BRANSON, Mo. -- Turkey season is here, but there's another hunt going on right now in the Ozarks that you don't need "camo" gear or a rifle for.
"We call it mushroom hunting, " says Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery Manager, John Miller, "you don't need a license to do it, there's no size restriction, no minimum numbers."
The fungi can go for upwards of 25 dollars a pound in the Ozarks because they can only be found between the end of March and the beginning of May.
"A lot of that depends on 2 things, good temperature and moisture," says Miller, "I found the first mushroom on March 30 last year, but by the 10 of April I didn't see another one."
Miller is a mushroom hunter himself, he says the truffles of the Midwest look like tiny Christmas trees, have a brainy texture, and can range from a few centimeters to a foot in size.
"Again they taste very good," says Miller, "there's a certain mystique, generally if someone finds a morel mushroom, you might share the mushroom, but you don't share the location.
Miller says if you're craving a rich early flavor, the best place to look is on ground that faces to the south, has loose soil and light leaf coverage. He also suggests starting your search around Elm and Ash trees.
The hunter also says the trails just below the Table Rock Dam are a great place to start because the Department of Conservation encourages visitors to get off the beaten trail. "I find the people who do jig-saw puzzles are the best, because they're looking for shape, size."
Miller says brining the children along for the family outing can be to your benefit at well, "kids find them before adults, because they're closer to the ground."
If you do find a Morel, Miller suggests putting them in an open bag, not a plastic one, so spores can spread for future seasons, and for future hunts.
"A little bit of competition, little bit of that family atmosphere, and the beauty is, what you find you can put together and have a great meal that night."
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