Morel Hunting Tips

  • Make your first several mushroom hunts, whether for morels or other edible mushroom species, with someone who knows mushrooms.
  • Buy or download a mushroom guide. A good guidebook is “The Mushroom Hunter’s Field Guide” by Alexander H. Smith, recognized as America's foremost authority on mushroom identification, and Nancy Smith Weber. There also is a very good mushroom identification booklet available on the U.S. Department of Agriculture website. 
  • Many of Michigan’s universities and community colleges offer adult education courses on mushrooms, and enrolling in one may be a good way to get started.
  • Be prepared to cover a lot of ground and to experience disappointments when searching for morels. Some spots yield mushrooms year after year, while others skip several seasons between crops.
  • Don't expect to find morels easily if you are new to the pastime. Because they blend into their background of last fall’s leaves and dead grass, they are hard to see even if you are looking right at them. Your "eye" for morels will sharpen with practice, and you will need to retrain it every spring.
  • Remember to bring a compass or GPS unit, and plan a route that will bring you back to your vehicle. Wear comfortable walking boots or shoes, as you likely will have to go off the beaten path to find morels.
  • Always cut or pinch the mushrooms off at ground level, to protect the lower portion of the fungus and ensure mushroom regrowth in future years. Pulling them out can do permanent damage. This is where a sharp knife comes in handy.
  • For that same reason, and to maintain a good nourishing layer of leaf litter, you should never rake an area for morels or drive an off-road vehicle cross country.
  • Using a mesh bag (such as an onion bag) or a basket will allow your collected morels to stay drier, versus using a paper or plastic bag. Mushrooms put in plastic bags may begin to spoil before you get them home.
  • Most important of all – know what you are eating! You will need to know the difference between a “true” morel and the “false morels,” such as beefsteak mushrooms, which are poisonous. (See morel identification information.)
  • For more information on morel mushroom hunting in Michigan, visit Pure Michigan or Midwest American Mycological Information.