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A morel mushroom, somehow missed by previous hunters, waits to be picked next to a trail in the Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area near Chandlerville. Photos by Chris Young.

Morel hunters having success

May 09, 2013 at 10:37 PM

The State Journal-Register

On Monday, cars and pickup trucks were spaced evenly on the landscape, like hawks perched on utility poles every mile along the interstate.

After a long, rainy weekend, a break in the weather seemed to set the stage for morel hunting. But Wickens said the rainy weekend didn’t deter morel seekers one bit.

“They were out in the rain,” he said. “It was raining Saturday and every parking lot was full. That rain didn’t slow them down at all. There were more mushroom hunters than turkey hunters. Most turkey hunters just gave up.”

Greg Regan, who lives just outside of Springfield, got out of his car at a favorite spot just after 1 p.m. Monday. Mushroom hunters are required to wait until after 1 p.m. at state sites where turkey hunting also is allowed.

The idea is to keep mushroom hunters safe and prevent them from interrupting turkey hunters. Wickens said mushroom hunters who tried to start early received a ticket from an Illinois Conservation Police officer.

Regan said he had been to Jim Edgar Panther Creek a few times already this spring, but had taken a few days off.

“I got some grays here in the last week,” he said. “I hear the yellows are up pretty good, now, so I am going to try my luck.”

Regan stayed with the tried and true strategy of looking for dead elm trees, patches of thorny bushes and other vegetation that might hide morels.

“You’ve got to have your right spot,” he said. “This is a good spot here.”

Greg Regan looks for morels at Jim Edgar Panther Creek.

Turns out it also was the favorite spot of at least two others, judging from the number of vehicles.

To get to Regan’s spot, he hiked along a creek and just past a bend where the “pancake turtles” like to sit in the sun.

He carried a special stick fashioned to help him sweep grass out of the way and lift up thorny canes to look inside thickets.

Panther Creek was high due to recent rains, and getting across did not look promising. Regan said he would bet on morels being plentiful on the less-accessible side of the creek.

Wickens said morel hunters were reporting good success — much better than turkey hunters.

“The turkey hunting has been pretty dismal,” Wickens said. “The birds are not gobbling after they leave the roost.”

He chalked it up to a late spring.

“I never heard a bird after they left the roost,” he said. “During the second season, I got one on the second day, but I knew where he was going and waited for him.

“You are hearing them in the trees, but they are just not gobbling after they fly down.”

Turkey hunters still have another week left in the season.

Chris Young can be reached at (217) 788-1528 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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