It’s almost mushroom hunting season, and for many areas of the country, it has been a wet winter. This means mushroom hunters can look forward to a strong crop of morels and other wild edibles to start the year. One quick search on the web will reveal hundreds of morel hunting experts who have their own tried and true method of uncovering these illusive but delicious mushrooms. Instead of tackling mushroom hunting techniques of our own today, we thought we’d turn to a related topic – what else to do while you’re hunting for mushrooms. Here are some interesting ideas for multi-tasking while you’re out in the woods or field.
Ok this first suggestion is pretty simple, but spring foliage is engrossing in itself. Everything is bright green, fresh and growing fast to beat the plants around them, and this makes for some entertaining scenery. At no other time of the year does the forest feel so fresh. You’ll be able to take in the smell of fresh rain or listen to the roar of a nearby creek flooded with spring runoff. Add to this the chatter from birds in the trees, and a mushroom hunt becomes a very pleasant experience, even if you go home empty handed. After a winter spent looking at brown, dormant trees, a good dose of spring color and growth can be therapeutic in itself. Of course, a hike through the spring woods gets even better when you find that stand of morels just waiting to be picked.
As we mentioned above, spring is an excellent time to take in the scenery and observe how plants emerge from winter and begin another growing cycle. Why not take the opportunity to capture spring in motion by bringing along your digital camera. Green buds on tree limbs, colorful spring flowers, and green shoots and tendrils from plants on the forest floor all make good photography subjects. More importantly, how often does that once in a lifetime stand of morel mushrooms get photographed before they are picked? What if you run into the largest morel you’ve ever seen? Surely you’d like to get a picture of that in its wild state before going any further. Take our word for it. Everyone on the web is still using only a few tired photos of morels. Make this year the year you show off your photography skills while mushroom hunting.
Often the area that people mushroom hunt in is an area they later use for other hunting seasons. While it is important to preserve a hunting area by limiting human excursions into it, a mushroom hunt is a good opportunity to make the most of your time in the area. First, you can strengthen your general sense of the lay of the land. This river flows to here, or this valley ends in this field. It’s important to know the area you’re hunting well, especially if it is a large tract of land that you might get lost in.
Secondly, you can note signs of animal movement. While game travel patterns can change over the season, mushroom hunting can give you a sense of popular trails and natural funnels for animals. Armed with this information, you can even devise new stand or blind locations as you hunt for mushrooms. Time spent during a mushroom hunt can make future scouting missions more effective. If you already have your next tree stand location picked out, you can simply head there for a quick setup and minimize your movements as the hunting season approaches.
Finally, this may be a good time to test out new game cameras or change up the placement of existing ones. Again, the placement you decide on might not be used by game later in the year, but it always helps to get a sense of animal movements when you’re not around.
Morel hunting usually coincides with a swing up in temperatures. This means mushroom hunting could be a great time to dust of the tent and sleeping bags and get the family out for the first camping trip of the year. In some parts of the country it could still get pretty cold at night, and you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of warm apparel and sleeping gear. A big fire never hurts either, and a generous stock of firewood is another commodity you’ll need for this first camping trip. The earlier you get the year’s first camping trip in, the more chances you’ll have to take more as the weather gets even better.
As we just mentioned, morel hunting can be a great excuse to round up the family for the first camping trip of the year. However there is another great reason to bring the family out for a morel hunt. It’s a good chance to expose them to the wonder of nature. Spring is a beautiful time of year and there is plenty to see, and the positive experiences your children have now in the wilderness could lead to a life long love affair with nature. Make sure you outfit them with rain gear and waterproof boots, and then turn them loose while you look for morels. Having several pairs of eyes in the field never hurts your chances either!
Thumb and morel mushroom image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.