Rusty Ewalt of Clinton, Iowa, is a mushroom hunter who found a doozy this spring.

The morel shown above was 15 inches around and weighed almost a pound.

Ewalt, 35, has been hunting mushrooms in the woods since he was about 5 years old, growing up on a farm. He found the big morel May 9 in Carroll County, Ill. That's all he'll say about the location.

The length of the mushroom season varies with the moisture and temperature each year.

"Every year is different," Ewalt says. Sometimes it's as little as one-two weeks and sometimes it lasts nearly a month. This is a "bad year," he adds.

Lowell Washburn of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources concurs that this year's season will be - or was - short.

Smaller gray morels are the first to show, followed by the larger yellows. They are prized for their flavor when sautéed in butter or deep-fried.

When he's not mushroom-hunting, Ewalt works at Titan International Inc. in Freeport, Ill.