With the recent rainy weather, I have been longing for days spent outside in the sunshine. Last weekend we were fortunate enough to have warmer temperatures and some rays peeking through the clouds. My husband and I took full advantage of it by going on our first morel mushroom hunt. Neither of us had ever really hunted for these savory fungi, so we weren’t quite sure where to start. Like a good angler and his favorite fishing spot, most mushroom hunters wont give up the location. So we had to do our own research to find out where to start. After some quick Google searches, we learned that morels like to grow around trees (aspen, poplar and cottonwood seem to be their favorites, all members of the Populous genus), morels prefer loamy soil (a mixture of soil clay, silt and sand). Thirdly, timing is everything.

Equipped with a mesh bag and some newfound knowledge, we hit the trails. Now I don’t want to say that Brian and I are the type of people who expect instant gratification, but after about an hour of roaming about to no avail, we were definitely getting discouraged. Just as we were thinking that we may be on a wild ’shroom chase, it happened. Brian spotted one wrinkly cap poking up from the earth. The excitement was palpable as I looked about and spotted a few more hidden in plain sight under the cover of a huge cottonwood tree.

Our mesh bag began to fill as we gleefully discovered one mushroom troop after another spread out all along the hunting grounds. Calls of “I found one” and “good job!” could be heard echoing along the creek as Brian and I harvested the bounty. After about 45 minutes of this, we were certain that we had found all we could find and headed home to enjoy the spoils.

Days like this are what give me an appreciation for the lengthy winters and wet springs here in Johnson County, because without the rain (and the snow), we wouldn’t have morels. Nor would we enjoy those sunshine filled days quite as much.  

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