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Mushroom Knives, Cutting Deep

I got to surfing the interwebby once and discovered mushroom knives.  Mushroom knives?  Why in the world would anyone need a special knife for collecting mushrooms????  But then I got to looking at them, and you know what?  They are very useful and artful tools!  Here are some examples, mushroom knives from World Knives.

There are several knives there that I would love to have in my pocket on a mushroom “hunt”.

Wikimedia photo.

That got me thinking, mushroom hunting is a very popular activity every year about this time, about the time the morels are popping.  Between turkey tags to punch and fish to catch, it is hard for me to get everything done in the spring, but you better believe I make some time for picking morels.

While wandering around looking for ‘shrooms I got to thinking, and I warmed to the idea of a special knife for mushroom picking.  You know why?  Because having that special tool conveys a respect for the resource, a respect for the mushrooms, a respect for the outdoors.

Now you are thinking I have finally stepped over the deep drop-off.

No, seriously.  Hard-core mushroom hunters will tell you to cut the mushrooms at the base, to NOT pull them from the ground.  Why?  Because the majority of the fungus is below the ground, the ‘shrooms we are picking are just the fruiting bodies.  If you cut those mushrooms with a knife, you are leaving the rest of the fungus unharmed–you may pick more mushrooms there in the future.  Oh, your ‘shrooms will be cleaner that way too.  You could use your everyday pocket knife for that job, but why not a special mushroom knife?  One that is made just for that job, one that has special features for it.  I am betting that a person that has a special mushroom knife also has the appreciation of what makes that knife special, of what makes those mushrooms special.  A person like that is more likely to respect that resource.

I am told that those mushrooms, those fruiting bodies, scatter spores.  Those spores may land in the right place and produce more mushrooms.  For that reason, hard-core mushroom hunters carry their bounty in mesh bags, or buckets with holes in them.  That tends to keep the mushrooms aerated and fresh, but it also allows them to scatter spores while walking through the “woods”.  You can surf the interwebs and find special mesh bags just for mushroom hunting.  Again, an idea I really like!

Would you believe that our Nebraska conservation officers have more trespassing complaints during morel season than any other time of the year?  Yep, private landowners have more problems with trespassers when the morels are poppin’ than during our most popular hunting seasons.

How much respect do those stinkin’ trespassers have?

Depending on how many morels my kids and I pick each spring, we will dry some, stick ’em in the freezer and then re-hydrate and savor them all year long.  There is nothing better than a medium-rare Nebraska steak and sauteed morels!  I am aware that there is a market for morels, and I envy those who might have access to enough land to collect that many mushrooms.  However, mushroom picking that is done on public land is supposed to be done for personal use only.  I would hate to think that there are some with so little respect as to pick morels from public lands and then sell them.  Bad form!

Speaking of respect, how about respect for others?  If you are a mushroom hunter, are you aware that Nebraska’s spring turkey season is in full swing every year when the morels are up?  Many of our turkey hunts have turned into a mushroom hunt after a bird was harvested or when we just wanted to take a break.  I know not everyone enjoys spring turkey hunting as much as we do, but I would hope they would realize there are other users in the “woods” during the spring and would be aware of where they might be and what they might be doing.  I cannot tell you the number of spring turkey hunts I have had “blown up” by mushroom pickers wandering around–know what others are doing, respect them.  By the way, you will be safer knowing that too.

I know I will be frowned upon for this rant, for my “holier-than-thou” attitude.  But, our pursuits in the field and on the water are unique in that there are no umpires watching to see if we uphold the rules, if we practice good ethics.  Oh sure, you never know when a conservation officer is going to show up, but you do know that it is not going to be often and if it was we would be annoyed.  So how are we doing?  How are our ethics?  What respect do we have for our fish, wildlife, and natural resources?  What respect do we have for each other?

Yep, I even ask what morals do we have for the morels?


About daryl bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.

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