Morel mushroom season coming to an end

LINCOLN, Neb. (KSNB) - The hunt is on at Wilderness Park in Lincoln.

Lincoln resident Nate Chapman searches Wilderness Park for morel mushrooms.

Not for big game, but for something smaller. And this year even more rewarding.

"I know i just looked at another site and they were up to $60 - $65 a pound," said morel mushroom hunter Nate Chapman.

Chapman is talking about morel mushrooms, and when it comes to hunting, he's one of the best.

"The load that we pulled out of here last year was right around 50 pounds. And this is public property anybody can come," said Chapman.

And he knows where to look

"You want to find something a little bit wetter, some dead elms."

Chapman has been hunting for around 15 years. He's not alone, morel mushrooms are a hot commodity in Nebraska.

Which sparked him to start his own Facebook group, Morel Mushrooms of Nebraska.

"I had a hard time finding other groups that i can buy, sell and trade. So I left other groups to start my own group, and we've been going four years now and we're sitting at about 5,000 members," said Chapman.

But this year hasn't been as easy picken's as years past.

Chapman believes a lot more people are out hunting because of the free time due to COVID-19, but also the lack of morels has to do with the weather.

"Go home and don't water your plants for three weeks and see what happens."

When Chapman goes hunting he does what he can to make sure more morels will grow back next year.

"You want to pinch off the roots or pull out a knife and cut them. You don't want to pull the roots out, leave them behind," said Chapman. "We're always using bags with holes in them that way they can spore out."

We searched for quite some time and found a few mushrooms, but not the ones we're looking for.

"These are pheasant backs. They're safe to eat, taste like watermelon rind," said Chapman. "I'd rather leave them on the trees for someone else."

While pheasant back mushrooms are edible, many mushrooms aren't. Which is why he and his Facebook group avoids types of mushrooms that aren't morels.

"You're telling somebody that it's edible and then it comes up not being edible. You have one chance of eating that mushroom, if that thing is not edible you're dead."

Today wasn't our day, but that's how it goes in the morel mushroom game.

Some days you hit the gold mine and other days you come up empty handed.

"It's a lot of reason people give up too," said Chapman. "I know we have people in the group that have hunted for years and never found anything."

But it's the times that you do hit, and get to fry them up at home, that make you keep coming out.