Reflections on Morel Mushroom Season in Missouri

If there’s one hunting season I look forward to every year, it’s morel mushroom season in Missouri.

Starting about the first week of April, I start spending an inordinate amount of time checking the weather, trying to gauge the perfect time for our first mushroom hunting expedition of the year. It’s a delicate balance of factors – just the right amount of sunshine, mixed with just the right amount of recent rainfall, mixed with just the right overnight temperatures.

In the end, though, I usually wait until I see the first post from one of my Facebook friends claiming to have found mushrooms before I venture out – a pretty foolproof system.

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For the past few years, my fiancé and I have hunted for morels in the conservation area by Sandy Hook. We have found a few there over the years, but some days you’re more likely to run into other hunters than mushrooms. So, this year we decided to try our luck at my grandfather’s farm about 10 miles south of California, Missouri.

I remember hunting for morels at the farm with my dad back when I was 5 or 6 years old. If memory serves correct, we never left empty-handed. However, my dad also has the ability to somehow remember every tree he has ever found a mushroom around practically his entire life, so this probably gave him a bit of an unfair advantage.

Nevertheless, one afternoon we went to the farm to see if I also possessed the ability to somehow recall “mushroom trees.” Sadly, we soon discovered I did not. After about an hour of trekking up hills and through creeks and snagging our clothes on brambles, I have to admit we were both getting a little discouraged.

Then, as luck would have it, we stumbled upon a cluster of mushrooms on our way back to the truck. Upon closer inspection, we discovered that the little cluster was actually a pretty big cluster – almost 50 morels in a ten-foot radius. Although it wasn’t quite the hundreds of mushrooms that some of my friends had found that week, it was more than good enough for us

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In the end, I discovered two things: Morels are even more delicious when you sweated in the woods for two hours to find them, and I have a horrible mushroom-hunting memory.

Written by Jamie Volkart, aspiring professional mushroom hunter.

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