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Tales
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Mother lode

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My First Morel Find
by John Stewart

As a nine year old boy in 1966, there wasn't much I enjoyed more than baseball and fishing.  Our favorite family fishing spot was a strip mine in Fulton County, Illinois.

My Dad had a ritual every Spring.  While the rest of us would get set up to fish for Bluegill and Crappie, my Dad would take off around the bend in search of bigger prey.  You see, for years he had been trying to catch this mating pair of largemouth Bass that probably weighed ten to twelve pounds each.  They were always there year after year, and I would watch as he tried everything he could think of to get them to bite.  They would not.  The male would make his rounds of the perimeter, chasing off anything that would wander into his territory.  My Dad tried live Bluegill, dew worms, African wigglers, spoons, rapalas, spinner baits, and (you didn't hear this from me) snagging with a treble hook.  This occurred on only one occasion when his frustration level peaked.  I think the male Bass had flipped him off!

My usual perch to watch the happenings was about halfway up the side of the strip pit, just far enough away to not "spook" them.  I had to take a circuitous route to get there.  Strip mines have very steep sides, and very loose footing because of the discarded coal fragments.  The vegetation was limited in some spots, which made it even more perilous.  Loss of footing could send you hurtling head over heel into the cold deep water.  On one particular occasion I was taking the "high road", or the cow path closest to the top of the hill, when something strange caught my eye.

I had just passed a large, fallen tree which had begun to rot.  The bark was falling off the trunk in large pieces, and weeds grew to either side.  Big weird-looking yellow flowers grew in abundance among the weeds next to the log.  I had never seen anything like them, and picked one to show my Dad.  He asked, "Where did you find that?"

He explained to me what I had found, and in all we had around 40 huge yellow sponge mushrooms (Morels).  My first find!  Later, we feasted on fresh Morels.

Needless to say, but I was hooked!  The largemouth Bass never was.


 
Dad Won't Mind!
by Dave Huddleston
 

I was 8 or 9 years old, which was 30 some years ago. While hunting with my dad, I was getting bored with not finding anything. I started playing along the creek bank and my dad told me to stay away from the water. I just knew I could find shrooms on the other side of the creek, not really but I wanted to cross. So, I crossed the best I could trying not to get wet. Dad caught me and yelled to get back across the creek. Mad and disgusted I kicked this funny looking dirt clump in the silt bar of the creek. Wow, there was this huge sponge mushroom. I looked up and down the silt bar and there was dirt clumps all over the place. I started knocking the dirt off the shrooms and filling my bag. My dad came to the edge of the creek, he was pretty upset that I hadn't came back across and yelled at me. I showed him one of the beauties that I was finding and here he come splashing water all over himself to get there. We hunted that side of the creek and found a very large amount of some very big yellows. We climbed the hills that came down through the hollow to the creek and found several apple trees which had been in the side yard of a long vacated house. We found more large ones under them. Dad had to take his shirt off and tie it shut to carry the rest of them in. I can't remember how many it was exactly, but I know it was the most and the biggest we had ever found. I didn't get in any trouble for crossing the creek after hitting the motherlode.  I'm glad I found mushrooms across the creek.


Worth Billions!
by S. Ames

About eight to ten days before the first morel normally pops up around here, my father and I were sitting around the house on a Saturday, watching golf.  I was bored and suggested to him that we check for morels at the wood lot.  He laughed and told me it was nearly two weeks early and that there would be nothing.  He has been hunting since 1934 up in Michigan, so I figured he was right.  However, boredom got the best of me and I egged him on until he figured "what the heck" and agreed to get out of the house for an hour.

We arrived at the wood lot and waded in.  Our best day there yielded a big bagful each, picked over many acres over many hours.  He took off one way and I the other, and before long I heard him holler "I found a little gray".  As is our custom I walked over to take a look at it to acclimate my eyes to its texture in the leaves, and my father chortled, "I'll be durned.  But we won't find any more" and we set back off into the wood lot expecting to be skunked.

Not five minutes later, having been on the lot for less than ten minutes, I heard my father yell, "Steve, come over here."  Upon arriving at his location I saw that he was standing over a mother lode of morels, singles, doubles, and all combinations of groups, in what appeared to cover five to ten square feet of opening in the woods.  He told me to help him pick.  I had never seen so many morels in one place, let along such big, gorgeous specimens as these.  I squatted down to help him.

As I started picking, I looked out beneath the trees growing close to the ground and what I saw made my jaw drop and my heart start pounding so hard I thought it might stop.  There, strewn across the forest floor, covering several thousand square feet, arrayed in the open patches and under every tree, stood thousands of morels of every shapes - fresh and perfect.  Since we hadn't planned on finding anything, we each had one grocery bag, but in ten minutes, both were brimming over with only the best of the treasure trove.  It was like in a pirate movie when the hero discovers the hidden treasure trove of precious jewels and gold, tons of it, strewn across a cave floor...you wonder - "there's too much!  How will he ever get it all?"

We were unable to contact our regular group of hunters until late that evening, but we were lucky to meet several of them the very next morning to pick.  One of the group, had gone out late at night and picked by flashlight.  The next day, I heard him say, "this is getting to be work", and realized what he meant.  As great as the once-in-a-lifetime find was (and all the guys who had hunted since childhood in Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan agreed this was undoubtedly THE best EVER find by far) it was like wanting a '65 Corvette all your life, and finally, at 55 years old, having someone give you twenty of them and deliver them to your garage.  As amazing as that would be, a lot of the fun of searching, finding, and acquiring is lost.

At least for a couple of days I knew what it must feel like to be Bill Gates.


A Tough Decision
by Tom Emig

I've made a lot of great finds in the last 20 years of shrooming, but last year was the best ever. I've been spending more and more time hunting for new spots because of competition in many of the spots I hunt. The last few years I've been expanding my territory and looking in many new spots and I've found some really great ones. One day I had company for the day to hunt with me and I went back to a spot (a new one for me) where I had taken others about three days earlier and found quite a few. On this day we found many more. It was a brite spring day ,but a thunderstorm was threatening, and we needed to beat the rain out of there if we were going to get out at all, because the 4wheel drive barely made it in. So we hit the creek bank thinking we would at least get a few before the rain. We found several bags full on a very short section of creek bank that day, and they were so thick it only took two hours to pick the 17 pounds we got! A really great day, nearly 700 individual mushrooms! This year I'm hoping to find someone with a video camera to follow me hunting, so I can show everyone my spots without actually giving away their locations. Also I have so many people asking me how to find new places, I'm thinking of showing on tape how to scout new areas and find new spots. (I'm really good at it) Last year I also traveled in south Missouri and over two days time found several pounds. I couldn't believe it myself, but I found mushrooms everywhere I looked, even hundreds of miles from home, where I had never been ,let alone hunted before. I found mushrooms in south MO., Northern Ia., extreme Western Ia, and NE. I've always been able to find them everywhere I looked, but last year was a real test, and I had great success everywhere I went. My biggest problem now is I have so many good places to check, that there is'nt enough daylight to pick them all before they spoil, even though I hunt from daylight to dark. I've had to pass up looking in some pretty good spots the past three years, because I can't pass up the better spots I've found.  I'm just too busy picking!  Maybe it's time to share my treasure maps with someone, so they stop going to waste, but what if my other spots stop producing, or are found out and overrun by other hunters?  I may need them again someday.


The Mother Lode Missed
by Mark Stover

It was late season last year and my boss said he had a place that had not been looked at or hunted or walked on for many years, and the land that he described was perfect for them. We went there one Sunday afternoon, and I could not believe my eyes.  Never seen anything like it before.  There were mushrooms everywhere, but most of them were turning.  We did save a few, but being a shroom hunter, you must feel the pain that we felt.  You can bet we will be there this year and not too late,, good luck everyone.  Don't let the big one slip by.


Maybe Next Year
by Dave Huddleston

In 1991 my wife and I went to visit some people we knew that lived about twenty miles from us. Just as we entered the edge of town I noticed several people picking something in the field next to a body shop. Didn't think anything of it, probably mustard greens or strawberries or something. We visited with our friends and on the way back home several hours later a whole new group of people was picking something in the same spot. Got home and the next day my friend called and said that there was mushrooms everywhere all around that body shop. I grabbed a bag and took off. Twenty minutes later I met my friend there and he had already picked a bread sack full and dumped them in back of his truck waiting on me. We walked this field back and forth over and over, went to our cars 3 or 4 times to empty our bags . You'd look one way and see a couple then look at another angle and find a few more. These w!
eren't huge, only a couple inches tall but they were every place. After being satisfied that we got all we could we find in this couple acres of mowed grass we left. I went back the next day with another buddy of mine and we found about as many as I had the day before. Other people was hunting here also, so we crossed the train tracks that went behind the body shop and hunted on back to a creek, we found nothing. It was as if someone had planted these yellows in this small field. I went back a couple more days, only to find very few. The next several years the field produced nothing. My friend in that town checked year after year with no results. Still to this day when I drive by during season I'll stop and give it a quick once over. 1991 was the only year for them in the body shop field.


How Lucky Can One Man Be?
by Mark V. Iseminger

In the late sixties I would go hunting with my aunts and uncles in eastern Polk County, Iowa.  I hated going and lost interest real fast until I hit a mother load.(two + gunny sax)!

Then I loved it!  I had a secret place on my uncle's farm where the elms were slowly dying that would produce every year. And now,  thirty some years later, I have found such a spot again.  It's only one half mile from my girlfriend's house in southwest Guthrie County, Iowa.

How lucky can one man be!?


 
A Tale From the Heart
by Kathy  Pankey

My story isn't a tale of success. Be it bad timing, bad luck, bad choice of sites or too much going on in my life due to health and death. My family moved 10 yrs ago, from Adair county to Warren county.  In the yrs since, we have had maybe 2 good hunts, being just enough for a meal. I have finally given in and we have ordered a kit for growing your own. Which will stop my mouth from watering every time I think of them.
Even though we will have them, I want our family to still go in for the hunt. As all of you know, this is a wonderful FAMILY event, adventure, or quality time.
Regardless what you want to call it, I treasure it. Every time we go-success or no success. The memories are priceless.  If we get lucky and hit the Mother Lode our stomachs will feel as full as our hearts. I can live with that!!!!!!!!
HAPPY HUNTING EVERYONE!!!


Worth the Effort!
by Becky Jackson

I have been hunting morel mushrooms for 9 or 10 years now but with pretty limited success until last year.  Trying slightly different spots each year and getting maybe 10 to 30 good mushrooms each year, I was certain that there must be a bunch growing somewhere near where I was hunting.
   About 3 years ago a friend and I wandered into some new areas and had better luck, we found about 50 good ones.  I have been returning to the same general area but always find that I run into several other hunters in the woods no matter what time I hunt.  This area is heavily hunted but I would still come home with 30 or 40 really good ones by looking in places that were difficult to get to, like under low hanging branches and places hard to walk in the brush.  I would think of my natural instinct and then go the opposite, assuming that other hunters would "take the easy way".  Last year I was hunting and found a spot about the size of my living room that was surrounded on all sides with fallen trees, and some climbing over them was required to get in to the middle.  I looked over one of the fallen trees and couldn't believe my eyes!  Here in this maybe 16 foot by 16 foot area were a bunch of perfect beauties all 4 to 6 inches tall.  I picked almost 70 huge morels in this small spot, they filled my mesh bag.  From now on, I will be hunting the spots that are hardest to get to if there are other hunters in the same area, it sure paid off last year!  I ended up with 300 morels and was able to share them with others, they loved it!


None Left Behind
by Cindy
 

I was a beginner like every one else going mushroom hunting. I did not like it at first. E veryone was finding them-every one but me!  So,  I started walking behind the ones that were finding the mushrooms.  THEY cant get them all!  I was some what slow, going up a big hill and back down on the other side. I like being in the woods at about light, but before dark. Dusk is the best time to go catch a cat fish, or wait on him in the morning.  It's that time to hunt mushrooms;  BEFORE EASTER,  IT WILL SNOW SOON.  THEN EASTER WILL BE GONE.  I HAVE FOUND MUSHROOMS FROZEN!  YOU THINK I LEFT IT?...................................................................NO.


Mowing Them Down
by Ron Moregan

In 1964, I was visiting a friend who lived on the shore of Ortonville, Michigan's Bald Eagle Lake. My pal's room mate was outside mowing the lawn. After a while, the mower ran out of gas and this guy comes into the house complaining that there were some kind of mushrooms all over the lawn. He, of course, had mowed them all down. We went outside to what little patch of lawn was not yet mowed down and guess what? Yep, this guy had just cut down about 3 bushels of Morels. I cooked up the dozen or so that were left.

 


Hooked!
by John Dunning

I am 43 years old and have never shroomed before. I have a few friends that have gone out to search morels and have been nice enough to share there harvest with me. Of course as you all know they are delicious. I am a outdoorsy kind of guy. Hunt, fish, camp, you name it I like to be outside. Love the anticipation of that nice Mallard Drake flying into my decoys, netting a 28" Walleye, its great. As I said I have never shroomed before, until yesturday 5/31/04. On cloudy wet Memorial Day late in the afternoon I say to my wife lets go looking for some morels. She looked at me like I was nuts. I finally convince her and my daughter, hey family outing, right, great idea. After spending about a hour and half walking thru wet brushy woods my daughter yells over to me, hay dad is this what were looking for? Yep. We did not have to look much futher, within about a 1/2 acer we filled 7 grocery bags full. My wife, daughter and I are hooked and planning our next hunt. Can't wait. Love Minnesota. Oh, I took the harvest to one of my friends that has picked morels for many years to inspect what we had picked. There were no false ones in the bunch, cream of the crop. :)  Good shroomin!


Found a Bag Full!
by Chub

I'd been hunting in a particular area in Mi. for about 10 years,so I knew all of the best spots and would always walk to each spot to gather. I had so many spots it would take five or six hours to get to them all. I began as usual and had quite a few in my 13 gallon trash bag when I started off to another spot where some ash trees stood and it was always a good bet for fifty or so. I got there and sure enough there they were. I picked them and was just about to go off to another spot when I started thinking about my location. The ash trees were at the bottom of a large morain. I started to think maybe the reason these mushrooms were here in the first place is that the spores came down from up on top of the morain. I looked up and was thinking that sure is a good climb to the top but I went ahead anyway. When I got to the very top it was a little wider area than I was expecting. As I started to look ahead I saw shrooms everywhere as far as I could see. For years I had always carried a 55 gallon contractors trash bag in my back pocket for luck but never had the opportunity to use it until then. The shrooms were all yellows and big greys. I opened the big trash bag and dumped the couple of pounds of shrooms I had already collected into it and put the kitchen trash bag over a small tree so I could see where I started to pick. The shrooms were so thick I had to get on my hands and knees to pick. I picked and made small piles. I did this for a couple of hours and suddenly realized I'd gone quite a distance. I stood up and there were still shrooms everywhere . I looked back and could just barely see the white trash bag on the tree where I began. I started to go from pile to pile putting all the shrooms into the big bag. I kept thinking someone else might have happened along and would be back there where I started helping themselves to my finds,but it didn't happen. I kept on going and when I finally got back to where I started I had a bag of shrooms that stood full from the ground to my chest and as I'm 6 foot 3 inches tall you can imagine how many I had. It took me 45 minutes to get to the place where I found all those shrooms, and one and one half hours to get them back to the car.When I got to the dirt road some other people were there and got very excited when they saw me. They started yelling to others in the area. Since then I've been back to the top of that hill many times and I never found any up there again,although I still find them at the bottom near those ash trees,about fifty or so. This only happened once and it may never happen again but I often find 12 or 13 hundred  on my outings  but I really have to work to get that many; not like that one great day in Michigan.


 
100 Pounds of Morels!
by Eric Crum

I have lived in Missouri for about 8 years but every spring I have gone back home to northern Illinois to hunt "roons" with my Father.  2003 will forever be the most amazing mushroom year, here is why.  The weather was near perfect, warm with lots of rain, in fact I think we hunted mushrooms for five days in a row in the rain, and we were finding our normal amounts 300-400 roons per day.  The last Saturday we hunted was the best day of roon hunting in my life.  It was pouring rain but being the dedicated hunters we were we kept going.  I bet we walked 8 miles each that day.  We started back  on our neighbors farm crossed it and got into the old strip mine areas when we started finding huge 7"-9" mushrooms, they were everywhere!  We eventually made our way to a small pond.  As I stood on the high bank of the pond I saw what I thought was a huge morel but my mind couldn't grasp that a morel could be so large.  I called Dad over to take a look before I clim
bed down to the monster, Dad agreed it appeared to be a morel but it was simply to big, so we hiked down to it and sure enough was the biggest morel I have ever found-13" tall!  After we were so tired from hunting all day we headed home, my bag was very heavy and when I walked in the door my Mother thought I had filled it with sticks and weeds just to fool her, imagine her suprise when she looked in my bag!  We weighed my bag and it registered 87 pounds!  Dad's bag weighed 24 pounds!  We had harvested over 100 pounds of mushrooms on the last day we hunted, my Mother ended up freezing and bagging 250 quarts of mushrooms that were left over after a faboulous feast of fungi.


The Lucky Shirt
by Candace Montgomery

My husband and I venture out every year with such passion, our mouths watering at the first hint of that "fresh dirt" in the air. This year we had not been as fruitful in our usual areas, a taste hear a morsel there, I think you know what I'm trying to say. His father and mother had sold their family dairy farm many years before we even met, but he and I were always welcome by the new owners to hunt, fish, or just get out in the woods and reminisce, this included shrooming. Great times were had over the years there but not when it came to harvesting the "elusive morel" as we called them.
Out of desperation and the fact that we both had the calling, we decided to venture across the highway to "grandmas" 40 acres, still his old property but mostly crop land now and grandma's old abandoned house. However there was the little patch of timber with an old creek running through it and we were curious enough to check it out. Rain had just started to fall, which really motivated the positive thoughts we were having. He went to the right of the ditch and I to the left, we were looking everywhere under briars and wild rose bushes every fallen tree, gently pushing the carpet of leaves around, but still nothing. I ran outta timber and crossed the ditch to start from the back and work forward figuring I would cross his path somewhere near the middle. The rain was really coming down now, and neither of us had a jacket on, just clad in our "lucky" t-shirts and jeans with tennis shoes, and only one of us was carrying a paper bag. (we didn't know about the whole mesh and morel recycling thing back then) Getting drenched was not about to damper our hopes of finding some shrooms though. I got caught up in some rose bushes that were clustered together near an old pile of logs, those thorns were attached to me all down my legs and ankles, as I bent over to remove their grasp from my sock I caught the most beautiful view, 3 healthy morels just under a yard from me. Still caught up in the rosebush, I give the "you gotta get over here and see this" shout to my husband who was quite a ways down the creek from me, and he replied, "alright alright I'll be there in a minute."
I couldn't stand being kept from my beauties by my captor any longer and just ripped myself away with some force. (not really a great idea, those buggers leave some serious itchy cuts, that of course I never felt till later) I fell to my knees, crawled up under the briar as best I could and took hold of the fresh meaty wonders that taunted me so. I picked all three of those gently cradled them in my hand, and crawled under even further, moved the rain soaked leaves around a bit and was able to clearly see what lye ahead. In front of that old pile of logs, and within a forty foot circle of where I was kneeled, there stood a forest of young healthy yellow morels, so many I couldn't even begin to count. Now earlier I had said that only 1 of us brought a bag, it wasn't me of course, even if it had been there were far too many for that 12 pack paper sac. I yelled in excitement to my husband "oh my God you've got to come here right now" I began shaking probably from both my anxiety of my bounty, and the chill from the pouring rain.

Ordinarily folks I am a bit on the modest side, but remember we are talking about glorious morel mushrooms here, and where I am from they come once a year and tantalize the tongue for a short period of time only. So here I am, drenched from head to toe on my knees beneath a vicious rosebush that tried to skin me alive, drooling over a field of gold. You know what's about to happen, I found enough opening that I could sit up straight and yes off came my "lucky" shirt. I tied it off and made a makeshift "armored truck" to carry my riches. I picked one after another after another etc... till there were maybe 20 left. Finally here comes my husband, in shock of course to see his woman from the waist up wearing only her bra! What in the world are you doing? he asked not able to see the shrooms for the wood pile. "Come around, hurry come around" I screeched. Once he rounded the wood, he could see my t-shirt FULL, and the rest on the ground yet to be harvested. I laugh now telling this because I can picture him immediately picking up his size 11's to see if he had squished anything. He had a knife and quickly cut the rosebush branches out of his way, got down on his knees and enjoyed picking the rest of the haul which filled his paper bag. .We stood up, looked around the timber floor looked at one another and we were both grinning ear to ear. He said "honey, I think we need to get you to the truck", "you're bleeding!" He was right he just didn't know how right, my belly, back, shoulders, neck and arms all had nasty cuts on them and as I bled the rain would wash it off, my jeans were spackled with drops of blood from the injuries on the "south" end of me, and my socks were no longer white.
I replied "Do you really think I'm worried" we just found the greatest load of shrooms from a place we have never given second thought to hunting. The rain fell harder and colder as we carefully, joyfully walked back to the highway.
Almost to where we could see the road, and up STOMPS his dear old friend and neighbor from the past, supposedly hunting herself. Her eyes grew so wide when she saw us coming, to this day I don't know what shocked her more, my super whopping cotton bag of morels, or my bare, bloody top half shining through the trees.
We talked on the way back to the truck, she hadn't found mushrooms on that property for many years, she said she looks each spring but without luck. (with the way she trollied through there I can see why) We felt bad for the old gal, and wound up sharing as we gave her the paper sack full and she was more than thrilled to take it, she gave my husband a hug, and told us she would be right back. When she returned she had brought me an old shirt to put on. I couldn't have been more grateful myself, I was cold, cut, sore but never happier than that day. We counted and weighed them when we got back to the house and we had over 30 pounds of those beauties stuffed in my "bag."
Not the biggest haul but dang sure the best we've ever had.
This has been more than 10 years ago, and I still wear that shirt when I go shrooming. I do however keep a pullover jacket in the truck now.
Have fun y'all, I can smell them in the air already!


One for the Books!
by Connie

Hunting the elusive morel has been a family tradition since I can recall.  We have some great spots but they are dwindling down because more and more hunters are finding our spots.  But, that is great there are enough to go around.. It's great to see families getting out and enjoying the outdoors.  Last Spring, 2004, my family went out to one of our good spots and meet up with some old friends.  We made a bet on who would find the most morels.  Game on!  One spot on the hill the other guys had checked so I thought, well, I wasn't doing so good so I thought to myself,  "lets go back over where the others looking maybe they missed some".  I hit the jack-pot!!  We were laughing soooo hard we rolled the hill and squished some on the way down.. One for the books!!!!!


The Morel Hound
by Dan

I remember picking morels with my folks since I was old enough to walk in the woods.  It started out just me playing with sticks and tagging along with Ma.  As I got a little older my interest changed to girls and other things, but the folks still loved the mushroom hunt.  Pa was semi-retired so he had the free time to search during the day, and when Ma would get off of work, he'd take her to where he found them and they would pick.(now that's what I call love).
My ma would always take her vacation once the first mushroom was spotted.  Then they would spend every day for two weeks picking mushrooms.
Pa had this beagle hound that would follow along, although she never hunted rabbits, she did actually figure out what it was that they were looking for.  One time when they were ready to leave the woods, the dog wouldn't come... just sat there.  Pa would yell at that "damn dog" but she wouldn't budge.  When he walked over he found that she was sitting in the middle of a patch that was about 30 feet in diameter.  He figured if the French can use a pig to find truffles why can't we use something like a beagle.
Never had a dog like that since. Damn dog.....


WHEN THE APPLE TREES BLOOM
by Shawn Robinson

 Well this day started off like every other spring day of shroom hunting, feeling good.  My buddy and I where going to our hot spot. which includes sneaking through this small patch of woods by the creek (not to disturb the neighbors dogs) walking the path.  We heard the dogs, and they are getting closer so we got down .  To the right up the hill was 5-6 yellow shrooms (still not moving ).  So I looked to my left and there was a big gray, and another, and another, ect..  So I started crawling around picking and grinning.  After I picked the yellow's I started down the hill to get to the gray's.  When my buddy turn's around and seen me, he looked down the hill (about 20 yards ahead of me) gray's all over.  As we worked our way down the hill we where finding more and more.  What a great site, and we are not at the hot spot yet.  So we made our way there found some here and there.  Checked out the old apple tree, and found almost 300 fresh spikes (dog peckers).  We filled up 4 potato sacks full, and on are way out the dogs were waiting on us.  But they let us go by.2 weeks too start the 2005 season can't wait (got dog treats this time).  JUST REMEMBER "WHEN THE APPLE TREES BLOOM, THERE WILL BE SHROOMS".


PASSIN' IT ON
by Vern

I WAS BORN AND RAISED IN SOUTHERN INDIANA. LIVED THERE TO THE RIPE OLD AGE OF 16.YEP 16!  THEN THE FAMILY MOVED TO OKLAHOMA.  THIS WAS 1982, JANUARY.  WHILE GROWING UP IN INDIANA, WE MOVED AROUND A LOT.  WHEN I WAS IN 2nd.GRADE, WE LIVED IN A LITTLE TOWN KNOWN AS COURTLAND (NEAR SEYMOUR).  LITTLE TOWN.  WHAT I CAN RECALL. MY MOM AND DAD BOTH HAD WORK, SO WE HAD THIS BABYSITTER THAT LIVED RIGHT ON THE CORNER OF THE SCHOOL PARKING LOT. NAME WAS WILSON, I BELIEVE. .HAD SOME KIDS OF HER OWN, LIKE 3 OR 4.KIDS THAT IS. .NICE PEOPLE, ALL OF EM. .MRS.WILSON WAS THE FIRST TO TURN ME ON TO SHROOMIN.  I WAS 6 OR 7 AT THIS TIME. .I REMEMBER THOSE HUNTS TO THIS DAY. NOT HOW MANY OR ANY THING LIKE THAT, BUT I REMEMBER WHAT I LEARNED--THAT SHROOMS LOOKED LIKE A SPONGE, AND BOY WERE THEY GOOD!  THIS WAS 1972 OR 1973.  YEARS PASS AND LIKE I TOLD YA IN THE BEGINNING ,I,M IN OKLAHOMA NOW.  GAVE UP SHROOMIN AFTER WE MOVED FROM NEAR MRS. WILSON.  ABOUT 7 YEARS AGO, A FRIEND OF MINE SHOWED ME SOME SHROOMS.  WOW!!!!!!!WHERE DID YOU U GET THESE?  HE NEVER DID TELL ME, SO I NEVER WENT HUNTING.  I JUST THOUGHT IT WAS COOL THEY GREW HERE.  5 YEARS AGO I WAS AT A LOCAL PARK AND FOUND WHAT WOULD TAKE ME BACK EVERY YEAR SINCE.  YELLOW SHROOMS EVERY WHERE!  BEST OF ALL VERY FEW PEOPLE HERE KNOW WHAT THEY ARE.  I TAKE FEW PEOPLE WITH ME WHEN I GO, BUT THEY ALL LOVE IT.  THANKS MRS. WILSON.  I'M PASSIN IT ON.


IT
by Anthony Axsom

Well, I was at my great g-mas house.  I was bored at the time, so I decided to go outside. Soon, as I walked outside, I saw it.  IT was huge. IT was the biggest morel I'd ever seen.  And I found it.  IT weighed 15 1/2 ounces and was about 13 inches tall. I found it under a apple tree. IT was an adrenaline rush!
 


MONSTER MORELS
by Matt

One day me and two other buddies went looking around at one of my hot spots.  We left at about 6:30 and went up a cow pasture. We were looking under some smaller trees and my buddy started to yell.  I ran up the hill to find a fawn, he said he thought it was a mushroom of some sort.  Then we followed the fence line down for 300 yards or so and split up.  In about 10 min. I heard the same buddy screaming about something  so we went up the hill and there it was--the mother lode.  There was 2 pound mushrooms there and there was about 40 mushrooms so do the math that's 80 pounds of mushrooms..... Happy Hunting


TIME FOR THE HUNT
by Mike Kennedy

It is March 23,2006 and I've had the fever now since mid Jan. when the last of any other type of hunting ended in southern Illinois. I greatly enjoy these accounts and had to add my two cents. I normally set my big yellows next to a beer can when photographing them to justify the size, but the biggest that I've ever found was set next to a Jim Beam bottle for comparison. The shroom weighed 14 ounces +, as big around as a softball, and as tall as the bottle. The best find that my dad and I ever ran across was in the days before Wal Mart bags when we used bread bags. We each carried two and I don't ever recall having filled all of them on a single outing, until the day we hit a sink hole with a dead elm and 101 big yellows ranging in size from beer can to long neck beer bottle. We sat down and sliced mushrooms in halves and quarters to fill all eight bags (we had two friends along) and our tied shirts to get them all out.


A PROUD PAPA
by Harold J. Browder
 

I took my five year old daughter on her first mushroom hunting trip this year on April the 2nd. We were at one of my better spots but someone had already been there so I was'nt finding much. As we were walking up a little hill on the way back to the car my daughter yelled Daddy STOP!!! I turned around and asked what is it? She pointed out a nice black,and then another,and another!!! I stood there and watched my little girl pick 32 nice blacks that I had just walked by !! I was so proud !! Every day since, the first thing she says in the morning is "are we going mushroom hunting today Daddy?". We have found nearly 200 so far, not bad for the first week of April !!


HIDDEN IN PLAIN VIEW
by Phillip Cline

A friend and I had spoken over the years several times about Morel hunting. He had done it a bunch and I had never tried with any real effort. I always looked while walking around in the woods but I had never seen a Morel in the wild. I was a rookie! I was at a local watering hole and my friend unexpectedly showed up. We talked for a bit and I asked him if he had gone shroomin' this year and he said he hadn't. I had wanted to go Morel hunting for several years but never found the time for it. I told him I would like to go tomorrow and he told me to call him if I decided to go. I called and we met for some food and then headed to a park I knew of that sounded like it might be promising. There was a lake and a creek with a nice sized wooded area in between. We live in Central Indiana and my friend said it was pretty late in the season so we may be disappointed. All I wanted to do was see one and take a photo. We got into the woods and the undergrowth was pretty high. So we wandered around taking photos of flowers on the weeds in the woods. Then we saw an area where there was a bit more sun under the canopy and a lot less growth on the ground. Lots of dead wood. After about 5 minutes of us poking around my friend said, "Here you go!!!" It was a 2-3 inch yellow!! It could have weighed a pound but it wouldn't have mattered! It was there and I said "Wow that thing was hidden in plain view!" I was like a little kid!! My first Morel in the wild and I didn't even find it. We took photos and snagged it into our bag. After about another hour the harvest was a total of four but it was as much fun as I have had in a good while!! I am hooked!! Going out tomorrow again at a different place and I hope to find several more! By the way. Those four Morels were very tasty! Sautéed in Butter!! OOH LA LA!!


SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDWEST
by Jon Stantz

Brent, Brian, Joe and myself are on another expedition to hunt mushrooms. First day: Brian spots dead elm while we are waiting for the restraurant to open so we can eat. He finds three greys, says it could be a good year. We are in woods by 8:30, start finding them within short time and don't stop until 11:30. Take a break, go back and find more. Total for that day was sixty pounds! Second day: new woods, better hunting. Found one clump of 37 together! BEAUTIFUL! By the end of day we have found another 51 pounds. Can't believe what we have found. Third day: The four of us have decided to hunt together today, does'nt take long before we run into first patch. Lots of elm turns into lots of mushrooms, end of day yeilds 59 pounds! We celebrate with movie and chinese food that night. Our total was 170 pounds (4,523 mushrooms) I will never forget the three days, it was perfect!
 


THE TREASURE TROVE
by SAG

In early March, 2003, my father-in-law, who at the time had been hunting morels for seventy years in Indiana and Michigan (and a couple of other states that will remain forever a secret between him and me). On boring Sunday afternoon we were watching t.v. when I said to him, "Let's go over to (that place) and check for morels. Being as early March was historically way too soon to start, he told me, "Nah, it's way too soon." I convinced him that walking in the woods was better than watching t.v. and so we were off to a woods we hunted with a couple of others, neither of us expecting to find anything. Our friends weren't at home when we called so it was just the two of us that afternoon. When we arrived at the place it was a couple of hours before sunset. The trees in the woods are very, very closely packed, more bushes than trees, and making your way through them is a pain - literally. The low-hanging branches tear at your clothing and threaten to scratch your arms and poke you in the eyes at ever turn. But morels have been found under them so many times in the past we keep coming back. And, here and there were small clearings, a couple of hundred square feet where some grow when everything comes together. That day we spread out, I going one way and he another. I hunted for ten minutes and was convinced he was correct, that it was too early for morels, when I heard his voice from somewhere off to my right, calling me over. I turned in the direction of his voice and made my way several hundred feet through the woods until I saw him standing ahead and I came into a clearing to see a morel hunter's dream of dreams: surrounding my father-in-law in a clearing of about three or four hundred square feet were hundreds, if not a thousand, fresh morels, some in clumps of five and ten. It was unbelievable and I still am not sure whether it was a dream. He and I carried a paper grocery sack a piece and in no time we had filled them each with ten pounds of morels. I carried them back to the truck and brought back four more bags of which we each filled one more. It was getting dark, and although we had barely made a dent in the treasure we had more morels than we could possibly clean that night...hundreds, and only the best size and shape. It was a Sunday and I had to get back to work in another city two hundred miles away, but we cleaned and froze until we ran out of freezer bags and my fingers were so wrinkled they looked (and smelled) like morels. When we arrived at my father-in-law's home he called our two best morel buddies, both of whom knew the place well and lived within twenty miles, and told them about the find. He told me both guys thought he was kidding them. But I heard one of the two went over with a flashlight and looked until he found the patch and he gathered for several hours, leaving bags full to be picked. The next morning, without me - it had become work for me after filling the last bag half way up - the three of them met and picked the rest. After a cursory count of those from the first pick, and then of the flashlight pick, and then of the pick of the next day, we estimated that nearly a thousand had been harvested. One of the guys went back the next day and picked another several bags which were not added to the count. And there were still more to be had, although they were beginning to turn and only one of the guys went back again, the flashlight hunter. No one thought to bring a disposable camera, of course. But no pictures were necessary because the people who mattered - the hunters and their families - had seen this miraculous bounty first-hand and had eaten and eaten and eaten it, too. There are lots of hunters in the area, many hunt nearby, many know us and we know many of them. It was all we could do to keep from bragging but, as you know, a place like that is a secret worth keeping. We went back several more times in the month or so after, expecting more, but after several hours of fighting the low-hanging treacherous branches and walking for hours, only found a normal scattering here and there in the woods - not enough to fill a bag. The next year we found four. And we go back each year just as we have for ten years before finding the treasure trove, and we find a few. We have other places to hunt, even lease a farm woods during two "special" months out of the year, but we always go there first. And, my father-in-law, a morel hunter for seventy-five years now, loves to tell the story of telling me "It's too early" but most of all, he never, ever, tells me "It's too early" anymore. Good hunting and I wish you a treasure trove of your own.


FALLING FOR MORELS!
by Scott Strough

I was 12 or 13 and we three boys and my sister were in the woods climming trees. A branch broke and I fell all the way down landing flat on my back on a black raspberry bush. I must have sunk 3 inches in the soft wet ground. I could not breath or speak as the wind was knocked clear out of me! As my brothers and sister all frantically scurried down their trees to make sure I was OK I turned my head and saw hundreds no thousands no MILLIONS (LOL) of mushrooms! All I could do was point and gasp MUSHROOMS! These were the long thin "snake head" type morels common in central Indiana, but I had never seen so many in my life! I forgot the thorns in my back forgot my bruises and we picked and picked till our shirts were full. They we went home (mom made me clean up and put iodine on my cuts ouch!) Then went back and picked till dark! If I remember correctly it was 23 bread sacks of the small capped long morels! BTW in Indiana we do get the shorter stemmed heavy capped morels too but never in these numbers. We call all the types sponge mushrooms here. We picked every day for a week or two but that first day was the best!


ALWAYS REMEMBER MOTHER'S DAY!
by Jimpsonseed

I've been morel hunting in Northern Ohio for about 7 years now, and although I've walked into a couple of pretty large patches, it somehow never seems to be enough. The larger the patch, the larger my expectation is to walk into an even bigger patch the next time. Well finally, in the spring of 2007, I found what I had been looking for all these years.

The week or two before Mother's day is usually prime for morels where I hunt, depending on how a 365 calendar has fallen since the last season, and when Mother's day is scheduled on any given year. For example, my brother's and I had forgotten what day of the year it was when we found our first batch of morels, so my wife kindly reminded me (with a smack on the back of the head) that it was two days before Mother's Day. The reason she had remembered is because I travel from Philadelphia every year back to my homestate of Ohio to hunt them with my brothers, and on that particular year, I didn't make it back to PA for Mother's Day because we hadn't found mushrooms until two days before.

Obviously, I stayed longer to find more shrooms, 'cause let's face it boys, she ain't MY mother! So, we started planning our mushroom get-togethers the week before Mother's day every year, and it didn't dawn on us morons until two years later that the Mother's Day date can range from early May to sometimes the third week in May. Yeah, that's right...we're idiots! How were we to know? The Fourth of July and April Fool's Day are always on the same day!!! As a matter of fact, my wife was the one who figured that one out, too. God bless her heart, I don't know what I'd do without her.

Anyway, once we had that matter cleared up and a million or more mushrooms had wasted away in the dirt of our various woods, we decided on a new techinue which has worked pretty good for us so far. Now we count 365 days from the last date of finding healthy mushrooms, subtract 10 days and viola...we have morels. I hope there aren't any leap years planned anytime soon or it will really screw things up for me and my brothers.

Last year, though, spring of 2007, whew...I really hit the mother-lode. We had found a few straglers here and there, about 150 altogether, but nothing compared to our usual finds. I had been in Ohio for about five days and my brothers had all but given up on the season. Me, I'm not so apt to leave it alone when I've rented a truck, took a week off of work, travelled 650 miles across that God forsaken PA turnpike, put up with those red-necks in Ohio for that long...no, I'm gonna find mushrooms if I have to hand carve them out of shiitakes. Nobody else was finding them, either, so even I was starting to think we had missed the season.

I had just called one of my brothers from the woods to tell him that I would be leaving that night, when my whole life changed in an instant. There was a river that I had crossed to get to where I was standing, so I had to recross, but instead of walking along the path that I had used to get there, I decided to walk over on a fallen elm that lay with the root end on my side of the river. As I jumped up on the main branch, I had to look between my feet to see where to put my foot, and as I did, my eye caught a glimpse of the very top of a morel. Since I was in motion, I had to stop and turn around. When I did, I looked back at the spot and saw that the grass on either side of the morel was about six inches tall, and this thing was towering the grass. I climbed back over on top of it and as I looked around for a safe place to plant my feet, I kept seeing the tops of other mushrooms, just as tall and sometimes taller than the one I had first noticed.

Finally, I climed down and into the patch of morels, pulled my potato sack out of my pocket and starting sawing these things down. And I do mean sawing. My knife has a serrated blade, and I had to use that to cut them out of the ground. After checking a radius of about 50 feet, I found 32 of the biggest mushrooms I have ever seen.

Something told me to check on the other side of the river. Kinda diagonally across the river, which was about 35 feet across, there were seven more sitting around the base of a smaller elm. Not large like the first ones, but big enough to take home to momma. Needless to say, my brothers couldn't believe it when they saw them, and when we went out the next day, we found plenty more in other parts of the woods. We hadn't missed the season...it had just started. I'm sure glad my wife isn't my mother because I sure didn't make it back in time for Mother's Day.


Can't Wait!
by Debbie Beeman

I grew up in South Central Pennsylvania in the Huntington County area. As a child growing up it was like a tradition to hunt Morel mushrooms every spring. The morels were definitly bountyful. I can remember coming home after our hunt & my Mom frying morel mushrooms. So many that I just couldnt eat any more. I must say I never knew they were such a delicatessen. I'm 40 years old now, it's been 25 years or so since I've been home to hunt morels, but you can believe I've already organzied a family hunt this Spring in 2008. Trust me I definitly know the spot. This is a hunt I definitly am looking forward to.


Once in a Lifetime Shroom
by Dave Huddleston

I didn't find it but a buddy of mine did. I was at work one day and Richard come in and said "Hudd, you gotta see the giant mushroom I found yesterday while turkey hunting."  He told me his dad took it to work that day and he'd bring it in the next. He told me how big it was and I'm like Yeah, that would be a monster shroom for sure.  Well he came into work the next day carrying a white 5 gallon pickle bucket with a towel over the top. He come over to me and lifted the towel and I was in total amazement.  This mushroom was taller than the 5 gallon bucket and was almost as big around as the bucket.  Richard said that they ran onto a patch and started picking and then they both saw this "MONSTER" at the same time and couldn't believe their eyes. Well, I wouldn't have believed it was that big had he not brought it in.  I'd been around mushrooms and hunted 'em most of my life and have never seen anything like it before or since.


Some Help from Mom?
by Diane

Now to understand my story, you need to know that my dad and mom started taking me "sponge mushroom" hunting when I was a baby, and they took turns carrying me through the woods.  As I grew up, the three of us hunted together year after year.  Even went up North one year near Cadillac, MI for a few days of hunting, with pretty good success each Spring, regardless of where we hunted. They "used" me like a hound dog, because I could always smell areas that would produce before we could see them!

Thirteen years ago, almost to this date, I took my dad mushroom hunting.  It had been only a couple weeks after my mom had passed away, and I tried to think of something I could do with my dad (who was physically handicapped and walked with a cane) that might bring the 3 of us together again.  I helped him hobble through the woods, helping lift him over fallen trees, and holding aside thicket so he could get through.  Finally after about an hour of this, we stumbled upon an area of mushrooms.  We were both picking, when he finally gave up because of his discomfort, and sat on a stump.  I continued picking, filling up both our bags, and seeing many more 'shrooms left to pick.  Dad took off his long-sleeve sweatshirt, tied knots at the wrists, and I continued picking until the sweatshirt was so full there was no more room!  We were both laughing as we slowly walked out of the woods, that if someone saw us like that, they'd think we had half a dead body in that upside-down sweatshirt we were taking turns carrying!  When we got to his house, we counted over 320 mushrooms we'd picked in a couple hours.  They were SO good!  Every year after that, I've hunted that woods and have been lucky to come out of there with a couple dozen each time.  I can't help but think my mom was there helping us get the Mother Lode that year.


Saving the Best for Last
by Amy Jarman

I've been an avid hunter since I met my husband in 2000.  He took me on my first hunt and I was hooked.  Just like a kid in a candy store.  As the years pass I come to meet more family members who also hunt.  This past year was a record for myself with a grand total of 665 schrooms.  It more than doubled my record prior to that year.  The biggest one measured 13 and a half inches tall and it had a 5 inch diameter.

It was mothers day 2008!  My best friend and I were checking out a new spot along a creek side. Then all of a sudden poof! there they were.  Total in the one spot was only 36.  But they were the biggest 36 I have ever seen (my friend included)!  Our hubbies couldn't believe the luck.  It was the last ones we found that year, but they were also the best tasting.


  • The mother lode for Gramps
    by Nick
  • One morning during the fourth season of spring turkey, we sat down against a thin pine tree just after the sun had fully risen.  I began calling yelps and clucks and within forty-five minutes two three-year-old toms came cruising by.  I took the lead tom, and after cleaning it and waiting around for my dad and gramps to get back to the truck, we had lunch.  Just before we were to start looking for a new place to sit, gramps decided to relieve himself close where I had shot the turkey (which wasn't too far from the truck).  Huffing and puffing back up the shallow draw he exclaimed "I just found more mushrooms than you've ever seen in your life!".  We hurried back down the slope.  About ten feet from where we sat down we found a patch of about 15' x 30' filled with pistol-grip sized yellows!  It took nearly half an hour going from mushroom to mushroom to pick them all.  At the end of the day we returned to town with our gigantic Coleman cooler filled 3/4 of the way full with mushrooms.  To date, I have never found a single mushroom in that spot again.

     


  • A Gift From My Grandmother
    by Christy Bevins
  • I am from Eastern Kentucky, Pike County as a matter of fact.  I guess you could say I am a true Hillbilly and proud of it.  I grew up on home grown food, local fish, and wild game.  Although my favorite mountain food is the Morel Mushroom.  Every year my Grandmother, brother and myself would travel to visit her sister in West Virgina.  If, we timed our trip just right we would go mushroom hunting.  However, I never had any luck finding them I guess I was to young. But my Aunt and Grandmother would find loads of them every year.  We would hurry back to my Aunt's house and have a feast.  She would clean them roll them in cornmeal, salt and pepper and fry them in a cast iron skillet.  I can taste them as I'm typing this.  There would always be a lot left over, so her and my Grandmother would fry them and freeze them in freezer bags.  When our visit was over we would put them into a cooler and bring them back home and have several more meals of this wonderful food.  As I got older as w ell as my Aunt and Grandmother the trips stopped and so did the mushrooms, how I missed them so.  I lost my Grandmother in December of 2003, but I had some really good memories of her and the things we did together, especially those trips to West Virginia.  In the following year after her death my husband and I had to cut down and old apple tree that was dying in our front yard.  I think it was in the late fall.  The next spring we were getting ready to do our first yard work, so I grabbed a rake and went to where the apple tree used to be.  To my surprise there was about a 14x14 foot square patch in the yard that was full of my favorite food - the wonderful MOREL!!!  One can only image my surprise and excitement.  I ran and got my husband and showed him and he could not believe his eyes either.  I ran into the house and grabbed the largest mixing bowl I had and went back and started picking.  Our neighbors were out and asked what I was doing and when I told them they laughed at me.  But the joke was on them.  I did not give them any although I did offer.  They did not want them, and I was really rather glad of that.  That following evening I prepared them as My Aunt and Grandmother had taught me to do and my son got to enjoy them for the first time.  He as well fell in love with them.  I gathered enough of them for three more meals and had enough left to take to my Great Aunt and Uncle whom were overjoyed as well.  Sadly, that was the only time I found them in my yard, but I do know this - they were a gift from my Grandmother.  I am so happy to have found them, for they brought back very special memories for me.

     


     Proud Papa
     by Lindsay Jenney

    I was about 11 or 12 and my father told me I could make some money if I went looking for mushrooms.  How stupid, I thought.  He explained that they looked like a sponge, which still made no sense to me.  He gave me a bundle of grocery bags and sent me off.  I was pretty annoyed and I had no real clue what I was looking for.  So, about 5 hours later, long after the sun had gone down, my parents hadn't heard from me so they sent a search party into the woods looking.  They figured I'd tripped and drowned in one of the many ponds on the property. But, I finally emerged from the woods to the relief of my mother.  I had a stick on my back to carry the load of 6 bags of morels and over 50 pounds.  The next day I found 50 more pounds in a 20 x 20 foot space. I had 100 pounds in 2 days.  My father had never been so proud.  He ate them all and I didn't make any money.
     


    Cherished Memory
    by Eric Cruz

    When I was a child, always saw my grandpa proudly standing over a mound of shrooms on a blanket every year in the spring. I tried my luck with my parents a few times as a young adult without success and quickly lost interest. One spring about 15 yrs ago I went to visit them and they showed me their success one day so I accompanied them with my brother to the same spot the following day. After an hour into searching with no luck, I was prepared to give up when I sat down on a fallen tree to rest and spotted the first morel.  I'd always heard when there's one, there's generally more so I looked around before picking it.  To my amazement they were everywhere.  Within 4 days we harvested about 800 in a 200 sq ft area and had to make room in the freezer even after sharing dozens upon dozens with family & friends.  I've returned to this same wooded area year after year and haven't found a single one there since.  A few years after that season, I stepped on a large one in a grassy field immediately before finding another of equal size over 9" tall less than a foot apart.  If I never find another one the rest of my life, I'll always cherish the memory spending that quality time with the family!


    Great Story!
    by Louie

    Hunting the elusive morels with my nine year old grand daughter, we got lost in a part of the woods in Antrim county, northern MI.  She began to cry a little and I told her we would come out somewhere if we stayed on the two track road.  Before we came out to a main road we found a pail (10 QT) full of large whites under a dead elm tree.  Later, when we came out on a paved road, we were chased by a small pack of dogs, but with a long stick we fended them off.  I thank the Lord for the cell phone as I called my wife and she came and picked us up. Later, my grand daughter called her dad who was working in Mississippi and told him the whole story.  She said she was glad we got lost and had this unique experience.  This was 8 yrs ago and she still talks about it today!


     
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