It is time for my annual column on mushrooms. I am a great mushroom hunter. One of the best. There are few rivals to my prowess in hunting the elusive yet highly desirable forest fungi.
I have yet to talk to anyone who can lay claim to being as great as I am great. When I enter the woods, the word is that mushrooms cower and hide under leaves, moss and mayapple plants.
This is the time of year when Hoosiers and people in many other states tramp through the woods in pursuit of the elusive spikes, blacks, yellow and gray morels. It may come as a surprise to many Hoosiers that people in most all states hunt mushrooms and enjoy eating the musky, meaty and woodsy flavored sponges that grow in the woods.
Here are some hints as to where to find mushrooms. I have found the best place to look is on the ground in the woods. I have never found one growing on a tree, bush or shrub. Avoid looking on sidewalks, roads and in streams of running water. It may be easier to walk there but you won't find any mushrooms in those places. You are wasting your time by looking in the mall or at Victory Field during an Indians game. Some people have found "nearus roadus" from their car but I find that to be highly suspect and overly reported.
My counsel is to consider all of the wonderful places that you think you will find mushrooms, confirm all of the best looking places, develop a checklist of all of the good qualities of locations that should sprout mushrooms like crabgrass, then forget about those places and go somewhere else. The Old Farm Market near us sells them for nearly $30 per pound. The best advice I can give you is to stalk my nephew Todd. He has been known to find morels in the parking lot at Sprawl Mart. If he can't find them they are not to be found. Be careful though he may get a restraining order on you.
I was in Highland last week so I thought I would spend a bit of time in the woods in case some had sprung up over night. On the way out of the area I stopped at a roadside stand that had a crude sign advertising morel mushrooms $25 a pound. That is a little rich for my blood but since I didn't have my usual luck at finding mushrooms that day, I thought I might buy some. So like fudge at Mackinac and other places I reasoned that one could buy a fourth pound, half pound or even in pound lots. Feeling my anemic wallet, I sidled up to Audley and said, "I believe I will take a pound of morels." Audley said, "Not today old Hoss, we don't cut 'em, you have to take the whole mushroom." I knew then that I was in the presence of greatness.
Oh, about that opening paragraph, I am a mushroom hunter extraordinaire but not necessarily a finder if you know what I mean. And that is the morel of the story.
Larry Vandeventer grew up north of Calvertville, graduated from Worthington High School and can be reached at Goosecrick@aol.com or at 6860 Sunrise Drive, Plainfield, Ind., 46168 or call him at (317) 839-7656.