Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Final Days of the Hunt

After having to go out of town earlier this week, I finally made it out to the woods to see if there was anything left from a week of no rain and who knows how many people out picking. Luckily, the morels were still around, though most had fallen over from their size and the rain. It didn't take long to get a small bag, but my fears were quickly realized as the woods looked like a freeway with all of the trails and places that people had tromped through the underbrush. The morels were there but you had to get off the beaten paths.

Also, I began to experience another late season sign, as the third one I found merely crumbled when I tried to cut it. And the next three after that, although they didn't crumbled, had turned limp. I am assuming they had dried out and then been rehydrated, so to speak, from the rain. This kept up for most of the day and I'd say every fourth or fifth one I found I had to leave behind. Today that number increase, so that I was leaving behind every third one. More rain seemed to be hurting more than it was helping.

Then I came to a section where the Army Corps of Engineers had widened a road through the woods. I had watched them do this last spring and wondered if those trees they were knocking down would produce. And early on in the season, I checked several of them and didn't see a thing. So, I had figured that they were not going to produce.

Well you know what happens whenever you think you have the morel finally figured out. I was walking down the widened road when what did I see, but some whitish things sticking our from one lone rootball. I went over and picked about 10 nice ones because they had been protected growing horizontally under the cover of the rootball. I looked all along that section and found about 12 more around various rootballs. This was only in one section about 100 feet long. The fallen trees to the right and left of the section had nothing. It was just this one section.

I went back today and looked around the front again and walked the entire 1/4 mile of knocked over trees and still nothing but in that one spot. I managed my way over into the woods on the backside of the fallen trees in that one section and to my delight I found the rest of them.

Many were growing right out of the rootballs. Can you see the three facing you from the rootball in the picture above? This shot was taken at about 25 feet away to give you an idea of how big and noticable those three 4-inchers were. There were a lot more when you got down low and looked underneath all of the fallen branches. It was disappointing though because about 1/4 were rotten. I always hate finding rotten mushrooms, because I should have found them sooner so they didn't go to waste. Hopefully, I can take solace in the fact that they should have spored out good for next year's crop.

All in all, I found 70 yesterday and another 40 today, but in the end I only got to bring home about 85 good ones. But this is the way the season ends and is another reason why I often stop hunting morels rather abruptly. It is nice to still go out and find some to eat, but I rue the day that I stumble across an untouched and rotting motherlode. Best to just avoid it all together.

Of course, if you have not gotten your fill of morels just yet, there is always one alternative. Time to drive north. I hear things are really picking up along the Iowa border. The timing of this rain is sure to bring on a good season in those areas.

P.S. I just found out that all of this rain is REAL bad for some of my spots. One of the places I was at today is now completely underwater from the flash flooding. Glad I got in there one last time. Saved at least 10 from certain drowning. Of course I ate them tonight. Talk about out of the frying pan and into the fryer.


Anonymous said...

Always enjoy your blog!
So, of all the mushrooms you pursue in Missouri, what are your favorite to hunt? What are your favorite to eat?

ahistory said...

Morels are by far my most favorite to hunt. Their elusive nature and the harsh competition only increase the adrenaline rush you get when you hit a nice patch.
However, I think chanterelles and particularly black trumpets are my favorite to eat. Morels are good, don't get me wrong. There is nothing like the taste of a morel. But trumpets have a rich earthy flavor, especially if you dry them first and then rehydrate them. A little goes a long way and can add an incredible earthy depth to any dish.
And I am not just saying that because they are the next god edible mushroom to show up. Should be eating some of them in Mid May if conditions are right.

Michael said...

I gotta agree with you there...trumpets are awesome tasting...just above the basic chantie.

I know some great spots for trumpets from last year if you're game to look for them sometime. Hopefully the Indigos will rock this year like last, too!