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Old Mar 13, 2004, 9:18 am   #1
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Name: mike
Southern, Michigan usa
Join Date: Feb 8, 2003
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Where to hunt Morels

OK, here we go.

The season is right around the corner and some folks still have not made the proper preparations. Let's see if I can help.

The most common question remains, "where to hunt?"

The best answer is "where you have access".
Have you asked permission on private lands- in advance? I have, over and over and over again. Sometimes no luck(could be bad karma, might be they were having a tough day, maybe I just wasn't at my best) - rejected. Not personal and don't take it that way. Most times a 2 out of ten ratio is pretty good, and sometimes I get a yes, at everywhere I ask.
I often hear, ohh we have checked and no morels here. ha ha
Timing, timing and timing.
I keep a log of places to hunt-private and public, conditions and weather all play a factor in my return trip.

Now don't get me wrong. We have alot of great public lands in Michigan, however, in the southern counties pressure is heavy, especially when the economy is down. Wouldn't it be nice to have a little unhunted ground all to yourself?
My best advice, put forth the effort in advance....
I do not continue making trips to private lands(outta site outta mind) two or three trips max.

Keep an eye on what conditions exist, on the property you intend to hunt:
Loam soil(black dirt with the little seashells) will usually start first, followed by clay and sandy areas.
Southeast exposures tend to be good early, progressing to more northern or canopied cover later. When I first hunt a new area, I always start on the south end of the woods or land. Remember it does not have to be a woods to find the "motherload".
I've picked em in, rasberry patches, creek bottoms, new construction sites, elm and ash forest, wild cherry trees, sandy fence rows and even in newly landscaped areas. (like the new, commercial complex they just built down the street from your home, you know the one, where they knocked down all those dead trees to build it.)

Access remains key.
Have a game plan and a couple back-up plans, Sorry Frank, too many spots and too little time for the walk, walk, walk method for me.(btw this method is effective in the north, but carry a compass/gps and know how to use it)
If your hunting lowlands and having limited success, get to higher, warmer ground. Return to that low area as the weather warms.

Timing is everything, but light conditions are important as well.
It is much easier to spot morels in the afternoon than early morn at least for newbies I have taken. I don't know why? It just seems to be so.
If you find morels in one of your prescouted spots, try to remember other places with similar conditions, patterning(is that a word) works great when hunting sponge. My expertise, remains grays, whites, and blondes, the gloves are off when it comes to hunting black morels in the northern counties, the darn things can be a long way from the host trees(as well as onesies and twosies). A general rule of thumb for the lighter species is the early ones hug the trees, as the season progresses the dripline dictates the distance morels will be from the host tree.(The drip line is the farthest point the branches span from the tree)
To this day my best finds remain, a lone obscured ash or elm, hiding in shumac or a fenceline.

Dying trees, remain the best bet.
Dead will produce but for a long term spot look for dying. (reddish bare spots, bark falling) even if the tree is only a couple inches in diameter. Great places to find morels, where others have not looked.

Flood plains are a waste of valuable time.
Narrow down your hunt to ridges and valleys. Washouts, drainage ditches can be very productive even if the trees are a long ways away.
A mountain bike can be a great way to scout statelands(watch regulations, forbidden in some places, God knows why?) It is also a great way to get your winter legs ready for the season.

Learn to identify trees and you will increase your yield.
Most important of all, you don't neccessarily have to travel a long ways to find morels. Look right around your own home turf. With few exceptions I can pick a decent number of morels in your neighborhood.

It doesn't hurt to be a little sly; If you park your vehicle in plain sight, right where your finding morels on state land, chances are good others are going to swarm in and run off with your bounty.Even if you pick all the morels where you parked, chances are someone noticed your activity and will beat you to the punch, next season. Remember the mountain bike, I have parked as far as four miles, from my intended hunting spot, and rode my bike in just to have time to make a thorough harvest.
State lands are not the only public lands, county parks are also excellent and take an effort to locate.

This brings me to another issue, I can't count the times I have picked bags of morels in an area where others have picked. Picking the obvious and overlooking the obscured. If you find a morel, slow down, they are not loners, there are more, close-by.

You have to put forth an effort to be successful at anything and mushroom hunting is no exception. This post is running on and I'm sure some of the folks, that have hunted with me(and some I have not had the pleasure) would like to add to my observations.

Always be courteous to your host and offer up some of your finds, a bottle of wine and a howdy in the off season doesn't hurt either.

I hope this helps.
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