SHELBURN, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — For Nick Cullison, the sport of mushroom hunting has been something he’s done for nearly 35 years.
On a recent hunt, Cullison and company found six pounds of morels in an hour.
“This is crazy,” he said 30 minutes into the hunt. “That’s the quickest I’ve ever picked three pounds of mushrooms, I think.”
In his lifetime, Cullison said, he has found over 40 pounds of mushrooms in a season at least three times.
“Actually, my wife and I’s first date was mushroom hunting years ago, and after we got married, we bought property near that place later,” said Cullison, who is considered an expert mushroom hunter.
Cullison says April 15-25 is considered prime mushroom season, and with only a few days left, he has advice on how to best use those days.
“Probably one of the most common mistakes is they start looking at the ground first when normally I’d look up,” Cullison said. “I’d start looking at trees and surroundings, then I’ll start looking at the ground and that’s when I’ll dive into the hunt.”
In wooded areas specifically, Cullison said certain trees may bring more success for hunts.
“If I was going into the woods, if I was hunting for morels, I’d be looking for cottonwoods, elm trees and sycamores. Those combinations of those three trees,” he said. “That’s not saying you won’t find mushrooms in other places. It’s just you have a way better chance of finding them with those three trees.”
Of all the factors hunters can control, there is one beyond their reach: weather. However, certain weather conditions may help hunters’ visibility on mushrooms.
“Warm and rainy weather. I tell people this a lot, I don’t like to hunt when it’s really sunny out. I like to hunt during the rain or after the rain on a cloudy day,” Cullison said. “You’ll see more when it’s gloomy compared to when it’s real bright.”
Among the cardinal rules for mushroom hunters is to keep the names of the properties hunted to themselves.
Cullison said of all his advice, the most importance is patience.
“We’ve walked several days and found none. A lot of people think it’s an easy sport, you just go with a basket and pick mushrooms. It does come like that every once in a while. But, persistence and a lot of walking,” he said.
While morel mushrooms are often sought after for their taste, morels also can create a financial draw.
“I’ve sold them up to $100 a pound. Yeah, people around here say, ‘I wouldn’t give over $25 a pound.’ I probably wouldn’t either, but they do,” Cullison said. “But, the most I’ve ever sold is $107 a pound.”