Today I hauled myself up to the pump house roof and picked shagbark hickory nuts, and here's the basketful, in their green husks. Some hickories' nuts are bitter, but shagbark is the one for eatin'. When the husk dries and splits, the kernel shows, a light beige. It dries out and turns brown. Inside the kernel is the edible sweet nut. (See the second picture.) Lots of folks say it's such a trial to get the kernel off it ain't worth it. But this ain't the year to waste food!
If you won't take that trouble for the nuts, at least gather the split husks and dry them out and throw a load of 'em on your fire next time you smoke or grill.
Usually I leave the hickory nuts for the turkeys and the squirrels (they throw the husks down from the tree at me), but how often in life are you gonna pick and dry out and crack and eat wild hickory nuts? And the real trick to cracking 'em is patiently wait till November when the kernels will be really dry and crackable. All in its own good time.