Where to look for Morel Mushrooms in Montana

Sautee them in butter, pile them up on your medium well steak, bury your hamburger under them, or just pop them on your favorite pizza. No matter how you slice them, morels are a springtime delicacy to be enjoyed to their fullest.

While there is no perfect map to the perfect morel hunting grounds, there are plenty of signs and indicators that can give the avid mushroom hunter a pretty good idea where to find these gourmet goodies.

Montana’s morel maniacs will never divulge their secret wooded harvest grounds, but you can still find plenty of places loaded in mushrooms if you know how to hunt for them.

These luscious delicacies begin to show their capped heads in mid-spring to early June around the wooded areas of Montana. They will first show up in the valleys and the lower elevation areas, and lastly they will appear in the upper elevations.

Montana is full of hiking trails, natural meadows, tree covered mountains and state parks that are perfect for the casual pickers. No picking allowed in the National Parks though.

When the flowers begin to poke their heads out of the frozen earth, the morels begin to awaken as well. They like a ground temperature better than 42 degrees.

The first morels to appear are the yellow or blond, followed by the black morels in mid-June.

Hunting early in the season, a favored hunting ground is along the rivers and streams where cottonwoods make their home.

The morel also enjoys dead trees and like all fungus, they can be found after a rain which has been followed by a few sunny days.

Later season hunting targets aspen groves and older coniferous forests as perfect places for the mushrooms to call home.

Look for places that have had an intense fire the previous year, as it is have been found that morels thrive in the remnants of what was a forest fire. There isn’t a lot of research as to why these beauties find the ground suitable for bumper crops, but there is evidence of this phenomenon.

All one has to do is look to see how many cars are parked along the road leading to a fire ravaged area to see that more than one person knows this secret.

Picking the larger morels will go a long way to ensure that more morels will pop up. When they are picked as baby mushrooms, they have not had a chance to spore, which ensures that they will not have had a chance to reproduce.

Don’t eat the babies is the cry of the Western Montana Mycological Association.

Once you have found your motherlode, you will want to make sure that you will be able to return the following spring to harvest your share of these delightful bites.  Chances are, you won’t divulge your favorite mushroom harvesting spot any more than anyone else does.

While the outcome of the hunt is a culinary coup, it might be that the hunt is equally satisfying.  

Source:

  1. On the Trail of the Elusive Morel – Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
  2. Birmingham Hospital Diet Plan
  3. Montana Morels | Montana Mushrooms

Image Credit