The General Recreation Page will feature activities that everybody enjoys doing in the outdoors of Southern Oregon. That will vary by season. But, we will give you a lot of information on all kinds of ways that you can get out and enjoy the great outdoors in this special part of the world that we live in.
RECREATION INFORMATION -
'Tis the season......MUSHROOM SEASON! Southwestern Oregon is home to one of the most sought out variety of wild edible mushroom, the morel. Morels grow in abundance here as the climate is perfect for them. These fungi are prized for their flavor. And, being in abundance here, many people enjoy spending time out in the woods 'shroomin. My Dad loved to go out after the morels in the spring and then the matsutake mushrooms in the fall. Now, the first thing here is this; BEFORE YOU EVER GO OUT TO GATHER WILD MUSHROOMS, MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHICH ARE THE SAFE ONES!!
Making a mistake in identifying a mushroom could lead to deadly results. People have died eating what they thought was a morel. So what does a morel look like? See the additional information below.
True morels....the ones safe to eat are going to look like this.
The official description of them is..."Morels have a hollow stem and connect under the head of the mushroom to the stock. If the stem is solid, then the morel is a false morel. If the head is barely attached, then it is a false morel. Dark, bulbous heads without the spongy look of a morel are false and deadly mushrooms." Be 100 percent certain that what you have is a morel before you eat it. Again, mistakes can be deadly when it comes to mushrooms. So now that we have covered identification, where do you find them? A great question. Finding morels seems like it would be easy, but it's not. That is why it is called hunting for them and not just harvesting. Morels blend into the environment very, very well. They can at first glance resemble all kinds of things. In some cases, you can be standing over them and never see them. Once you see one though, you can be sure there are more around in that area. You need to really examine the area. When they come up out of the ground, they can be slanted, domed-shaped, or pointed. They can be obvious above ground. But, sometimes they are revealed by leaf litter being pushed up unnaturally. If you know how things should lie on the ground, morels do become easier to spot
Now the question is where to find them. First, be sure you are on public land. KNOWING where BLM, Forest Service, and State land is at is a must. If you want to go onto private lands of any kind, be sure you have trespass permission. Next, know the time of the year. Morels first appear at lower elevation locations. Right now good areas to hit with plenty of public land are the BLM lands around the Applegate Valley, Ruch, and Jacksonville areas. The same is true of the BLM lands out around Wimer. I have filled buckets out in these areas. The area up around Applegate Reservoir can be very good. The BLM lands around Butte Falls, Lake Creek, and east of Ashland should be seeing the morels really starting to pop right now.
Here are other very important things to remember.....
DO NOT pull morels out of the ground. Cut them out. That way you ensure a good harvest next season.
Try to leave the area intact and undisturbed.
Do not leave trash in the woods. Be respectful of the land.
And, ALWAYS respect private property identified with "Do Not Trespass" signs. Respect the wishes of the property owners. Beside, chances are you will be caught on cameras of one type or another. Being charged with trespassing is pretty embarassing. Especially after you thought you got away with it.
What you will need to bring
First, ALWAYS TELL YOUR FAMILY WHERE YOU ARE GOING AND WHEN YOU EXPECT TO BE BACK!! If you change your mind for any reason, be sure to let them know that. Always communicate where you are, or where you are headed. If something happens to you they will have an idea where to start looking.
You will need water. Both to drink and to help clean things.
Compass, map, or GPS. You need to be sure of where you are at all times. For all kinds of reasons.
Pocket knife, other small knife, or cutters. Remember you want to cut morels, not rip them out of the ground.
Mesh bags. These will allow morel spores to come out as you walk through the woods. In short, you are acting as a morel spreader.
Long sleeves are a must for all kinds of reasons. Ticks, mosquitoes, sharp pokies of all kinds, poison oak.....all kinds of reasons you want long sleeves on.
Proper footwear and socks. Many a mushroom hunt has been ruined by not having proper footwear and socks on. I prefer hiking boots with thin volume socks that wick moisture away from your feet. This helps prevent blisters. Waterproof footwear is a must have as well. Morels like moist places.
Emergency kit including ways to treat bee stings, and potential snake bite. Hunting for morels will also expose you to the potential for personal injuries both minor and major. You need to be ready to deal with both. Hunting for morels is a great way to get bee stung too. You will encounter yellow jackets and bald faced hornets. Neither one is a mellow easy going insect. Be ready to deal with every outcome from a bee sting including having epi pens ready for somebody who is allergic to stings. And, you are almost always going to have a serious situation with a bee sting happen in a spot where the cell phone does not work. You need to be prepared.
Speaking of prepared, be ready to deal with sudden unexpected weather changes. Space blankets are easily carried....and extremely versatile. You can use them in a number of ways to help keep you dry. Have lightweight rain gear that is easily carried and can be put on quickly. This too can be used in a number of ways if an emergency comes up. And of course, have some duct tape in the pack with you. It truly has over 1,000 uses.
NOW!! Ready to set out, keep this in mind........