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Where, How & When to Find Morel Mushrooms | 13 Hunting & Foraging Tips
With these Morel mushroom hunting secrets you will gain a complete understanding of the best time and place to hunt them as well as how to identify the true from the false morels to avoid getting poisoned.
Morels mushrooms are one of the most sought after mushrooms to hunt form that there is and they are delicious choice edible mushrooms to eat. One of the big reasons for this is people have not yet figured out a way to farm them and the only way to get them is to find them in the wild.
This means that if you want to enjoy fresh Morels that you will need to learn how to find them in the wild or pay $20 a pound for them at the farmers market.
After reading this article you will be able to go out and find Morels like an expert forager. Now lets look at the top 13 tips for hunting morels…
13 Morel Mushroom Hunting Secrets & Tips To Hunting Like A Pro
Morels typically will fully grow in a couple weeks once they start. The Morel growth typically peaks out at a size of around 3 inches but the world record is 10 inches.
1) When To Hunt For Morels
Morels can be seen growing in the United States anywhere from March to September depending on where you live. The most popular time to hunt them in general is between March and May.
Every Morel hunting season is different and heavily influenced by rainfall. More rainfall often means more mushrooms.
One of the most important things to look at is soil temperature. Once the soil temperature hits 50 degrees Fahrenheit they will start growing but will stop once it hits 60 degrees.
Basically, as soon as the whether starts to warm up after being cold outside. You know…The time of year when everyone start to go outside again? That’s when you will start hunting Morels.
Also, the different types of Morels grow at different times of the season:
- Black Morels – Mid-March through to mid-May.
- Yellow Morels – Early April, through to early May.
- Half-Free Morels – March to May however they seem to really flourish toward the end of the season.
2) Where to Find Morel Mushrooms
Morel mushrooms will typically be found growing in the following locations:
- South facing slopes – This side of the hill will typically get warmer first.
- Ground lightly disturbed by human activity – This is better than searching deep in the un-touched woods (e.g. former stream beds, trail, etc.).
- Area with downed trees – Morels love to grow near areas where trees with bark still on them have recently fallen (They love bark on the ground).
- Burn sites – Areas where there has been a burn within the last 1-2 years. Check the Global Incident Map.
- Loamy soil – Ground rich with sand and clay.
- Old apple orchards – Morels love these soils because they were treated with Calcium Carbonate which made the soil high in pH levels.
- Near streams and creeks – Morels love soil with a lot of moisture.
3) 3 Types of Morel Mushrooms & Identification Tips
While there are over 80 species of different types of Morel mushrooms they can easily be reduced down to 3 main categories, to include:
- Black Morels
- Yellow Morels
- Half-Free Morels
In another article we have written we go into detail on:
- Accurately identifying them in wild.
- The habitat they grow in.
- Hot spots to look for.
- Key identification characteristics to confidentially know you have found a true Morel.
Check out that article here:
4) 4 Poisonous False Morels To Beware Of
Once you learn to identify all the look alikes of the Morel then you can confidently identify the true morel when you see it.
There are 4 mushrooms that can be confused with the true morel and we have written an entire article on it here:
Be sure to check out this article because if you accidentally consume one of these false morels then you could be dead within a week. After reading this article though, you will be able to positively identify a real morel with ease.
5) Morels Associate with Other Plants
Be on the look out for spring plants that flourish within the same soil types as morels.
The most common include:
1) Umbrella Plants
2) Mayapple Plants
While it’s not a guarantee that morels will be growing around such plants, it’s often a good indicator that they are not far off.
6) Morels Associate With Hardwood Trees
Morels tend to prefer to grow near certain types of trees more than others. This means your ability to successfully hunt Morels will depend on your ability to be able to correctly identify these hardwood trees:
These are the most popular trees the Morels like to grow near however they have also been found growing near:
- Black Cherry
7) How to Find Black Morels
They are often closely linked to trees but usually, not any specific kinds. People have found black morels under hardwoods like Oak and Hickory, but also under other trees like cedar, beech, or black cherry.
Black morels normally pop up in the exact same places every year, and usually in the company of other morel species.
8) How to Find Yellow Morels
As the days get warmer, they black Morels start to fade off even as the yellow Morels stay on. Don’t be surprised though if you find some black morels as you hunt for yellow morels.
You can spot Yellow Morels around dead Elm trees (American varieties), old apple trees, dead cottonwoods, and several other fruit trees. You can also find them around live Yellow Poplar trees, live ash, and occasionally on mulch that’s less than two years old.
9) How to Find Half-Free Morels
You may struggle to differentiate half-free morels from black morels. They have a striking resemblance, particularly the color of their caps. Half-morels are scattered all over woodlands, often among other morel species.
Half-Morels are more tolerant of excessive moisture and poor soils and therefore, can be found in low growth areas and new growth forests and are often never far from black and yellow morels.
10) Morels Like to Grow in Clusters
Since mushrooms spread through tiny airborne spores, there’s a good chance you’ll always find them in the same locations. If not, then you could check in all the windward directions from there, and for several dozen yards before heading off to a new location.
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11) 2 Essential Morel Mushroom Hunting Gear Items
1) Mushroom Hunting Mesh Bag
As you head out for your hunting expedition, you’ll want to be properly equipped. One of the most important items is a morel mushroom hunting bag.
The very part we pick and eat also happens to be the one that holds and releases the spores that will ensure reproduction of future morels. Therefore, walking around with a mesh bag or a porous bag will help spread the pores as you trudge around the woods and ensure more morels in the coming seasons.
2) Sharp Mushroom Hunting Knife
You’ll also need a sharp, foldable, good-sized knife for harvesting morel. The best types of mushroom hunting knives come with a stainless steel blade, a wooden handle, and a brush at the end of the shaft to easily remove any dirt from your captured morels.
12) Best Elevation For Morel Mushroom Hunting
Typically between 400 to 5,000 feet in elevation will be the best elevation to find Morel mushroom growing.
It turns out that people have reported finding the from as low as 400 ft in elevation all the way up to 5,000 ft in elevation. The elevation doesn’t play as much of a crucial role in the growth of the Morel as does the moist and temperature conditions.
13) 2 Morel Mushroom Progression Maps
1) There are several maps that track morel mushroom sightings across the US, including some Google Maps that updates the location of morel mushrooms each season.
2) Some websites can help you track the progression of morel sightings from the warmer states to the cooler states. The maps can even allow you to zero in on your county and brace yourself for the new morel mushroom hunting season in your area.
Using these Morel mushroom hunting maps will make finding the Morels so much easier.
Now you should be equipped with the necessary knowledge to go out and start hunting for morel mushrooms like a pro.
One of the biggest things to keep in mind is that you could walk for a mile and not find any morels at all and then all the sudden find 10 pounds of mushrooms growing in the next small area the size of a parking lot.
Also, just because they grew in the exact spot last year doesn’t necessary mean they will be there again next year. These mushrooms can be ‘tricky little buggers‘ to find and predict.
If you decide you just wan to enjoy the taste and health benefits of this delicious mushroom without having to hunt for it you could always consider growing your own secret patch in your back yard as well. Some people have been able to this successfully.
By learning these Morel hunting tips you will surely be light years ahead of your average hunter and will not only feel safe to pick the right ones but now where to find the secret places no one else thought of.
Thanks for reading and please share if you thought it was useful!
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This Post Has 4 Comments
I found my first mushrooms this spring.
Amazing! Were you able to identify the species?
You are wrong about morels and apple trees. Common knowledge is apple trees especially old ones have bee treated with lead arsenate which is a forever chemical in the soil
Hi, Paul. Thank you for this info.