It’s hard to find a crop more valuable than truffles — prices can go as high as $2,000 per pound for ultra-rare white Alba truffles. The problem is that they grow underground, attached to the roots of trees. To find them, truffle hunters traditionally used pigs, whose natural instinct for rooting behavior helped hunters locate the fancy fungi.

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As a general rule, I try to stay away from lumpy brown objects fetched from the jaws of strange dogs. But when you’re in the heart of Oregon mushroom country, every mud-caked ball of earth could be a truffle treasure.

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If you’re not part of the truffle world, you may not have heard of this festival. If you love truffles, it’s time to make this an annual pilgrimage. The beauty is that you can do as little or as much as you like, picking and choosing events to attend. Just be aware that certain experiences sell out quickly each year, so you need to make your plan and reserve space early.

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If truffles figure in your dreams, tickets just went on sale for the ninth Oregon Truffle Festival. Truffles? Oregon? Well, yes, our northern cousin is actually producing some quite respectable examples. And if you buy your tickets sometime this month, you can take advantage of early-bird pricing.

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On a recent foggy morning I was on the trail of a story about an ugly little fungi that sells for the same price as many illicit drugs. I’d been given directions to a nondescript house on a country road near Elmira, and when I found the right driveway, I pulled around back and found a spot by the garage. The blinds were drawn, and as I knocked on the back door I felt a bit like I was in the culinary version of a “Breaking Bad” episode.

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The best adventures are the ones that entice and intrigue you down the trail – the ones that promise yet unseen rewards, perhaps a treasure for your efforts. It’s a different sort of field hunting that relies on a keen canine sense of smell – come along as we join man’s best friend and go digging in the duff for valuable “Oregon Truffles.”

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