Improve your odds of finding morels in Northern Michigan with this hunter’s tip sheet. Cut it out, tape it to the fridge. It’s a distillation of tips from several morel experts whose advice we’ve tapped over the years.
Know the concept of micro-environment. For morels, there’s an ideal window of soil temperature and moisture, and as spring evolves, the location of the ideal microclimate evolves, too. Early in the season, look to high areas on southwest-facing ridges—where snow melts first. Look lower down in the valley as the weeks progress. Then check west-facing and east-facing slopes. Into May, when things are drying out, head to north-facing slopes, where direct sun is scant and moisture lingers. If you find a promising hill, search it systematically, back and forth like a minesweeper, or if you are with friends, fan out so each picker covers an assigned area.
Know your trees by their bark, because often the leaves will not yet have appeared. Look for stands of ash, aspen, elm and oak, where there is a mix of living and dead trees. Pickers report good luck in apple orchards, and some varieties sprout well the year after an area burns.
Know that you should plan to cover a lot of ground. That means keeping steadily on the march but also spending a good bit of time in the forest. Pack a lunch and plan for a good half-day minimum.
Know you should not be looking at your feet. Expert pickers look outward, heads up. Scan 25 to 50 feet around you. Some experts claim they can spot a morel 100 feet away.
Know that the ideal temperature range is when daytime temperatures are 60–65 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temperatures don’t dip below 50, which allows the soil to reach 50 degrees, an important threshold for morels!
Once you’ve gathered your morels, try these recipes!
- Morel Bruschetta
- Morel Burgers
- Morel, Potato and Herb Flatbread
- Ramp and Watercress Salad with Morel Breadsticks
- Roast Pork Loin with Morel Sauce