Jeff Lampe outdoors column for Friday, July 4

You readers are a curious lot. Here’s proof.


Q. Hello, could you clear up something for me? I plant food plots on my private property in Southern Illinois for deer and turkey: clover, chickory, etc.


A friend at work said I could be fined for baiting? What are the laws? — George Barger


A. Your friend is wrong. Putting out salt blocks or piles of corn is illegal due to Illinois’ ban on feeding deer. Planting food plots is legal. Here’s an explanation of the distinction from state deer biologist Paul Shelton.


“What it boils down to is deer utilize food plots much differently than they do bait piles. The reason we have an overall ban on deer feeding is simply because of the way deer aggravate and use bait piles and the increased risk that causes them as far as disease spreading. When they’re putting their noses in the same place and using the bathroom in it that tends to create conditions that are ideal for disease spread,” Shelton said.


“Whereas when they are moving through something that is planted, then that situation is lessened quite a bit. We didn’t want to do away with the opportunity to provide some additional food, we just wanted to lessen the likelihood of disease spread.”


Q. Can you please direct me to a source for signs stating there is no mowing of an area (due to habitat protection). The local farmers are good about mowing the roadside ditches and waterways around my house, but I would like to leave it in a natural state for the wildlife. — John Thompson


A. The Department of Natural Resources runs a program called Roadsides for Wildlife that is designed to provide habitat for critters. As part of the program, DNR distributes orange and black signs that say: “Roadsides for Wildlife, Do not mow until after Aug. 1.”


Stan Etter runs the program and can be reached by e-mail at stan.etter@illinois.gov or by phone at (217) 784-4730. Etter said he will gladly mail out signs to landowners who limit mowing for habitat purposes.


Q. Is there going to be controlled pheasant hunting at state sites in 2008? — Ed McIntyre


A. Probably, but there’s no guarantee yet. An estimated 64,000 birds have been hatched and are being raised at the state’s three rearing facilities.


That’s a good sign. But Department of Natural Resources spokesperson Chris McCloud said the status of controlled pheasant hunting remains “uncertain.” A bill to raise the permit fee for hunting stalled during the recent legislation session.


And Sen. John O. Jones, R-Mt. Vernon, has said the future could depend on what Gov. Rod Blagojevich does in regards to what the governor called a $1.5 billion shortfall in the General Assembly’s budget.


Q. Most years, hunters can start reserving controlled pheasant hunting permits on Aug. 1. Is there is a place to snag at the Peoria Lock and Dam on the banks?  — Brian Rynearson


A. No. Snagging below the dam is pretty much a boat-only prospect. Access on the Pekin side has been restricted since the 9-11 attacks and access to the Peoria side would involve a very long walk.


High water has been the bane of carp-snaggers this year, as the Peoria dam has been up for only four days in 2008. But hope is in sight.


“It depends if we get any more water, but we’ll probably raise (the wicket dam) on July 9,” lock and dam worker Randy Peters said Monday.


Q. Is the Redneck fishing tournament for Asian carp at Bath going to be held this year? Or did it already happen?  — Dennis Manning


A. You are still in luck. The Bath Redneck Fishing tournament is July 18-19. Last year’s event drew 123 boats and many more spectators.


This year’s schedule calls for a youth fishing tournament July 18 from 1-3 p.m. for ages 2-12. At 4 p.m. youngsters can dress up like rednecks in the Little Miss and Master Redneck tournament. The first heat of fishing is 5-7 p.m., during which competitors try to boat as many Asian carp as possible using only landing nets.


On July 18 there are three more fishing heats, several bands, a beer garden and plenty of fun.


“I’ve got people calling from all over,” said Betty DeFord, who runs the Boat Tavern in Bath. “And I guess I was just on National Geographic TV again the other night.”


For details call DeFord at (309) 546-2545.


Q. I was wondering if there are Asian carp in Emiquon competing with the bass? If not, what keeps them out? — Reba Leiding


A. Thankfully no Asian carp have been spotted in Emiquon’s 2,000 acres of water. So far, only one common carp has been sampled at the restored wetlands near Havana.


A massive levee keeps Asian carp out of Emiquon, though that will change (for the worse) if The Nature Conservancy gets its wish and reconnects the site to the Illinois River.


Q. Where are my deer permits from the first lottery?  — Many callers and e-mailers


A. Permits from the first lottery are still being allocated due to data entry problems. Shelton said a drawing should be run next week. In theory, that leaves enough time for permits to arrive before the second lottery deadline of Aug. 14.


You can also check your status on the DNR Web site at dnr.state.il.us/admin/neon1.htm.


Jeff Lampe is the Peoria Journal Star outdoors columnist. He can be reached at jlampe@pjstar.com or 686-3212.