"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Goose Pond Wetland Area
Copyright © 2005 by Bill Scifres

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and partnering organizations have all but sewed up the acquisition of the long-sought, 8,000-plus acres of Goose Pond on White River’s west fork in Greene  County. With the potential for being the undisputed best wetland area of the state, Goose Pond has been the apple of the DNR’s eyes for many years. 

Unfortunately, past efforts to acquire this mecca for migrating birds--including ducks 
and geese--have been botched, or otherwise torpedoed by frugal forces in the 

Soon after taking command of the DNR last February, Kyle Hupfer indicated that the acquisition of Goose Pond would be a high-priority item on his agenda. And, although some of his early acts have been questioned by conservationists and outdoors types, the purchase of this natural wetland will be a huge feather in his cap. 

Publicity on the workings of the acquisition scenario has been low key (probably for fear that the works could be gummed up again). But aside from final details, it is a done deal, and those most closely involved will celebrate their success with a ceremony on the property November 8. 

How the scenario will play out is not yet known, but the DNR (presumably its Division of Fish and Wildlife) will manage the area that embraces some 7,100 acres of wetlands and 1,100 acres of cropland. This will include some 4,000 acres of shallow water (not deep enough to hold fish), and 1,000 acres of prairie that is in place now. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wetland Reserve Program is coughing up a tad more than $7-million, and several organizations of conservationists and sporting types (including Ducks Unlimited, The Indiana Nature Conservancy, and the Indiana Department of Transportation) will round out the financial package. Total price of the purchase is not yet known. 

Although parts of the wetland will be open to waterfowl hunting, county government expects greater fiscal windfalls to come from bird watchers and nature lovers. 


Last Thursday’s plunging air temperatures and cold rains touched off an explosion of shaggymane mushrooms (Coprinus comatus), and this has brought many questions about this delicacy. 

Many would-be consumers of the shaggymane want to know first if it really is an edible fungi. 

It is quite edible. And, and I might add, (though I could be tarred, feathered, and ridden out of Hoosierland on a three-cornered rail for even fostering such absurd thoughts: your taste buds may put shags above all fungi, including . . . gasp . . . morels.) 

Secondly, folks want to know how to recognize shags, and how to process 
(including cooking) them. 

The shag will be recognized as a white, somewhat egg-shaped thing with small flecks of white or tan dotting the white surface.  Like numerous other fungi, the outer perimeter of the cap is attached to an equally white stem. 

Soon after the outer perimeter of the caps break away from the stem, this outer perimeter of the cap starts turning black. Eventually the entire cap will turn into a black, inky mess sitting on top of the stem. If a shag reaches parasol shape it is over the hill in terms of edibility. 

It is best to pick shags before the cap has broken away from the stem. But even if the cap is free of the stem and showing some black, the remaining white part of the cap still is edible and very tasty. Just cut away the black part and save the rest. 

I also cut away and discard the top part of the cap (where the stem is attached). It is too tough to be palatable. Both cuts are made across the mushroom. 

My unscientific experiments indicate that since the black starts developing at the outer perimeter of the caps, if this is cut away the remainder of the cap can be kept immersed in water at frig temperature for a day, even longer. Keeping the caps under water seems to thwart decomposition by eliminating exposure to air. The trick is in keeping the pieces below the surface of the water. 

I have kept shag caps white for more than two months.  However, water tends to make them soggy over a lengthy period. 

How to cook shags? Just like morels. I dip them in a mix of egg and milk, roll them in a 50-50 mix of finely rolled cracker crumbs and flour, and fry them to golden brown on both sides in olive oil, butter, bacon fryings, or a mix of these cooking agents. 

Frying shags, or any other mushroom, requires “stand there” attention. Brown the first side and turn them. Brown the second side and get them out of the skillet.

Click on thumbnail image for enlarged view.

shagblack.jpg (22937 bytes)
cutawayshag.jpg (25901 bytes)
This picture of a five-inch shaggymane illustrates how the outer (lower) perimeter of the cap starts turning black soon after the cap breaks away from the stem.  This cutaway picture illustrates how the stem is attached to the cap and how the black portion of the cap develops.

All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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