Morel mushroom season has slipped into full swing, despite oddball snowstorms and chilly temperatures.
Among local hunters is David Bryant of Eudora, who told the Journal-World on Monday that he'd found 3,000 morels in the last three weeks in eastern Douglas County.
The edible, spongelike fungi are distinctively shaped like miniature evergreen trees and only appear in wooded areas during wet spring weather.
"This is a good year," Bryant said, noting he found his first morel of the year March 26 and expected the season to run until the end of May.
Initially, he said, the tasty mushrooms were small but now most are in the foot-tall range the largest he's seen in several years.
"I've seen some humongous ones," Bryant, a 20-year veteran of morel harvests, added, "but that was before people hunted them. A lot of people hunt them now."
Recent unseasonably cold weather has slowed the mushrooms' growth but not stopped it because rainfall has been plentiful, he added.
"Rain is what it takes," Bryant said, "plus sunlight." When it's cold, he has found the fungi simply flop over rather than stand erect.
Bryant said he'd been finding morels while hunting wild turkey, which also are in season, but he declined to reveal specific locations.
He added he liked to eat the mushrooms dredged in flour and fried in butter but also gave many away. The only way he ever freezes them, he said, is floating in water in old milk cartons. Otherwise, they're too crumbly when thawed.