On May 15, Joe Golob, a Washington C.H. native, became Ohio’s proud winner in Forest Glory’s Annual Mushroom Hunt Contest in 2023.
After five to six days of non-stop hiking and searching, Golob finally found the Morel trinket in the woods near Deer Creek State Park, and took home a whopping $2,000 prize.
The father of one explained that his wife had initially found the post on Facebook, from Forest Glory, announcing their second-annual mushroom hunt.
“We were excited for the contest’s arrival because we were so close to winning last year,” said Golob.
He explained that he and his wife had almost found the morel trinket during the contest from the previous year. However, they were “bested” by another Ohioan family who found the mushroom in Caesar’s Creek.
This time around, Golob and his family were determined to win.
“I had a feeling this would be our year,” he said, “largely due to the experience we gained from trying last year, even though we came up short.”
Golob’s intuition was right, and just after three days of clues being dropped on the Forest Glory Facebook page, he already had a good idea of where the morel would be. The clue that brought them to the targeted location was: “ticks don’t only love dogs.”
“Immediately, I figured Deer Creek would be the location,” said Golob, “but the clue was too broad to be overly helpful as Deer Creek state park is such a large area with miles of trails to hike.”
He explained that after getting off work that day, he brought his family to Deer Creek to search for the morel. The Golob family spent a couple of days searching along the trails in hopes of finding the mushroom statue, mostly relying on another clue that was dropped, which revealed that the morel would be by the water. However, after the unsuccessful search, both Golob’s wife and daughter fell ill and had to return home.
Golob continued to search by himself, but was less confident after wasting hours and hours trailing alone.
Finally, he felt “a bit of a breakthrough” when two big clues were dropped; one that revealed a journey through a “tunnel of vegetation” and another pointing the reader to “turn left before a peninsula.”
“My first thought was that it would be linked to the very large peninsula that the lodge sits on,” explained Golob, “however after many hours searching around those trails I was coming up empty and ready to leave, when I did one last check to my map and saw a Water’s road that just so happened to lead to a very small peninsula on the map.”
When Golob began driving down this road, he found a “very small trail” that had the tunnel of vegetation that was described in the clue. He described it as “an old trail with a neat little tunnel that was worthy of taking a picture.”
For the next couple of days, Golob and his family were “excited” in anticipating each upcoming clue, which would lead him to a small pond in that area and finally to the mushroom itself, which was hidden under a “tree with a thousand branches,” as described by the final clue.
“When I stumbled onto the mushroom,” said Golob, “I was met with both excitement and relief to know we had won after a solid week of intense effort and deciphering clues that we could have been easily off the mark with.”
Golob graduated from Miami Trace High School in 2003, and not long after, lived just a few minutes away from the entrance to the park. He claims the history he has with the Deer Creek area was a “bit of advantage” this year over the other people who participated. However, Golob was satisfied with how the contest turned out.
“It could have been hidden just about anywhere in Ohio,” he exclaimed, “but it landed in familiar territory which was a nice blessing indeed!”