It's the biggest harvest you've ever seen. Holy morel mushroom.

On Mother's Day, my dad and I were discussing how the warmer temperatures in the forecast would probably lead to good morel mushroom hunting this week. Turns out we were already late. The hunt of the century had happened the day before.

Last Saturday, May 7, Rusty Gates and Jimmy Johnson decided to go hunting for morel mushrooms in Lee County in southeast Iowa. They didn't get off to a great start. In the first 90 minutes, they had a combined three mushrooms. Thankfully, these guys don't give up easily.

Rusty and Jimmy trudged on and 90 minutes later, 2 1/2 hours into their hunt, they hit the morel mother lode. Johnson, who lives in Keokuk, told the Des Moines Register,

"It was just nonstop as we were walking. We'd just see four or five here and then take a few steps and see more. It was continuous... We got lucky."

After about six hours, the total weight of their mushroom haul was 136 pounds. They gave away five pounds and then took a picture of themselves with the sign that shows "131 pounds." Unbelievable.

Nici Jimmy Johnson
Nici Jimmy Johnson

Monday, May 9, the pair went mushrooming again. That day they harvested 44 more pounds, bringing their two-day total to an astounding 180 pounds. Unfortunately, there's no photo of that day's mushroom haul.

Johnson and Gates each take half of what they find and after treating family and friends, they were able to sell some mushrooms at $25 per pound. According to the Des Moines Register, Johnson sold $400 worth... in addition to the 20 pounds he kept for himself.

If you struggle to find morel mushrooms, Johnson offers a bit of advice. Look for them under maple and white oak trees. He also shared the power of patience with the Des Moines Register:

"Never give up. If you walk two hours (and don't find any), walk 2½. Just when you think you're not going to find any, walk a little further, and you're probably going to find them."

Next year, Johnson and Gates will, of course, go back to the spot where they found 136 pounds of morels. They're going to enlist some assistance next time, though. Johnson says, "I'm going to need help getting them out. That's too many mushrooms for two guys to pick." I expect they'll have plenty of volunteers.

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