I'm a huge morel hunting fan and spend time surfing the surrounding message boards. Today I came across a very unusual technique...below is the author's story of this incredible if true find.
So it was last spring, thoroughly exhausted after a long and nearly fruitless day of mushrooming, that I traipsed back to my vehicle. By my estimation I'd walked at least ten miles through rough terrain, up and down steep hills, skirting bluffs, twisting through briars, and crossing the nettle-lined streams that laced the cottonwood studded bottoms of the English River basin. Parts of this timber were prime ground, pristine and untouched by the foot of man.
The outcome of my hunt was a qualified failure. My hands--bearing the telltale bloody "criss-cross" of one who had survived the crossing of the Jungle of Thorns--held a sack containing a pitiful bounty of less than a dozen specimens. Even those few were now largely crumbled as a result of the beating they had taken as I surged through tract after tract of dense timber.
Dusk had nearly given way to dark by the time I reached my Jeep--and water. I picked thorns from my arms then lifted the canteen as the sun disappeared; I stopped in mid-swallow.
What was that noise?
I looked in the direction of the timber beyond the field from which I'd just come. A bird of prey, perhaps? Again, the noise: a fiendish snarl followed by a high-pitched shriek...and another. Perhaps a bobcat?
Although I'd never seen one, hunters and trappers had proven they were in the area. I grabbed my digital camera the high-lumen LED flashlight from beneath my seat and set off back across the field toward the noise I'd heard.
Halfway to the woods, I heard it again. I shut off my light and made my way in stealth by the dim light of the thin crescent moon to the dense cover at the edge of the field.
Trepidation mounted as a torrent of horrific images cascaded in my mind. Frozen, paralyzed in the steely grip of the inner contest of my will, I imagined a wildcat pouncing upon and locking its jaws around my neck...eviscerating me in one or two skillful swipes of its razor-like claws...savagely feasting on my entrails as I lay there helpless to halt such an awful fate. I managed a deep, therapeutic breath which summoned forth courage and reason from the reservoir within. Gradually, fortitude replaced fear. I dispelled that grotesque image with the certainty that I was larger, stronger, and (perhaps) smarter than the creature which would otherwise devour me. A twig snapped as I stepped into the woods...
Cautiously I entered the woods, every step seeming to engulf me in a deeper, pitch-blackness than before. I unable to see. The noise arose once again, this time much closer, and a chill seized my body as the piteous death throes of some unknown animal reverberated through air of a night that was otherwise eerily silent.
I turned the light on to illuminate my path and crept forward, casting the beam of my light in all directions, and chanced upon a large yellow which I bent over and plucked from the rich, sandy loam and bed of fine elm twiggings from which it grew. I pulled a bag from my hind pocket and smiled as dropped it in. I proceeded, alternating my light from side to side, then ahead. I stopped, suddenly overcome by disbelief
Everywhere, in all directions, mushrooms previously hidden by the foliage and invisible to the casual eye were suddenly illuminated! They literally GLOWED!
Heart racing, I stood in the midst of a fungal treasure the likes of which I'd seen only a few times in countless outings across over 40 seasons. Literally tens of dozens of nice, yellow morels revealed themselves to my light. A well-seasoned and optimistic 'shroomer always has a few extra bags tucked into his pocket or sock, and from the looks of it I'd need them!
I fell to my knees and began picking. Mushrooms were glowing in every direction! I couldn't pick them as fast as I was seeing them! This was a mother lode, and within about 15 minutes I'd filled an entire bag.
As I started filling a second bag I wondered, how has I walked directly through this patch no more than an hour earlier and failed to see a single one? Assuredly, this had been a function perennial problem of visual acuity.
My reverie was rudely interrupted by the snarling scream of a predator and the dying whimper of prey, albeit closer this time. I extinguished my light off and huddled in silence behind the closest tree. As I looked to the sky, the dimmest of light revealed a near-macabre shillouette of twisting and tangled strips of bark curling downward. A dead elm. I waited...all sound had stopped...and then I heard my heart. Minutes passed in this manner before, once again, I turned on the light.
Directly ahead on the ground, perhaps some 30-40 feet away, were several more brightly glowing objects. Mushrooms everywhere! I filled my second bag and part of a third until startled by a another scream, perhaps only 100 feet away. I cut the light and fled from the woods with my bounty. Propelled by fear and excitement, my adrenal glands literally wept as I tore through the woods, across the field, and back to the safety of my Jeep.
Through this incident--completely seredipitous in nature--I chanced upon the solution to the mushroomer's perennial problem of the lack of visual acuity. Mushrooms contain high levels of phosphorous, so it only stands to reason that they glow when exposed to bright light.
Further experimentation on subsequent outings reveals, not surprisingly, that the method works best with lighter-colored species such as morchella crassipes, morchella esculenta or morchella deliciosa ("yellows"), but less so with morchella conica ("grays"). Incidental to this discovery is the now obvious fact that mushroom hunting can occur successfully BOTH day and night. While this is remarkable in its own right, nighttime hunting also adds an entirely new and novel dimension to the sport!
The application and use of highly luminescent LED light to hunt phosphorous-rich morel mushrooms at night is a breakthrough no less revolutionary than the discoveries of vulcanization by Goodyear or pasteurization by Pasteur! Having now "enlightened" this select group with my profound discovery, I hope to see you in the woods this spring—-and perhaps even at night!