When it comes to the outdoors, I guess you could describe me as a Jack of all trades.
If it had to do with hunting or being in the woods around here, I’ve probably done it. I’ve dabbled as a waterfowler and fished in bass tournaments. I’ve got a basic understanding of trapping and caught a little bit of fur in years past. I’ve followed ‘coon hounds up and down hills, chased rabbits with beagles and set trot lines when I was young. I can recognize ginseng and stinging nettles and know what firewood makes the best coals and that a punky piece of wood thrown on the campfire will burn low and slow overnight.
I can follow a blood trail and track a wounded deer fairly well and can read animal signs for the most part. I can start a fire when it’s damp and do a serviceable job of filleting fish and skinning game. I’m a decent shot with a gun and lucky with my longbow and know how to sharpen an arrow’s broadhead and my hunting knife.
As long as I can find a creek or pond to fish, I would never have to worry about going hungry. So, yeah, I’m a decent woodsman, not at the top of the heap, but far from the bottom.
But, the one thing that eludes me as an outdoorsman is mushrooms!
Everyone, it seems, is finding the edible fungus – morels to be precise. Browns, greys, even yellows!
Me however, almost none, zero. I can slowly walk through the woods, eyes peeled for the ‘shrooms and nothing. Sure I’ll find a token one few here and there, just enough to split, soak and fry, but a far cry from those bread bag fulls I see my friends finding.
I understand how morels grow and the weather they need. Cool nights, a gentle rain followed by a warm morning will make them pop up, or so they say. I’ve checked the south facing hillsides and looked around old cedars. I’ve combed through the ground around Ash and Elms where they supposedly grow…I’ve snuck around old red oak stumps, logged over tracts and every rotten log I can find and still no more than a handful of the tasty little treats.
My eyes aren’t the greatest, but looking at the size of mushrooms some of my friends are finding, I’d have to be blind not to see them or trip over! I’ve hunted the fungi in three different counties this year with barely enough collected to even justify the time. I’m beginning to think it’s some sort of conspiracy against me, a trick of some kind.
“Let’s see if we can drive David crazy by posting our photos of giant mushrooms on Facebook”, they probably say in some closed door meeting.
Maybe these big finds of mushrooms are fake news and photo shopped. They might be out there, like Bigfoot or Loch Ness, but I’ve sure never seen them and until I do, I’m skeptical.
So to my friends like Kable, Bruce and Mike, if you’re going to continue to tease me by posting your treasured finds, at least throw me and other struggling ‘shroomers a bone (or mushroom) and help a brother out. Until then, I’ll continue to roam the woods looking for the elusive morels and finding plenty of ticks and spider webs….
– David Hewitt