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March 27, 2013

Rick Bramwell: First spring morels appearing

According to morelhunters.com the first Indiana morel mushroom was found near Mitchell last Saturday.

Last year’s record warm temperatures made for poor morel hunting. How will this drastic cold spring affect this year’s production?

Morels do best when weather is normal. The hot/dry spring of last year fooled them. I barely found enough for a mess.

Morels seem to send spores above ground in more abundance, after a winter with heavy snow. I think heavy, slow melting snow depletes the soil of oxygen while helping it maintain moisture longer. It does not run off like rain. This last snow should be just what we morel hunters need.

Black morels are the first to pop up. A little sunshine and a couple of 50 degree days will trigger them. It is time and there should be some next week.

The grays seem to need some 60 degree days. The second week in April should be key.

The grand finale of  big yellows need some 80 degree days and sunshine. I have to believe this will occur the last week in April and the first week in May around central Indiana.

The late Larry Lonik said the best place to find morels is where a forest fire occurred the year before. He had a video of a charred forest floor with morels as far as the eye could see. Actually, professional morel hunters flock to these burns followed by freeze dry operators who buy the mushrooms by the bushel baskets full.

Apparently, morels have a symbiotic relationship with the root systems of trees and other forest plants. When the host dies they send up all the spores possible to relocate.

In the news last summer, was a story about 30 acres of state property burning. I have deer hunted the burn area and plan on morel hunting it this April.  

Cold or warm, the sandhills, robins, and redwing blackbirds came back to nest in late February. Fish too are migrating to shallow water. On March 16, a bass tournament was held on Geist. It took five bass weighing over 24 lbs. to win and 17 lbs. to get a check.

Tom and Shirley Tranbarger are not complaining about the cold spring. They operate the Apple Barn Orchard. Last year the trees blossomed early, then got killed by a hard freeze.

Think there is a lot of profit raising apples? Tom spends most of the winter pruning trees. It is a lonely and thankless job. The hard work continues with the spraying all spring and summer. I hope they have a bumper crop. That will bring about more work staking up the fruit laden limbs.

A morel hunting trip south will also give me a chance to scout for wild turkey. Ray Novak and I will be trying to get Evan Shuey his first turkey. Shuey is my daughter’s boyfriend and a senior at IU. I will be shopping garage sales to outfit him with cammo clothing for the trip. He wears a medium or large shirt and 32/32 pants.

Rick Bramwell’s weekly outdoors columns appear on Thursday.

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