Even Experts can be Fooled Hunting Wild Mushrooms

Joshua Young shares his fondness of foraging for morel mushrooms and the story of an expert who make mistakes when hunting wild mushrooms..


| March/April 2007



LEADMorel01

Thousands of people annually scour fields and forests in North America in search of morel mushrooms.

PHOTO: DAVID CAVAGNARO

Even experts can be fooled when hunting wild mushrooms. 

My legs are tired, but I am content, because I have been to the woods and gathered the first of this season's elusive morels.

Molly, my Jack Russell terrier, always accompanies me. Or, perhaps I should say, Molly occasionally crosses her orbits with mine. As I trudge along, systematically combing my favorite wooded hillsides for mushrooms, Molly races past, making wide arcs to the left or right, in pursuit of unseen game and delicious scents in the air. Her pell-mell patrols take her out of sight ahead of me, but then, every five minutes or so, she comes from behind, out of nowhere, and passes me again without so much as a blink or a nod.

The effect is as if I am continually being overtaken by a whole pack of tiny black-and-white terriers. Had I a gun, and the notion to depart from my mushroom quest, I could follow Molly when she barks, from time to time, and augment my feast of fungi with squirrel, rabbit,oppossum or coon.

But I have an appetite only for morels, and for the hunt that nourishes my soul in ways only another mushroom hunter can appreciate. The feel of the spongy earth under my feet, the dry crackle of leaves, and the intoxicating smell of wild phlox would be enough, even if the morels never reveal themselves to me.

Morels are one of the safest mushrooms to hunt, because they cannot be mistaken for any other fungi that grow at this time of year, but I like to tell and retell a cautionary tale that should give pause to any expert or novice mushroom hunter who decides to go hunting wild mushrooms.





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