Friday, March 16, 2012

Early Spring Scouting: Some Tips and Benefits

Yes, I know. A lot of you might think I am crazy going out in the middle of March looking for morels. But that was actually the last of my intentions today. There are many good reasons to get out right now and stretch your legs and look around the woods. As long as your goal isn't to find morels, you will not be disappointed. And if you do happen upon a small patch of early morels, well that is just a bonus.

For example, today I had several goals I wanted to accomplish by my scouting.

  1. I wanted to get out of the office and stretch my legs. With temps above 80 and finishing up some pressing deadlines, it is hard to stay in front of a computer while the trees leaf out and the early dogwoods begin to bloom. Scouting an area is not only a good way to get to know the terrain and but also a good way to train your legs. It is just great rejuvenating exercise. Now when my legs start screaming from the lactic acid build up in my leg muscles from being out of shape, that is another matter. At least mine need a little breaking in.

  2. To find morels you have to get "in the flow." It starts with the flow of walking the woods. Walking up and down the hills, sidestepping thorns, while ducking under branches is an art. You have to develop a different way of moving to pass through and around the brush and briers while constantly looking at the ground, instead of at the branch about to poke you in the ear. You can't tell people how to do this, it can only be learned by doing. By the middle of the season you don't even realize you are doing it.

    By that time you have moved into the flow of the mushrooms. This is usually achieved after seeing the first one. Once you see that pattern and smell that rich earthly aroma, sticks and thorns be damned.

  3. It is a great time to try out some tree ID. Peruse the message boards find out what people say they have found them around in past year's (winter threads are a good place where people spill the beans not caught up in Morel Anxiety Syndrome). Order this MO Tree ID in Winter Guide from the conservation department. It gives good descriptions of the bark and branching structure and it is only three bucks. Take it with you until you can ID the potential subjects. Scout these trees out and note them for later hunts.

  4. Also, for me today I have a small tear in the cartilage of my right hip. It mainly hurts only when I sit but I haven't been hiking much since it was diagnosed. I tested it as well today and to my surprise it held up very well. it only hurt when I sat down to drive in between spots. Now I am confident that as I walk more and more it wont bother my hip.

  5. Last now is the time to note changes, damaged down trees. Places change over the course of time. Good groves of trees change and once you learn when they produce you can tell which section of woods looked more poised to produced based on your experience. SO knowing how things look after winter can help you plan you picking path when they are really hitting. This way you hit the best spots first and then can go back and check in between.
OH and as for that bonus....




You with

A special


The icing on the cake, my first morel of the 2012. Found in Mid-MO the earliest date I have ever found one in all my years of hunting them. With all the warm weather, I had predicted I would find my first on March 15, so I was only one day off.

There were more but they were all teeny-tiny and I covered them up so they wouldn't be seen. This one was just popping through the soil. Sorry I didn't have any change for scale so I had to use my backup fire starter I carry in my pack in case I get lost.

I am not alone. I got reports from Amanda down in Green County, who found two small grays.


Tracy said...

Awesome glad to see and hear that they are starting to pop. I am from mid-Missouri and I have been out a couple times to how my honey hole looks like and it is looking really good. Congrats on your early find

sustainable forager said...

im definitely not doubting you, but that pic looks like a gyromitra. was it a black, grey, or yellow, the pic makes it hard to tell? congrats either way, this is for sure a sign that the season is gonna be early! good luck staying out of the woods now!

ahistory said...

Those are baby greys (morchela esculenta). They just had a reddish tinge to them on the edges.