April 24, 2014

Hunters should do their research prior to consuming any mushrooms as some forms found in Kansas can be toxic

PRATT ­– Of all the edible Kansas flora that debut in early spring, none may be so prized as the morel mushroom. Finding these tree stump-dwelling fungi can make for quite an adventure, so as hunters come from far and wide, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) reminds hunters of a few tips for a legal, safe and fun mushroom hunt:

-Stick to state parks and wildlife areas. Walk-In Hunting Access (WIHA) areas are not open for mushroom hunting. These lands are private property and accessing them for anything other than hunting game during the identified access period is trespass unless hunters have the appropriate landowner permission.

-Be prepared to walk. The use of motorized vehicles on public lands is restricted to maintained roads only, so if your mushroom honey-hole is off the beaten-path, strap on those hiking boots.

-Be aware of your surroundings. Public lands are open for many types of hunting and fishing activities. This time of year, mushroom hunters can expect to encounter turkey hunters and anglers looking to lure in white bass and crappie. There’s plenty of space for everyone, so when in doubt, move to another spot.

-Enjoy your harvest. Mushrooms found on KDWPT public lands may only be harvested for personal consumption and selling mushrooms harvested from KDWPT-managed lands is against state law (see K.A.R. 15-8-20). You’ve worked hard for your harvest, so enjoy the fruits of your labor and heat up a frying pan.

-Use a mesh or breathable bag as a container. Allowing the mushrooms to air out after being picked will prevent unwanted sweating and keep them in tip-top shape until they can hit the dinner table.

-Cook your mushrooms thoroughly before eating them. Some morels can make people sick if consumed raw. This wild mushroom is often served fried, or baked and stuffed. 

Typically found under hardwoods and along rivers, the yellow morel, also known as the common morel or sponge mushroom, is the most sought-after wild mushroom in the state. Other types of morels also found in Kansas may include the thick-footed, black, half-free, bell, and edible morel. Hunters should do their research prior to consuming any mushrooms as some forms found in Kansas can be toxic.

A Guide to Kansas Mushrooms book is available for purchase online through the KDWPT Outdoor Store at Purchases can also be made over the phone by calling (620) 672-5911.