Exploring God’s Great Outdoors – Springtime is magical in the Gem State 

Z-Exploring God's Great Outdoors-Tom Claycomb III (1)

By Tom Claycomb III 

I don’t like to use the word magical but I don’t know the Christianese word for magical. Delightful doesn’t sound too manly. Well anyway.  … Springtime in Idaho is awesome. You can wear yourself out. We have awesome bear/turkey/whistle pig hunting, unbelievable crappie fishing, bowfishing and mushroom hunting. 

I could write 2,500 words on any of these six topics. They’re all a blast. What’s a guy supposed to do? You can’t call into work April through June telling the boss every day that you have a bad hangnail – AGAIN! I could write a daily article in the spring.   

I think that I will write  about the most unique topic – mushroom hunting. If you’ve never mushroom hunted, then you’re missing out on the best food that God gave us. If you’ve never eaten a morel mushroom, then you don’t have a clue what you’re missing. You may say, yes, I’ll buy mushrooms periodically and sauté’ them with a steak. Comparing store-bought mushrooms to a morel is like comparing a gas station hot dog to a filet mignon and telling me that you’ve eaten beef. 

Morel mushrooms are the second-best fungi in the world, second only to the truffle. There’s a few edible mushrooms in Idaho, but I only can identify 2-3. I thought I’d take a mushroom class so that I could identify more. It’s crazy to walk around the mountains and only be able to identify 2-3 species. So I attended some classes. At the end, I still didn’t feel comfortable picking other species. 

The first few times, it’s prudent to go with an old timer. Have them teach you the ropes. You don’t want to make a mistake and pick the angel of death or let’s just say that you and God had better be good friends, because you’re about to meet Him. 

I’d caution you at first to only pick morels. They’re easy to ID, but have someone show you how to distinguish between them and snow morels. Now for the problem: finding someone who will teach you the ropes. Good mushroom hunting spots are probably left in some Idahoans’ wills! 

I’ve found them all the way from the Boise River on up to the tops of mountains. The ideal conditions though are when it starts warming up a bit, about May 5-10. You need to have small rain/sprinkle and a warm night and then they seemingly pop up overnight. 

Everyone tells you to look around old logs. Newsflash, Junior! There are dead logs laying all around the forest and not everyone has a morel by it. I find some on the uphill banks on old logging roads. 

If you find a hotspot, you can usually find them there every year but that’s not totally so. If you find one on a slope/side of a mountain, look uphill/downhill because the spores wash downhill. 

Outdoor companies need to make camo mimicking morels because they’re masters of deceit. Numerous times I’ve set down to eat lunch or a snack and after 5-10 minutes I spot one not 12 inches from my foot. I always say that I’d gladly trade what I find for all of the ones that I walked within 10 feet of and didn’t see. 

But the absolute best scenario is to hunt a burn from last year. The morels are unbelievable. You’ll find bucketsful. You live for those times. I remember in 2005 the big fire up at Warm Springs. There were a million. I found like 13-17 growing underneath one lodge pole log. Always check old stump holes in burns. They usually have a bunch. In burns they’ll be covered with soot and a little harder to clean, but who cares. 

I think it was in 2007, the fire going up to Silver Creek. I jumped up a steep mountain and found a million. In one spot that you could have covered with a 10×12-ft tarp I picked 142. I had a load, and walking down a draw to my truck there were clumps of 8-12 nice healthy morels I had to walk by because my bucket was full. A few days later, me, Katy and a buddy and his wife went back. We all got two 5-gallon buckets. That was an awesome spot. 

Where I bear hunted a lot, they’d done some small prescribed burns the year before that no one knew about. I knocked off bear hunting to go mushroom hunting. I couldn’t find a one. I don’t think a little doodling fire works. I think that it has to be a real forest fire. You know – hot. 

The real mushroomers use a mesh bag so the spores fall out while they’re walking. They also carry a knife and cut them off above the ground. Although I’ve never seen one sprout back up. 

Preparing/cooking them: You got lucky. What now? They’re fragile so gently rinse them off to remove bugs and dirt. Then slice them in half longways and put in a bowl of salty water overnight to kill the bugs (but I usually fry up a batch the night I get home). 

You can make mushroom gravy, mix into omelets, etc., but my favorite way is to fry them up. Crack a couple of eggs in a bowl and mix with milk. Dip the morel and then roll in flour sprinkled with salt and pepper. Heat oil to medium in a cast iron skillet and throw the mushrooms in and fry to a golden brown. Grilled ribeye or fried morel. I can’t tell you which one is best. Collect a bunch? Dry them. 

Christian Tip #3 – Do we want to hear God talking to us every day? Do we want our prayers answered? If we really want this then I think we’ve got to relentlessly attack sin in our life. We can’t hold onto sins when the Holy Spirit reveals them to us. 1 John 1:6 teaches us that we’re fooling ourselves if we think we’re close to God when we’re willfully living in sin. Psalm 66:18 tells me that if I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. 


For more information, contact Tom at [email protected]. 







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