How to Follow Morel Ettiquette (and Find Morels)
I’m not sure how the unspoken morel hunter’s etiquette spreads, but seasoned foragers can spot a violation of the “code” faster than an elusive morel mushroom.
With luck, a morel newbie has already started to absorb the “rules” by the time they’ve learned how to find morels and what they look like. If not, they’re bound to stumble into a situation where someone sets them straight.
Some morel etiquette seems to be regional but for the most part the rules work everywhere. If you know of a detail I missed, please let me know in the comments and I’ll adjust this list accordingly.
- Don’t ask a morel hunter to tell you where they find their mushrooms. They aren’t being rude by not answering you! It often takes hours, days, or even years to find a great morel spot and foragers deserve to profit from their hard work.
- If someone asks you how to find morels, give them accurate information. Morel hunters won’t tell you where to look, but they will tell you how, often with excellent time-saving details.
- If a morel hunter takes you to their site, it’s rude for you to tell other people about it or to go there without them.
- If you find a morel site with a group, you “own” it collectively and shouldn’t tell/bring other foragers without the group’s consensus.
- You don’t really “own” any site on public land. You can keep it secret, but if someone else finds it, you can’t force them to leave.
- If you go to a public site and find other mushroom hunters there it’s still fair for you to search for mushrooms. However, be polite and give other foragers a wide berth (15 feet or more). If another forager announces a find, it is very rude to rush over and start collecting next to them.
- When foraging in a group it is polite (and fun) to announce a find so that everyone will know morels are in the area. If you suspect that your fellow foragers may rush your claim, it’s okay to keep finds to yourself.
- Group foragers should decide prior to the hunt how they plan to divvy up their finds.
- Do unto other mushroom hunters as you would have them do unto you.
In addition to this I will add some of my personal observations on morel hunting. I find it easier to keep to one vehicle load of hunters per trip. This eliminates the cumbersome act of coordinating a caravan when driving to different spots and it prevents frustratingly tiny shares if your group is splitting the harvest.
Many group forays dictate that you keep what you find (which works especially well with large numbers of people).
I find that a small group pooling their finds and splitting it evenly has a more positive hunting experience because they don’t feel the need to compete. Groups that share probably find more mushrooms because they are comfortable spreading out and searching new areas even if they hear comrades shouting out finds in a proven spot. There is also less chance of feeling crowded, because people won’t feel as tempted to search in the same area as you.
The only exception to sharing equally is if one member finds a particularly unusual specimen. Let the person who finds the largest or most oddly shaped morel have first dibs on taking it home.
Happy hunting everyone! Here are some more resources to get you started:
- How to Find Edible Morels (with Recipes)
- How to Train Your Eyes to Spot Morels
- Morel Hunting @ Mushroom Mountain
For those of you in the South Carolina upstate, we did find some very young morels on our foray yesterday (3/19/2011).