May’s Contest centers on Youthful Shoomers – those we teach and those who have taught us. Over the years The Great Morel has received lots of heartwarming stories and photos from fellow morel hunters about teaching the youth to hunt. Many have shared their own memories of being a youngster and hunting morels. Years ago someone wrote:
This was great quality time we spent together.
Tell everyone out there.
Teach your kids to hunt. You will be so happy you did!
There is so much truth in this message. It is about families sharing time together and wondering in the woods. It is about teaching and sharing. It is about moms and dads, kids and grand kids, grandpas and grandmas, and friends with friends – it is about spending time in nature in the hopes of finding the ever-elusive great morel.
Morel hunters of all ages can think back and take a walk down memory lane. Reflecting on those people who influenced or introduced us to this glorious pastime keeps those memories alive and well. For many, it truly is a tradition – almost a right-of-passage to growing up. Some can drift back when they were just a little kid wondering in the woods because that is what you did. Many times there are multiple generations tromping through woods and everyone sharing in the joy of yelling – “I found one!” – as everyone else rushes over to help.
Most who visit the web site can relate to these memories because they are an important part of their lives’. The Stories and Tales page has always been a favorite for many who visit the page and the stories are filled with fellow shroomer’s memories of hunting the often mystical great morel.
Memories such as dad throwing you in the back of a Buick station wagon with brown bag lunches of bologna sandwiches or peanut butter and jelly that mom made for the day. The first hiking stick you found that would break if you even decided to use it to support you. The exploration of being in the woods and finding cool stuff like a slug oozing slime on a giant leaf. Your mom telling you to “get out of the creek”, or grandpa asking you if you found any yet. Pure exploration of nature and when you ventured into trouble, someone was there at your side who was quick to tell you “no that is poison ivy”.
Betsy from Michigan had sent The Great Morel a wonderful story a while back which was simply and appropriately titled “I Remember” and she goes on to say:
“…I can remember hunting shrooms before I began kindergarten. Mom, Grandma and my three sisters and I walking to the woods to search for our treat. I can remember them boosting me over the neighbor’s fence to pick on the other side, and I can remember finding where the neighbor had boosted the fence to pick on our side (all’s fair in mushroom wars).”
Remembrances like Betsy’s are not uncommon. Chuck Agnes from Northeast Ohio shared a similar story with what he called “The Briar Bush”. A funny memory of why he believes his father drug them into the woods just so he could win the local morel foraging competition.
“I’ve always found that the experience of hunting “shrooms” to be a mystical and magical one. The feeling of being part of nature and walking with and among god’s creatures in the woods of Northeast Ohio was instilled in me from a very early age by my father, who was always in a contest with the rest of the local shroomers, to see who could outdo each other in the spring for finding the elusive “sponge”. I think the reason he started taking me and my sister with him to go hunting shrooms was that two more sets of eyes might give him an advantage and bragging rights when the others came around with their days’ find.”
For those who have been hunting morels for years, there are certainly some whom have been influenced by a Grandparent along the way. Grandparent memories can be some of the fondest memories. Brian from Michigan remembers his Grandpa’s advice “you’ll find more mushrooms in the rain”, and years later he now knows that wasn’t necessarily true, and it was more likely because his Grandpa wanted to hunt – rain or shine. He adds, “I still think about him telling me that every time I am hunting for morels in the rain.”
Grandparents have as much influence on teaching the youth as anyone. They create those memories with wisdom and a vast knowledge of years of morel hunting experience. As a Grandparent today, you are now trudging through the woods with your grand kids trying to expand their knowledge. Teaching them about all of the things the woods and forests have to share with us. It isn’t always about the hunt for the great morel, it is about sharing wisdom and teaching them about the beauty of nature. It is about life lessons, and a quiet time to share stories and have real conversations.
The Great Morel received a wonderful story back in 2008 from Sherry in Indiana who starts her story like so many do…”I remember” and she goes on to say…
“I remember hunting morels in Missouri with my parents. Now understand, I moved to Indiana when I was FOUR! Just shows what a tremendous impact the “hunting mushrooms” idea had on me!
I remember my dad getting annoyed at me because I would be excited about finding a flower, and he’d think I’d found a morel!…”
There are thousands of morel hunters who can probably laugh and relate to exactly what Sherry is saying. It is almost difficult to explain to those who have never hunted, yet for those who have, it makes understanding why those memories are so fond.
For those who were influenced later in life – it is still your responsibility to teach the youth. For every morel hunter out there – it is your responsibility to teach…to allow the youth to explore and wonder, to let them get lost in the woods, and discover all that nature provides. It is our obligation to instill in them the joys of the simple things in life – to disconnect from the high-tech world and unplug, and expose them to the beauty and allow them to learn. If at the end of the day morels are found – then the time shared is invaluable.
Those who have watched a youngster’s eyes light up when they find their first morel is forever memorable. Capturing that moment on film as they show off their prize possession can be priceless. To share high 5’s, and an “atta boy” or an “atta girl”, or a great big hug, and watch the big smiles on their faces light up with self-pride is worth it all.
Andrew in Ohio shares a story about his granddaughter’s first morel find…
“Since my 5 year old granddaughter was born, every year my daughter, granddaughter and I have hunted morels together in the spring. This year was just a little more special. My granddaughter and I were taking a break on a log waiting for her mom to catch up. When she finally met up with us, my daughter immediately spotted a morel three feet from us. As my daughter began teaching her the guidelines on how once you spot one to stop and look around. No sooner did she finish her beginner instructions to her, my granddaughter shouts out, “there’s one Mommy!” Her very first find all on her own! A true joy to be a part of that moment…”
It is the great morel mushroom that makes this all possible. This mystical mushroom which makes its grand appearance for a short moment in time each spring that allows and gives us this opportunity – the opportunity to share time and create real lasting memories.
Teach your kids to hunt, you’ll be glad you did. Teach someone to hunt, they’ll be glad you did!