Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fifty Pounds in one Day

OK, so you have just hiked to the top of a steep hill and find yourself looking at oak after oak to no avail when you come across this. I spotted this one at nearly 100 yards out. It was huge, literally the size of a beach ball.

This has been an incredible year for hens and this one topped all. I had never seen one this large in my years of fall hunting. And get this, I didn't even pick it. I just took some photos showed it to some hunters to be, that were with me and walked away.
I know what you are thinking. How could you do that? How could you turn your back on such a marvelous specimen? Well, there were several reasons so let me lay them all out for you.

First, take a look at this picture. This thing was bigger than my backpack and probably approaching 30 pounds. Hauling that back down the hill I scrambled up and back to my car seemed like more of a chore than I wanted.
Second, the underneath of many fronds were just turning yellow. Yes, it wasn't too far gone for eating, but it was on its way and let me move on to my next point.
Third, did I say I had already found 14 other hens that afternoon and had over 20 pounds in my vehicle?
In the end I only picked about 8 of the 15 or approximately half of the 50 pounds or so I uncovered today. I only came home with two nice hens and gave the rest away to the hunters to be. They were eager to try some, though I cautioned that they only try a bit at first, to make sure they were not allergic, as a few are.

I also came across a small patch of sweet tooth that were big and bug free. Like the ones I found a few weeks ago, these were atop a rocky ridge right above the outcroppings. They were a nice treat. I saw some hericiums of all three varieties, purple gilled lacaria and some oysters but all were too old for the table.

I managed to find one very fresh hen on a nice slope so I could take one of my favorite "uphill underneath" shots. The fresh hens I found today were very dark and brown, however they varied to light tan, as seen in the one above. There were plenty of small ones that I left behind so unless the cold really sets in, the hens may be here for a good while more. So, keep checking those oaks. If anyone is in Mid-MO and wants to try some hen, just let me know. I have plenty to spare.
Happy hunting.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Halloween Mushroom

Well not too much out in the woods these days as the rains has become fewer and farther between and the night and days grow colder. However there are some good fall edibles still in abundance. The kids and I returned to the scene of our first hen hunt yesterday only nine days after walking it previously and found a new flush of hens on several trees. With the lack of rain and being so fresh these were some of the cleanest, I have picked and took record time to clean. That is an often unmentioned downside of finding a 20 pound hen of the woods, the 3 to 4 hours it takes to clean is from bugs, dirt and to trim of embedded debris.

We also came across a nice chicken that had sprouted wings since last we had visited the trail. The kids really got a kick out of how "Halloweeny" the mushroom was. Anyone need a costume idea?

Here they are with their Halloween find. Notice how well the mushroom goes with my daughter's pants. Thanks to Jon Rapp, once again, for such fabulous photos. He is really spoiling me.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sulfur Shelf - Chicken of the Woods

Normally, when I do find some nice chicken of the woods mushrooms they are Laetiporus cincinnatus or the white pored variety. But I had a few minutes to spare so I thought I would check one of my sweettooth patches out real quick and see if anything was still up. Unfortunately there were no sweettooh but I did find some pretty yellow fungal fingers beginning to stick out of an old dead snag. I left them alone and returned 4 days and a good rain later to find some real beauties of Laetiporus sulphurues.

Here are a few pics that Jon, a local hunter, he takes such great photos I rarely use my own camera anymore.

In the end I came home with three nice one pound clusters of some of the freshest chickens you can find. Made for some good eating and even had enough left over to dry some for winter.