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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

Canada goose season is over

January 31, 2010 at 09:05 PM

The marathon that is Canada goose season is over.

And not every living creature is happy at that news.

On Saturday I kicked a goose shell loose in a corn field. When I picked it up, about 14 field mice scattered from a grassy nest they had built. The mice looked dazed—not unlike the hard-core goose hunters I know. They’ve been hitting it hard for months now and can use some time off.

Myself, I gave up on the honkers weeks ago after too many depressing hours in the cold and mud.

And true to form last night, a big flock of birds passed just out of gun range over my house as they headed north.

Damn geese.

Story and comments

Wild Things 1-31-10

January 31, 2010 at 01:05 AM


Whooping cranes in the flock that migrates from Wisconsin to Florida.

Western whoopers ailing

The significance of an experimental population of whooping cranes east of the Mississippi River has been underlined by problems facing the western flock. Biologists expect whoopers in Texas to face a second straight die-off due to a lack of blue crabs, the endangered bird’s main winter food source. Last winter 23 whoopers died. Latest estimates put the Texas flock at 263 birds after one chick died and another went missing.

You speak

“What upsets me most is that instead of spending research and development dollars for giving hunters better-quality products, manufacturers pad the pockets of ‘pros’ to sell you and me on television and in magazine ads.”
— Les Davenport, from an article on North American Whitetail magazine posted on

Birding bits

Birders are upset about a reported ivory-billed woodpecker sighting from the Sabine River between Texas and Louisiana. The sighting was reported by Daniel Rainsong, a gambler called “The Wizard of Odds.” Rainsong has so far produced no proof.

Kudos corner

At last weekend’s Pheasants Forever state convention, the Illinois River Valley chapter was honored for its work recruiting youth hunters and for planting the most acres of habitat among Illinois chapters in 2009. Chapter president Nick Ripley was honored with membership in the Long Spur Society. Woodford County was also recognized for having topped $100,000 in habitat expenses.

Critter corner

In the wilds of Illinois in February ...
Chipmunks are out on warm days.
Red-winged blackbirds, mallards, wood ducks and robins start to return.
Skunks, raccoons, groundhogs and minks mate.
First squirrels are born.
Moles are active in deep tunnels.
White-tailed deer feed in groups.

This ‘n that

The first Illinois High School Association bass tournament will be televised Saturday on Babe Winkelman’s Good Fishing Show at 6:30 a.m. on Fox Sports Midwest (Channel 57, Peoria’s Comcast cable). ... Spring Lake needs a campground host to start April 15. Call (309) 968-7135.

Story and comments
Illinois hunting and fishing

Can I eat worms in my fish?

January 30, 2010 at 07:46 PM

Reader Keith Sutton of Pekin asked the following question.

“My son-in-law went ice fishing with some friends recently, and nearly all of the fish they caught had little white worms in the flesh.  My son-in-law called another friend who has a large pond and he said that his fish were the same.  Have you ever heard of this and if so, what might be the cause? Also, are fish like this safe to consume? Thanks and I hope to hear from you soon.”

I’ve seen the little white worms myself and fried them up in the past with no ill effects. Just to be safe, though, I asked fish biologist Rob Hilsabeck. Here is his reply.

“I believe 100 percent that he is describing what is known as yellow grub. Fry them up. These are not a parasite of humans and fish infected with them are edible.”

Here is the appropriate answer from page 42 of the IDNR “Management of Small Lakes and Ponds in Illinois”: 

Worm parasites spend part of their life cycle in one or two animals other than fish. The adult yellow grub worm lives in a heron’s mouth. They lay eggs in the saliva, which wash out of the bird’s mouth as it feeds. Upon entering the water, the eggs hatch and the larvae must invade the flesh of a particular type of snail of the genus Helisoma.  If these snails are not present in the lake, the life cycle is broken.  If this genus of snailis present, the larvae invade its flesh and multiply themselves manyfold.  When they mature, they burst out of the snail, penetrate the fish’s skin and become cysted in the muscle. This encysted form may be white or yellow and 1/8 to 1/4 inch long. When teased out of its cyst, it wiggles, squirms and crawls about. The large size and active behavior of this grub causes universal comment when anglers fillet infected fish! The life cycle is completed when the fish containing these encysted grubs is eaten by a feeding heron. Dissolved out of their cysts by the digestive juices of the heron, they mature into adult worms, which migrate up the bird’s gullet to its mouth, where the life cycle beigns again.

Story and comments

Now this is a real ice fishing tourney

January 29, 2010 at 03:45 PM

All this talk of Lake Camelot’s ice fishing tournament on Saturday was put into perspective for me a few moments ago as I perused the AP wire.

The annual Camelot tourney is a big deal for us here in central Illinois. Would it even register in North Dakota?

Devil’s Lake fishing tourney will have 5,000 holes

DEVILS LAKE, N.D. (AP) - Organizers of an annual ice fishing tournament on Devils Lake plan to drill 5,000 holes on Six Mile Bay Saturday morning.

City Fire Chief Jim Moe says 13,500 tickets were made available for the department’s 26th annual tournament. He says he expects a huge crowd if it’s not windy.

Moe says more than $170,000 in prizes will be awarded.


Story and comments

Some wild deer management ideas

January 28, 2010 at 02:19 PM

Before you complain too much about deer management in Illinois, check out these ideas being floated in Nebraska.

Deer hunting without permits proposed in Nebraska

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Night-hunting with spotlights and shooting without permits are being proposed as a way to decrease Nebraska’s deer population.

During a legislative hearing on Wednesday, some farmers said the bill (LB836) was needed to lessen crop damage caused by the state’s deer herd. Opponents, including farmers and outdoors’ groups, said it could lead to a dangerous free-for-all.

The state Game and Parks Commission opposes the measure and say they are extending anterless-deer hunting seasons, reducing permit prices and taking other steps to reduce the herd.

The bill would allow landowners and their immediate family members to kill, without permits, deer caught damaging property. It would also require additional deer-hunting seasons and allow spotlight hunting.

Story and comments

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