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

Wild Things 2-28-10

February 28, 2010 at 12:42 AM


Species counted during the 100th annual Christmas bird counts in Peoria and Chillicothe.

Deer Classic concludes

The 20th annual Illinois Deer & Turkey Classic concludes today at Bloomington’s Interstate Center. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bucks can be entered to be measured until 10 a.m. The show features 349 vendors and is expected to attract 450 trophy deer , including Chris Kiernan’s record non-typical bowkill.

Fourth waterfowl zone

Illinois has asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to give the state a fourth duck hunting zone.

“Setting duck hunting seasons that will accomodate hunting for a variety of duck species (early vs. late migrants) and hunting styles is not possible with the current suite of zone options,” Director Marc Miller wrote.

USFWS has not granted similar requests in the past. Stay tuned.

Gearing up

Field & Stream and Outdoor Life magazine both came out recently with lists of top fishing gear for 2010.

Field & Stream singled out Minn Kota’s I-Pilot as the “most important product” for 2010. The I-Pilot is a $400 GPS unit that can be fitted onto Minn Kota bow-mount trolling motors and allows anglers to easily record their movements through the water for future review.

Both magazine praised the $200 Shimano Stradic C14 spinning reel. Other Field & Stream top picks were the TFO Gary Loomis spinning rod, the U.S. Reel Supercaster 1000 baitcaster, G. Loomis Deep-Flex crankbait rods and the Yum Money Hound lures.

Outdoor Life tabbed the $100 Abu Garcia Soron SX40 spinning reel and the $230 Quantum Energy PT SS as great buys. OL’s favorite spinning rods were the St. Croix Avid Peral and the Lamiglass XL 702S while top baitcast rods were the Quantum Tour KVD and the Okuma C3-C-661M.

Fish fry fund-raiser

The 5th annual Larry’s Casting Kids Fish Fry fund-raiser is Saturday from 4-7 p.m. at Pekin’s Knights of Columbus Hall. Cost is $7 for adults, $5 for children age 5-12 and free for kids under 5. This year’s10th annual Larry’s Casting Kids event is July 23-24 at Pekin Lagoon. The two-day gala was tabbed among the nation’s top 30 youth fishing events. Visit or call Lori Hoyle at (309) 241-4110.

Wood duck boxes

Fulton County chapter of Ducks Unlimited is selling cedar wood duck boxes for $35 with a discount for anyone who buys more than five. Call Emil Boucek at (309) 338-4521.
Now is also a good time to clean, repair and restraw goose-nesting platforms. Don’t delay. Ice will be gone eventually.

Critter corner

In the wilds of Illinois in March ...
Raccoons, minks, opossums, coyotes, flying squirrels, muskrats, chorus frogs and skunks are all breeding.
Sandhill cranes migrate north.
Chipmunks end hibernation.
Resident Canada geese nest.
Rabbits have first litters.
Turkey vultures and bluebirds return.
Prairie chickens start booming.
Pheasants crow.

This ‘n that

Wildlife Prairie State Park celebrates its season opener today with free admission. ... Manito’s chapter of Ducks Unlimited was recognized as one of the conservation group’s top 100 chapters out of more than 3,500 nationwide. ... Bloomington Bass 25 has openings until April 4. Call (309) 274-4555. ... Storms and flooding in Mexico this month did not appear to cause major mortality among monarch butterflies on their winter roosts.


Story and comments

The continuing saga of the triple drop

February 26, 2010 at 11:38 PM

One of the great things about going to the Illinois Deer & Turkey Classic is that you just might be able to see deer that up until now have been locked away in people’s cell phones.

At the very least you might be able to see a few different pictures of those cell phone bucks.

A perfect example came today in our Prairie State booth. A guy walked up, flashed a picture of a buck he said had four drop tines and then asked if we had ever seen the deer before.

Fortunately, the answer was yes. Illinois hunting and fishing While the picture was different than this one that appeared on Boone and Crockett Club’s Trophy Watch page, the rack was the same. Well, he thought it had four drops. I say three. Minor difference.

According to the fellow with the phone, this buck was shot near Vermont in Fulton County by “a guy from Maryland.” We’re betting that guy is Shawn Bennett, whose buck was reportedly scored at 237 inches. Bennett told Mike Hanback, “My Buck of a Lifetime came sneaking by me in a funnel @ 27 yards on Nov. 6th in Fulton Co., Illinois. A soft grunt stopped him broadside.”

Given that it was shot by a non-resident, I’m not holding out much hope to see the deer this weekend. But at least I got to see another picture of this impressive non-typical, pictured below.

Illinois hunting and fishing

And we learned more about the buck and the outfitter with whom it was shot. Bennett was hunting with Illinois Trophy Bowhunters, which has a trail-cam picture of the big deer and better field pictures of the buck.

Those little discoveries are one of the reasons I enjoy the Classic. That and the chance to meet so many people who sent in pictures to us over the past few months.

Thanks for stopping by today and make sure you come visit us in booths 801-802 on Saturday or Sunday if you are headed to the show.

Story and comments

Will this buck make the Classic?

February 26, 2010 at 07:03 AM

A few days ago I blogged about this buck, which appeared on the Boone and Crockett Club’s Trophy Watch page. As the story goes, Illinois bowhunter Shawn Bennett shot this one, which was scored at 237 inches by an official Pope & Young Club measurer.

I will be very interested to see if this big one makes it to the Illinois Deer & Turkey Classic this weekend at Bloomington’s Interstate Center. Or will the presences of the Kiernan buck keep other slightly smaller monsters away?

Very interesting to see what happens.

And here’s another picture of what appears to be the same buck.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Story and comments

Outdoor Life reviews 2010 fishing gear

February 24, 2010 at 03:11 PM

Here is Outdoor Life’s annual review of tackle for 2010.

• Outdoor Life Editor’s Choice / Spinning Reel
Price: $200
“The CI4 cast farther and with less effort that other spinners.”

• Outdoor Life Great Buy / Spinning Reel:
    Price: $100
“This reel is a no-nonsense workhorse with a wallet-friendly pricetag.”

• Outdoor Life Editor’s Choice / Bait-Casting Reel:
Price: $370
“Blends durability, function and comfort at a great price.”

• Outdoor Life Great Buy/ Bait-Casting Reel:
Price: $230
“The best value among the bait-casters.”

• Outdoor Life Editor’s Choice / Spinning Rod:
Price: $180
“Rod flexure is uniform, and sensitivity increases as vibration is transferred from tip to handle more efficiently.”

• Outdoor Life Great Buy / Spinning Rod:
    Price: $100
“It flicked nearly microscopic jigs with nimble accuracy.”

• Outdoor Life Editor’s Choice / Bait-Casting Rod:
Price: $200
“Super-strong, yet light and sensitive.”

• Outdoor Life Great Buy/ Bait-Casting Rod:
Price: $150
“Capable of transmitting the slightest ticks at bait.”

Story and comments

Field & Stream’s top fishing gear

February 23, 2010 at 11:16 PM

Here’s the annual list of Field & Stream magazine’s top fishing gear for 2010.

  * SPINNING REEL- Shimano Stradic C14, $200

  * SPINNING ROD- TFO/Gary Loomis, $100

  * FLYFISHING REEL- Waterworks-Lamson Guru Reel, $179-$249

  * FLYFISHING ROD- Orvis Hydros Fly Rod, $495-$525

  * FLYFISHING BAG- Fishpond Storm Mountain Gear Bag, $195

  * FLYFISHING FLYBOX- Umpqua Feather Merchants Professional Guide Flybox, $25-$40

  * ELECTRONICS- Minn Kota I-Pilot, $400

  * OUTERWEAR- RailRiders Extreme Adventure Pant, $95

  * OUTERWEAR- Simms Streamtread Wading Boot Soles, $120-$220, with HardBite Star Cleat Studs, $40

  * OUTERWEAR- Cloudveil Hellroaring Jacket, $200

  * BAITCASTING ROD- G. Loomis Deep-Flex Crankbait Rods, $245-$275

  * BAITCASTING REEL- U.S. Reel Supercaster 1000 Pro, $250

  * LURES & ACCESSORIES- Leatherman Freestyle CX, $70

  * LURES & ACCESSORIES- Yum Money Hound, $7.35 for 4

Story and comments

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