Wild Mushroom Series: #2 Chicken of the Woods  LbNA # 24903

Placed DateAug 25 2006
LocationColumbia, MO
Found By MO UR4Me
Last Found Jun 2 2011
Hike Distance?

Wild Mushroom Series: #2 Chicken of the Woods

UPDATE! Box has been pulled for repair and will be replaced in Spring 2012!!

This is part of a series of letterboxes dedicated to hunting wild edible mushrooms in Missouri and the Midwest.

The second box in the series highlights the chicken of the woods mushroom (Laetiporus sulphureus). It can be found summer through fall and is common across Missouri growing out of dead and buried wood, usually oak. And can often be spotted from a long ways of in the woods due to their massive size and bright yellow and orange color. Last October, a hunter near Kansas City found one that weighed 56 pounds. He had to use a saw to cut it down and claimed that when cutting the mushroom split into several pieces with the largest part falling and sinking in the river.

No matter how large they get, only the tender young edges of the mushroom are worth eating. They have both the flavor and texture of chicken, hence giving it its name. Sautéed, stewed, fried, and even grilled they turn out pretty tasty, but my favorite way to eat them is with SCRAMBLED EGGS.

As when hunting mushrooms, you must leave the beaten path and bushwhack for most of this hunt. Please tread lightly as you move through the forest and always be looking to the forest floor for other types of mushrooms and wild flowers. Bring your own ink: Yellow and Orange recommended. I am around 6 foot tall and 1 pace = 2 of my steps.

The start of this clue is encrypted using a Key Word Shift Cipher. Here is a common explanation of how to solve the code.

A Key Word Shift Cipher uses, a key word, such as Frank. The key word secretly hides the solution to breaking the cipher text. Each letter of 'Frank' represents a number. It does so by each letter representing the order in which it appears in the alphabet. In the context of this word, 'F' appears second, 'R' fifth, 'A' first and so on. By finding the order in which the letters appear in the alphabet, you find a series of numbers. In this case, 'Frank' becomes 25143. Now that you have the number and the encrypted clue (cipher text) you're able to decode the clue. Do this by placing the number sequence over the code. Subtract the number from the letter by counting letters backwards. For instance if the code is HWBRN you'd go back two letters from H to get F. W goes back five places to find R. B moves back one to A and so on and so forth. Write the numbers out above the code skipping all spaces, but keeping the sequence of the numbers. Tricky, eh? This type of code is referred to as 'polyalphabetic' because the same letter in the cipher text could be several different letters in the plain text, that is, when it is decoded. Being polyalphabetic makes an encryption extremely difficult to crack.

Fill in the blanks for the key word to the cipher: The chicken of the woods is commonly called the sulphur _ _ _ _ _.


Cross the wooden bridge and take the trail to the immediate left. Cross the small stream and follow the winding trail up and up and up until it flattens out on the top. Continue walking down the trail through a wonderful open forest with large oaks, hickory, ash, maples and various other hardwood trees. After walking for a minute the trail bends first to the left then quickly back to the right. Off to the left 5 paces from the trail is the base of a large dead tree that has fallen over and is being propped up by its neighbors. The leaning tree forms the PHTEUYSEO of a IGTRH NRATGLIE.

Continue thirty paces down the trail to where it elbows sharply to the left. From here go another forty paces to a small HBARAKHSG IRHOYCK that is growing almost in the trail on the left hand side. The trail ahead angles downhill. Continue fifteen paces to a second shagbark hickory on the left growing close, but not as close as the last, to the trail on the left. At this tree, look downhill through the woods at 280°. Go fifteen paces to a large V-shaped guardian on the top of the wooded slope. On its northern side is a gash that threatens to rip the two trunks from one another. Directly downhill ten paces is an old stump with three wretched branches reaching to the heavens forming a crude pitchfork. Standing above this stump, look 250° to a massive hydra-like guardian ten paces away. Growing in the middle along with some unidentifiable and probably poisonous mushrooms is what you seek. Be sure to look DEEP into the logbook to find another secret hidden nearby.

Please rehide well and be discreet in your LBing. If the box is missing or damaged please contact me at ahistory (at) centurytel (dot) net or through the LbNA. This box has been placed with permission of the Missouri State Parks.