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Mushroom hunting a family affair for Hoosiers

May 29, 2012 at 04:40 PM

GREENSBURG, Ind. (AP) — For St. Paul resident Adam Hungate and his fellow mushroom hunters, an appropriate slogan might be “The Morel the Merrier.”

More specifically, Adam, his wife Ashley, their 4-year-old son Eddie and their cousin Andy, spend the early part of each spring on the hunt for a certain elusive type of fungus known as the morel mushroom.

The odd-looking fungi may be found at the base of elm or ash trees, and sometimes even beneath logs deep in the woods.

Adam, now 31, has been hunting the difficult-to-find mushroom species since a very early age. He’d often accompany his father on morel hunts as a youth, and that experience has been parlayed by the St. Paul father of two into an often successful venture each spring.

Last year proved to be a bountiful season for the Hungates as they stumbled upon what Adam refers to as “the Holy Grail” of morel hunting: full-grown, yellow morels.

These huge specimens, some of which measured nearly a foot in length, were found in the woods of Decatur County last spring during prime morel hunting season, which Adam defines as spanning from about mid-April to mid-May.

Described as having bases approximately the same diameter as a regular-sized compact disc, the morels found by the Hungates last year were significant enough to land the family’s photo in Fungi Monthly, a quarterly international magazine dedicated to all things mushroom-centric.

This honor coincided with a feature in Morel Booster Newsletter, a much more morel focused publication.

And it was all due to one massive find that amounted to nearly 20 pounds of the tasty fungi. Adam was hesitant to disclose the location of his find, but did note that when he and his fellow hunters returned this past season, morels of any type were conspicuously absent.

The slight disappointment continued throughout the recent morel hunting season as Adam reported he and his companions found not a single mushroom in the wild this spring. Adam attributed this lackluster — in the view of morel fans — season to the abnormally hot conditions experienced in March and April.

“The conditions have to be just right,” noted Adam regarding the likelihood of a morel appearance.

This was in stark contrast to the patch of 65 discovered by the Hungates last year, which might have fetched a decent price at the market…if Adam and friends didn’t find them completely delicious.

Instead of selling his morel wares, Adam deep fried many of them at a mushroom cookout and gave away the rest to friends and family. The cooked ones were so large that they had to be cut into quarters prior to frying, though Adam says preparing the morels is a snap and that the entirety of the fungus is edible. Adam told the Daily News he’s no fan of ordinary mushrooms such as those found on a pizza, but the unique taste of the morel is much to his liking.

But it’s the thrill of the hunt that keeps the Hungates coming back year after year; and it’s a fun task in which anyone can take part, according to Adam.

Morel hunting requires a keen eye and a walking stick for turning over brush and the like in the woods. Morels appear to be social mushrooms, concentrating in patches should a searcher be lucky enough to come across one.

“As a rule of thumb, if you find one you’ll find several,” said Adam.

One thing to watch for, however, is the so-called “false morel,” an imposter that bears more than a passing resemblance to its real counterpart.

Adam said the only true way to tell them apart is to cut them open. A real morel is hollow inside, while a false one is not.

Even unsuccessful morel hunts have proven to be anything but hollow for the Hungates, as the family has fun traipsing through the woods whether they return home with a bounty of fungi or not.

“It’s a good time,” said Adam. “It’s good exercise and you get to be out in the wilderness. It’s a good hike in the woods.”

These hikes are expected to continue for the family in the future. Adam and Ashley’s youngest child, Joey, will turn 2 this summer. Adam hopes he’ll join his parents and big brother Eddie, 4, in the future.

Those interested in learning more about morel mushrooms can check out as well as a Facebook page dedicated to the unique hobby. The Facebook page allows users to upload their own photos of successful morel hunts, sharing them with friends as well as morel hunters the world over.


Information from: Greensburg Daily News,

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all mushroom hunters are liars !,at least if there smart they will be!

Posted by trolloni on 05/29 at 08:56 PM

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