Idaho Deer Hunter Magazine Spring/Summer 2013, Issue #4 - Page 26

Outdoors to the Core! MOREL MUSHROOM HUNTING Tom Claycomb If you’ve never hunted morel mushrooms you’re missing out on one of God’s best treats that He ever gave us. They are one of the top fungi in the world, second only to the truffle in England. They seem to be triggered by the spring rains and a few warm days and nights. Then it seems like they almost spring up right in front of your eyes. It seems to me that they have about a two week growing period but you can extend your hunting season by rising in elevation. Here’s what I mean by that. If this week you’re finding them at 5,500 ft., next week go up and hunt at 6,000 ft. Many will tell you to hunt them by old logs and fir trees. I’ve been hunting them since 1979 and you’d think that I’d know more than I do. I’ve got one spot where they grow in the grass on the side of a hill every year. That’s not the norm but on this one hill they do every year. If you find one, look up/downhill. The spore washes downhill and more often than not, where I find one I’ll find more. But-the absolute best spot is old forest fires from the year before. I think it was in 2005 that I found a million up by Warm Lake when the fires had run through there. Then in 2007 up in the fires at Silver Creek Plunge. Oh my gosh, we found a million. In one spot that you could have covered with an 8x10 tarp I picked 162. I took another couple with Katy and I and we all picked 2-five gallon buckets each in no time at all and had to walk over others when leaving. Now for the fun part. Eating them! To prepare them, gently rinse them off. They are the most fragile food you will ever prepare so be gentle. Rinse the dirt and ashes off and then split lengthwise with a knife. Put in a bowl and gently rinse again. Then sprinkle on salt and fill the bowl with water. The salt will kill the bugs. I was taught to let them soak overnight but if you’re chomping at the bits you can cook them muy pronto. Crack a few eggs in a bowl and beat with a fork. Dip the mushrooms in them and then roll them in flour. I sprinkle a little salt and pepper in the flour beforehand. Then throw them into a skillet with oil that is heated up. You don’t want to sizzle them but you do want to brown them. While frying I sprinkle with Tony Cachere’s. Flip when ready and remove when they get golden brown and put on paper towels on a plate. If you were blindfolded you would swear that they tasted like meat. You just have to try them if you never have done so. They are the best food in the world. If you’re lucky enough to find more than you can eat you can dry or freeze them. So this spring while you’re out turkey, bear or shed hunting keep an eye peeled and you might just pick up a new first love. (If you don’t know what they look like have an old-timer go with you and teach you the ropes so you don’t pick poisonous ones). For more on morels Google outdoorsite.com, select Tom Claycomb as the author and click on Morel Mushroom hunting. 26