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Illinois hunting and fishing

Central Illinois morel mania nears

April 26, 2009 at 05:03 AM

Morel events

While there is no Illinois State Morel Mushroom Hunting Championship this year, there are several local activities centered around morel hunting.

>>There will be a morel mushroom festival and auction Saturday at Wyoming’s Thomas Park from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Foods, crafts and other booths are welcome and can register starting at 7 a.m.

Mushroom hunters are invited to bring morels to sell in a 1 p.m. auction. Order of the auction will be set at 11 a.m. To learn more call (309) 883-3057.

>> A few spots remain for Tom Nauman’s Morel University scheduled for Saturday. The half-day event costs $75 and is designed to provide expert guidance on morel hunting. Nauman is founder of the state hunting championship and owns Morel Mania. Visit or call 1-800-438-4213.

>> There are at least two big-morel contests in the area.

The oldest is held by Schooner’s tavern in Peoria Heights. Tim Probyn of Peoria was the latest to join the tavern’s Mushroom Hall of Fame with a 17.5-ounce morel. The winner earns $100 and a picture in the hall of fame. Second pays $50 and third is worth $25. Call (309) 686-9895.

Elmwood Insurance Company is also holding a contest through May 15. Call (309) 742-2141.


David Jones carried on a family tradition Tuesday morning.

When he headed to a patch of timber west of his home in Bellevue, Jones brought along his 3-year-old daughter, Madison. The youngster proved she might be a natural. At the very least, she seems to share in her family’s passion for morel mushroom hunting.

“I had her looking for deer tracks and shed antlers and then I kind of steered her in the direction of a morel,” Jones said. “She bent right down and picked it up before I could say anything more.

“She had to hold it in her hand the whole way home.”

Madison may have a chance to hold many more morels this week. The arrival of long-awaited warm weather after a very soggy spring has mushroom hunters dreaming of full sacks and fried delicacies.

So far most local finds have been limited to small gray morels like Madison’s. Jones went out Wednesday and found 68 grays with his father, Jack Jones of Bellevue, and his wife’s grandfather, Floyd Hazelman of Tremont.

Others reported similar small grays last week across central Illinois. So far there’s been nothing like the 56-pound morel motherlode David Jaimet and Kent Mason picked on April 16. Those mushrooms came from southwestern Illinois, most around maples in the Kaskaskia River floodplain.

Mushroom-hunting diehards agree things will change for the better this week in central Illinois.

“I’m thinking by Monday or Tuesday those big yellows will be out,” Jones said.

Unfortunately, he has plenty of time to hunt morels this spring after being laid-off at Caterpillar Inc.’s Mossville plant. And with many other layoffs in the area, the mushroom woods could be unusually crowded this spring.

Morel hunters who target state land are reminded they must wait until after 1 p.m. at sites that allow turkey hunting. Actually, that’s a good rule of thumb even on private land.

So far most morels have been on the edge of timber according to Duke Frisby. Frisby found two pounds of yellows near New Athens last Saturday, then came home Sunday and found a handful of grays near Pekin.

“I’d say they should be decent by Tuesday or Wednesday,” said Frisby, who has helped organize a mushroom festival in Wyoming next Saturday. “By Thursday or Friday people should start finding them in the middle of the timber. They should have size to them, too.”

Not everyone is in a hurry to hit the woods, though.

Darren Gardner of Canton said he is waiting until at least next weekend to start hunting in earnest. “Every year I get out early, hunt hard, find a bunch of little grays and think, ‘What am I doing out here?’” Gardner said. “This year I’m going to wait a little longer and get the big yellows.”

Recent history backs up Gardner’s theory. Tim Probyn of Peoria won Schooner’s big mushroom contest last year with a 17.5-ounce morel found on May 11 near a dead elm tree.

Then again, in the two years prior to that mushroomers were filling sacks by April 20 and Schooner’s winners had located their prizes by early May.

When will the morel peak arrive this year? The only safe way to find out is by spending as much time as possible in the timber for the next few weeks.

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

We went out this afternoon and picked a wal-mart sack full. They were big so I’m assuming they are yellows. Some were dry on the tips,not surprising as it was real windy. Thinking about going back out tomorrow. Woodford County

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/26 at 06:49 PM

Remember guys and gals, use a mesh bag and pinch the mushroom off at at the ground!! If you use a bag that doesn’t have holes in it, the spores won’t spread for next year. The mesh laundry bags work great.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/27 at 07:57 AM

Managed to get three ticks, but no mushrooms.  Maybe I should move my treestand.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/27 at 09:49 AM

Looked for 30 minutes in Pike Co. on Sunday am and found four.  Usually will find 50-100 if they are really popping.  I probably missed the boom by 1-2 days!!!!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/27 at 11:56 AM

I gave up on hunting morels here in central Illinois. I live near the lake Shelbyville area and have access to public land only. What my and others problem is, is people ignoring the 1 P.M. law. I have been hitting the Kaskaskia river hard for the white bass run, and have seen a lot of people heading out into the woods with plastic bags. Some are making a lame attempt at being clever by taking a fishing pole with them so they can say they are fishing. My son and I stopped and asked a guy if he was fishing or mushrooming. He said he was doing both and I told him he couldn’t hunt mushrooms until after 1 P.M. He said he knew that. We left him and went fishing. When we drove back by he was in the woods hunting morels. All I was after this year as in each year was a small sack or two of morels, but I can’t compete with the number of people ignoring the 1 P.M. law. We never get very many morels anyways because people head out and basically hog them. I never understood why someone would pick 56 lbs. of morels and leave none for the next person or leave any to seed the next season. That’s a lot of mushroom eating…or selling. I never cared for that as well. The last time I picked, I only took the ones that were fresh. It amounted to 2 meals. I left plenty to seed the area, but it has been stomped every morning well before 1 P.M. I’ve seen the same guy parked along the river every weekend. My son asked me if we could pick morels if we found them while fishing before 1 P.M. I said no. Even if we find them by accident, it’s still not right. He’s 11 years old and I am in the on going process of teaching him right from wrong. We won’t get anything this year and that’s OK with me. I refuse to stoop to a level of illegal activity just to beat people to a lousy mushroom. Morels aren’t all that good anyways. I prefer the summer and fall mushrooms for flavor over morels any day of the week. There’s too much hype, too much competition, too much hogging, and too much cheating on morels to hold my interest.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/27 at 09:05 PM

My kids love this time of year, shroomin night and day if they could.  Found 3-4 pounds with my 5 year old son yesterday.  Problem I have is it seems once they pop so does every loser in the world. I guess they have never heard of the words “Private Property”. “No Trespassing”.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/28 at 12:00 PM

Thanks illinoisbonecollector for reminding why I shouldn’t express my opinion on this site. I completely forgot about people that pull the Rush Limbaugh move and trash others for expressing their opinoins. It’s nice to see you know me well enough to jump to conclusions about my mushroom abilities and habits. If you’ve never heard of the 1 P.M. law, then I have to question where and what time you hunt. One only needs to look as far as this site to find the answer. Hunting mushrooms on public land during the spring turkey season before 1 P.M. is prohibited. It is strongly advised that mushroom hunters wait until after 1 P.M. on private land, as well. I’m in the process of teaching my son how NOT to ruin someones turkey hunt or to get SHOT while looking for a stinking spore. If people choose to ignore the law and common sense, that’s their business. Please, by all means, go and hunt shrooms. As far as keeping everything you find, well, I merely expressed my opinion. I expect only certain people to respect that. There’s been studies done about the decline of morels in certain areas due to the way people remove them and the numbers being removed. Again, one merely needs to look. I would gladly spend every hour of the day hunting morels, but I work for a living. What you so eloquently call bitching, was actually an opinion being expressed. Don’t Rush Limbaugh someones opinion. It’s not becoming. Good day.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/28 at 09:50 PM

Is it actually a law that you can’t hunt morels until after 1:00 p.m. on state property or is it just that you don’t want to disturb the turkey hunters? If it is a law how long has that been into effect? Because I know that I’ve been hunting morels for close to 50 years and I don’t believe that turkey hunting has been around for that long. Now I realize it’s not proper to interfere with people while they are hunting and if their not done I don’t. But what about the mushroom hunters rights? Should they be superseded because of turkey hunting? Just curious.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/30 at 03:24 PM

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