Mushroom hunting season set to begin

There is a fungus outbreak in this area, or so I’ve been told.

A friend sent me a warning poster about the fungus, and offered to take care of the fungus if I found any on our property, but I smelled a rat. The attached photo looked a lot like a perfect sponge Morrel mushroom. And of course, mushrooms are a kind of fungus.

Spring fever has struck us all, the sun is shining, and the redbuds are blooming so it must be time for this area’s annual mushroom hunting frenzy. Let the games begin.

Mushroom hunting is a careful skill. One must first know what the edible mushrooms look like and it can be complicated. It seems like most of the mushroom hunters I know were taught by parents or grandparents who took them along on the big hunts in the past and passed along the skills.

My grandpa was a champion mushroom hunter. He had the perfect eye sight to pick them out of a pile of woodland debris. I think it has something to do with focal length and focus because successful mushroom hunters are usually good at finding arrowheads too.

Mushroom hunters love to show their catch to everyone. If you live nearby you get to see them in person, often in a hat, but don’t worry if you don’t. There will be photos. Lots of photos.

The first photos of the spongy mushrooms have been posted on Facebook, and on bulletin boards and refrigerators throughout the area. These are just small batches but more will be on the way.

Mushroom hunters love to share the photos but only a special few people actually get to share the mushrooms. It’s a good indicator of where you fit in the family.

The funniest question to ask a mushroom hunter bragging on the take is “Where did you find them?”

That is when the generalizations begin. “Over by grandpa’s old place.” “You know along the river.” “Where I always do.” “In the woods.” “By a fallen tree.” Or there is dead silence.

A mushroom hunter guards his hunting places like a CIA agent with a cyanide tooth. You are not going to get a straight answer.

Those who talk do not want to be quoted. Nope. All want to be anonymous sources.

Some like to spy on each other and keep track of where the vehicles of the mushroom hunting stars have been seen.

One of my relatives likes to park his car by one woods, walk through that woods and across a field to another woods where he finds the best mushrooms. He would not dream of parking near the sites of his mother lodes.

Sadly mushroom hunting skills are not inherited. It is a skill that must be passed on. That is what happened to me.

I didn’t learn the fine art of mushroom hunting from my grandpa. Nope. I learned from my mom.

As soon as I’m done with this column I’ll be going off to my mom’s favorite spot that never fails….

Right between the sweet peppers and cucumbers at the grocery store.

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