Northern Michigan in Focus: Morel Mushroom Hunting

It’s here! The season may of us across Northern Michigan look forward to all year: morel mushroom season!

For this week’s Northern Michigan in Focus, Corey Adkins meets up with Nathan Wright from Herbal Lodge and shows you some tips for a successful hunt.

“A general thing when I go out is that I make sure I let people know where I’m going to be, especially if I’m going by myself,” said Nathan Wright with Herbal Lodge.

Nathan is a certified mushroom expert by the Michigan Department of Agriculture. He also suggests taking a compass or GPS into the woods, along with water and snacks, then start your search.

“I would say the first thing is to learn your trees. That’s probably the most key thing to learn. Right now, the poplar is the biggest one they need to learn. And then learn your slopes, like which ones are southern facing pills, because those have a tendency to be better,” explained Nathan.

But be warned, there are many mushrooms in the forest that can hurt you, like the false morel.

“These sides should be attached to the sides of the stems, and if you pull this all the way back you can tell it’s not connected, so these are false and these are not edible. So this one right here looks like a little brain, but it’s actually called a beefsteak so if you see these and somebody tells you they’re great to eat,  I’m sure they do taste pretty good,  but you’re not supposed to eat them because they can cause a fatality,” explained Nathan. “The number one rule for mushroom hunters is when in doubt, do without: do not harvest it.”

But don’t give up!

Then finally you spot one, but be careful!

“When you find one, don’t move every one. Stay still. I’m serious, because you’ll see one then you’ll see one there, and you’ll see one there, sometime just you and underneath your foot,” said Nathan.

Nathan says look for the natural river in the ground, meaning when it rains where the water would flows. That water carries the spores that make them grow.

“So the way you harvest these is you move the leaves around the base when you want to get at the base, that’s where you want to cut. I just slice it back and forth, if you want to leave later in hopes that it grows, and you can tell this is a real one because, as you can see, it’s attached to the stem,” explained Nathan.

Nathan holds classes on mushrooming, so if you’re a beginner maybe one day you can find a spot of your own.

“I find it something that more than the hunt itself and it’s the experience, and we’re very lucky to be in an area in Northern Michigan where there’s such an abundance of mushrooms.

Top five special mushroom hunt items from Nathan Wright of Herbal Lodge:

  1. Potato net bag to carry mushrooms, helps release spores for more morels! (Found at your local grocery store).
  2. Tick Remover kit by Pro-tick Remedy. This is my best tool to remove ticks! (Check local retail outlets)
  3. Mushroom knife. Similar to the one you seen on the segment. (Visit Herbal Lodge website)
  4. Minagin – Natural Pain Relief topical salve. My pain relief “go to salve” that we make. Works excellent on fibromyalgia, arthritis, joint pain, back pain and more. On morel mushroom hunts, I use it to help reduce pain when I’m pulling out a tick.
  5. For allergies, Heavy Nettle Tea by Bear Earth Herbals. Nothing works better for my allergies. I bring in a thermos and take sips while on the hunt.  It’s delicious!

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