Illinois Outdoors at PrairiestateOutdoors.com
RulesIllinois Outdoors at PrairiestateOutdoors.com
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
 

Scattershooting

A Web log by Jeff Lampe of the Journal Star

The time to smile has come

August 31, 2008 at 08:55 PM

All the scouting is over. All the shell-buying is over. Well, ideally we’ll need more shells if the doves show.

Point is, hunting seasons start in earnest in a few hours. This is exciting.

In preparation today I worked with a furor to finish the deck I started last summer. When I can get the jobs around home done, I can hunt hard.

And I want to hunt hard this year. Last fall we ran into complications with my wife’s pregnancy. While our third son Walter was born healthy and strong in January, there were some long months from October to January while my wife carried him to term.

This fall, I’ll have more time to devote to quail and ducks and deer and pheasants and doves and geese and all the other fine critters that I love to chase. And there are quail in the dove field. Not to mention a few doves. Maybe even a few geese. The beans are changing color. Corn is firing. We roasted weiners and marshmallows this evening as the hot day chilled to a crisp night.

Hunting season is here. It gets no better than this.

Story and comments

Wild things 8-31-08

August 31, 2008 at 04:57 PM

11

State-best average doves per hunter last year at Edward Madigan State Fish and Wildlife Area near Lincoln.

Deer public meetings

The Department of Natural Resources has set open public meetings to seek input on possible deer management changes. DNR staff and members of a deer population control task force will be on hand to answer questions and discuss proposals. Meetings are from 4-7 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Tuesday — Peru Eagles Lodge
  • Wednesday — Rockford Public Library
  • Thursday — Scripps Park Community Building, Rushville
  • Sept. 9 — Olney City Park Building
  • Sept. 10 — World Shooting and Recreational Complex, Sparta
  • Sept. 11 — Bethany Fire Station.

Call (217) 785-2511 to learn more.

Goose opener

Local Canada geese are fair game Monday morning for a new, liberal early goose season. The daily limit in the Central and North zones is now five honkers. Hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

Last year 12,788 hunters in the early season shot 16,207 honkers. Since the first September season in 1998 the top harvest was 26,021 in 2001. That mark could fall this year with the more liberal limit and an overall decent goose hatch.

You speak “One of my best memories and now a standing family funny story was of my big idea to improve goose hunting west of Farmington. It was years ago and goose hunting was just starting to gain momentum in the area. “I had one of the first ideas of motion in the decoys. I thought that if my little girl, who was 7 at the time, would put on black leggings and shoes, strap a goose shell decoy onto her back and walk around in the decoys in front of my blind, the geese would pour into my spread. “Funny thing, that is the only time in 30 years of being married to a wonderful, understanding wife that I was threatened with bodily harm. Oh well, I guess even the most tolerant of hunters wives do have their limits.” — Roger Woodcock, Farmington

Did you know?

As part of its routine tasks, staff at Hennepin Canal Parkway State Park must perform regular maintenance on 104 culverts and drainage pipes along the canal. The task is stipulated in convenants signed when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers transferred title of the canal.

Who will do that maintenance if Hennepin Canal closes, as Gov. Blagojevich’s office has proposed? Hennepin is one of 11 parks slated for closure on Nov. 1 when 39 DNR staffers are also slated to be laid off.

Kudos corner

Peoria Bassmasters won the Illinois Bass Federation’s Region 2 tournament for the third straight year. Peoria had 82.85 pounds last weekend on Pool 13 of the Mississippi River to top the Tri-County Anglers (76.01 pounds) and Mackinaw Valley (65.75).

Team members include Mike Reed of Pekin (who topped all anglers with 19.94 pounds), Darin Reed of Bartonville, Jimmy Hoelzel of Pekin, Alex Mottsinger of Bartonville, Jerry Langenhahn of Mapleton and Craig Pickens of Pekin.

Critter corner

In the wilds of Illinois in September…

Ducks, songbirds, monarch butterflies and bats migrate south.

Muskrats build lodges.

Rabbit breeding finally ceases.

Snakes enter winter dormancy.

Tree and barn swallows stage in large flocks.

Persimmons and hazelnuts ripen.

Acorns start to fall.

Puffballs and other fall mushrooms start to appear.

Story and comments

Pheasant count soars in SoDak

August 30, 2008 at 07:17 PM

Here’s good news for any Illinois pheasant hunters headed to South Dakota this fall.

Pheasant numbers soar in South Dakota

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP)—The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department’s annual brood survey reveals 2008 - the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the Chinese ring-necked pheasant to the state - is the best year for the state bird since 1963.

“The survey results show a statewide increase of 9 percent in pheasant numbers,” said Jeff Vonk, GF&P secretary. “That’s amazing, considering the record-setting level of last year’s brood survey.”

Last year’s brood count showed about 7.8 birds per mile.

This year’s figure is about 8.5 pheasants per mile, which is 64 percent ahead of the 10-year average.

South Dakota lost about 260,000 acres last year as farmers chose not to re-enlist in the federal Conservation Reserve Program and converted some grasslands back into crops. Officials think the state could lose another 500,000 CRP acres in the next three years.

“It’s not all peaches and cream,” said Tony Leif, GF&P’s wildlife director. “We did have some declines in the eastern part of the state. Certainly, the loss of habitat from the CRP led to the decline.”

Vonk said brood survey results were up statewide, but this year, local results are mixed.

The survey indicates almost 12.3 pheasants per mile in the Mobridge area, a 61 percent increase over last year. The Chamberlain area has about 22.5 pheasants per mile, 36 percent more than 2007.

But the Sisseton area has a 47 percent decline, with an estimated 1.9 pheasants per mile. And the brood count fell 33 percent in the Watertown area - to 5.9 pheasants per mile.

The increase in central South Dakota served as a buffer to the loss of habitat, Leif said.

Good weather that broke eight years of drought helped as well, Vonk said.

“Weather is always a significant factor in the health of the pheasant population, and winter was mild and spring precipitation was timely,” he said. “We had some concern about cool, wet cond itions in late May and early June as the peak hatch approached. Fortunately, conditions improved.”

The hunting season for pheasants, a $200 million industry in South Dakota, begins Oct. 18.

Story and comments

Six-legged deer dies

August 28, 2008 at 10:15 PM

You may recall the six-legged deer whose picture we ran earlier this month. Well, there’s bad news for the little fawn. Surgery to remove two legs was not successful. Here’s the full story.

ATHENS, Ga. (AP)—A six-legged deer found in north Georgia has died following surgery at a private Athens animal clinic to remove its two extra legs, which were hindering its gait.

The deer, called Spyder, died Aug. 20, two days after surgery. The veterinary surgeons who performed the 3 1/2 hour operation on Aug. 18 said Spyder seemed to be healing well but then died suddenly of what appeared to be a vascular problem.

The unusual deer was found July 18 by a couple whose dogs had chased it near Armuchee in northwest Georgia. It was initially treated for minor injuries from the dogs and then sent to live with an Athens woman who has a permit to keep unique animals in captivity.

Veterinarians said they aren’t sure why the animal had an extra set of hind legs.

Story and comments

Open Blog Thursday

August 28, 2008 at 04:07 AM

There are weeds to mow and dove fields to prepare before Monday arrives. Help me fill this space, won’t you?

FROM Joe Egli of South Pekin:

Chris Miller from Carlock just called me about horse trading lead shot for snagging hooks. He told me he caught a 43-pound Asian carp 2 weeks ago!
I went again last nite and all I can find is 2 at a time fish that are about ONE foot long! What has happened to the big carp?
Chris tries to tell me these things breed in June and August and they missed this because the dam was not up - know anything about this? You have any idea what makes them gang up below the dam?

FROM Roger Woodcock of Farmington:

One of my best memories and now a standing family funny story was of my big idea to improve my goose hunting west of Farmington. It was years ago and goose hunting was just starting to gain momentum in the area. Probably around 1990. I had one of the first ideas of motion in the decoys and thought that if my little girl who was seven at the time would put on black leggings and shoes and strap a goose shell decoy onto her back and walk around in the decoys in front of my blind, the geese would pour into my spread. Funny thing, that is the only time in thirty years of being married to a wonderful, understanding wife that I was threatened with bodily harm. Oh well, I guess even the most tolerant of hunters wives do have their limits.

Story and comments

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