Illinois Outdoors at
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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

UPDATE: Bureau County bear pictures

January 08, 2009 at 06:13 AM

Here are pictures of the Bureau County near taken by Cheryl Balensiefen southwest of Buda in Macon Township on Dec. 30 while her husband Kent drove.

This big bruin has been roaming Bureau County since June and I’ve believed in him (or her, since we aren’t sure yet) for months. These photos should clinch the deal for any non-believers.

Even oft-skeptical Bob Bluett, furbearer biologist for the Department of Natural Resources, had only one comment about the pictures. “It’s a bear.” That’s saying something, since Bluett has had to wade through plenty of pictures of cats, black Labs and blobs of dirt over the years that have been passed off as bears or black panthers. This one is the real deal. We can now say Illinois has a bear.

What does that mean? We’ll have a full story on the status of the bear and bears in general this weekend. Until then, here’s a good column on the Bureau County bear by Dale Bowman of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

Finally, here’s a picture taken by Chris Wilson that same day south of Buda. He said the bear ran right in front of his truck.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Story and comments

Anonymous letter about DNR’s plight

January 07, 2009 at 05:55 PM

I received an anonymous letter this morning with a return address that read: One DNR Way, Springfield IL.

Here’s the letter (with paragraph breaks added), which touts Brent Manning (without naming him) as the answer to the problems currently plaguing the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Dear People of the Outdoors,

My name is already known to you because we work and play together at many outdoor areas! You see me but you don’t know me. I am the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and I am dying. I was once a functional, proud, caring and driven department, but now I am dying. My death is like the old saying goes, “Death by a thousand cuts” because I am bleeding, and it is a slow painful death.

I have lost fishing programs here and there, my budget is cut every year, they close some parks, decrease staff for programs, but yet I still try to serve you. The governor is stealing money from me every year and no one balks or challenges him. Oh, it doesn’t look like it, but I am on the verge of death, but yet you believe I am functional.

In the past I have been your advocate when you wanted money, new programs, or changes, but now when I need you, you sit on your hands and your tongue is silent. You point the finger of blame on who is at fault, but you do nothing to rally the outdoor community to stop the bleeding. Where are all the people that use my services and land? Why haven’t you come to save me? I keep hearing the question, “What can I do?” And I will tell you one option not to use, and that is to do nothing.

There is only one man that can save me now, and you know his name. You will not have to train him for he already knows about the department. He served the DNR for 12 years. He knows your needs, your wants and your desires to save me. If something positive is not done, my death will be soon and your outdoor opportunity will be void. You have a small chance to stop the bleeding, but you will have to work together “to get it done.”

What do you want your legacy to be concerning our state natural resources?



Story and comments
Illinois hunting and fishing

Wisconsin “world record” scores 233 2/8

January 06, 2009 at 06:02 PM

The latest “world record buck” is not a world record after all.

And Mel Johnson can rest easy that he still holds the all-time bowhunting typical record for his 204 4/8-inch buck shot in Peoria County in 1965.

But the Field and Stream buck shot by Bob Decker of Eau Claire, Wisc. this season did score as a state record. Decker’s Buffalo County bow kill scored 233 2/8 inches non-typical according to an article in the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram. Click here to read the article by reporter Julian Emerson.

Pope and Young Club scorers Steve Ashley and Glenn Hisey measured the 16-point buck, which is the largest non-typical ever shot by a bowhunter in Wisconsin. Wisconsin’s non-typical gun record is 247 3/8 inches.

According to Emerson:

Hisey and Ashley said the buck’s antlers were more symmetrical than those of most nontypicals. And while the buck’s tines originated from the main beam as required to be judged as a typical, Hisey and Ashley determined that several tines weren’t aligned in a row close enough to others to gain the typical designation.

“Every (tine) needed to be in a straight line, and in a few cases we didn’t quite have that,” Ashley said. “But it was a pretty close call.”

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing


Story and comments

Wild Things 1-4-09

January 04, 2009 at 05:20 AM


Percent of wild hen pheasants that die for each week of snow cover during the winter.

Share your story

Got a story about fishing at Dixon’s ponds in East Peoria? The folks setting up a new fishing park on that site want to hear your tale. Organizers of Hooked on Fishing Park are collecting stories for their Web site ( and newsletters.

“We know there are a lot of people with stories about fishing at Dixon’s from the past,” said Nate Herman of Herman Brothers Pond Management. “One guy told us how his dad used to drop him off there to fish once a week while his dad did his beer route.

“And I know there are plenty more stories out there.”

E-mail your anecdote to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Work at the facility is well underway and the site will be open to school groups for guided fishing trips starting May 1. For more information on booking a visit, e-mail Mike Hampton at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call (309) 219-3560.

Fur prices poor

Trappers are lamenting poor prices for many furs so far this year.

A key factor has been economic downturns in China and Russia that were noted recently in a statement by North American Fur Auctions, the nation’s largest fur clearinghouse.

That’s bad news for mice. Last year coyote pelts were bringing up to $30. This year’s price has dropped to $6.

You speak

“With the weather we have been having, larger bucks will drop their antlers early due to stress. With the late-season antlerless-only hunt coming up (Jan. 16-18), caution hunters to be careful about what they shoot.”
— Jim Dixon

Lament of the week

A year of anticipation and two months of wandering through weeds has come down to this: five days remain in the North Zone upland game season. After Thursday we’ll have to wait another year to chase pheasants, quail and rabbits in the North Zone.

South Zone hunters have until Jan. 15 to shoot quail and pheasants and until Jan. 22 to chase rabbits.

After that, comes a long, long wait. So get out while you still can.

Wild on the Web

Click here to see the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ informative Web site that provides eagle counts along the Mississippi River, Google map coordinates for viewing sites and a list of eagle-watching events.

Outdoor shows ahead

Sports show season starts in earnest this week with the All Canada Show ( in St. Charles, Thursday through next Sunday at Pheasant Run Resort. The Chicago Muskie Show is Friday through next Sunday at Harper College in Palatine.

The first area show is the Illinois Fish & Feather Expo at Bloomington’s Interstate Center Jan. 23-25.

The Central Illinois Boating & Fishing Show in East Peoria is Feb. 20-22 and the Illinois Deer & Turkey Classic is Feb. 27 to March 1 at Bloomington’s Interstate Center.

This ‘n that

Deadline for the second lottery of spring turkey hunting permits is Jan. 12. The first round of permits will be mailed out soon. Or visit to check the status of your application. ... Tickets for the Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame banquet at Pheasant Run in St. Charles are now on sale. Call (217) 785-2003. Spring Valley’s Bill Guerrini is one of the four inductees. ... Muzzleloader deer season harvest totals should be available early this week at

Story and comments
Illinois hunting and fishing

Another white Illinois deer

January 02, 2009 at 09:52 AM

David Horning sent in these pictures taken Jan. 1, 2009 near the Wabash River in White County. Horning said the doe is not a true albino since she has some pigment and black eyes. Even so, I’m pretty sure this pretty doe is protected from hunters by state law.

Thanks for the picture David.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Story and comments

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