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Hunting the Elusive Wood Hen: Mid-Mo. Mushrooming

Oct 25, 2011

Several years ago, my wife and I spent a picture-perfect autumn weekend camping and hunting mushrooms in the Ozarks with the Missouri Mycological Society (MoMS). We enjoyed the event so much that we joined the group and attended their annual mushroom-based feast the following January. But most members lived in and around St. Louis, and their events tended to be far from my home in Jefferson City. We never really got in the swing of things.

So, I was really excited a few weeks ago when I learned recently that MoMS is starting a Central Missouri Chapter. They held their first field trip earlier this month at Rock Bridge State Park in Boone County. I went, hoping to find the same relaxed, companionable atmosphere I remembered from the St. Louis group. I wasn’t disappointed. Besides attracting people with a wide range of ages and interests, the inaugural foray was under the direction of bona-fide fungus experts who could teach beginners about mushroom identification and steer us clear of dangerous species.

I arrived after the instructional part of the program, just in time to get to know a few of the people during a potluck lunch. The dishes people brought provided evidence of their interest in wild foods. There was a meatless Hen-of-the-Woods casserole that I would have sworn had meat in it, wild rice with a wild mushroom that I can’t recall right now and acorn-flour muffins. Because I had cleaned out the freezer the night before, I brought a wild-game gumbo.

After lunch, we split up into four small groups to comb different parts of the surrounding woods for any sort of fungus we could find. Each group brought their finds back to the headquarters campground for identification. Normally, an October mushrooms foray would produce dozens of specimens to identify, but the weather had been ridiculously dry, and fungi were scarce. The upside was flawless autumn weather and intoxicating scenery at the peak of fall foliage color. With this kind of fun close to home, I will be back for more.

If this sounds intriguing to you, visit missourimycologicalsociety.org/chapters.html. If you get started now, you will be in the loop when they head out to look for morels next spring!

Jim Low

dried_mushrooms-4.jpg

This photo shows Foray Coordinator Stan Hudson holding a mushroom.
Stan Hudson
Foray Coordinator Stan Hudson was one of two mushroom experts who helped identify fungi during the foray at Rock Bridge State Park.

dried_mushrooms-2.jpg

This photograph shows a watermelon-sized mushroom growing at the base of a tree
Hen Mushroom
This hen-of-the-woods mushroom created quite a stir during the first foray of the Missouri Mycological Society's central-Missouri chapter.

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This photo shows a group of mushroom hunters clustered around a mushroom.
Hen Mania
Excited mushroom hunters clustered a hen-of-the-woods mushroom, taking photos.

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This photo shows several mushroom enthusiasts examining the day's finds.
Post-Foray Fun
The four groups of mushroom hunters brought their finds to foray headquarters to admire, identify and, in some cases, eat them.

dried_mushrooms-1.jpg

This photo shows several jars containing different types of dried mushrooms.
Dried Mushrooms
Foray Coordinator Stan Hudson brought several kinds of dried mushrooms to the foray at Rock Bridge State Park.

Comments

Very useful info to me, thanks!! Nancy

Thank you for the mushroom info. I've put your link on my site, Divinebunbun's Rugged Rural Missouri, which I've been posting since June 2007. In 2008 found the most magnificent 24-ounce Hen of the Woods, pictured here: http://divinebunbun.blogspot.com/2008/10/hen-of-woods.html

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