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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

Illinois hunting and fishing

Llama tagged as elk a true story

January 27, 2009 at 06:14 AM

The story seemed too set up to be true. A New York hunter heads to Montana for an elk hunt. He shoots what he believes is an elk. Only later does somebody tell him that what he actually shot was a feral llama.

Impossible, right?

Nobody could mistake a llama for an elk. And even if they shot a llama, they would realize their mistake. Surely they would not gut the llama, tag the llama and then drive off with the carcass in the back of their red truck.

Fake story, right?

Nope. Pictures have been circulating of the tagged llama and Brett French of the Billings Gazette recently wrote a story on the unbelievable hunt. Wrote French:

A New York hunter may be feeling a bit sheepish after mistaking a feral llama in Paradise Valley for a Rocky Mountain elk, but he apparently did not violate any laws.

Rusty Saunders of Fort Edward, N.Y., called a Fish, Wildlife and Parks warden in Livingston in November to turn himself in after shooting the llama, according to Mel Frost, FWP information officer in Bozeman.

Here’s text that goes with the e-mail you may already have seen,

30-06 rifle with Leupold Scope- $650 dollars
Out of State Elk License -$600 dollars
Gas to drive from New York -$700 dollars
Taking a Trophy Montana Llama- Priceless…............

Illinois hunting and fishing

Story and comments
Illinois hunting and fishing

If a tree falls on an elk…

January 26, 2009 at 04:45 PM

This e-mail arrived with the header, “What are the odds?” I say they are pretty slim. Here’s my bet. Somebody found a dead bull and dragged him under this tree. I’m probably wrong, but that’s my bet.

Story and comments

Wild Things 1-25-09

January 25, 2009 at 03:11 AM


Bluebills fitted with radio transmitters in Henderson and Hancock counties for a study into declining numbers of these diving ducks.

Funding extension?

The future of $16 million in funding for the Department of Natural Resources remains in limbo. At issue is the diversion of money from funds that include federal dollars.

While the Illinois House and Senate passed a bill to restore the funds (SB 1132), the ongoing impeachment trial of Gov. Blagojevich makes it unlikely he can sign the bill by a Feb. 2 deadline stipulated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. As a result, Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn has petitioned USFWS for an extension.

Scaup study

Illinois biologists are assisting researchers from Louisiana State University who are studying scaup to determine why populations of these diving ducks have declined.

Birds fitted with satellite transmitters in Pool 19 of the Mississippi River have travelled as far north as Saskatchewan and as far south as Cuba. One duck covered 2,068 miles in just over 76 hours.
Illinois hunters shot an estimated 14,416 bluegills in 2007-08, more than any state in the Mississippi Flyway. Research shows Pool 19 is an important rest stop for scaup during their return trip north in
the spring.

Wild on the Web

Fishing personality Jim Crowley of Bloomington has a new Web site ( that will focus on fishing and hunting.

You speak

“The Department of Natural Resources has suffered from the Blagojevich administration and his previous appointees. It is time for the agency to be run by a resource professional who knows the policy issues, the interests various constituencies and the science. Passing the legislature’s crony test of loyalty alone would not bode well for meeting the needs of the agency.”
— Lou Nelms, Mason City

Kudos corner

In 2008, Illinois’ 45 Pheasants Forever and 17 Quail Forever chapters spent more than $620,000 to improve, protect and restore 13,938 acres of habitat. PF also bankrolled the planting of 58,061 trees and shrubs and sponsored 3,381 youngsters at shooting events, conservation days and mentor hunts.

Since 1982, Illinois PF/QF chapters have raised and spent $11.1 million to resore and protect more than 275,000 acres of habitat.

Giant geese

As another Canada goose hunting season draws to an end, closing Saturday across Illinois, Illinois native Ken Lance asks an interesting question. “What’s the heaviest goose any hunter has ever weighed?”

Lance, who now lives in Dillsburg, Pa., grew up hunting in Putnam and LaSalle counties. He recalls killing big geese there, but said his largest honker weighed 16.8 pounds and was killed in
Pennsylvania. Now he wonders, how does that stack up against geese killed by Illinois waterfowlers? Let us know.

This ‘n that

While most outdoors shows have seen attendance declines, the SHOT Show held earlier this month in Orlando, Fla. enjoyed a 3 percent increase compared to its last visit to Orlando.

... Jim Beaty’s 48.5-inch muskie caught at Kinkaid Lake last Nov. 2 was the largest toothy critter weighed in at an Illinois Muskie Tournament Trail event. The first IMTT tourney this year will be March 21 at Spring Lake in Tazewell County. Call Bob Taylor at (309) 261-0474 for details.

... Sigurd and Richard Bjorklund counted 48 bald eagles on Jan. 16 at Chautauqua Lake. They also saw more than 50 robins nearby.

Story and comments

Get a snapshot of this page

January 22, 2009 at 09:18 PM

In case you wondered, the Department of Natural Resources has changed the” title=“administration page”>administration page on its Web site.

Yes. Kurt M. Granberg is now listed as director.

Think he should take a picture of this page, you know, just for his memorabilia file?

Story and comments

Open Blog Thursday

January 22, 2009 at 08:49 AM

Hmm. It’s going to be warm today. And fish seem to bite better on a warming trend. And I just got new auger blades, new LaCrosse boots and plenty of bait. Help.

FROM Jared Fidler of Lacon:

The darndest thing happened to me tonight. On my way home, three deer came running across the field towards the road in front of me. The last being a large deer with only one antler. The antlered deer jumped from the ditch, landed on the road. As it landed, the antler fell from his head, landed on the his back which caused him to jump again. The deer and the antler then landed in the field. The deer of course left the scene and I harvested a nice five-point shed. I rarely shed hunt, but I realized that the snow might work to one’s advantage when doing so.

FROM Lanny Burke of Eureka:

The article about a Pam Sprout seeing the “strangely marked sparrows” was interesting. I, too, have a dozen or so of these sparrows at my feeders. During 2006 and 2007, these sparrows would appear at the first snowfall which occurred the first part of December. When the first snow came this past December, these sparrows didn’t show up until a week or two later. We live on the north side of Eureka. My bird book does not show a “Eurasian tree sparrow” —- just “tree sparrow.”  Do you think that these birds are the same? 

Also, I note that these tree sparrows spend their summer time in Canada and Alaska; their winter time is spent here in the Midwest. My map shows that we are on their southern boundary for wintertime. These birds are neat to watch. They are not as timid as the regular sparrows.

Another note of interest for me is that with all the snow on the ground after the ice storms of late, and many birds at my feeders, I’ve actually observed two sizes of hawks fly in and catch birds at the feeders. I had thought the hawks were the Cooper’s Hawk; but I’m beginning to think it might be a Sharp-shinned Hawk. Or maybe I had both types. I felt bad about the little juncos that were caught; I told my wife that these hawks are hungry, too. After seeing the hawks swoop in and make a catch, I would grab my binoculars and watch the hawk eat lunch. Just this past Saturday I observed one of these hawks sitting in a nearby tree behind our house (after an unsuccessful attempt of picking up one of my birds) where he sat in the tree for several minutes. 

I then watched him/her fly off of the tree, flying close to the ground, traveling a good half block away from the tree and picked up “lunch.”  I marvel at the eyesight of these hawks. I couldn’t tell for sure what he had, but he had caught something—I could see it dangling from his claws.  He flew to the top of a nearby wooden post to enjoy his lunch. The marvels of nature!

Story and comments

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