Secrets of the Morels

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TravisMorel_20100411The ways of an experienced morel hunter are secretive and they might walk out of the woods with over a hundred morels and you will never see them carrying anything other than a walking stick.

On a cool crisp March evening in Illinois , I stood outside with clear skies overhead and the full moon reflecting off the soft snow, I gazed up at the night sky to observe the stars and gaze upon the massive size of space. The earth glides through space as it is set in its course, racing through space and time. That will bring about a graceful change, from one climate to another in magnificent shows of thunder and lightning.

Shorter winter days lengthen and give way for the coming of warmer springtime weather. The winds bring warmer air and with it the threat of dangerous weather. The thunderstorms crash bolts of lightning crackling through the air and exploding nitrogen through-out the ground on impact. Rain showers the life giving gift of water upon the earth in the promise of new growth. The grass begins to turn to a very pleasing spectrum of green.

To please the senses, trees begin to shed there winter death and come forth in an explosion of magnificent aroma and color; clothed in there flowering glory for some. Others are not as dramatic. The early spring flowers begin to saturate fields in waves of majestic purple and magnificent gold. When you steal away, from the busy streets and rapid expansion of civilization, you begin to notice how beautiful this earth really is.

When you can escape to the serenity that the woods provide, and began to see the beauty there is that we take for granted. Retreat to nature, doing something that is healthful and exciting. An adventure in itself, like hunting morel mushrooms.

The great morel hunt takes place secretly. Many hunters hunt by themselves or in very tight knit groups. There lips are like steel trap doors. Any information gathering about morels from competing hunters in the field will have to be deemed inaccurate multiplied by two. There ways are secretive and the best hunters will walk out with over a hundred morels and you will never see them carrying anything besides there walking stick.

You have to prove yourself to a morel hunter by one of two ways. Bring them morels and let them share there morel hunting experiences with you, over a plate of cast iron fried morels. This is a great way to find more spots but you have to be able to first produce morels for consumption.

Find a way to build a trusting relationship with a morel hunter. This may require going out of your way to assist an old time morel hunter to take you around to some of his honey holes.

This has no effect on “hardcore” morel hunters as they will surely see your bluff and desire for his highly coveted morels. The ones that make him dream all year and torment his mind every evening that he sleeps. Visions of the neighbor’s yard full of morels dancing in his head.

O the insanity and addiction that plague the morel hunter is enough to get you locked up. Ok, with that said we can move on. If you understand the risks and still want to pursue a higher knowledge of hunting the elusive morels, then first you better get a good stick. I’m not talking about some plain old stick you found out side. I am talking about good solid sturdy sassafras. A good solid stick that you will be able to smack a bear over the head. And a charging mountain lion is no match for a solid morel walking stick, that’s for sure. Not to mention all the snakes, that seem to be mesmerized by the morel carved out of the top of these hand crafted mushroom sticks.
Mushroom hunters are notorious for carrying sticks. If you see a guy with a stick in the woods in spring, he might be a red neck. No I’m kidding, he’s hunting shrooms and you should be too.
Morels Mushrooms grow in every state here in the U.S. They blossom northward from Florida to Alaska . The morels will grow in one area for two to four weeks, depending on were you live. This short period of time is the time to hunt for the elusive morel. Yes, they do come up through snow banks and many have witnessed this. The morel doesn’t mind cooler temperatures, they need them to fruit. This is a huge secret so don’t tell anyone.

Sometimes it snows during these cold snaps and if the snow falls on were they are set to come up the morels will push right up into the snow. As long as the timing is right they will still come up. The snow insulates them at 32 degrees and they are protected from freezing. They also take plenty of moisture from the snow melting. It’s the hotter temperatures early on in the spring that can cause the morels to not fruit at all. Ground temperatures are crucial and when the soil reaches 62 degrees the morels will be ready to pop. That’s another huge secret that I could be killed for revealing, so don’t tell anyone.

Some morels have been tricked to coming up in fall time if conditions are perfect. However the time of the year that people flock to the woods in droves is in the spring for morels. They are in search of the North American delicacy. The times vary from area to area but the concepts and practices outlined here area standard tricks to the trade.

Morels are a big business! Your local high end restaurants will be happy to take any extras off your hands for good money as well as local grocery stores, taverns and did I mention the online auction houses? Tribal people from the tallest mountain peeks on earth in India and China gather morels and ship to European countries by the metric ton. Drying morels is a excellent way to preserve them as well as condense their flavor. Check our online Recipes for tips on condensing flavor and creating the most exquisite dishes that will make you feel like Emeril for a night.

Story submitted by reader TT

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