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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

A turkey at the Journal Star

July 31, 2009 at 04:25 PM

Photographer buddy David Zalaznik arrived at work this morning at about 7:40 a.m. to see this hen turkey parading around the front door of the Peoria Journal Star.

Not long after he took her picture, the bird flew off over the building.

Now surely this will prompt some discussion from you folks on the turkey working at the Journal Star.

Story and comments
Illinois hunting and fishing

Details on a huge Texas rattler

July 30, 2009 at 04:21 PM

This one is destined to be sent all over the country in e-mails claiming the snake was killed in “Insert your town here.”

But kudos go out to PSO reader Bob Zettler of Chatham who tracked this one down on his own. Here’s what Zettler found:

I was sent an email regarding this Rattlesnake this afternoon around 2:30 PM. At first I did not believe it as the only hit I got on a quick Google search resulted in a link to a thread at the Texas Bowhunters Forum.

As the person who sent it to me is a Texan and trustworthy, I decided to call the police in Manor, Texas where this email states it happened to verify. A woman answered the phone and as I said, “You might not understand my call and question but I am chec…” and she interrupted me, “Yes, the snake is real.”
It seems they have gotten a lot of interest in this story and the TV people have been out there today to cover it - remember it happened on Monday, July 27, 2009.

Now Police Chief Robert Snyder is no slouch and stands 6’ 1” so you can tell from the photo it is one big muther of a snake. No, they did not measure it but feel quite comfortable it was at least the 7’ 6” claimed.

No, it did not have a German Shepherd, small child or the like inside BUT it did have that large rabbit and they conjecture that is why it was slightly lethargic.

Yes, there were children playing in the yard of the house in the Shadow Glenn subdivision but they did not know how many. It seems the woman (home owner) was raking the yard and discovered the snake and called the police. The Chief showed up and dispatched the snake with a .410 shotgun in the backyard and not inside the house as some claim.

So my good friends in Texas and all over, that is the story behind the photos and I am sure this will become a Snopes story sooner than later and be around for years to come…and isn’t it amazing how fast and how far these stories will travel in this Internet Age!

And what is also amazing is that I was able to post this first time report here in less than a hour after I was first informed about the Rattlesnake and verifying the story…



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Illinois hunting and fishing

Of albino moles and other duck tales

July 30, 2009 at 04:03 PM

Hang around Ron “Hound Dog” Henderson and you can expect stories to fly. Even that knowledge didn’t prepare me for last Sunday.

“Hey Lampe, my brother’s got a picture of an albino mole to show you,” Hound Dog said.

Sure enough, Richard Henderson came to the Rice Lake duck-blind drawing with a photo of a unique mole caught in his
East Peoria yard. “Fattest mole I’ve ever trapped,” said Hound Dog’s younger brother. “No question he was healthy.”

While that’s the first albino mole I’ve seen, the critter underlines a noteworthy point: Part of what makes hunters so enjoyable to be around are their stories.

Whether it’s albino moles, the legality of shooting groundhogs out of a tree or breeding coon dogs with 25-year-old semen, there’s always a new topic to discuss. And there’s no better place to hear a variety of stories than at the annual duck blind drawings.

Once upon a time blind drawings were limited to diehard waterfowlers who spent their time talking about ducks, decoys, dogs and waders. That’s no longer true. Crowds have skyrocketed now that savvy duck hunters use food and drink to attract friends and to increase their odds.

That’s why you end up seeing people like smallmouth bass state record holder Mark Samp at a drawing. Samp, who next March celebrates the 25th anniversary of catching his record 6-pound, 7-ounce smallie, came to Rice Lake to help a friend.

That’s also part of what lured Richard Henderson, truth be told. Naturally, he drew a blind. When I asked, innocently, what an old coon hunter was going to do with a duck blind, he corrected me.

“I’m a mole hunter,” he said, becoming perhaps the first man to claim that title.

Then again, there could have been several mole hunters in the crowd last weekend. Woodford drew 1,345 people, Rice Lake had 1,161, Sanganois 1,011, Anderson Lake 395, Spring Lake 324, Marshall 243 and Sparland 20.
The only disappointing turnouts were at Anderson — down 50 percent despite a good stand of millet — and Sparland, where 9 of 12 blinds were claimed.

Woodford likely set a record and Spring Lake had its best crowd since 1993. Given that, being drawn is cause for
celebration. Just don’t celebrate too early, as Jeff King of Creve Coeur learned at Woodford.

King heard his name called seventh and was celebrating his good fortune right up until he picked blind No. 8. That’s when site staff informed him the pick actually belonged to another Jeff King from East Peoria.

“I guess I’m still kind of in shock,” the Creve Coeur King said.

ET CETERA: Squirrel season opens Saturday and runs through Feb. 15 statewide. Daily limit is five and shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. ... Peoria Casting Club north of Chillicothe has a catfish tournament Sunday at 6 a.m. Call (309) 274-6474. ... Stark County Soil and Water Conservation District has an informal prairie walk today at 9 a.m. at the Route 40 rest stop, 7 miles south of Bradford. Native plants will be sold. ... Ken Parr broke 50 straight targets on the first night of spring trap shooting at Wilmor Sportsman’s Club, only the fourth time that has been done at the Morton-area club. ... An original Bill Swango carving of an eagle (carved out of moose antler and mounted on walnut) will be raffled during a fund-raiser Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Red Brick Schoolhouse in Smithfield. Money raised will refurbish the Smithfield baseball diamond. Call (309) 789-6587.

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Mouse in the house? So what

July 29, 2009 at 06:50 AM

For the past few days, I’ve been trying to outsmart a mouse in my garage. So far the mouse is winning. But I had to laugh at my tiny problem compared to this story about a homeowner in Oregon.

OR man grabs shotgun, kills bear in house

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) - Everett Skinner and his family have started keeping their windows closed at night after a bear broke into their southwest Oregon home and he fatally shot it.

The bear ripped off a window screen and climbed into their den Saturday night, Skinner said.

Skinner’s daughter Nicole awoke at about 11:30 p.m. to a strange shuffling sound and was the first to spot the bruin. She quickly retreated to her parents’ room to get help.

Everett Skinner grabbed his shotgun and went to the den, where he and the bear saw each other at about the same time. He said the animal stood up and headed toward him, so he fired.

“It didn’t even faze him,” Skinner said. In all, he fired his shotgun four times, killing the animal.

Skinner said he tried to donate the carcass to a wildlife rehabilitation center that takes road-killed deer, but apparently none of the animals there eat bear meat. Eventually, he used his tractor to bury the bear.

The Skinners say they don’t know why the bear invaded their home, about eight miles from Grants Pass.

“In hindsight, you start thinking of all that could have gone wrong,” Nicole Skinner said. “We were very blessed that this didn’t go badly.”

Family members have done what they can to clean up the den, but Skinner says they’re probably going to have to replace the carpet because of the “rather bloody mess.”

And they won’t be sleeping with the windows open anymore.

“That’s the last fresh air we’re going to get at night,” Skinner said.

Story and comments
Illinois hunting and fishing

Duck Commander show delivers

July 28, 2009 at 04:06 PM

Well, I’ve got a new favorite television show.

A few months ago we changed our channel lineup so that I can no longer watch that show about crab fishing. As a tradeoff we wound up getting The Outdoor Channel. Prior to that I’d never spent much time watching all the outdoor shows I always heard Chef Todd rambling on about. But now I actually find myself watching a few. While most of them are weak, there’s a few I like. And not just the ones with pretty co-hosts.

Heading up my favorites list is the new Duck Commander show. Click here to see the promotional trailer. Click here to read a story about the show.

I’m not sure exactly what I like about the show, billed as “a redneck reality show,” but I made sure to be in front of the television last Saturday when the show came on at 8:30 a.m.

There was some duck hunting and talk about duck calls, but mostly it was a look into life of the Duck Commander’s Louisiana clan. From what I’ve seen in the two episodes I’ve watched, they are an entertaining family. My kids feel the same way, though middle son Victor was a bit confused.

“Daddy, what country are those guys with all the hair from?” he asked.

Not a bad question. Besides, who can blame a boy for pondering a show where almost every character has a foot-long beard.

Myself I’ve had an interest in Phil Robertson ever since he cameIllinois hunting and fishingto Peoria in 1999 to speak at the now-defunct Mid-America Waterfowl Expo. Robertson was an excellent speaker but what I remember most was him making fun of my beard: “Boy, you need to grow some more hair. That beard of yours looks like Yasser Arafat’s.”

While I’‘ve never been compared to Arafat (at right) in the years since, I’ve often pondered that remark when I shave. And I’ve paid close attention to Robertson’s career as the country’s best-known duck hunter. That he’s now on television every week is good news in my book. So don’t call me Saturday mornings, I won’t answer the phone.

Here’s the article I wrote in October of 1999 when Robertson came to Peoria.

Music to the ears of duckaholics

Terry Bradshaw, you probably know.

But do you know the person who started ahead of Bradshaw at quarterback for the Louisiana Tech University football team?  The person who passed on a professional football career because it
might interfere with his duck hunting?

That man is Phil Robertson, arguably America’s best-known duck hunter.

Called the Duck Commander because of his ability to “command” ducks into range with his sweet calling, Robertson is the star of six popular hunting videos and has created his own line of calls. And next weekend at the Mid-America Waterfowl Expo you’ll have a chance to hear Robertson discuss his waterfowling ways.

Judging by a recent phone conversation with the Duck Commander, his seminar Oct. 9 at 6 p.m. in the Peoria Civic Center is one you won’t want to miss.  Born and raised in Louisiana, Robertson has basically devoted his life to duck hunting.  In the process he’s made some rather interesting observations—along with growing the longest beard since Rip Van Winkle.

Consider his new floating duck blind, which is 20-feet wide, 45-feet long and surrounded by a 115-foot shooting porch.

“We built it out of masive old blowdown cypress logs,” he said. “It’s a monstrosity.”

But a carefully considered monstrosity.  Robertson noted that most blinds from Canada to his home state of Louisiana are built with basically the same dimensions.

“These ducks get so used to seeing the same size blobs with some decoys around them they get educated,” he said.  “I believe the ducks will think this is too big to be a blind.”

The shooting porch ensures Robertson’s crew will be in perfect position no matter which way the wind blows.

No doubt, you’ll hear all about the blind as Robertson offers his 10 commandments for successful duck hunting.  And you may be surprised to learn that calling ranks pretty low on that list.

“There’s seven other things more important than duck calling,” he said.

Still, that’s largely where Robertson has earned his fame since patenting a unique reed system back in the mid 1970s.  “We started with a D2 Olt and we’d cut on it and shave it looking for that
precise sound,” Robertson said.  “My idea was to come up with something as pure duck as I could get it.”

As it turns out, that sound is further and further removed from what you now hear at a calling contest.

“I think (contests) are good for the sport, they just tend to lose sight of the old pure duck sound,” Robertson said.  “It’s almost turned into a musical instrument.”

But not for Robertson.  His calls aren’t made to please audiences or judges—they are made to attract ducks.

“My clientele tends to be the pure duck hunting crowd,” Robertson said.  “Some of these old boys, when it comes to ducks they literally have gone over the edge.”

To help those luckily afflicted folks, Robertson formed a national support group called Duckaholics Anonymous.  He also has a Web site, mails out a slick four-page catalog of his products and is part of a national advertising campaign for Browning.

As for football, Robertson said he has seldom regretted taking a different path than his ex-roomate Bradshaw.

“As it turns out, we both ended up in very happy positions,” Robertson said.  “He won four Super Bowls and went for the bucks. I’m glad I went with the ducks. “







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