It looks like winter is behind us here at the October Country Inn. Onward. Days are longer. Temperatures stay above freezing, and sometimes reach into the 70 degree range. Spring rains are marching across the Woodstock, Killington area. The forest will soon explode in a thousand shades of green. Now is the time to hunt for wild mushrooms, especially the morel.
Morels are illusive enough to make their discovery a moment of great joy. You might spend a lifetime wandering the woods without ever finding one. Here are a few tips: Morels are known for their relationships with trees, particularly ash, elm, and old apple trees. Another good place to look is in areas of disturbed ground. Mycelia produce mushrooms in response to environmental stress, so morels are often found around: Areas disturbed now or in the past by water–old flood plains, near rivers, and near washes. Old logging areas or places with lots of downed trees.
Burn sites. Morels thrive on the nutrients that burned trees release back into the soil. Soil composition is another thing to consider. Morels are often found in soil that is a mixture of sand, clay, and decaying organic matter. However, above all remember that even if you don’t find any morels, time spend walking in Vermont’s woods is never wasted.
For the inexperienced mushroom hunter, a few pointers to keep in mind: Learn how to properly identify morels. There are poisonous false morel look-alikes that can make you sick or even kill you. A good rule of thumb is when in doubt, throw it out. Carry your finds in a mesh bag. Wild mushrooms spread through the dispersal of spores, and the more spores you allow them to drop the better the chances of more mushrooms in the future! Baskets or paper bags don’t allow spores to spread, so find something with large holes in it. Don’t pick every last mushroom you see. It’s tempting. But leave a few so they can continue to drop spores and you and others can enjoy them for years to come. Don’t directly ask someone where to find morels. Any mushroom hunter worth his/her salt won’t tell you anyway. It’s easy to get lost in the woods, especially if you’re looking at the ground for mushrooms. And finally, bring a friend. Don’t wander the woods alone.