Let’s be honest, we all can use a little more help finding morel mushrooms.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources just shared an oldie but a goodie from outdoors writer Mike Krebill that was published in the March/April 2012 issue of Iowa Outdoors Magazine. The timing for this share couldn’t be any better as most of us outdoorsmen are hoping to be out there finding morel mushrooms very soon.
Since the mushroom season can’t get here soon enough, here are some of the best tips you can get anywhere when it comes to finding these delicious fungi.
1. Mind control
To start things off, let’s just keep it simple. The single best way to increase your odds of finding morel mushrooms is to brainwash yourself. Start putting pictures of morels all over your house. We all know that you find more mushrooms after you find your first one, so get off on the right foot and have the image already burned in your brain before you get out there.
2. The right time
As Krebill explained, the best time to find morels is when Mother Nature says it’s time and not one second before. For example, look for “oak leaves the size of squirrel ears; lilacs budding and ready to flower; mayapple leaves opened up like umbrellas; and flowering trilliums, bloodroot, trout lily, Virginia bluebells, dandelion, spring beauty and columbine”.
The ground where you are hunting needs to be at least 53 degrees to start growing mushrooms. Daytime temps in the 60s and nighttime temps in the 50s is the best indicator it’s time to start finding morel mushrooms in your neck of the woods.
If all the conditions are exactly described as above and you still aren’t finding any mushrooms, just wait for a rain. Make sure you are out in the woods as soon as you can get out there when the rain stops.
5. The trees
Certain trees attract more morels than others. If you can find dead elms, you will find mushrooms. It’s just that simple. Also, give a look around old apple orchards if you have any access. As it was pointed out, apple trees take a lot longer to die and tend to produce more mushrooms. Ash trees, hickories, and oaks also tend to attract them as well.
6. Get on their level
Just about all mushroom experts agree that in order for you to find more mushrooms you need to get down to eye level with them. Crouching down and looking for the Christmas tree is much easier than looking straight down and hoping one catches your eye. Even to this point, as noted in the article, kids can be great mushroom finders since they are naturally closer to the ground.
7. Pattern recognition
Some of the best mushroom hunters alive don’t look for mushrooms at all. Instead, they look for patterns. As they scan the forest floor, they simply look for what doesn’t belong. This takes a lot of practice, but once the pattern is in your head, you can’t get it out.
8. The lowland
If you have been all over the woods and still haven’t found any mushrooms, start checking the lowlands of the woods. Look for creek bottoms, bases of hills, and swampy areas. Those areas hold the most moisture and can be hot-beds when there hasn’t been much rain.
9. Carry a big stick
A big stick can make you find more mushrooms the first time out in the woods. Often times, mushrooms hide under bark or vegetation. Having the ability to be able to flip stuff over without having to reach to far to do it can pay off dividends when it comes to your aching back at the end of the day.
Staying focused on the task at hand when finding morel mushrooms can be challenging. There are many distractions out in the woods and not finding any can be very frustrating. It’s for this reason that the article recommended a one and six rule. For every one minute of walking time in the woods, you should have spent six minutes looking.
Hopefully 2016 is going to be a great mushroom season. Only time will tell of course, but regardless, my dog and I will be out there walking the woods like we always do.
I don’t think it’s the mushrooms we are looking for anyways.