It’s mushroom season here in Montana and I’ve spent much of the weekend obsessively wandering the bottomlands along the Yellowstone in pursuit of the beautiful, fragrant, and elusive morel. It started on Saturday morning, when Maryanne’s friend Tice took us down to the sweet spot by the sewage treatment plant where her family has been hunting morels for years. A little backstory here, Maryanne and I have any number of friends who hunt mushrooms — big men, some of whom are known as famous outdoorsmen. Would they share their spots with us? Would they take us out so we could at least see what the morel looks like in it’s native habitat? No — they wouldn’t. Not one of them. Made a big deal about it, like it’s part of their secret guys-club handshake. No telling the girls where the morels are.
So, take that. Tice took us out and we found a whole buncha morels. We now know what they look like growing out there, and what kind of terrain they like. It’s not rocket science, after all — but I do find that having someone take you out the first time with any new mushroom species is pretty crucial. Or maybe it’s just because I’m a really visual person, and so I need that image in my head. At any rate, I have wee pile of morels drying in my kitchen, and yesterday I also found a couple of nice big clusters of oyster mushrooms. I also found some young horse mushrooms that I thought might be okay, but turns out they were full of bugs, and I’m still not confident enough to key out white mushrooms on my own. My rule with wild mushrooms is that I only harvest species that don’t look like anything poisonous — which brings my “life list” of mushrooms I feel comfortable harvesting to four — chanterelles, boletes, oysters, and now, morels.