Sunday, April 12, 2009

hunting hickory chickens

So it's Easter Sunday and today was a warm and sunny day in Rose Hill. It rained all week, snowed some, and it will likely rain again tomorrow. But a bright and sunny Easter Sunday was tucked in between the dreary days. After church I took off on my scooter heading out towards Martins Creek and Possum Holler and Giles Holler... my usual route. There were lots of fishermen enjoying the nice weather on the banks of Martins Creek. Martins Creek was stocked on Thursday. Folks were catching as many as 12 fish in a day on Friday. I saw one trout pulled out today. So I'm hanging out with these fishermen on the banks of Martins Creek and one of them starts talking about "hickory chickens." I got to laughing, saying, "I've heard about these hickory chickens, but I wouldn't know one if I saw it." Apparently, they are edible mushrooms which only grow in the Spring. And it's a special pasttime for some of the local Rose Hill folks to go out in the woods in search of "hickory chickens," which is a type of morel mushroom. Apparently, you fry them and eat them. Seeing my interest in hickory chickens, the fisherman took a break from his fishing to find me a hickory chicken. After seeing what one looks like, I then spent most of the afternoon walking around in the woods along Martins Creek looking for hickory chickens. Only found a few. I brought one home and showed it to the youngins. My daughter started laughing and talking about when her buddy at school was telling her about having a jolly good time going into the woods looking for hickory chickens. At first, my daughter had pictured her buddy chasing wild chickens in the woods - until her buddy explained that hickory chickens are mushrooms. It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon - instead of hunting Easter eggs, I found myself hunting hickory chickens. I found lots of real pretty little wild flowers. I was pleasantly surprised to discover how much growth and life is happening on the forest floor. Looks like nothing but brown leaves covering the ground in the woods from the road. But you get out there walking in the woods - and far out - there's all kinds of wonderful fern prawns and flowers, and I even saw a wild geranium blooming already. I couldn't find much info very easily on the web about hickory chickens, except in several blogs. But I did find a bit of information on -- "Hickory chickens are little mushrooms that look like a christmas tree, with a stem (resembling the trunk of the christmas tree and a cap, resembling the shape of a christmas tree), with the exception that it is colored much differently. The color generally varies between beige to dark brown. These mushrooms only come out in Virginia/Kentucky areas once a year, usually in the spring and can only be found in woods, but are more common to some areas in these states than others. Some people refer to or call these mushrooms "dry land fish" instead of hickory chickens. They are wonderful when dredged in a flour/salt/pepper mixture and fried. They have a very distinct taste. The only other detail I can think of is that they normally grow on the mossy sides of trees, in areas that are dark and moist, and grow up together in groups. They normally will grow up and above ground in a day or two and usually not last more than a week or so, but may bloom more than once in a given season." Anyways, it was sure fun to walk around the woods looking for hickory chickens! Red buds are blooming, lots of flowers are blooming, and it's hickory chicken season in Rose Hill.


Aleta said...

Oh -- we've been calling them (hickory chickens) "black capped morels"! We find them up on our ridge. Well -- I don't find a lot but our neighbor does. I found one this year, which was a record. I guess I don't look hard enough. Enjoy spring because it will soon be getting hot, as you know!

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