Spring brings many things to Michigan, but maybe one of the most fascinating and peculiar phenomenon is that of morel mushroom hunting. Thousands around the state search far and wide for these delectable ‘shrooms, making it a thrilling (and tasty) scavenger hunt for both children and adults.
If you ask any morel enthusiast, searching for these mushrooms is as much a treasure hunt as anything else you can do. You’re searching for a prize that can’t be grown in a garden or mass-produced, and finding one means spending time in Michigan’s beautiful outdoors. In addition to the fun of finding these mushrooms in the wild, they also taste great!
Morel Mushroom Basics
If you’re ready to get started, we’ll share the number one secret to morel mushroom hunting: patience. These mushrooms are incredibly unpredictable as to where exactly they’ll pop up year to year and can be found virtually anywhere around the state. It is said that cool, shaded areas near trees are the best to find morels, but they have also been sighted on the sides of roads, in mulch and even in tiny corners around bustling cities. Oh, and just because you’ve found a morel in a spot one year doesn’t mean you’ll find them there again!
Once you’ve picked your location, the search can begin. According to veteran morel hunter Josh Nowicki, there are a variety of theories on how to best spot the mushrooms. He recommends that you walk slowly, scanning about a five to ten-foot section of ground with your eyes. You can literally double your chances by bringing a friend with you, though you might have to share your morels afterward.
Once you spot a morel, scan the entire area to see if there might be others nearby. Nowicki shares that he’s found early morning light to be the best vision for spotting morels on the ground.
It’s unlikely that you’ll find large amounts of mushrooms in one location, so it’s a good practice to identify the type of terrain that mushrooms are likely to grow and speak with someone who has been hunting for years. In addition to good morel hunting tips, remember to be safe when you’re out searching. Do your best to avoid trespassing and bring a GPS or compass in case you get turned around in the woods. And watch out for ticks!
If you’re looking to talk with morel mushroom enthusiasts for tips, the Northern Lower Peninsula has several mushroom festivals to visit. These include the Mesick Mushroom Festival from May 12-14 and the larger National Morel Mushroom Festival in Boyne City, which boasts a carnival, music, morel seminars, food and much more.
Want to read more about Michigan-specific events, festivals and happenings? Check out our other empowered community blogs!