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Print

Mushroom secrets stay locked up tight

April 06, 2012 at 10:20 AM

The State Journal-Register

Nothing makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up straighter than someone sidling up next to me and whispering, “Do you want to hear a secret?”

I always say no and flee for safer haven. My reasoning is simple. If I don’t hear the secret, there is no temptation to tell someone else. I don’t have to worry about verifying the source. And, if it comes back around later in the week, well then it wasn’t exactly a secret in the first place.

Most outdoor enthusiasts keep few secrets and are even eager to share what they have learned.

A great way to become a better shooter with a gun or bow is to watch good shooters and listen to their advice. Surveys of fishermen indicate that an angler will tell his or her fishing buddy how to find a secret “honey hole,” when they can’t go along. Hunters will tell their pals with a tag to fill where late season deer are coming out to feed, and sometimes even take them there if there’s a kid involved.

None of these information-sharing courtesies apply to hunting mushrooms. The same super-accommodating person who will put you into a covey of quail, or help you pick up an additional two or three clay targets on the trap range, will clam up when asked where to find a patch of grays or yellows.
They might just tell you a bald faced lie.

Real mushroom hunters aren’t about to give you the GPS coordinates of their best patch, even if they are laid up in the hospital, with no hope of battling the briars themselves. In fact, many mushroomers who hunt on public land like Jim Edgar Panther Creek are likely to send you over the river and through the woods to the far end of the site, places barren for so long that Abe Lincoln never found one there.

The annual morel mushroom mania wouldn’t exist if morels were easy to come by, or affordable, or if the window to find them stayed open longer. If they popped up all summer like the dandelions in my front yard, we’d probably end up spraying to get rid of them.

As it is, we have to go through thorns and ticks and wade cricks to find them. It’s also true that where there were none to be found yesterday, the mother lode may pop up tomorrow. That unpredictability makes revealing a good spot — any spot — especially foolhardy, unless it’s a place you have written off completely.

I don’t buy into all that secret spot stuff. I’ll tell you all the places I find mushrooms. I’ll even draw you a map — after you take a blood oath and agree to give 60 percent of the haul.

Even then, you might be wise to remember the ancient proverb: “Tell your friend a lie. If he keeps it secret, then tell him the truth.”

Contact George Little at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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