Alex Babich: Not All Who Wander Are Lost
My name is Alex Babich and I am in love with morel mushroom hunting. A morel mushroom is a wild edible mushroom that looks like a sponge and tastes like filet mignon.
What started as a hobby has turned into a passion and now the word “passion” is too small to describe this. If you ask my wife, the word obsession is more accurate.
I started mushroom hunting in Kiev, Ukraine, where I was born and raised. My grandpa took me into the forest and taught me the importance of knowing the different wild mushrooms. He always reminded me that “every mushroom Is edible, sometimes only once.”
Very soon after the 1986 nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, my parents filed paperwork to immigrate to the United States. Five years later, after selling all our possessions and my parents investing their life savings, we were granted permission by the USSR government to move out of the country. It was far from easy getting out of the old USSR, but we settled nicely in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
I’ve always been attached to nature activities and love spending time outdoors. So when I was laid off from my factory job after 11 years and I was searching for ways to support myself and my pregnant wife, it was an easy decision to take a chance on outdoor-inspired gear. I chainsaw carved some morel mushrooms, printed some of my mushroom hunting and nature-inspired designs on reputable, high-quality t-shirts, and rented booth space at our local home and garden show. Our first show was a success and I’m so thankful all these years later people still really enjoy what I have to offer.
In the spring of 2005, I followed the morel mushroom season through 12 different states. That year I entered and won the biggest morel mushroom hunting tournament in North America. The tournament drew 527 competitors from all over the U.S.
Thanks to morel hunting, I have been featured in a number of different outlets, including newspapers, magazines, news, the Travel Channel and outdoor radio talk shows. This list continues to grow.
I teamed up with my really good friend Tom Nauman to make even more varieties of morel mushroom products. Tom has been carving morels for nearly 30 years. With his expertise, I am now able to offer additional morel items, including life-like morel mushrooms for landscape, Christmas ornaments, wine stoppers, key rings, magnets, earrings and hiking sticks.
Our unique t-shirt designs include outdoor activities such as mushroom hunting, fishing, hunting, hiking, camping and kayaking, with such sayings as “Not All Who Wander Are Lost,” “You’re Not Lost, If You Don’t Want to Be Found,” “Great Minds Think A Hike” and “Every Mushroom Is Edible, Sometimes Only Once.”
A few years ago, my wife and I completed our Morel Hunting Secrets documentary. I also offer canvases with my wild mushroom and nature photography. Last year, I designed the perfect, most comfortable and practical mushroom hunting bag to protect those delicate morels, which quickly became our #1 best selling product online. We offer all these items at the shows as well.
Every year I plan to design and make new nature-inspired products. Our family is known as the ‘Mushroom Family’ and I love that I’m able to include my wife and children in our business.
I am a big advocate for taking kids mushroom hunting and passing on the tradition...teaching them something they will forever remember you by! Respect nature and it will reward you.
You can find our booth #189 under our banner, NOT ALL WHO WANDER ARE LOST.