Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 24, 2018

Stalking the wild morel

By David Hotle

No really, it’s true. I have been here for just shy of 10 years and I have never found a morel mushroom.
Not having grown up around here, I don’t think I would even know where to look. I haven’t even had any luck finding them at the first farmers market of the year. By the time I get around to going to buy some, they are gone.
Many people seem to have their own special spots they check about this time every year. Most often, if the temperature and humidity is right, they come back with a basketful, or whatever, of the mushrooms. Of course good luck trying to follow in their tracks. The special spots tend to be passed down generationally and the people who know them like to keep it a secret.
Me: “That is a nice haul. Where did you find all of those?”
Mushroomer: “In the woods.”
Me: “Where in the woods?”
Mushroomer: “Next to a tree.”
While the idea of mushroom hunting sounds like fun, I have to admit my knowledge of mycology is limited. I suspect I would be a little too afraid I would misidentify a mushroom and accidentally kill myself. Still, everyone seems to tell me that morels are the easiest mushrooms to identify.
Washington County conservation director Steve Anderson said today that people who aren’t sure of the identity of a suspected morel can bring them into the conservation/education center at Marr Park to be identified. While the offer has stood for as long as I know of, Anderson said no one has ever done that. He said morels are so distinctive no one ever needs help identifying them.
He also said Marr Park staff are finding morels like crazy. From what I understand, several were picked in the yard in front of the center by staff who weren’t even morel hunting. He says the rain we have gotten over the last few days has really made them pop.
I’m told they are delicious. Everyone I have talked to said either just batter-fried or mixed with scrambled eggs are a treat not to be missed. I hear people rave about the earthy steak-like flavor complementing whatever it is served with.
In past years, people have brought their find in for us to photograph. It occurs to me I haven’t seen anyone bring their find in recently. I hope we have morel hunters bring in some of the mushrooms of what promises to be a great season this year. We would love to run a picture of that.
Maybe I need to do a nature hike in Marr Park to see if I can find some morels. I get the feeling if I can’t find any this year, I never will.
Have fun hunting the mushrooms, and don’t forget the mesh bag. When you are removing the mushroom, the mesh allows the spores to return to the environment. You are literally planting another generation of morels as you walk.