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Shaggy Mane Hunt 2007

09.23.07
05:30 I’m up making somewhat ridiculously strong coffee for our thermal mugs in the car. I don’t care what you’re hunting – coffee at this time of day is requisite. Good friend Yen is up from Calgary, and we’ve set aside this morning to be Shaggy Mane hunting. I was excited, and actually had a hard time sleeping during the night. It happens.

06:30 It was a dark morning with heavy cloud, and a brisk North wind. 2o C. It was too dark to spot for geese and ducks – which is a bit of an obligation if you’re out in the area at this time of year – so we headed to my dad’s to dig potatoes. As we pulled up, we spotted a flock of birds on the top of the hill that the garden is on. ‘Are those grouse!?!?’, said I, as I screeched to a halt. Nope – but close. Hungarian partridge – about 20-30 of them. I ran inside to grab an air rifle, but by the time I returned, they had buggered off. How glorious it would have been to add partridge to our impending breakfast menu. Dang.

07:00 We dug ¾ of a 5 gallon pail of red and Russian fingerling potatoes, and topped up the rest with carrots and onions from the garden. Potatoes were slated to appear on the morning menu. Before leaving, we picked some shaggy manes from his driveway and back yard – enough that we had a supply for breakfast before even getting started.

07:30 We checked out some of the ‘usual’ goose and duck fields. Although they weren’t in the spots I’d hoped, we did end up finding a good jag of birds. They were landing in land where firearms are restricted, so there was no need to get excited and call ‘the uncle’. To the mushroom fields.

07:45 I guess ‘mushroom ditches’ would be more realistic and unromanticized way to put it. The main spot I check had lots of mushrooms, but for whatever reason, they were decomposing at very young stages of growth. Our best guess is frost? It made picking challenging, as far more than half of what was visible in the field was inedible. Wow. That makes it sound like we didn’t do well – we did.

We then moved to a second spot, borrowing a local baptist church’s parking lot. We did well again, and also found a really tasty looking specimen of field mushroom. But neither of us were in the mood for toxicity this morning, so we passed on trying to eat something new. Not often you’re going to hear the two of us say that.

The last spot we checked, just another couple hundred yards down the road, yielded a coveted trophy mushroom. A fat, full grown, fully intact, un-inked, pearly white [inside], 6oz Shaggy Mane. Yen did a great job of digging up around the base to make sure we got as much of the base and stem intact [sometimes they break]. I can’t recall every picking one of quite this size and girth. We figured it might still be in good shape due to it’s position under some tree cover. Who knows. It was a fantastic find, and a great way to finish up our mushroom foraging for the day.

08:30 With our hands dirty, tubs happily bearing mushrooms, and stomachs getting growly, we headed back home. On the way we spotted another nice ‘shoot’ of geese and ducks, yet again on ‘illegal land’. Arriving home, we had to get the mushrooms cleaned and processed prior to eating. Total weight of mushrooms picked: 2.6 kg [5.7 lbs]. It took over an hour to peel of the shag, grass, dirt, and bugs, and get them all cooking. Once cooked, they stop decomposing. Our home smelled wonderfully of mushroom.

10:30 Farm eggs. Home-made bacon. Garden tomatoes fried in bacon fat. Rye toast. Fried wild mushrooms. This meal would have been a fine one any day of the week, but having been out all morning hunting food, it tasted even better. It got awfully quiet for a while. Classic.

The concept of the day was ‘let’s go out and get our hands dirty putting some things together for a nice meal in the morning’. Mission accomplished.


12:00 Round two. Pan seared marinated elk steak with roasted garden potatoes [the very ones we dug at 7am]. Add to that a glass or 3 of Sirius 2003 Bordeaux. I have to admit that I wasn’t terribly hungry at this stage, but that didn’t much matter.

13:00 Yen left, bearing a bucket of garden veg, a couple ziplocs of cooked wild mushrooms, some roasted garden beets, and 2 frozen Canada goose breasts. The older I get, the more I love fall. It’s a touch of foodie heaven.

2 Responses

  1. [...] things knocking on our calendar’s doorstep: garden harvest, fruit harvest and winemaking, shaggy mane hunting, butchering season, and hunting season. But the precursor to all that action is a solid month of [...]

  2. [...] is an annual event in my life – skunked last year, but successful in 2008, 2007, and 2006. This year, my success came not from the usual shaggy-mane locations, but from a [...]

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