments of others as they talk about the fish they caught.

So as soon as the middle boy gets off the bus (he’s in pre-school, so he has a half day and will be home by 11 a.m.) we are going to pack up and go wet a line.

I’ve got a few relatively shallow pothole lakes in mind we can try, since the strip mine action would likely be too slow for him. Hopefully the crappie will bite. Maybe a bass or bluegill will cooperate.

But here’s the rub. It’s cold out. Not super cold, but too cold for a 5-year-old to fish for long. Which means I would probably get a lot more fishing done if I went alone. But one of my goals this school year is to take the boys fishing more. And with Victor in pre-school, he’s got a lot more time than his older brother.

So today we’ll experiment. We’ll pack a lunch and dress warm. We might even bring the dog to add an element of craziness to the whole affair. And if we catch a fish it will be a huge bonus. I’ll report back later.

Story and comments

A 2008 quail calendar for you

March 25, 2008 at 11:58 AM

Here’s a simple little quail calendar that might be worth printing and posting somewhere. Mine is headed for the dog’s shed, a reminder of happy days to come in the fall months.


Story and comments
Illinois Outdoors

Memories of old Buck

March 25, 2008 at 09:18 AM

We were stopped at the Casey’s in Wapella Saturday morning, headed for a weekend of Easter relaxation with relatives, when a black Lab peeked out from the back of a truck topper.

“Looks like Buck,” I told the boys.

“Probably not as good of a hunter,” the oldest said, as though he had a clue.

And so a legend is born. A son who never really knew Buck will always remember him as the greatest hunting dog in his life. The truth, of course, is otherwise. Not that it matters. I don’t want to go back and learn the truth about all the wonderful childhood memories rattling around my head.

So I will let the oldest believe what he wants to believe about Buck. Maybe years from now he can even convince me it’s true. For now, the truth still gets in the way of that fantasy. I’m not yet senile enough to tell people Buck was the best.

Some not-so-fond memories will not dim with time or memory loss. Like that Easter years ago when I went to Adams County to turkey hunt. Easter was late that year. So we went to mass in the morning and I left in the afternoon to get to buddy Tim Walmsley’s house in time to hunt.

That same winter I had planted winter wheat in my small garden behind our Peoria house. The wheat grew lush and tall. Unbeknownst to me, a mother rabbit decided the wheat was a perfect place to raise a family. It was not. There was no fence around the garden. And there was Buck. But until the babies got old enough to move, they were safe enough.

Naturally, they chose Easter morning to move. By the time I pulled up to Walmsley’s, my wife was on the phone. “Do you know what your dog did?”

One by one, he brought those baby rabbits to the sliding door in back of the house. There he left them in various stages of life for my wife to deal with, since I was gone for a week of turkey hunting. Dead Easter bunnies piled on the deck on Easter morning. Can it get much worse?

So I never question her when she says, “I don’t miss Bucky at all.”

I just don’t agree.

Illinois Outdoors

Story and comments

Wild Things 3-23-08

March 23, 2008 at 02:14 AM


Number of fish caught in last year’s Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit tournament on the Illinois River.

Sauger season at hand

What will the Illinois River do this week? That’s the hot question among anglers preparing for the 22nd annual Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit out of Spring Valley on Saturday and next Sunday.

Whatever the weather, all involved hope there’s no repeat of last spring, when high water hampered fishing. Winners Marty and Mickey Stuefen of Cedar Rapids, Iowa earned $60,360 for a 2.71-pound sauger.

Weigh-in starts at 1 p.m. both days and spectators should park at Hall High School and then ride shuttles to Barto Landing.

Did you know?

The Eastern wood rat is one of five endangered mammals in Illinois and Southern Illinois University biologists are releasing rats. So far the stocked rats are faring well and reproducing.
Eastern wood rats are known as “pack rats” because they collect and trade shiny items in their nests.

Bass tourney sign-up

Sign-ups for the 27th annual Peoria Sportsmen’s Club/Watkin’s Marine tournament at Spring Lake are Saturday starting at 9 a.m. at the clubhouse west of Manito. Cost is $100 for the April 26-27 event.

Anglers can also sign up for a $150 buddy elimination tourney June 28-29. Call (309) 545-2761.

IHSA fishing committee

The Illinois High School Association is moving forward with plans for a prep bass fishing tournament in the spring of 2009. An advisory committee meeting is set for April 3 to write rules for the tournament, whose logo is “The Future Fishes Here.”

Dave Gannaway, IHAS assistant executive director, said the meeting will create a structure for the tournament, which will be open to one team from each of the 756 member schools. Teams may be comprised of male or female high school students.

Birding bits

Purple martins started showing up at Rich Klockenga’s Edwards home on March 14 — the earliest males have arrived since he started putting up gourd houses for the birds.

“Since martins only feed on flying insects I ended up supplemental feeding my birds last year during the cold wet spell the end of March and the first days of April,” Klockenga said. “I fed 2,000 meal worms and around 4,000 crickets and managed to keep all my martins alive then.”

Tip of the week

The Illinois River Valley chapter of Pheasants Forever will give away sunflower and corn seed for food plots Saturday at the Field Shopping Center parking lot in Morton at 8:30 a.m. Call (309) 444-3416.

Kudos corner

Long-time Illinois fisheries chief Mike Conlin was recently honored by the Illinois chapter of the American Fisheries Society for his “significant contributions to the fisheries profession and to Illinois aquatic resources.” Conlin now heads up the Department of Natural Resource’s office of resource conservation.

Bass stocking study

A study of bass in 15 Illinois lakes showed “limited contribution of stocked fish to adult largemouth bass populations.” If bass are stocked, four-inch fingerlings are most cost effective according to research by Diana Matthew and David Wahl of the Illinois Natural History Survey.

This ‘n that

... Watch next Sunday’s paper for the 16-page Prairie State Outdoors spring fishing section.

... Pheasants Forever will hold its national Pheasant Fest to Madison, Wisc. Feb. 6-8, 2009.

... Spring trout season opens April 5.

Story and comments

Open Blog Thursday

March 20, 2008 at 07:16 AM

I’m still searching for answers to good questions last night posed during my fishing talk at the Pekin Public Library. Can you help out today?

FROM Jim and Vicki Hussey of Peoria, for whom spring arrived early on March 15.

“After a long, hard winter our resident ground hog Barb (named after District 150 school teacher Barb Hartter), appeared for the first time since last year.  Competition was tough with the birds and squirrels over seed, but Barb seemed to get her share.”

Illinois Outdoors

FROM Helen Gasdorf of Peoria:

“Why does the estimated population—and this is a rough estimate according to the research that I did on bobcat populations in Illinois—suggest that a trapping season should be considered? The only reason for trapping, with all of its cruelties and inhumane treatment of target and non-target animals is to provide fur coats for vain, rich women.

“I have no problem with hunting for food. However I obtained my coyote specimens for parasite study in graduate school from a fur dealer. And I know how these animals were killed. The attitude toward predators is still one tinged with hatred and lack of respect and understanding. Ditto for river otters. Please no trapping season for bobcats and otters.”

FROM Bob Adducci: of Oak Brook.

“Read you blurb about the wolf-like canine near Lena. This winter I was hiking a remote trail at Wolf Road Woods in Palos at dusk and crossed paths with a large wolf-like canine. It was over 100 pounds and it scared the heck out of me. Luckily, it did not pay much attention to me and kept on moving. It was definitely not a coyote or a fox. Could it have been a wolf? Have there been sightings?”

FROM Rich Klockenga of Edwards (sent March 14, 2008):

“This is the earliest ever that Martins have arrived at my site. While hanging some gourds on one of my racks this afternoon I heard a Martin overhead and an adult male was circling above watching. I raised the gourds and he lit and investigated a couple of the gourds then flew around and left. I lowered the rack and finished hanging a few more gourds and raised it back up to the top.

“He has been back a couple more times since and will probably stay the night and be my first resident of the season. March 14th is very early for here and last season March 18th was the earliest ever for me. Since Martins only feed on flying insects I ended up supplemental feeding my birds last year during the cold wet spell the end of March and the first days of April. I fed 2,000 meal worms and around 4,000 crickets and managed to keep all my Martins alive then. It is quite a spectacle to see the birds catching tossed in the air crickets before they fall back to the ground.”



Story and comments

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