Outdoors Column: Not That Gullible

Long before it is time for the morel mushrooms to make an appearance, someone sends me a picture or posts on Facebook that the mushrooms are sprouting and it is time to get hunting. I am not gullible enough to think morels pop up through the snow in February. A few people apparently think it would be funny to have others wandering about the timber looking for something that is not there. They usually post a picture of the succulent fungi taken the year before to convince those of us anxiously waiting for their arrival to get out and look in vain.


My approach to starting the search for mushrooms is much more scientific. I wait for a warm sunny day, after a rain, when the ground temperature is sixty degrees or above and the lilacs have started to bloom. When all these criteria have been met, the morels will be in production. The only problem then is finding them. I have set up several precise and logical criteria for where they should. Mushrooms have been proven to grow near a dead elms, live maples, and early in the season, on the north side of a creek banks. There are always exceptions as sometimes they grow out in the open pasture and sometimes in the thickest timber. A person just has to put the hours in looking in order to find them.


It was warm Saturday and rained Saturday night. Sunday was warm again. The lilacs were just starting to bloom so my wife and I decided this would be the day we would venture out and harvest a bushel or more of the wonderful tasting morel mushrooms. Just the thought of them was enough to make a person’s mouth water. The dogs were excited as we got into the ATV. They did not know where we were going or what we were doing, but they knew it was going to be fun. We pulled into one of my favorite and most productive sights to begin our hunting season. A few steps from the vehicle, I looked down and found our first morel. With a start like that, it had to be a good day. I searched in concentric circles from the spot of the find, moving farther and farther out. My wife searched up the hill and along the creek. After an hour or so, we gave up on my favorite spot and moved to where my wife always finds a bunch. After another hour of searching, we decided it was too early to hunt mushrooms. We did not find any in her secret place. One mushroom split between two people does not go very far.


After many scientific calculations, I have come to the conclusion, all the scientific calculations on finding morel mushrooms, are worthless. They will grow wherever and whenever they want to. Past performance is not a predictor of future success. If you look where you found them last year, you may or may not find them this year. The secret is persistence and not being gullible enough to go looking for them in February.