Something Fishy

Something Fishy
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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Ah, spring; ah, morel mushrooms

Black morels usually are the first to appear. They can be tough to see, but are good to eat.

        It's been a tough winter, but with spring finally on the horizon, thoughts change from shoveling snow and salting ice, to catching crappie and hunting for morel mushrooms.
Black morels should be making their way through deep woods leaves in the near future. I have found them as early as the last week in March, but that is rare. Early April usually marks their arrival.
A quick look on the internet indicated  a few black and small gray morels were found March 11 in Georgia. As the weather warms finds begin to move north, and will continue till late spring in the northwoods of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Dedicated mushroom hunters (shoomers) follow these tasty fungi all the way to the northern border. Many find plenty to sell to folks who don't want to, or can't, venture into the woods distant from home. 
Two keys to a good spring morel season are moisture and warm weather. We've had the moisture this winter, now for the warmth. My friend Doyle Coultas also believes a snowy winter also is benfeficial to spring mushroom finds.
The early black morels, also called “hickory chickens” and by probably a dozen other local names, are the first to appear. 
The blacks are usually found in heavy wooded areas, and are first found on the south or southeastern side of hills where the early spring sun strikes first. It won’t take too many sunny days and it will be worth a trip to the woods to see if any blacks just might have popped through the leaves.
The blacks are  followed (and overlapped) with the long stem variety, then the white morels and the big yellow sponges. There usually is three weeks or so of good hunting.
While hunting morels, it also is a good opportunity to scout for wild turkeys and find good hunting sports for the season that opens in Indiana April 22 and runs through May 10.
It’s also fun to enjoy a combination day of mushroom hunting and crappie fishing. If successful, it 
Word of caution -- Don’t eat any mushroom you aren’t sure is safe. The morels are wonderful eating; however, some other types of fungi are poisonous. There are numerous books and internet websites which identify the edible mushrooms. 
There are many types of mushrooms; however, I concentrate on the morels. They are the ones I know best, and I feel confident picking and eating them.
The mushroom books are good, but I highly recommend first time hunters try to get out with an experienced “shroomer” as the hard-core hunters call themselves. An experienced hunter not only teach you to identify the morels, he or she also can provide tips on how and where to find them.

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