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Recent entries



An honest logger? Yes!

Wed, July 05, 2017

Rambling through the outdoors, trying hard not to mow too much.


  There are few people in Illinois (other than politicians and journalists) with worse reputations than loggers and timber buyers. Horror stories abound about the logging industry: cutting extra trees, stealing the neighbor’s trees, leaving huge ruts all over and generally just behaving poorly. And I can personally attest that one logging firm currently advertising in Illinois is run by folks who do not pay their bills (call me and I’ll fill you in). ... So it was refreshing to deal with Bert and Travis Coffman, a father-son team who did exactly what they said they were going to do in regards to cutting walnut trees. Turns out not everybody driving a log skidder (above right) is to be feared. The Coffmans even held up cutting for a few days to allow time to double check a property line. Bottom line: they are good guys who were able to deliver good prices for walnuts we sold this spring. And Bert urged me not to cut too many trees. “I want Travis to come back and cut those in 10 years,” he said. And he will.


  The Year of the Big Fish shows no sign of ending. Since last we met in these pages, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources registered another state record – the seventh in three months! The latest record is a hybrid striper caught out of Bloomington Lake on June 12 by Robert Vericella of Bloomington. ... As impressive as was that 21-pound, 7.2-ounce fish, I’m just as impressed with the big bass, bluegill and crappie pictures that keep arriving. Even after the heat wave in mid-June, people like our retired product tester Gordon Inskeep were stringing up huge catches – his best a June quartet of bigmouths that measured 23, 22, 19.5 and 20 inches and topped 20 pounds combined. Best of all, there’s time to get out and join those lucky anglers!


  The first time I waded an Illinois creek in July, thoughts of actually catching a fish were far from my mind. Then a 16-inch smallmouth bass slammed my tube, rattled my rod and hooked me. Smallies make fishing the dog days of summer bearable – particularly in the northern half of the state, where some streams are truly scenic. And these creeks perform best during the hottest days – typically the worst time for so many other fishing pursuits. As you wade through a tree-lined stream, catching fish and keeping (relatively) cool, it’s sometimes hard to remember you are in Illinois. Then, as you leave the stream and head back into corn country, reality hits.


  Everybody has a friend who can do little wrong. Mine is Todd Clanin of Washington (pictured above right). Todd’s the guy who goes hunting one day, sits on a bucket in an unpicked corn field and shoots a big buck that happens to walk past. But don’t get the idea he’s just lucky. He works hard at it and is a master of putting himself in the best situation to succeed. I mention this because in June he caught his fourth muskie of 50 inches or longer – the latest a 52.5-incher caught on a topwater in the river above Lake Alice in northern Wisconsin. He also has Wisconsin fish of 50.5 and 50 inches. The topper, though, is a 54-incher from McMaster Lake in Illinois’ Snakeden Hollow State Fish and Wildlife Area. Are those four Clanin’s fish of a lifetime? Or is the best yet to come? Time will tell.


  It seems like just yesterday that Chef Todd was dumping a dead armadillo at the foot of the Interstate 474 bridge. We hauled the critter home from Tennessee to see how long it would take someone to report the sighting at Presleys Outdoors in Bartonville. It did not take long. Thanks Tom Rowen. But that was in the days before (anti)-social media took over everyone’s lives. So the matter blew over quickly. Fast forward to today when Zach Nayden of Point Blank Bowfishing playfully claimed an alligator gar he shot in Texas was really from the Illinois River. The ensuing drama that played out on Facebook was somewhat humorous but mostly silly. Folks, it’s still OK to have fun now and then. And no, not everything you read on Facebook (or anywhere else) is 100 percent accurate ... Illinois was not mentioned in the latest QDMA Whitetail Report listing for the “Top 10 Whitetail Spots for 2017.” But the Prairie State did show up on the charts for bow hunters chipping in the fifth-highest percent of the total deer harvest (37 percent). Illinois also ranked highest for average numbers of days afield per deer hunter per year with a whopping total of 30. Overall the report is fascinating and is at


  While the Illinois Deer & Turkey Expo has signed a six-year contract with Peoria’s Civic Center, something tells me if crowds are not good for the upcoming July 28-30 show, the day’s of the mega deer show will be over in the Prairie State. ... Parting shot: The Illinois DNR is on the right track with making leftover spring turkey hunting permits available after the third lottery. Now if they would just make them all available over the counter, life would be really grand.

Jeff Lampe is at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or (309) 231-6040.