Finding Morels in The Southeast Region
This is where the morel season starts. First reports will typically start around the first to second week of March and kick in full gear about mid to late March. The States of Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi will all report morels. Unfortunately, Florida and the deep southern areas of these states are not conducive to the morel.
Southern Morel hunters like Bob C from northeast Georgia will tell you right off the bat…”we have to hunt hard”, however, he notes that when you find that woods, or that patch, it will be worth the efforts. There is a certain longitude where the morels just won’t venture below, and according to Tim “it is the Morel line”. So for those looking in the southern region – there are parts where the temperatures are just not conducive to the life of the morel.
It is a lot harder to hunt here than it was when I was younger and finding morels in Indiana.
Morel hunters in parts North Carolina will tell you the same as Bob – often you will have to hunt longer and cover more ground. Also, keep in mind the closer to the Atlantic Ocean you are, the less likely you’ll find morels in the Carolina’s and in Virginia, however, if you move inland, your chances of success increase.
Take Cindy, who grew up in Indiana and now hunts in North Carolina, she goes on to say…”It is a lot harder to hunt here than it was when I was younger and finding morels in Indiana.”
Most in the deeper southern states (Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana) agree that for the most part, morel hunting isn’t super popular in many areas, and they are happy that it isn’t. However, the lack of popularity doesn’t dampen the enthusiasm for those who love to hunt. It was interesting when analyzing the responses from this region – the mention of the tulip poplar and sycamore trees, along with the mention of creek bottoms was a common theme.
Ian Blaylock from Piedmont County Georgia adds this…”Tulip Poplar – Liriodendron tulipifera is particularly widespread in this corner of the state, so if I can find a Tulip Poplar grove in a low lying area, generally near a creek or a pond, I start to keep my eyes to the ground. Admittedly, I keep my eyes to the ground anyway, Morels are but one of many varieties of mushrooms that I hunt…around here you tend to find Lycoperdon, Pleurotus, and Hericium fairly often as well during those months.”
While Dan from Dickson County TN offers us a bit about the woods he hunts in…”We have noticed a strong correlation to sycamore trees the last three years while hunting the white mushrooms. Cant say that every sycamore tree has shrooms under it….but can say the best white shrooms we found were around sycamore trees. In years past we found the whites around poplar trees but that correlation hasn’t been as strong lately. Our total number of the earlier black mushrooms has been down. But the best locations we have found for the black shrooms have been around persimmon trees……Have found them both on top of ridges and in the hollers.”
The other common trees mentioned were the ever-so-popular elm tree, along with cedars and burn sites.
The weather, as for most every region, is a challenge for the morel hunter and the life of the great morel. Year after year the season can swing on good weather or bad weather. Most will begin looking in the this region anywhere from mid-March to early April and as in most regions the morel season will run a good 4-5 weeks (weather depending).
Meredith C., from Benton County Arkansas offers her timeline and a word of caution…”Arkansas weather varies but I tend to find them in mid-April at least this year I did. From about April 7-21 this year. They do best when it rains some and then the sun comes out during the day after, and when the temperature is between 70 and 80. The biggest challenge is watching out for snakes!”
…prepare to walk a lot, pray for rain, watch for snakes, walk slow, don’t give up, have fun, and finally pray!
And Ian also adds his thoughts on the weather…”If it’s short sleeve weather and has been for about a week: meaning 60s and above, I assume that things are going to be halfway decent for morel hunting. Around here it’s rare that the dew points drop too low due to our relative proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, so from a humidity standpoint I don’t really worry too much: if it’s been warm enough for short sleeves it’s humid enough as well.”
The survey asked what some may believe to be the most important question for a newbie in their region – “Suggestions”. Suggestions coming from Shroomers from the Southeast region can be summed in one extended sentence…prepare to walk a lot, pray for rain, watch for snakes, walk slow, don’t give up, have fun, and finally pray!
When we all think about it, it may well me the most common suggestions regardless of the region – get out in the woods and wander.
The Northern States of Southeast Region
We are going to create a second region from the Southeast and define it as the Northern part of the southeast region. This includes finding morels in the states of Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. This region is similar to the Southwest, although often-times elevation can cause additional variables for the shroomers in this region. The season will typically run from early April through about the first week in May in these northern region of the Southeast.
Gage, from southeast Kentucky adds his thoughts on the woods…”Depending on whether it is early in the season or late the first thing I determine is if they are starting high or low. Most are found on steep gradients often with a stream or creek at the bottom.”
The trees in this region are varied, with sycamores, elms, and old apples being the most mentioned. Many hunters will talk about hunting the elevation depending on the time of the season. Understandably, the weather impacts the elevation theory of hunting, so hunt the valleys early and the higher hillsides as the season progresses.
Gage adds one other additional comment worth sharing…”I’ve noticed a trend over the past few years of them coming up earlier and earlier, from mid-April to the end or even middle of March. Granted it really depends on the type of winter we have”
A large part of this region is covered with the Appalachian Mountain range and therefore many morel hunters here will hunt the slopes. This technique is also echoed in other regions too as elevation and which side of the ridge or slope to hunt becomes important to some.
Christy S from Campbell County Tennessee describes her hunting technique…”Wild grape vines, more of a sandy soil that is dark in color, moist creek banks w undergrowth, usually trivet hedge around with a variety of trees but mostly tulip popular and seen in open sunny woods near moist creek bottoms, facing N always no matter the environment ”
The season will typically run from mid-to-late March and depending on elevation can possibly last up through the first week of May or longer. It is recommended to hit the sightings maps to get a better idea when the morels are visiting a woods near you.