Taking Care of Your Morel Hiking Stick


Morel hunters across the land proudly hit the woods each year with their favorite morel hiking stick. A morel hunter’s walking stick is often their most faithful companion in the woods, and a must-have for many reasons. Which is why it is important to take care of your faithful morel stick.
The Great Morel has officially proclaimed April as “National Take Care of Your Stick” month. Not really officially, The Great Morel just kind of made that up, however, it should be because it is true.
Taking care of your favorite hiking stick is as important as the boots you wear on your feet. Russel, a well-seasoned morel hunter in Kentucky shared with The Great Morel the history of his favorite stick. He goes on to say “..I have a shag hickory walking stick that will be 40 years old in 2025. It was a young hand-cut hickory which I kept the bark on and it’s still surviving after all these years…
With simple maintenance techniques and care, you can ensure your stick will last a long time.

…it is important to treat your stick to protect it from the elements.

Types of Morel Sticks

Let’s talk about different types of wooden sticks. Morel hunters will typically use a wooden hiking stick – some with the bark still on, others may have a shaved stick with the bark removed, and some may have a combination. Most morel hiking sticks are from basically two types of wood – hardwoods and softwoods. It does not matter which type wood – wood is wood and it needs loving care.
Take Care of Your Hiking Stick

Variety of Morel Hiking Sticks

The following treatment suggestions will help add longevity to your favorite stick, and the process is the same for both hardwood and softwood sticks.

Treatment Techniques

It is not rocket science to know water is the enemy of all wooden sticks, and it is important to treat your stick to protect it from the elements. The Great Morel will often dip the bottom of its prized hiking stick in a small jar of teak oil or tung oil. To better understand the difference between the two, check out the WoodWorkingToolkit.com where they have a great article Teak Oil vs. Tung Oil: Which Should You Use?
First step in caring for your morel hiking stick starts with making sure your stick is clean of mud, dirt, and debris, and it is as dry as possible – this is extremely important. It is a good idea to do this oil sealing technique before the morel season or in the off-season. You can apply either tung oil or teak oil by dipping the end in a jar or brushing it on. Coat and seal at least 5″ to 10” up from the bottom – this is the part of your hiking stick that takes the most beating during the morel season.
If you are soaking the end of your stick in a can or jar, allow the oils to penetrate for 10-15 minutes and allow any excess to drip off. If you brush on the oils, be sure to apply several coats. The object is to allow the wood to soak up the oils for better protection. Make certain to follow proper curing time as recommended by the manufacture’s label.
As for treating the rest of your stick, it really is a personal preference. The Great Morel recommends using an outdoor oil-based polyurethane. These come in both liquid and sprays and again, it is a personal preference as to which one you use. Make certain to read the label and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for recommended drying and re-application instructions. Selection in the finish type – gloss, satin, high gloss – is also a consideration and the choice is totally up to you.
Morel Hiking Stick
The Great Morel does not get a kickback from this, but really likes the product line from Total Boat which offers a marine-grade urethane. Begin by prepping your stick to remove any dirt and debris, and lightly sanding where needed. Use a fine 200-300 grit sandpaper to smooth to your liking. If you have applied waterproofing (tung oil or teak oil) to the end, make sure you have allowed proper drying time before applying the polyurethane coating to the end. That is it – give your stick proper time to cure before subjecting it to the elements.
You can find additional ideas by visiting TheWoodWorkingPlace.com where they share their thoughts on How To Seal A Walking Stick (+ 5 Things You Should Know) 

Storing your Stick

Once you have your prized hiking stick treated and sealed it is time to store it.
Besides proper sealing and care, the other important part of caring for your stick is when your stick is in hibernation mode. For morel hunters, this is often referred to as the morel hiatus. There are many things to consider when storing your stick during the morel hiatus.

  • Store your stick in a moderate humidity location. Humidity ranging from 40-50% is ideal.
  • Store at a consistent temperature. Wood will collect and lose moisture simply based on the air it is in and the environment. 
It is key to store your stick where both of these variables remain constant. Temperatures ranging from 50-70 degrees are ideal and if it can remain constant the happier your stick will be. Try avoiding damp garages or wet basements, as well as locations that are prone to hot/cold temperature fluctuations. The fluctuation of both humidity and temperature is not a healthy environment for your most valuable companion.

Leather Wrapping

Your stick will show the hardest wear on the bottom. Cracking, splitting, and wear are most notable on the bottom 10 inches of your stick. If your stick has cracked or split at the bottom, you can always wrap it with a leather wrap.
This is an interesting process and The Great Morel will be experimenting with this (see below). By the way, this will be a three-year study and the test results may not be available until 2027. The concept is to wrap your stick with leather bands or cordage.
The Great Morel is practicing a technique from Skill Tree on Leather Wrapping – 3 Easy Techniques – YouTube where he explains in detail how to accomplish this. If you follow the techniques you will might be able to add years to your stick. You can also use this technique to add a cool leather handle to your stick.

The Leather Wrapping Experiment

The Great Morel attempted the wrapping technique shown in the video as a preventative care for an aging splitting stick, and the results and suggestions are officially in.
repairing morel hiking stick
The Great Morel used a latigo lace 1/8″ squared cordage on a faithful hiking stick that was showing signs of splitting at the bottom. First off, a rounded type leather cordage would definitely make the wrapping much cleaner and easier. Tip #1 – use rounded cordage!
Keep the knots aligned and straight, especially if creating a leather handle. In this case it was not important because the goal is to prevent future splitting at the bottom. Tip #2 – keep knots aligned.
You may need a lot of leather. Depending on the diameter of your hiking stick, each pass and knot make take upwards of 4-6 inches. Tip# 3 – make sure you have enough material for the job.
Before attempting to master any of these techniques, The Great Morel strongly suggests to practice, practice, and practice more. Tip #4 – practice!
All in all, the wrapping ended up being super tight. Just be willing to take your time, be creative, and be ready for a lot of “do-overs”. Pull your cordage tight. Tip# 5 – do overs make it right and pull knots tight.
The goal on the stick shown is to minimize and prevent future splitting. That said, this stick will get run through of a full season of testing and The Great Morel will report back any findings.

In Summary

Taking good care of your favorite morel hiking stick is easy and will add years of life. Give your hiking stick the care it needs and it will be a trusted companion for years to come. It may even help you find more morels. If anyone has additional ideas, or tips for caring for your faithful morel hiking stick, please share them with The Great Morel family. If you need a unique and really cool hiking stick, check out The Morel Store.

Input from readers:
Pete in Illinois sent his suggestion:  “I use Minwax Paste Finishing Wax on my stick. I simply rub it on and leave it for 10 minutes or so and polish it up. It is slicker than a baby’s behind and does a good job of protecting it. I use it on my table saw too. I might add good article and I always look forward to the web page every year. Thanks



Leave a Reply