"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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To Find Morels, Know Your Trees
Copyright © 2007 by Bill Scifres

A friend asked me the other day a very simple question about a very complicated matter and I replied in the simplest of manners.

His question: “What is the most important part of finding morels?”

“Trees!” I said without the slightest delay. “Knowing trees!”

He laughed. “Look.” He said. “I want to find morels, not trees.”

Well you may think you are looking for mushrooms, I said, or something of that nature, but if you find mushrooms (in most cases, not all) the morels were there because the trees were there first.

I do not mean to infer that a morel hunter must be blind to everything but trees until he has stumbled into a bodacious patch of morels. I think conversely. The morel hunter should be aware of everything in the woods, or in the field. What I would impart is the fact that morels occur under, or around, certain species of trees more than others.

For example, the dead elm tree with slipping (loose, hanging) bark is without the “shadow of a doubt” an all-time favorite. But trees take many forms, and the thicker trees are the species to watch for mushrooms because they tend to stop the spore (seeds) in midair and allow them to fall to the earth.

Without a doubt, dead elm trees with slipping bark have hosted more morels than all other species of trees combined. But morels still occur under, and around, other species. Thus, it is important to identify, at a reasonable distance, other species of trees, and to know roughly which species is a good producer of morels. 

Sure, the procedure goes awry now and again, but it also pays dividends in the form of full sacks.

Mushrooms, like bass, rabbits and other forms of wildlife, are “where you find them,” including barren spoil banks of strip pits, your front lawn, old apple orchards and hundreds of other unlikely places. But generally the woods is where it’s gonna be.

So what species of trees should you earmark for special attention when morel hunting? As noted here earlier, the dead elm tree with slipping bark is hard to beat. Others are about the same in potential morel mother lodes, but even with this in mind, I give the nod to sycamore trees in both wooded and non-wooded areas. After that I look for hickory, beech, tulip tree (yellow poplar), and cedar. Still a brush-infested fencerow has something to offer. 

Boil it all down to its simplest terms, and one must keep his eyes peeled for mushrooms everywhere. But do so with specific trees in the background and head that direction.

House Bill 1299 passed the Senate Natural Resources Committee Monday (March 12) unanimously and awaits a final vote for passage. This must happen by April 10. It is the senior citizen fishing license bill.

A little bird admits eavesdropping a Statehouse elevator conversation between Sportsmen’s Round Table President Dick Mercier and Speaker of the House Patrick Bauer on Monday. The topic was SJR 14, the right-to-hunt resolution that the latter, Rep. Bauer, has stymied thus far by not assigning it to a House Committee. The little bird had his hearing aid turned up and he thought he heard Rep. Bauer declare he would “look into it.” But Rep. Bauer did not pontificate on the matter. The Senate Natural Resources Committee is where conservationist and hunters--hundreds of thousands of them--want it.

All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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