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Friday, April 6, 2012

Sharing Shroom Stories

Earlier this week at my Heartland Outdoors blog Through The Lens; I hosted a giveaway for one of the best mushroom guides I've run across;

As part of that giveaway I encouraged readers to share their favorite mushroom stories so that I cold in turn share them with you here. There was no scientific basis for picking the top five mushroom tales from the Heartland community; I simply picked the ones that appealed to me most. 

So, without further ado - please enjoy some shroomy stories from the Heartland community!

From reader ADOWNS99 - A few years back I had my good friend come up to Peoria county to hunt mushrooms in the black dirt. He lives down in Mason county where the sand content is very high, and their season usually is very short. I took him to one of my favorite local public spots, and it didn't take long to start filling our sacks. One patch that day in particular we still talk about tho. We were climbing this huge hillside in the middle of the timber. When we got to the top there was a small indention in the top of the ridge, then down the other side it went. In this indention in the ridge were 3 large (approx 20” diameter) elms that had just died the previous year. what we found under those 3 trees was amazing. the ground cover was about 6-8” tall and all we could see were hundreds of very large grey morels sticking above it. These were by far the biggest greys I've ever found. I don't recall the total haul that day, but it was noteworthy to say the least. I returned to this spot for the following 3 seasons and picked what it gave as it diminished into nothing. The sight we saw when we crested that hill tho wow, I wish I had a nice camera with me that day!

From reader and lucky winner of the book CAMOGIRL  -  Every since I was a little girl, mushroom season has been something to look forward to. My Grandma would load us grand kids up in the station wagon, bags and bug spray in hand and off we would go. Times were different back then, I can’t remember where the actual places we went anymore, and my Grandma has been gone for many years now but those are some of my fondest memories.  I was never too keen on the spiders and the snakes , but once I would come across that first mushroom, that was my focus, and not much else mattered.  My cousins and I would then argue over who found the most, who found the biggest and who was going to get to have the first tasty bite.  We walked for what seemed like hours at the time, and as we headed back to the good ole wagon, we were all exhausted, but could not wait to get home to survey our find.  Before we made it into the kitchen, the official tick check was held on the back porch, that was the least favorite to us all, but we knew to get to those little grey and yellow goodies it had to be done.  Once we were given the all clear, we took our bags, counted and sized them all up to determine the true winner of the outing and then handed them over to Grandma to slice them and soak. This was a tradition every year for us and a tradition I have continued with my kids.  I laugh each time I hear mine bickering over the exact same things we did as kids, who has the most , who found the biggest and so on.  I have friends from Chicago and bigger cities that just don’t quite understand the hype, or why in the world we would want to be out there looking for a FUNGI.  I just smile and say its not just a fungi, and it’s not just about finding them, its about making memories with your family and carrying out a tradition, and those little FUNGI are pretty darn good too !  I hope my kids will be telling their kids these same stories one day.

From reader FISH62 -  My most endearing memory of squirrel hunting actually became my most endearing memory of finding mushrooms. I was about 10 years old, and hunting in Calhoun County with my father, uncle, brother, and cousin. I was with my father that morning, and we were in a bottom between two ridges. All of a sudden, my father said “don’t move”. At first I thought we had a squirrel close enough to shoot. That was not case. He told me to look down. I did, and noticed that the ground was covered with these yellow mushrooms. He told me that we just found the “Mother Load”. That was the first time I was introduced to the wonderful Chanterelle mushroom. Needless to say, the squirrel hunt came to an official end right there. We cut Chanterelle’s over the next hour or so, and having no bags to carry them in, we stuffed our game vests full of some of the best fungi available. We were kings of camp when we returned and showed off our haul. I learned two important lessons that day. The first was to keep an eye on the ground while squirrel hunting, and the second, was one of the best days hunting might be the one where you get skunked on the wild game, but end up with the biggest prize in the woods!

From Reader MOHICAN -  Just finished a lunch of fresh morels with my mom before checking this site,before that we checked the weather forecast to formulate our plan for this week. We found 37 total,tall grey’s,small yellow’s,and some beautiful whites. I had 15, the “eagle eyed mushroom queen” had 22,not bad for 68 yrs. old!The number count doeskin really hold water though cause were always saying “there,see that right behind you? That 's yours I wanna give it to you” or “didn't you just walk through here? here put this in your bag,you missed it” and so on and so forth. I don't have one story that sticks out at this time,I just have lots of fond memories mushroom hunting as a kid with my parents, and now I most enjoy shroomin’ with my 13 yr. old daughter,16 yr. old son,and my 68 yr. old “eagle eye” Mom. My only wish is that my kids take the time to enjoy nature and it’s bounty as they grow into adulthood,as I have,as my Mom and Dad did. Thanks Mom and Dad!

From reader MOSSYOAK  - I mushroom hunt every year when the time comes but I have never come close to matching my best memory back when I was in high school.  It was a cool spring that year and it rained all the time.  I had looked at all of my typical spots and had found the typical amounts.  A few of my friends and I decided to venture along what we will call “the creek”.  I remember walking for a couple hours and we had found nothing.  Finally, looking ahead, the creek banks were lined with maple trees, a good sign.  To my amazement, the banks were loaded with medium sized yellow mushrooms.  It is the only time I can ever remember my back getting sore from picking mushrooms from being bent over for so long.  We each picked around 7 to 8 lbs, and went back 3 to 4 times that year. The best was when we went back, it was raining, it was cold, and we had to cross the creek, which is no small creek, that was raging full of water.  Luckily we found a log jam that allowed us to cross! Lets just say that year the freezer was full of mushrooms to snack on later and my wallet was a little thicker that year!

I hope you've enjoyed hearing others tales of mushroom mania and are headed out this weekend in search of your own fantastic fungi!

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