Sharing the harvest
While talking to a farm manager regarding an article about pheasant hunting recently, drought, short grasses for bird cover, and poor wild mushroom crops became an interesting sideline.
This manager was lamenting not finding a single hen-of-the-woods mushroom this year.
She loves this fall fungal growth form, which often appears year-after-year next to certain oak trees.
She wasn’t alone in not finding this beloved species that has become a harbinger of the harvest season, along with chicken-of-the-woods and puffballs.
I listened and after returning home I went to my outdoors images from this year and admired a steel gray specimen I had found, photographed, but did not pick this past September.
In the past I’ve tried to give a similar fruiting body away, but there was only one cabbage-sized growth and didn’t figure it was worth “advertising” free for taking. Now I know someone who will appreciate the bounty, will come and get it, or maybe even find it herself.
Finally, I emailed her the image and said if this fungus appears in the vicinity next fall she will receive a call.
Why don’t more hunters and gatherers share their bounty with others, particularly when there are extras?
Some do, but not as often as we could or as often as we should.
Each autumn there is considerable publicity about feeding the hungry with extra deer some of us shoot.
For one reason or another, we shoot an extra deer, have one in a freezer from an earlier season or a past year, or we may not be able to consume an entire carcass.
Some people love venison but do not hunt. Let’s help them out even more.
Some individuals can’t bend down to pick up walnuts or hickory nuts, would like to have a bushel to crack and pick over and add to bread or cookies.
And during a good year, some folks would relish some fresh raspberries, blackberries, leeks or watercress but don’t know where or how to start gathering.
And believe it or not, a few of us are allergic to morels mushrooms but still enjoy hunting, picking and photographing these morsels. Should we sell them or throw them away? Of course not.
It could be that sharing the harvest would lead to new friendships, opportunities to share their land, or just feel good at Christmas time.
Think about discretely asking who might want some wild edibles, and not just zucchinis from the garden.