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Morel Mushroom Hunting Tips: Increase Your Yield!

 

So you've brushed up on wild mushroom identification and now you're ready for some morel mushroom hunting tips. Whether a novice or veteran hunter, it's helpful to review some commonly held beliefs about finding morels.

Remember that these are just suggestions, nothing is written in stone. You may find them in unusual places, or somewhere not listed here. Nothing's guaranteed, but the thrill of the hunt is what makes it fun!

 

morel mushroom hunting tipsBelow is a list of morel mushroom hunting tips I've compiled from research and experience. There are lots of different theories regarding these mushrooms. I've grouped together some of the main ones by time of year, habitat, environmental conditions, and etiquette/personal safety. For a more in-depth look at the practice of the sport, see this page.

Enough talk. Let's learn the secrets of morel mushroom hunting!

 

Time of Year

 

Learn the secrets of morel mushroom hunting!The shortest answer of all the morel mushroom hunting tips: spring.

Although the reality is that "spring" varies.

Spring can be February and March for the West Coast and the Southern US. The Mid West sees the most fruitings between late March and early May. In my area on the East Coast, morels usually fruit from late April to early June.

Parts of Canada and the North Western US will see fruitings into June. Other parts of the world may see some at other times of year, depending on when their spring is.

The most logical advice I can give for time of year is to start searching during the two months when spring is considered to be at its height in your area.

Although if you're truly morel-obsessed there's nothing stopping you from mushroom hunting for the four months around spring!

 

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Habitat

 

Some of the most useful morel mushroom hunting tips deal with habitat.

Start by searching near certain trees. Morels are thought to be mycorrhizal, meaning they form mutualistic relationships with the roots of trees. For this reason, you must learn about the trees in your area. These are believed to be the trees favored by morels:

  • Ash (particularly white ash)
  • Elm (dead or dying is best)
  • Apple (old ignored apple orchards that is, skip orchards that are very young and still used by man)
  • Tulip (yes, there is a tree with this name!)

Another good place to look is in areas of disturbed ground. Mycelia produce mushrooms in response to environmental stress, so morels are often found around:

  • Hunting for morel mushrooms is a fun adventureBurn sites. One of my favorite mushroom teachers told me "morels love a burn". He's right, as morels thrive on the nutrients that burned trees release back into the soil. Burn site morels are more common in the West, although it's still worth checking brush/forest fire or burn pit areas the spring after they've happened.
  • Areas disturbed now or in the past by water. Examples would be old flood plains, near rivers, and near washes.
  • Old logging areas or places with lots of downed trees.
  • Other places where man has disturbed the ground. Avoid areas that are overdeveloped or have been chemically treated. You don't know what kind of toxins could be in the mushrooms you find.

Soil composition is another thing to consider. You may not know what's in the soil in your area, so consult a local amateur expert or a geologist (ask around at the nearest college). Morels are often found in these types of soil:

  • Loamy - meaning a mixture of sand, clay, and decaying organic matter.
  • Soil containing more calcium or lime. There's so much granite where I live in New Hampshire, you'll often have better morel luck by crossing the border and looking for more calcified soil in Vermont.

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Environmental Conditions

 

More morel mushroom hunting tips exist in regards to soil temperature, air temperature, and humidity. Morels seem to be most commonly found during these environmental conditions:

  • Morel mushrooms appear in the springAfter the first rain. All mushrooms need moisture, and the rain gives it to them.
  • During the initial warm days and morning of spring.
  • After the nights start to warm up. No colder than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Etiquette and Personal Safety

 

I would be remiss if I didn't mention a few things about safety. While not morel mushroom hunting tips exactly, they're on here in the hopes of keeping you and the forest safer:

  • When wild mushroom hunting, carry your finds in a mesh bag. Wild mushrooms spread through the dispersal of spores, and the more spores you allow them to drop the better the chances of more mushrooms in the future! Baskets or paper bags don't allow spores to spread, so find something with large holes in it.
  • Don't pick every last mushroom you see. I know, it's tempting. But leave a few so they can continue to drop spores and you and others can enjoy them for years to come.
Morel mushroom in springPhoto by Jörg Hempel [CC-BY-SA-2.0-de ], via Wikimedia Commons
  • Don't litter. Mushroom hunters usually have too much respect for nature to do this but I have to mention it. It's extremely disgusting behavior and you can be fined.
  • Don't directly ask someone where to find morels. Any mushroom hunter worth his/her salt won't tell you, and depending on where you are you may make some enemies!
  • It's easy to get lost in the woods, especially if you're looking at the ground for mushrooms. Know your area, or carry a map, compass, and GPS if you don't.
  • Bring a friend. Don't wander the woods alone, and it never hurts to carry mace or pepper spray. Think me paranoid? You'll be glad if you have the extreme bad luck of running into an angry moose, a mother bear, an aggressive dog, or an unstable human (most dangerous of all).
  • Beware of ticks! Where I live in New England, Lyme disease is a growing problem. Always wear long pants, socks, and use some natural bug spray if you have it (DEET free please). Also check yourself when you come home and take a shower.

Lastly, here's the best of the morel mushroom hunting tips that I can give:

Hope springs eternal. Don't give up. Keep looking and researching. Most of all remember to have fun and enjoy nature!

Sick of the hunt? Say it isn't so! Check out the dried mushrooms page.

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Return from Morel Mushroom Hunting Tips to Main Morel Index

Looking for more fun mushroom info? Follow the links back up the site!



 

 

 

 

 

 

Don't get discouraged if you don't find morels your first time out. Study the hints on this page, study the features of your area, and enjoy the hunt!

You can find more fun morel recipes and info by clicking on one of the pictures below!

More Morel Hunting Tips

Morel recipes

How to Grow Morels

How to grow morel mushrooms

Mouth-watering Morel Recipes

How to cook morel mushrooms

Morel Identification

Learn to identify morel mushrooms

The Science of Morels

Learn the science of the morchella genus

 


 

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