Here are a few of the mushrooms I picked this week. The early podpinkis are on the left and the chanterelles are on the right. This is some good eatin’.
It is time to grab your pocket knife, wooden basket and plastic bags and head to your favorite mushroom picking spots. Hurricane Irene surely did some damage to our area with her strong winds and heavy rains. In fact, I know a few people who will be cleaning up their properties for weeks. The good thing is that all of the rain has jump started the mushroom picking season. My yearly pilgrimage to the land of fungi started this week when reports were circulating about people finding sheepshead mushrooms. Of course I had to check out my honey-holes.
The forest floor was littered with broken branches, immature acorns and hickory nuts and mushrooms of all kinds. My rule of thumb is quite simple when it pertains to mushroom picking. I only pick the ones I know for sure and leave the rest behind. My mushroom gathering list includes sheepheads, podpinkis (honey mushrooms), morels, puff balls and chanterelles. The others will stay in the woods for the animals to forage on. Each one of the fungi on my list were taught to me by experienced mushroom pickers and I feel more than confident while choosing them for the table.
Sheepshead mushrooms usually grow in the same place every year. I have a couple dozen oak trees that I check around in search of this culinary delight. I made my trek without discovering a single sheepshead. A walk in the woods during this time of year is also a means of scouting for the upcoming hunting seasons. I couldn’t help but noticed an abundance of deer tracks and poop. It was everywhere an oak tree branch broke off and deposited green acorns. While most of this ground clutter will be gone by the time archery season opens, I am more than confident that there is a substantial deer population where I hunt.
My walk continued to my podpinki picking areas. Once again I came up empty handed. The later podpinkis weren’t out yet so my mushroom picking adventure turned into a nature hike. I watched a black bear gobble up a few dozen acorns, I ran into a flock of turkeys apparently doing the same thing and I found a new early podpinki mushroom spot. It gets even better than that. I knelt down to cut a clump of early honey mushrooms from the base of a stump, and that’s when I noticed what looked like a carpet of bright orange fungi poking through the damp ground. Low and behold it was a cluster of more than a hundred chanterelle mushrooms. These tasty almost fluorescent orange fungus are critically acclaimed as a gourmet treat to chefs worldwide. It is also known as the "golden chanterelle" and "egg mushroom". It truly has caught the taste buds of most culinary experts in Europe, United States, and Asia. But all chanterelles are not alike. European and Asian forms are usually about the size of a thumb. Here in the eastern United States they are the size of a fist and out west they can be as large as two hand spans--from little finger to little finger.
This batch ranged from all sizes and they were ripe for the picking. Armed with a pocket knife and plastic bag, I proceeded to cut the chanterelles from the ground leaving the root base behind. I don’t know that it matters but the old bucks I have picked mushrooms with in the past believe it will help with future crops. I learned of these mushrooms from Pennsylvania Outdoor Life Field Staff member Rick Koval. I immediately called Rick and made plans to meet for a mushroom exchange. We always share when the harvest is great.
My early evening mushroom picking adventure took the better part of three hours and it resulted in a half basket of early podpinkis and a priceless plastic bag full of chanterelles. I plan on getting out as often as I can and as much as my back and knees will allow. There is a little bit of hard work involved and a lot of cleaning back at the kitchen. But if you like mushrooms as much as my family does, then it is all worth the effort.
Attention Future Pheasant Hunters!
The Pennsylvania Game Commission has signed up 23 sportsmen’s clubs throughout the state to host junior pheasant hunts. The clubs will share about 1,800 pheasants being provided by the state for junior pheasant hunts. The hunts will be held on Saturday, October 8. The only two stipulations for clubs to be eligible to receive Game Commission birds are that these hunts must have registration open to the public and must be held on public lands or private lands enrolled in one of the Game Commission’s Hunter Access Program. Each participant will be able to harvest two pheasants and in some areas it will be male pheasants only.
The registration is simple. Eligible juniors must be between 12 and 16 years of age, and have successfully completed a basic Hunter-Trapper Education course. There is no requirement that participating juniors purchase a license, but they must wear the necessary orange and be accompanied as required by law.
The junior pheasant season runs from Saturday, October 8, through Saturday, October 14. The season also takes advantage of many schools being closed for the Columbus Day holiday. In addition to the pheasants being provided to clubs hosting a junior pheasant hunt, the Game Commission will stock 15,000 pheasants for the junior pheasant season on various sites throughout Pennsylvania on Friday, Oct. 7.
There is a complete list of clubs holding these events on the Pennsylvania Game Commission homepage at www.pgc.state.pa.us. There is one being held here in Luzerne County by the Northeast PA Chapter of Pheasants Forever. They will hold their event on State Game Land 119 near Bear Creek. They are hoping to register 45 juniors. The deadline to register is September. 9. For more information or to register you can contact Corey Wiesel at 570-282-6346 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are many changes to the Labor MDA Telethon this year. First of all this year’s telethon will only run for six hours beginning tonight at 6PM and ending at midnight. Jerry Lewis is no longer involved in the Telethon but then again the entire format has changed. You can expect to see some big named acts, fast paced programming and a total new set look. WNEP is producing the Telethon this year from its studios in Moosic. We look forward to trying something new and I’m looking forward to having Labor Day off for the first time in 23 years. Pennsylvania Outdoor Life will return next Sunday with a brand new outdoor adventure. Have a Great Labor Weekend!