Although there was a slow start to the morel mushroom hunting season, it finally has taken off in Indiana. Mushroom hunters across the state are still looking for the hidden treasures.
Although there was a slow start to the morel mushroom hunting season, it finally has taken off in Indiana. Mushroom hunters across the state are still looking for the hidden treasures.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Mushroom hunters have had a slow start to the season this year. Morel mushrooms, which are found in woods all across the country depending on the time of the year, usually start popping up in the beginning to mid-April in Indiana.

Ron Kerner, mushroom expert of Indianamushrooms.com, said the slow start was due to the brutal winter.

“Even though it was a slow start, once they got going, people were finding lots and lots of mushrooms,” he said. “It turned out to be a good year for people.”

Kerner, who collects and identifies mushrooms, has been interested in them for 20 years. He first got interested through morel mushrooms, and when he was hunting, he saw others.

It grew in to a hobby, he said.

“(Morels) are one of the choice edible mushrooms,” he said. “They are tasty mushrooms, and people like to go to woods and find them.”

Morel mushrooms were late this year by about a week, said Steve Russell, a cofounder of Hoosier Mushroom Society.

The season varies each year. Two years ago, for example, the season was over by April 12 because there were a bunch of 80-degree days, Russell said.

The length of time from when people start finding mushrooms to when they stop growing is one month on average from April until May, he said.

This year, mushroom season is close to wrapping up in southern Indiana, but is just getting started in northern Indiana, Russell said.

Recent rainfall might bring out more mushrooms, Kerner said.

The Hoosier Mushroom Society formed about three years ago to help people identify mushrooms. Volunteers with the group lead forays or guided mushroom hunts. People collect mushrooms, and at the end of each foray, they lay them out and identify them.

“Mushroom hunting is a skill some people don’t have or understand,” Russell said. “It’s not commonplace knowledge, and it takes a lot of experience.”

The best way to learn about identifying mushrooms is to go on an organized foray. Indiana has 2,000 to 3,000 different kinds of mushrooms, Russell said.

“It involves patience, people coming and finding the right spots,” he said.

Mushroom hunting is a hobby for Russell. His main interest is cultivation.

Russell, who started cultivating mushrooms about 10 years ago, taught himself over time and understands learning about mushrooms is a natural progression.

“It’s something that fascinates me,” he said. “The growth process is different from plants or any other kind of organism.”

Being out in the woods is Russell’s favorite aspect of mushroom hunting.

For Kerner, it’s the “sense of finding something you’ve never seen before and trying to figure out what it is.”

Regardless the reason, mushroom hunters across the state agree that there is something special about this four-week time of hunting.

Information about forays with the Hoosier Mushroom Society can be found at http://hoosiermushrooms.org.