Hunting for morel mushrooms is not the easiest thing to do! Many people can go an entire season without spotting a single morel.
Morel mushroom hunting is a fickle business due to the elusive nature of the Morchella species.
Morel hunting has proven to be an extremely profitable business for the fortunate few who find hot locations and or manage to grow their own supply.
This article will cover morel mushroom hunting tips and secrets shared by some of the most successful mushroom hunters in the country.
Identifying True Morels
In order to to hunt for morels, you first must know how to identify one! It is fairly easy to identify a morel mushroom from other look-alikes since they generally don’t grow around many other species.
Yet, there are false morel mushrooms that can be poisonous when consumed. You must know how to spot these. Check out this article on identifying false morel mushrooms from true morels to have a good idea of what you will be looking for.
Morel Growing Season
There is really no exact date when these elusive mushrooms appear. The morel growing season ranges depending on the region and environment. The growth of morel mushroom general begin in spring; between March and May.
You will typically find Morels ripe for foraging throughout most of the year! Again, this is dependent on your location.
There are even some species of morels with growing seasons that extend into the winter months, in locations with mild weather conditions.
Where to Find Morel Mushrooms
Generally you are going to find morels along the edges of forested areas. Look for morel mushrooms under trees such as pine, oak, elm, aspen, and ash.
You’ll tend to find these mushrooms on south-facing slopes early in the spring season. As the season progresses you will start finding morel mushrooms further into the woods as well on north-facing hills.
Morels often will grow in sandy soils along moist creek areas. The morel population will peak when the average high temperatures reach around 60 degrees Fahrenheit and the lows around 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
You will want to cover as much ground as fast as possible. Sort of like fishing, once you find one spot with a morel, slow down and really search the area. You want to pay attention to the habitat you find each morel in and try and see if you can notice patterns.
Mushrooms generally thrive off of decaying plant matter. For this reason, search around dead trees. Old apple orchards are sometimes goldmines for morel mushroom hunters.
The more decayed a tree is (when the bark starts falling off), the more likely a morel will be hiding close by.
Check areas where the soil has been disturbed such as a fallen tree or old flood plains. Abandoned logging areas provide prime spots for morels due to all the fallen trees and upturned soil.
Search areas that have recently experienced forest fires! Morels love burnt plant matter.
Lastly, the later in the season you look for morels, the easier they will be to spot because of their increased size!
I won’t go too deep into this section but I want to link you guys to a resource that is quite useful! The site linked here provides a morel mushroom sighting map for the year.
The map is updated by user reports. Now, most people don’t want to give away their exact locations so I wouldn’t expect specific areas. However, this map is a good place to start to see if there have been any sighting in your particular state and or area.
There isn’t much gear you’ll need to go hunting for mushrooms. However, there are a couple essential pieces of equipment you will need.
- Swiss army knife
- Bug Spray
- Hiking clothes to protect against ticks, mosquitoes, and poison ivy
- Hiking boots or shoes
- Paper or Mesh bag
You don’t need a license to hunt for morel mushrooms! You will however, need a mushroom license if you plan on selling any sort of mushroom scavenged from the wild.
These licenses don’t cost much to get ($100-$200) depending on your region. There is a short process each individual must go through to qualify. Once you have your foragers license you are free to sell morels as you please!