Sunday, 10 May 2015

Reflections on Late Summer Mushroom Hunting

Boletus Edulus + Forest Kit (Cane, Browning Hi-Power and Leica Trinovid 10x42)
Back in the end of August I drove up into the National Forest for the afternoon.    By the time September rolls around it's getting late in the season to find King Bolete mushrooms.   King Boletes are big enough and, with their distinctive brown orange color, I imagined I could do some road hunting for them.  I drove slowly trying to spot them from the truck.  The bright yellow orange Siberian Slippery Jacks (Suillus sibiricus) are also easily spotted from a distance. Suillus are edible though David Aurora describes them in his book Mushrooms Demystified as "thin-fleshed, insipid and slimy". I've tried them and, sadly must agree.   In my experience, they can be indicators for Kings and so a bloom of Slippery Jacks is worth investigating.

Not far into the forest I stopped the truck in a spot where I've been successful before and decided to walk a little.  Almost immediately after getting out of the truck and stumbling around with my cane a bit I found a King Bolete!  I collected it but fully expected it to be worm ridden as they often are by late afternoon.
Driving very slowly and looking hard reveals what otherwise might remain hidden.
Quick success can make a hunt (of any kind) seem too easy.  After finding one bolete, I was certain I'd find many more.  I entertained visions of pounds of perfect boletes, enough to dry some for winter stews.  I worried that I had not brought enough bags with me to carry them all.   I did not find another.  And the further I drove into the forest, hunting for at least one more, the more I became convinced that the one I had found was inedible because of worms.

I drove home the long way, exploring some new country.  At one point, I stopped the truck for a few minutes to admire the view and in another minute saw a grouse head bobbing through the tall grass.  ... and then another and another.  I'd stumbled on a covey of six young dusky grouse.
Dusky grouse in the tall grass.

The covey headed for cover - the nearest tree in the open landscape.
It would be hard to convey the pleasure I got from seeing the grouse.  It had been a wet summer and the tall grass in this country was atypical, I've never seen it this tall.   

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When I got home I cut up my King Bolete. There were a couple of small worm tracks in the stem, but it was otherwise perfect.  Sauteed in butter and served together with a nice steak it made for a wonderful  meal.

Simply sauteed in butter with salt and pepper.

1 comment:

  1. I chuckled as I read what you wrote about not having enough bags to hold the mushroom booty - and then not another was found. I have never done 'shroom hunting but my grandma did - it seems a lost art. Thanks for the fun read - Kim Pennell (friend of Babs)