Conservation Areas are greats place to look for morel mushrooms, while offering outdoor enthusiasts numerous opportunities to explore the wild and enjoy nature. Mushroom hunting is legal conservation areas, which means you can stomp nearly 1-million acres of prime, public ground for mushroom hunting in Missouri.

Spring is roaring. Dogwoods are blooming. So are the red buds. Turkeys are gobbling, crappie are biting, and mushrooms are starting to pop. Sometimes I think about when a bear wakes up from their long, hard winter sleep. When they open their eyes for the first time, then stretch all four legs out as far as they will go. A deep yawn draws a surge of life into the blood and the bear slowly stands. Walks out of its burrow and lets the sun hit its face for the first time in months. The last week has been a long version of that moment for me. 

Mushroom hunting has become something I enjoy very much. First of all, I could eat morel mushrooms until I burst. I like them fried in a light seasoning, but prefer morels simply rinsed, halved and sautéed in butter. Throw a few of those over a medium-rare venison filet paired with a nice red wine and you’ll understand why mushroom hunters take the secrets of their best spots to the grave.  

Conservation Areas are greats place to look for morel mushrooms, while offering outdoor enthusiasts numerous opportunities to explore the wild and enjoy nature. Mushroom hunting is legal conservation areas, which means you can stomp nearly 1-million acres of prime, public ground for mushroom hunting in Missouri.

Experts say there are tips and tricks for finding morels. They say to focus on elm and apple trees, to scour south facing hillsides and to spend a lot of time around moist soil. I might be the worst mushroom hunter in recorded history. I try to do what the experts say, but I rarely find mushrooms where they are supposed to be. My advice is just go for a long, slow walk in the woods and keep your eyes on the ground.  

A few tools of the trade include a walking stick, a knife and a mesh bag. Don’t forget water. Walking sticks are important because they allow you to scoot leaves and brush around without having to bend down. Use a knife to cut the morels off at the stem instead of pulling them completely out of the ground. Supposedly this helps their sustainability. A mesh bag sort of works the same way. The theory is a mesh bag allows spores to fall from the mushrooms as you walk through the woods, thus the spreading the bounty for future years. A good Google Earth map of the area you’re walking is a good idea too, so you can mark finds and return for years to come.

Fulton, Missouri celebrates morels in style with the annual Morels and Microbrews Festival taking place April 26 & 27. According to the Visit Fulton website (www.visitfulton.com), the event is free, and is family and pet friendly. With purchase of $20 commemorative glass, guests can sample a large variety of craft beers and spirits. (Must be 21) A variety of food available, including hand-breaded, fried morels. More information is available online.

See you down the trail…