SHELBURN, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — While the return of winter weather has momentarily paused mushroom hunting, this upcoming weekend, local hunters may have one last chance to find morels.
For Nick Cullison, an expert mushroom hunter, the sport of mushroom hunting has been something he’s done for nearly 35 years.
“Actually, my wife and I’s first date was mushroom hunting years ago, and after we got married we bought property near that place later,” Cullison said with a smile.
Cullison says from April 15 to April 25 is considered prime mushroom season and with only a few days left he shares advice on how to better use those days.
“Probably one of the most common mistakes is they start looking at the ground first, when normally I’d look up. I’d start looking at trees and surroundings, then I’ll start looking at the ground and that’s when I’ll dive into the hunt,” Cullison said.
In wooded areas specifically, Cullison says certain trees may bring more success for hunts.
“If I was going into the woods, if I was hunting for morels, I’d be looking for cottonwoods, elm trees, and sycamores. Those combinations of those three trees. That’s not saying you won’t find mushrooms in other places, it’s just you have a way better chance of finding them with those three trees,” Cullison said.
Of all the factors hunters can control, there is one beyond their reach: weather. However, certain weather conditions may help hunters’ visibility on mushrooms.
“Warm and rainy weather. I tell people this a lot, I don’t like to hunt when it’s really sunny out. I like to hunt during the rain or after the rain on a cloudy day. You’ll see more when it’s gloomy compared to when it’s real bright,” Cullison said.
Among the cardinal rules for mushroom hunters is to keep the names of the properties hunted to themselves.
Of all the advice Cullison gives, the most important is patience.
“We’ve walked several days and found none. A lot of people think it’s an easy sport, you just go with a basket and pick mushrooms. It does come like that every once in a while. But, persistence and a lot of walking.
While morel mushrooms are often sought after for their taste, morels also can create a financial draw.
“I’ve sold them up to $100 a pound. Yeah, people here say, ‘I wouldn’t give over $25 a pound.’ I probably wouldn’t either but they do,” Cullison said. “But, the most I’ve ever sold is $107 a pound,”
On this hunt, Cullison and company found six pounds of morels in an hour. In his lifetime, Cullison says he has found over 40 pounds of mushrooms in a season at least three separate times.