Hugh Erle Smith

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Favorite Forays

A Hunting We Will Go, January 24, 2005

So this guy who found my e-Mail address on a website where I have some mushroom photos writes to me and tells me he is interested in going for a hunt. It seems he has tried to get several people to take up an interest in mycology, but after many unsuccessful attempts, he decides to buy a book and begin hunting and studying himself. He's an avid fan of culinary treats and prepares many himself.

So a couple weeks ago we met in Marysville and went for a hunt in the Yuba County foothills. It was a fairly uneventful hunt for me, seeing mostly what I have seen so many times, but he is new to this sort of hike and was very excited by what we found.

We did find one very small Old Man's Beard in an area where I had found them before, but all in all, there just wasn't much, and certainly no edibles. Only one Blewitt!

So this Sunday we met again, this time in Chico.

It was 38 degrees and it was foggy. But I needed to go to there to check my Helvella crispa spot in the Cork Oak grove. There were none but the Ass' Ears were everywhere! (Ass' Ears are the precursor to the Helvella crispas.) Then he took me to a huge area that is apparently a preserve.

I see this place every time I go to Chico and I always want to stop there, but I never get to. The side of the preserve you see from the main road says "No Trespassing" but from another entrance it's the preserve.

So we went in there and found many interesting things.

HUGE Witches Butters! Some Blewitts, Earthstars, LBM's, BBM's.

Even old Boletes.

Then this novice says he has found some Old Man's Beards.

Two are on opposing sides of an English Walnut tree, one of which he has already taken, and the other he has left for me to see. The walnut tree is pretty out of our way for our overall plan so we skip that and proceed into the hills. He had located another Old Man's Beard earlier on an Oak tree headin' up into the hills. He says it's kind of yellowed and probably too old to eat.

So we head for that one. And there, 10 feet from the road is a Hericium about 8 inches across. It's perfect!
As perfect and firm as you can wish for!

Can you believe it? This guy is brand new at the hunt and already he's found at least three Hericiums! I've always said that new eyes are the best at finding the best things. And sure enough...

So then we went up above Oroville Reservoir and went to this place where he hunts turkeys when in season.
It's completely sunny and you can see the Sutter Buttes poking out of the fog in the valley, and the coast range. We were at 1000 feet elevation and there were Oaks, Manzanitas, Madrones, Cedars and some Pines.

Gosh, it looked like a perfect place for Matsutakes in the right season, except that the elevation may be too low. We find them in the Sierras at 2200-2600 feet in December. But it may be a GREAT area for Chanterelles when the time comes, usually February, March, and sometimes into April.

It's a relatively flat area, and it's such a large area we could never hunt the entire place, even if we had nothing else to do.

I did find find something new, Cudonia circinans, which somewhat resembles a Helvella or Leotia, and it smokes when you blow on it. So that was way cool. And this new guy who brought me here found an old, huge Manzanita Bolete.

There were Amanitas, Blewitts, Cups, Helvella lacunosa, Coral, and some awesome rock topiary too (that’s rocks covered with moss so they look like animals, monsters, etc…).

So, it was a fun day.

The sun shone the entire time up there.

Now I'm back down here in the valley, where we haven't seen the sun for a week.

But at least I have another place to look forward to.

Happy hunting everyone!