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.