Shroom Hunters Engage Enemy In Great Morel Wars

posted 3/27/07

The attack has begun. Legions, phalanxes of black, gray and fat yellow "bigun" morels have begun their annual stealthy arrival in our woods, fencerows, orchards and back yards.

It must have been those sand hill cranes we saw overhead a couple of weeks ago. They are the morel air force you know. Morel spores parachute down on us from their feathered bombers, carpeting the land below with these tiny bits of life-to-be. These airborne assaults often occur during evening hours or from high altitude so as to avoid detection.

Once infiltrated, these insidious fungi lay waiting for just the right moment to attack. They are natures IEDs. They simply wait out there in the woods for us to walk past, and even though lightly armed and tiny in size compared to a human, one or two morel hunters disappear every year. No bodies are ever found, no ransom notes received. I have heard rumors that they hold the missing hunters underground where they spin their victims into mycelia cases and feed on them for years.

Although late March is often when black morels pop up, it doesn't always happen. This year unseasonably warm weather seems to have stimulated massive outbreaks of morel madness, although only in southern Indiana so far.

Check out the morel blog and you can read war stories about these early black morel incursions. There is one morel hunter from Jasper who claims to have found both black and two score of yellow "biguns." This hunter's claims are highly suspect, although the dastardly morel is nothing if not unpredictable.

That's one thing to never forget about veterans of the morel wars. We have learned that deception is the key to on-the-ground combat. We never tell the exact truth, because morel spies are out there, listening.

When walking through morel-held territory, you need to sneak. Morels may not have ears, but they know when you are near. They often pull leaves up over themselves or hide in the open, depending on their natural camouflage. To spot these clever fungi, a veteran never looks directly in their direction. You wind around, coming at them from different paths, until, finally, you spot the waiting ambush and pluck them to end the threat.

Those of you who live in town may think you are safe from morel attack, but this just is not true. A couple of the most reliable patches I know are in Bloomington back yards. Urban shrooms aren't any different than their country cousins, but they often go undetected. Left alone to plot and scheme, there is no telling what mischief and rebellion these city shrooms could foment. Pluck them soon or they may get your dog, even a kid or two.

If you are a vet of the great morel wars, you already realize that the risk and sacrifice required to rack up a body count is well worth it. That's because, unlike our enemies in other wars, morels are excellent eating. Their heads are meaty and juicy. Rolled in flour and fried slowly in butter, there is no foe that pleases our palates like the morel.

Here in Indiana, Hoosiers have always claimed a preeminent position in the morel wars. One definition of a Hoosier incorporates the morel into a series of things we Hoosiers find most holy: A Hoosier is a person who dribbles a basketball around the Indy 500 track while hunting mushrooms.

Despite the humor of that definition, the track is not the place to look for morels, and there is nothing funny about this conflict. Confine your search to wooded, well-drained land , especially in woods where there is a living elm tree or the remains of dead elm trees. Morels are more fond of well-drained land than they are of water-soaked bottoms.

It is your duty as a public-minded Hoosier to take this battle to the enemy. Get out there and give your all. Protect us all from the tyranny of the mushroom! Pluck now!

©Copyright 2006. Donald Lee Jordan

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