Morel Mushroom Hunting Season in Illinois: 11 Tips for a Big Haul
"I HATE mushrooms!" Is that you? It's absolutely me. I cannot stand eating mushrooms. That is not the case when it comes to morel mushrooms.
I have never really liked eating mushrooms. It's often the texture and always the taste, for me, when it comes to my dislike of mushrooms.
Best Mushrooms To Eat
It's funny how I dropped everything and embraced the sight of a morel mushroom in my yard with joy. You would have thought a long-buried treasure had just unearthed itself that spring.
Right there in my backyard at the base of a dying elm tree, sticking up through the fallen tree bark, there it was.
The first mushroom I've ever eaten and liked.
The Holy Grail (I don't know if that's true) of mushroom hunting was right there in my backyard. A backyard with several elm trees, most of which were dying or already dead.
While thousands were running through forests all over northern Illinois, I had a bumper crop of morels IN MY OWN BACKYARD.
How could I not give them a try now?
I don't own that home anymore and haven't eaten a morel mushroom since. Looking back, I don't know if it was the mushroom I liked, or if it was the Ritz cracker crumbs it was rolled in and olive oil and garlic they were fried in.
Morel Mushroom Season in Illinois Has Arrived
The morel season begins in March and lasts until early May. Mid to late April, is the height of the season before it gets really hot.
If you're going to be hunting for morels on unfamiliar land, here are some tips I found to make it a successful hunt.
If you're really new to this morel thing, you should know how to tell if it's a morel or a nasty imposter, from advantagenews.com.
How To Identify a Morel Mushroom
- Morel caps are soft and spongy
- Look like shriveled walnuts
- Colors range from nut brown to black to light yellow
- They are hollow inside, like some chocolate Easter bunnies
Things Every Morel Mushroom Hunter Should Know
- Get some tick spray
- Wear long pants
- Bring a pocket knife to cut the stems with a clean cut
- Carry a mesh bag so that air can circulate around the delicate mushrooms so their spores can spread
- A walking stick to root through plant matter and leaves to uncover the mushrooms that blend in pretty well
- Never pop a raw morel in your mouth, THEY MUST BE COOKED
- Never eat morels from areas that may have been contaminated with pesticides
Illinois mycologist (fungi expert) Joe McFarland shared some great tips on where you should be looking when trying to find morel mushrooms.
Most good morel hunters are also tree hunters.
The root systems of specific trees – both living trees and dying trees – create a habitat for the morels, McFarland said.
Near dead or dying, American Elm trees are where you'll likely find many morels. Live ash, cottonwoods, sycamores, and silver maples are morel-friendly trees.
Maybe a road trip is a good plan for this year's hunt?