Have you ever left buying fish for Good Friday until the Thursday before? Or found a catalog-special too good to believe, but when you finally head to the store, found they were all sold out? That’s how many people feel when they miss the morel mushroom season.
You see, finding morel mushrooms isn’t one of the easiest things to find. Not when there are hundreds, even thousands of other keen mushroom hunters, all out foraging for the prized fungus during those short few weeks.
Fields, forests and other known hot-spots fill with both professional, amateur, inexperienced and experienced hunters, all desperate to get their hands on such a prized gift of nature that’s just sitting around the countryside and waiting for picking by those lucky enough to find them.
That’s why it helps to have a few aces up your sleeve when it comes to finding them. Care to know what they are?
This article shares some valuable morel mushroom-hunting tips that will help you get the edge over some of your competition. While a little simple research will find some of these morel mushroom hunting secrets, others built up their skills over many years of foraging, handing their secrets down.
Always Practice Safety First
There is one thing I never short-change people on and that is the knowledge needed to safely navigate the mushroom fields. Foraging for mushrooms isn’t a hobby that’s taken up halfheartedly.
This is a serious business, the consequences of not practicing safe hunting resulting in serious injuries or even death.
While many mushroom varieties have nothing but a deep-seated desire to provide healthy, nutritious and often extremely tasty dishes for us, others exist with a single purpose: to make those who pick them suffer in very excruciating ways that are sometimes fatal.
It’s for this very reason that I always include a brief guide on what not to pick, so when you finally reach the forest, know and understand what to avoid.
There is only one mushroom that looks similar to morels in nature and they have some distinct differences that you identify with a little investigation. They aren’t hard to spot and you should memorize them so you feel comfortable enough to recognize the differences out in the field.
The false morel looks like a distant cousin of the morel but is toxic. It’s appearance, although similar, isn’t the same. It’s cap is more wavy, tired looking, appearing like a brain.
The morel has a near-honeycomb appearance with valleys and ridges over its cap. It stands more upright than its cousin, sometimes growing as much as 12 inches in height.
The cap of a true morel is also hollow, one of the distinct features that sets it apart from its cousin. The false morel has a solid cap, filled with fibrous material. It’s a sure-fire giveaway that you have an intruder.
Some Hints, Tips and Suggestions to Find Morels
There are many experts in this field and all of them have some very helpful suggestions when it comes to locating morel mushrooms. If they could all assemble in a room and write a single article between them, it would be worth an absolute fortune for anyone lucky enough to obtain it.
But they haven’t, which leaves us mere mortals desperately improving our skills so that next morel mushroom season sees us succeed where many will fail. Check out the following tips and good luck with finding your prize.
Hint #1: Use Other’s Past Success
There’s something said about others that have beaten us to the prize. A morel mushroom hunting map is always a great way to follow, study and observe where others have found morel mushrooms both this season and past seasons.
All you need to do is find your local morel hunting map and study where others find the elusive mushroom.
Hint #2: Know When to Look
Morel mushroom season in the United States falls typically between April through June. The issue is that the mushrooms don’t operate by any specific calendar so the season may start a week or 2 either side. Early to mid-April is a great starting point and may extend well into the latter half of June.
Hint #3: Perfect Your Timing
Use the previous morel mushroom season as a guide and really hone in on the weather during this time. What you are looking for is the stretch of weather that wakes the morels enough to start growing.
The perfect temperature guide that I use is monitoring for days between 60s and 70s during the day, followed by a run of 50s during the night.
Hint #4: Learn to Recognize Trees
Most people who find morels swear by the fact that morels love trees, attaching themselves to the roots of specific varieties. This helps you if you know how to tell the difference between certain tree varieties. Learn to distinguish elms, hickory, ash and sycamore trees first.
Hint #5: They Love Fruit
Apart from your normal forest trees, morel mushrooms also love fruit trees. One spot they are found time and time again are old apple orchards. If there’s one near you, it might be worth checking around under the trees.
Hint #6: Look Where the Water Flows
While plenty of rain is great for morels, try to find places where the water drains well, not holding it and over-saturating the area. Well-drained spots include hillsides and hilltops.
Hint #7: Know What You’re Looking For During Morel Mushroom Season
Seems like a logical thing to say, but the truth is, you want the morel mushroom shape and size burnt into your mind. Many people often say that the first one is the hardest to find, yet they always find more soon after.
That’s probably because they aren’t specifically looking for the shape in amongst the undergrowth. Stare at a picture of one in a book or even on your cell.
Hint #8: More Than One Color
Morels don’t just come in one color. Look for light tan caps, as well as light and dark grays and even black and yellows. And just a hint: black morels are normally the first ones to grow in any season.
Hint #9: Burnt Trees Work Well
Some morels prefer burnt trees and fallen logs, so keep your eyes peeled around these if you spot them.
Hint #10: Stay Away from Clay
Morels love rich black soil which is probably why many find them growing near river banks, streams and creeks where the sand is common. Tall grass and under vegetation are also common.
Hint #11: Carry a Spare
It isn’t uncommon for people to carry a morel mushroom with them when hunting for them. It helps to adjust your eyes to spotting them. Similar to finding them in a book or cell, carrying a real one works much better, giving your eyes time to see them in their natural environment.
Hint #12: Size Isn’t Fixed
When it comes to morels, there’s no one size fits all. They range anywhere from a couple of inches to a full foot tall. Black ones growing at the start of the season are only the size of your thumb, while grays and yellows grow much taller.
Hint #13: Failure is No Excuse
Never let failure stop you. Regardless of how many others find them, there’s one out there with your name on it.
Hint #14: Persistence
Stick to it and eventually you will find the prized mushroom for yourself. Mushroom hunting isn’t one of those hobbies that’s a walk-up starter. It takes time and perseverance to succeed and some years are more difficult than others.
Just don’t throw the towel in because you didn’t find one this year. Mushroom hunting is extremely fulfilling to those that stick with it. Happy hunting.
Discover another article on morel mushroom hunting: 7 Morel Mushroom Hunting Tips You Need to Know