Updated: Apr 12, 2020
This post is a continuation from The Basics - Part 1, if you haven't read that one yet, I would recommend that you go back and start there. Without Part 1 you'll be missing half the information that you need to become a skilled morel hunter!
In this post we'll be getting into the 'morel mindset' you'll want to develop, and some of the basic equipment you'll want to have with you!
Morels aren’t like many of the other mushroom species that people like to hunt for, they aren’t bright colors and they can blend in surprisingly well! They like to grow under, around, and sometimes inside of plants, tufts of grass, logs, holes, stumps, etc. There are also a lot of things that look vaguely like a morel from a distance: pine cones, burnt nubs, dried up leaves, sticks, and occasionally even rocks. These mushrooms can take some mental fortitude to find!
The absolute number one tip I would give any morel hunter would be, go slow. If you take nothing else away from this series, take those two words. Ingrain them into your thoughts when you’re in the morel woods. Go. Slow.
Here are a few examples of how morels can hide using their surroundings or just merely in plain sight. Without going slow and really watching my surroundings I likely would have walked right by these. Use the arrows (click the sides of the pictures) to navigate through the gallery. The first six pictures are the "before and after" of two different situations presented in pairs. The first picture of the pair being how I found them and the second being the "reveal". See if you can find the morels before going to the reveal! The example shown in pictures number 3 and 4 is a tough one! In the last picture I didn't take a distance shot, but you can image how tough these snow covered morels could be to spot.
The second most important mindset tip I would give is to stop and scan as often as you feel necessary. I can’t count how many times I’ve stopped to chat with my mushroom hunting buddies, grab a snack or some water, or to relieve myself only to spot some morels. In fact, I found my very first morels in Colorado because I nearly “watered” them during a bathroom break.
The next tip would be to take time to build a good ‘search image’ for morels. This is a concept that I’ve known about for years but didn’t have a name for until reading Samuel Thayer’s books (check the reference section at the end of this post for links to these, I highly recommend them). Essentially, developing a search image is getting your mind and eyes used to picking something out from its surroundings. A search image is typically best built while actually looking for and finding your targeted species, but that can sometimes be difficult for morels. My suggestion would be to start online, look at lots and lots of pictures of morels in situ, in their natural setting. Not picked and laying in someone’s mushroom basket. Here is a gallery of pictures of morels taken at a distance, again use the arrows on the sid