4 morel mushrooms growing in a field

Tips and Tricks For Morel Mushroom Hunting

It’s about that time of year again. The snow is finally melting and the temperature is starting to rise. While the warm temperature is nice, there’s something even better about spring…morel mushrooms!

If you’ve never eaten or heard of morel mushrooms, they’re a rare treat that only bloom once a year. You’ll rarely find them in your local grocery store either, and if you do, you’ll pay a small fortune for them.

If you’re not willing to pay a king’s ransom, and you’re fortunate enough to live in the upper half of the United States, here are a few helpful hints on where you can find morel mushrooms and how to identify them.

A golden morel mushroom found in Minnesota
A fresh picked morel mushroom found in Minnesota.

When the lilacs bloom…the mushrooms do, too!

While that’s not totally true, it does have some truth to it. Morel mushrooms start appearing in late April and keep growing through early June. The best time to look is when it’s warm and humid, and after heavy rainfall.

Where do I find them?

In the beginning of the season, check southern-facing hills, as they get more sunlight. Later on in the season, northern-facing hills will start to show signs of growth.

The best places to look are under dead and dying trees. Look under dying elm, ash, aspen, oak, and apple trees. Don’t forget to look within brambles and thick underbrush. Ravines and creek beds are also great spots to look as they tend to hold a lot of organic matter.

Well, what do they look like?

Morels are usually between 2 and 4 inches long. The cap is full of ridges and pits, and almost looks like a prune or sponge. They range in color from a pale yellow to dark gray. The bottom of the cap is attached to the stem, and when cut open lengthwise it should be hollow from the bottom of the stem to the top of the cap. A true morel mushroom will ALWAYS be hollow in the inside.

So I found a mushroom… what do I do?

False Morels
False Morels — Leave these be.

When you spot a mushroom, STOP. Look around. There’s bound to be more. If you plan on hunting in the future, use a GPS to mark your location, as morels tend to grow in the same spot every year.

Word to the wise:

Morel mushrooms are fun to hunt for, and a great way to introduce young children to the Great Outdoors, but make sure you know what you are looking for. There are a variety of mushrooms that look like morels that can cause illness. It’s always best to start with an experienced mushroom hunter, so you know you’re finding the real deal. Happy hunting and be safe!

Have you found any morel mushrooms this year? Let us know!

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55 Responses to “Tips and Tricks For Morel Mushroom Hunting”

  1. Jamie Lagano

    My boyfriend found one yellow in our yard…I used to hunt them in Indiana.

    Reply
  2. Kathy Tiernan

    3 morrels found 5/4/15 behind our shed. 🙂

    Reply
    • Matt Dybedahl

      Matt Dybedahl

      That’s great! I’m sure they were delicious. Is there a certain way you like to cook them up?

      Reply
  3. Roy Isner

    Went out today and found about 2 dozen morels mostly under old apple trees. It was a really pretty day here n central WV. You can’t beat a day out walking around in the woods with your dog.

    Reply
    • Matt Dybedahl

      Matt Dybedahl

      Agreed, Rory! My German Shorthaired Pointer loves when I take her mushroom and shed hunting. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any morels here in Minnesota yet, but with the weather finally starting to cooperate I hope to have some by the weekend.

      Reply
  4. Mark Tarnowski

    I found some several years ago that were dark colored, at my wifes insistance, I searched the web and found similar pictures calling them black morels and they were poisonous. Does that sound correct? I don’t recall if they were hollow or not, central WI.

    Reply
    • Matt Dybedahl

      Matt Dybedahl

      Mark,

      Did your mushrooms look like any of the darker ones in the picture below? If so, you should be good to go. Over the years I’ve picked and eaten many gray/black morels. They taste just as good as goldens and they are not poisonous. Just be sure they are hollow on the inside. If you see any sort of “guts” inside – just throw ’em away.

      Even though I’m confident in my mushroom identifying skills, I still practice caution when eating mushrooms I’ve picked myself. Normally I eat just a few small bites and then wait a few hours before ingesting more. If I feel “off” after eating just a few small pieces, I know I should throw them away. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. I should mention that I’ve never gotten sick from eating morels, but that doesn’t mean you can’t.

      Reply
  5. Mike Kerley

    That picture you are showing with the red circle and line is not a false morel. That is simply a morel that was cutoff close to the ground.

    Reply
    • Matt Dybedahl

      Matt Dybedahl

      Mike,

      You might be right. When I originally picked that mushroom, I went back and forth on whether it was good to eat. It wasn’t completely hollow and didn’t quite look like the others I picked, so I didn’t eat it. I figure it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Thanks for reading and have a great week!

      Reply
      • Mike Kerley

        False Morels really do not look like morels. Around here, we call them calf brains and we eat them too.

        Reply
  6. Ernest Bratley

    Tips and ideas a good idea for informative and ideas for the sporting and outdoor people .good public relations

    Reply
  7. Mike nelson

    I love hunting morels as well as other edibles

    Reply
  8. Tara Scott

    my 16 yr old has found 78 so far this year and my 10 yr. old has found 8.

    Reply
  9. Andy

    I have my best luck under poplar trees when the dogwoods are blooming

    Reply
  10. John Marsh & Family

    If we have a good year we like to freeze them after they have been cleaned and dried a bit. We put the halves flat side down on cookie sheets and put them inside on the top of the chest freezer. When they are firm, we bag them and keep them in the freezer until the snow flies again and we get the morel pang. We have found that while they are frozen, flour and pop them in the pan still frozen. That way they don’t go all mushy on you.

    Reply
  11. Bob Kannenberg

    In response to the black morels, I can’t remember where I read it, possibly the Audubon North American Guide to Mushrooms, but some people cannot tolerate black morels if you consume them with alcohol.

    Reply
  12. Dennis Sullivan

    I agree with Mike Kerley below, the mushroom with the red circle was not a false morel, it was a regular morel. I’m an old man who hunted for over 60 years. I have found mushrooms over most of the USA. My best year 486 pounds. My best day was with my son and we found 106 pounds, filled the back of a GMC Jimmy with trash bags to the roof. Good luck to every one, if you look hard enough you’ll find in most woods.

    Reply
  13. John Simons

    The photo shows a good practice. Use a mesh bag to collect the mushrooms so any spores will fall out while you are carrying them to repopulate the area.

    Reply
  14. Badger Jack

    A couple years ago I had two morrels growing right next to my driveway, near where a maple had been cut dowm many years ago, [northern Virginia]. One was about 4″, the other was just under 3″. I did not pick them because I am allergic to mushrooms, but thought they might be worth some money… they did not come back. Go figure.

    Reply
  15. JIM SMITH

    Very interesting article. Thanks.

    Reply
  16. Rob Coutts

    My Bother In Law finds Morels like crazy! Lives in Illinois, won’t tell where, won’t take anyone with him, ever!

    Reply
    • Idaho Frank

      About 40 or 45 years ago, I found a giant Morel growing in an old cottonwood stump. It was about as big as a basketball. Tasted just as good as it’s smaller cousins.

      Reply
  17. Doc Mitchell

    When I was in medical school, we lived in a small mobile home subdivision near Lake Keytone in northeastern Oklahoma. We were as poor as churchmice and, in the spring, the kids and I would go tromping through the woods collecting Morels. Sauteed in a little butter or with eggs added in and yum. Both kids are grown and they still remember those days fondly. We are in Texas for the last 25 years and they, apparently, don’t make it this far down. Durn it!

    Reply
  18. Aaron Daniels

    Thanks for the info

    Reply
  19. BillHooven

    The Morel is the only safe mushroom that I eat all the rest are Questionable…..Once you soak them overnight and clean them ( cut them down the center ) then use real Butter and fry them you will be Hooked for good…I’ll be 82 and still looking…….

    Reply
  20. Harvey Davis

    After the first warm rain after the full moon in April or May, according to my grandfather.. or when the leaf on the aspens are the size of a mouse’s ear.

    Reply
  21. Tom

    My buddy went mushroom hunting about a week ago. First day I think he found 125 and a couple days ago he and a family member went out and brought back 300! Some of the biggest morels I’ve ever seen. Some of them had caps the size of a grown man hand! Needless to say I was green with envy.

    Reply
  22. Mike Kerley

    Mothers Day is usually when morel hunting starts getting good here. We basically follow the snow melt.

    Reply
  23. Matt Dybedahl

    Matt Dybedahl

    Here’s a really good example of a false morel. Don’t eat these.

    Reply
    • Mike

      I have ate false morels or red morels here in Missouri and I’m still around I just don’t eat very many and I don’t or won’t eat from another state I’ll only eat from areas I have before I don’t recommend any one do the same but I’m not the only one who has and I haven’t heard about any one getting sick or dying they do taste very good I just wash them in salt water and soak them for a few days they claim that there are traces of a chemical found in jet fuel in false morels I suppose if they tasted like jet fuel I wouldn’t eat them

      Reply
  24. Joyce Samuels

    Do Morel mushrooms grow in Georgia? When do they start popping up? I live south of Atlanta, GA.
    Used to live in Ohio and I the climate in Georgia is completely different. I sure do miss morels.
    Thanks for any info on Georgia Morels.

    Reply
    • Matt Dybedahl

      Matt Dybedahl

      Joyce,

      I’ll be honest. I don’t know much about morels in Georgia, but they do grow there. I found a website: http://morelhunters.com/index.php/ where morel hunters can report their finds, and it looks like a few people have found mushrooms near Temple and Marietta. I also saw that people were setting up mushroom hunts near Dallas/Hiram. As for a timeframe…I’d probably start looking now. If you’ve had warm weather and some rain, they’re bound to be popping up. Thanks for reading and happy hunting!

      Reply
  25. Mike Chambers

    I am an avid hunter, fisherman an outdoorsman, but I live in New York City. Believe it or not I know a huge urban park where Morels can be found in decent amounts in good years. Wont say what park or where… Usual stuff for a Morel hunter LOL…. But it’s great when I cannot get out of the city.

    Just so everyone knows we even have some good fishing for bass and pan fish, as well as our salt water opportunities! But when I get a longing for the woods, sometimes I just go to one of our parks and hunt the wild Morel!

    Reply
  26. D. Wright Downs

    Thank you. Love mushrooms of any kind and so does my GSD. We will try this.

    Reply
  27. Thomas B

    I am looking for some one in the Seattle area to go hunting mushrooms with?

    Reply
    • Matt Dybedahl

      Matt Dybedahl

      Thomas,

      If you haven’t checked out PSMS, they are a good mushroom resource in the Seattle, Washington area. They might be able to connect you with some mushroom hunters in your area.

      http://www.psms.org/index.php

      Reply
  28. Robert Rankin

    I would like more info

    Reply
    • allen r snook

      ive been trying for years to get into a private apple orchard that’s fenced in,no luck think maybe they know about the morel story.and one spring were I park my four wheeler in the grass in my yard in town mind you,was a single yellow morel tasted great the morel gods must have taken pity on me,that was only one that year…..mr.snook pa.clinton county

      Reply
      • Matt Dybedahl

        Matt Dybedahl

        Allen,

        If you haven’t already, try offering to do some work at the apple orchard in exchange for letting you walk their property. I’ve had good luck getting permission to hunt pheasant on private property doing this. Chopping firewood, picking up trash, etc.

        Reply
    • Matt Dybedahl

      Matt Dybedahl

      Robert — Any particular question you have? I should be able to help. Feel free to comment here or email me at matt.dybedahl@sportsmansguide.com

      Reply
  29. Shannon Taylor

    Found 21 blacks Elkhart in. 4/3/17

    Reply
  30. Jeanne Godar

    I’ll have to look harder.

    Reply
    • Matt Dybedahl

      Matt Dybedahl

      It’s still early yet! Good luck hunting. Let us know if you find any.

      Reply
  31. Britney C

    I’ve yet to find a good honey hole here in Arkansas. My mother started taking me when I was very young and I always had a pretty good eye. She has since passed away and I only know of a few of her spots but I’m learning my trees these days and have found about a dozen this year. Just gotta keep looking!

    Reply
    • Matt Dybedahl

      Matt Dybedahl

      I’m jealous! I haven’t been able to find any in Minnesota yet, but I’m sure the hunting will pick up soon. Good luck!

      Reply
  32. Jacques Lebec

    I’ve wanted to gather mushrooms for a long while, but, I’m a little more than chicken. So your advice to take an experienced mushroom picker to show me the ropes is great advice. Very good short article. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Matt Dybedahl

      Matt Dybedahl

      Thanks for reading, Jacques. If you don’t know any mushroom hunters, you might be able to find some mushroom hunting classes in your area. Good luck if you end up hunting this year!

      Reply
  33. Ryan wieneke

    Living in Iowa heavy rainfall last week and after 1 day of warm temp 68 degrees as a high there were over 40 mushrooms around 1 tree!

    Reply
  34. cody robinson

    thank you

    Reply
  35. steve barnes

    morels just getting started.Caps in the 1 to 2″ size east of Moscow Idaho on the palouse.

    Reply
  36. Edwin Kolbeck

    are morels found in new jersey

    Reply
    • Matt Dybedahl

      Matt Dybedahl

      Edwin,

      Great questions! Morels do grow in New Jersey. Be sure to let us know if you find any!

      Reply
  37. Rob

    Hi I have recently moved in to a new house on 10 acres of land and I was out walking in the bush the other day and came across some yellow mushrooms that look like morels not sure about the colour I am in Manitoba Canada.

    Reply
  38. Teresa

    We love Morels! We found almost 300 this past season in central Ohio. There is just something about being able to pick, clean, fry and eat to your hearts (and stomach) content! A married couple in their 80’s and two widow ladies of the same age, who used to go out and find hundreds of morels each year, ate morels and fresh caught crappie until they could eat no more! What a blessing to be able to provide to those who can no longer do t themselves and thought they would never be able to enjoy those goodies again!

    Reply