The winter of 2017 has been very unpredictable with bitter cold and record warm temperatures occurring in succeeding days. One sure way to get the winter blues off your mind is to ponder morel mushroom hunting when the first leaves of spring are greening the forest floor and the taste of last year’s harvest still tantalizes your taste buds. Finding morel mushrooms is a closely guarded secret in many circles and more than one mushroom “expert” took his secret locations to the grave rather than passing them along. You may see successful hunters showing gallons of the tasty find on-line and in the newspaper, but you can bet they aren’t talking about where they were found. Thankfully, government agencies are employed to help consumers and these 50 tips come from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Where, When, and How

Sauteed morels will make any mouth water.

Iowa may be different than your state yet many of the tips presented will benefit morel hunters in any terrain and around most vegetation. In the Rocky Mountains, old burns are often fertile morel grounds and some foragers pick them by the garbage bag. In other part of the country, ash and poplar trees are popular searching areas. I live in Maryland and dying elm trees were once nearly a sure find. Before the Dutch Elm Blight wiped out the species, if you could locate an elm tree with the bark splitting and beginning to fall, the question wasn’t “if” morels would appear but “when.” Now those elm trees have fallen, rotted, and no longer produce. In Iowa and some states, elm trees are still in the passing stages and they should be your first option. Many of the tips presented here aren’t location specific, but give suggestions to making the search more effective. With winter still with us, you won’t be able to practice these tomorrow, yet you be a much smarter “shrooner” when finished the read.

As a former science teacher, I taught students the concept of a “variable”—anything that might influence the outcome of an investigation. Unfortunately, dozens of variables collide when finding morels. Here’s how to put more in your basket.

One way to prepare for the season is to look at photos of morels daily. Imprinting the morel pattern in your brain will help spot them quickly and more often. Put a photo on your refrigerator. Stick one at your desk or other high visibility area. Find images online and print the best photos.