Thursday, September 30, 2010

Trumpets galore!!! or Accepting a Challenge

Boy, if you can get out in the woods do it now. The trumpets have been going like gangbusters especially around Mid-MO. It is pretty easy to go out and get a good mess of them. Just look in mixed hard woods with lots of oaks. In my own experience they prefer more hilly terrain. Nice rolling hilly woods seem best.

And right now if you find the right areas, they are fairly easy to spot as they are growing in huge masses. Now don't get me wrong, they are still the HARDEST mushroom to spot in my opinion. One trick that many hunters use, whether they know it or not, is to look at mossy spots because there they stand out really well. This is indeed a good trick, but step lightly. Usually when you get to the moss you have already walked halfway across a patch and tromped Lord knows how many mushrooms.

Let me talk about moss for a minute. Mr. Rogers, a local hunter and I were out picking bag after bag of the yummy smelling clusters no where near any moss, when he reminded me of a sentiment that Michael Kuo had shared in his book 100 Edible Mushrooms. So, I picked my copy of of the shelf when I got home and read this.
Speaking about black trumpets, Dr. Kuo said:
"Their relationship with moss is worthy of mycological investigation in my humble amateur's opinion. I challenge you to find an in-situ photo of Cratellus cornucopiodes on the Internet or in a book that does not have moss or sphagnum in it." (p.99)

I must say I was surprised that he was basing his argument on photos in books and on the internet rather than his or other hunters' own experiences. This is something he warns not to do when identifying mushrooms, and I would argue the same thing applies when trying to generalize about them as well.

I believe this is more a matter of how expectation sets your outlook. What I mean is, if you expect to find them on moss then that is mainly where you will look, especially when they are easier to see there.

Going back to Dr. Kuo's photo argument, it seems more logical to me that they are always pictured in moss, because they stand out and are more picturesque. The green makes for nice contrast which really brings out the shape and contours of the mushrooms. Photos of trumpets taken in the camouflaging browns of the leaf litter and blacks of the loamy soil do not make the cut because they do not have the photogenic appeal of their mossy counterparts. In fact, I bet a true photographer would pass over the ones in the leaves to find that perfectly outlined specimen standing tall above a sea of mossy green.

Now don't get me wrong, I find Micheal Kuo's books and resources some of the best out there for amateurs. He is a great writer and a highly respected mycologist, and I have benefited greatly from the sharing of his insights, experiences, and knowledge. I just don't think he thought this one thing quite through and accept his challenge.

If you only hunted moss this time of the year, you would find a few, but you would miss the massive patches flourishing in the oak leaves far from any moss or sphagnum. I highly recommend that you get out there if you can and see if you can find this tasty treat. There are no poisonous look-a-like making them a pretty safe mushroom for beginners and one of the best tasting mushrooms out there. I rate them even higher than morels.

Here are a few in-situ photos of trumpets to train your eyes. Please note, especially if you are Dr.Kuo, that there is absolutely no moss in sight.

Trumpets marching uphill (click and zoom in to see the troops nearing the log)

I spent a good half hour sitting and picking here.

Oh yeah and I have seen but not picked a few young hens. Mr Rogers has already found a 9 pounder locally though I dare not say where. Hopefully more posts to come on these beauties real soon. Happy hunting.