Camping, mushrooms, bulldogs

We just rolled in from our first 2017 camping trip. We left mid-day friday, because setting up in the dark sucks. Here’s Otto enjoying the sunset while dad enjoys a toddy.

I should probably crop this one down and save it somewhere. He almost glows in that afternoon sun. I didn’t get good pictures of the girls. They move around a lot, and brindle colors are like camouflage in the forest.

The next morning, the weather changed. It rained almost all day Saturday. Otto decided to rest his big, heavy, head on the table while I had coffee.

The plan was to hunt morels, my favorite mushroom. I really had no idea when to go after the goofy winter we had. We went a week later last year, and were almost too late.

Campgrounds have to be booked well in advance, and we reserved our site in January. I told Old What’s Her Face, we were going come Hell or high water. Turns out high water wasn’t too far off. The Payette river is always a violent white river, but the waves were as high as the pavement as we drove by this time.

My wife was cold all day, and decided to stay at camp. It turned out later that she must have gotten some kind of bug. She was thrilled to get some down time for reading though, so that’s a win for her.

I headed out on my own, and went directly to my best spot. I admit, I was starting to have some doubts about my chances about halfway there.

Landmark summit was white with snow. My spot is down the other side, so I went there anyway. I got lucky, because it was well below the snow line.

This isn’t to say the hunting was any good. I managed very few, but in true form; find one and there is always more than one. I gathered six big ones at one point.

When you hunt morels, you walk very slowly and look down. They aren’t colorful like Easter eggs, and I’ve even found them between my feet before. This method of hunting is why I nearly stepped on an elk calf hiding in the deadfall.

Let me tell you, when you’re all alone, in bear country, and something the size of a small pony jumps up under your feet, it wakes you right up.

False, or snow morels were out in abundance. These look almost brainlike, and vary from tennis ball to softball in size. You don’t eat this kind. There are at least three in this photo, and even they are hard to spot.

I’ve had times when I could fill coolers with good morels, but it’s been a few years. This year, I managed about half of one net bag. I have enough for a couple of nice steak toppings, or a couple of outstanding omelettes, but that’s it.

I heard they were finding them by the truckload out of Idaho City. That’s where the big fires were last summer. I just like the area we went. I like camping there, I like the mountains. I can always find a few this time of year, but I may have to make a day trip to Idaho City to keep my supply up.

Mushrooms are really a mycelium that lives underground. Remember these are a fungus, and not a vegetable. The mycelium looks like a giant cobweb. To keep things simple, I’m going to call them roots.

The edible part of any mushroom is it’s reproduction attempt. It’s not a lot different than an apple in that regard. Morels have one strange habit that a hunter can take advantage of. They invest a lot of time growing in a particular piece of ground. When that ground is damaged somehow, they panic and send up more mushrooms in an attempt to reproduce as their last act on earth. I think they’re drama queens, because the underground system can be huge, and there is one honey mushroom in Oregon that’s documented as covering several counties. Still, their strange habit is a bonus for a hunter.

Fire is the big one that everyone knows about. Deadfall trees do the same thing, and that’s where I look. I’ve found them down in the root balls before, but they’re usually ten plus feet from there. Remember this root system is pretty big. Someone blades a dirt road, I look there too. A woodcutter gets stuck, or leaves deep tire ruts in the woods, same thing. I spotted this little beauty at a deadfall.

This one appears to be a yellow morel. I also found black ones, and few of the little grey fire morels. They’re all good eating, and I wasn’t picky. I mentioned my stretchy net bag a few paragraphs ago. This is me attempting to be a good steward of the resource. Mushrooms don’t have seeds, they have spores, and distributing them is the goal of the fruit. I carry a net bag in hopes that if they are dropping spores, I will leave those spores on the forest floor.

Otto and I went on a couple of big walks through the campground when I got home. He did his “bulldog ambassador to the world” routine, and met quite a few people and dogs. He absolutely loves everyone. It was fun meeting another bulldog in camp. She was white, and had on a cute little raincoat. It was raining, so I didn’t get a picture of them.

I don’t want the girls to get left out, but I didn’t get a good photo. Here is some kind of bulldog version of tug-o-war using a stick. They might call it push-o-war, since they’re backwards.

I hope all of you had a great weekend.


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50 responses to “Camping, mushrooms, bulldogs

  1. I hope you enjoyed the trip. The pups look like they did. Of course, they could care less about weather or morels

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I heard there was snow on that side of the country. Is that normal for this time of year? Congrats on a successful hunt even if it wasn’t much. Remember you saying the pickings were thin last year too. By the way, what’s the new background? For some reason, I didn’t notice it until today and I want to say New Orleans.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Otto’s face is priceless. He looks like he’s thinking, “That is not how you play tug.” Too cute.

    How do you know what mushrooms are safe and which aren’t? I’d love to go mushroom hunting, but I’m pretty sure I’d eat the wrong kind and die some horrible, violent death. I just buy them and trust those gatherers (or cultivators) knew what they were doing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I made an effort to learn one kind without doubt. (Morels) Then passed up everything else without exception. I’ve repeated a few times, and can recognize half a dozen kinds. You can even look at some in the grocery store, like oyster mushrooms. I have a good book too, and it has some good tips, like morels are always hollow. Every time without exception, hollow.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Oh what fun! Thanks for taking us with you 🙂
    So cute doggos!
    Not much mushroom hunting in the city. I do love when I visit the country and someone’s cooked up a pile of morels. Oh yummy!
    I can relate to being happy to be down, just for the reading. Right after the anger and disappointment of being sick, I suddenly realize I can read, watch tv, talk to my parents mid-day, and pet my animals A LOT. I hope your missus is on the mend!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My weekend was boring by comparison, but did get a load of work done so not so bad!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Looks like great fun, Craig! And thanks for the useful info on Morels and mushrooms. Interesting stuff. The girls are getting bigger too. I spent the weekend ,arching around an old tank training ground, dressed as a pirate, telling tales of the high seas in a pirate treasure hunt event for what ended up being 44 children plus parents. It was epic!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You bulldog enclave is truly beautiful! 😀 Those morels look pretty great too 😎

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sounds like a great weekend. Well, other than the part where the wife got sick, but since it gave her some down time for reading, I suppose even that wasn’t entirely terrible (I do hope she gets better quickly though).

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ali Isaac

    You got TWO new puppies??? I thought you were getting just the one. Otto is HUGE!!!! Cant believe how much he has grown! Sounds like you had a nice little break… I’m quite fancying a mushroom omelette myself, now. 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What a fun post! I’m sorry you had rainy weather but it sounds like you and your wife each managed to make the best of it (I hope she’s feeling better now). I could eat mushrooms every day (shiitakes are my favorite), but I’ve never learned how to hunt wild ones, and would surely screw it up and end up with something poisonous.

    I’ve also got this insane fear of bears which makes hiking in the woods a scary proposition (I used to do it a lot in my younger days before I started thinking about, you know…bears). When that elk calf jumped up, I would have freaked!!

    Otto and the girls are always a pleasure to see. I am such a sap about animals.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I bet finding a baby moose wakes you right up. Fascinating stuff, those mushrooms. It’s truly amazing how they seed to survive. Looks like you all had a great camping trip. Otto and the girls look so happy.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Looks like you had a great time in spite of the rain, Craig. I know nothing about mushrooms except how to buy them in the store, so this was very educational!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. A most entertaining read, Craig. I have not hear of this kind of mushroom but Terence and I have hunted for truffles in Italy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Morels are another gourmet mushroom, going for about $20 per ounce. There are truffles in Oregon, which is right next door. There is a town that has a truffle festival, with hunting lessons, and I’ve always wanted to attend. Something always comes up and I haven’t yet.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. ! I bet finding a baby moose wakes you right up.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Mushroom hunting isn’t something I’ve come across as a hobby for many people – I only ever knew one other guy who hunted mushrooms. While I don’t think I would ever hunt them myself, I find the research and techniques fascinating. Best of luck on your next hunt – and as always, your dogs are adorable!

    Liked by 1 person

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