Thursday, May 19, 2005

Hunting Safety and Other Guidelines

Odd, that when I was growing up in a small river town in southeast Iowa, I lived with more than my fair share of misconceptions. For one, I thought EVERYONE was Catholic. If you weren't Catholic, you were an atheist. Luckily, that belief was shattered by the second grade... right around the time I dropped out of CCD (for those of you who don't know, it's some brainwashing catechism class but I'll be damned if I remember what all those letters stand for...)

Another misconception was about morel mushrooms. I assumed that every spring, people everywhere would don their huntin' gear and get out to the woods and fencelines looking for the tasty little fungi. Little did I know that growing up chowing on these delectable tidbits and frog legs at family reunions was considered fine cuisine in many parts of the world. I thought we ate stuff like that because we were poor. Go figure...

What follows here are Cooter's guidelines for hunting morels. Nope, there is nothing here that will tell you where to find them or how to find them, but I hope the suggestions help anyone who goes out next spring to root around for 'em. 'Kay? 'Nuff said? Here we go...

First off, you need the proper gear. I cannot stress this enough. See, it just doesn't work to wear someone else's stuff. You might end up donning a pair of dungarees that belong to your stepfather, in which case, they will keep falling down and taking your panties for the ride. This is especially bad if you're constantly bending over plucking morel morsels from the earth. Luckily, chances are good you're not mooning anyone, though, because they prefer looking for fungus than at your lily white ass.

Leather gloves are a MUST. When you get lost and are fervently clawing your way back to the trail of breadcrumbs, they're almost (almost) better than your hunting staff for shoving any obstacles to the side. Trust me... when you're hell bent for leather to get back to a beer, a toilet and a hot shower, the primal urge to use your body takes precedence over any tool.

Take a big stick. Oh yes. You're gonna need it. They come in very very handy...
1. ...on the muddy slope down to the crick (that's creek for non-hicks). If it's been raining, things tend to get a little slippery. Case in point, one misstep can land you on your ass sliding through soggy underbrush grasping at every sapling, sticker bush or rock on your way down in order to halt the descent. Take my word on it, watch where you're going, walk sideways down slickery slopes, and USE. THE. STICK. Otherwise, don't complain to me about your bruised butt cheeks.
2. ...conversely, on the muddy slope up from the crick. In this case, rely on a secure planting of your sturdy staff more than anything other than rooted trees to help you up the slope. I stood helpless as I watched my mother go ass over teakettle down a hill because she grabbed 'hold of something that was not one with the earth. She was ok. Go ahead... laugh. I sure did.
3. ...for donking the mayapples out of the way. Ok, there's a clue; morels like to hide under these little umbrella plants and if you're in a clearing of a gazillion mayapples, two hands do not a stick make.
4. ...for shushing saplings, stickerbushes and a variety of other verdant flora out of your way. Little bastards.
5. ...for taking a whack at that person on the path in front of you who let an entire stickerbush thwack you in the face.

This leads me to a few general guidelines...

For one, never, under any circumstances, assume the person on the path in front of you WON'T let that branch snap back into your face. It's a lesson learned the hard way, but if you just remember what I say, hopefully you'll get to keep your front teeth.

Also, while you obviously need to keep your eyes on the ground, it would behoove you to make certain there are no low-lying black locust branches (avec THORNS) to poke out your eye or knock off your hat... for the seventeenth time.

Lastly (and this may be the best bit of advice I could give you), keep an eye on your FEET. You'll feel extremely awful when, after three hours of no luck, you squish the life out of the one and only morel you got to "find" all season. Ah well... praise be to my mum, who (in my humble opinion) is still the best morel mushroom hunter in the world.

hmmmm... must be a regional thing, eh? good ole cliffie in nebraska wrote and posted pix a week or two back of some mighty morels...

dunno kiddo, out here, the shrooms grow in cowpastures, and once ya find and snack a few, you TOTALLY forget whatever the hell you was lookin for and just sit in a cowpie, laffin.
Magz~ yeah, unfortunately I don't think they grow in the desert! And it sounds to me like you have a type o' shroom out there similar to Seven's...
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