Hunting for morel mushrooms typically runs from early April and runs through June depending on your geographical location. The Great Lakes region in the United States is the most popular hunting grounds for morel mushrooms but they have also been found in almost all of the lower 48 states.
Most hunters will agree that the weather has the most effect on the availability and quality of these elusive mushrooms. Typically the day time temperature around 60 to 70 degrees, night time temperatures not less than 40 degrees and the soil temperatures of about 50 to 60 degrees with good ground moisture levels are ideal for moral growing.
Moral mushrooms are found in small patches under dead or dying elms, ash, apple and even pine trees. The seem to like to hide under or near thickets or other plant small plants growing in the area but since the ground cover varies a lot each patch of mushrooms you come upon may be growing in totally different conditions. Once you find a good spot you will need to check it year after year.
After a forest fire the moral mushroom seems to grow abundantly for the next two or three years and a lot of mushroom kit commercial pickers will follow the forest fire reports and first hunt in these recently burned areas.
Morel mushrooms can last for about two weeks before it starts to decay if the weather is good. Morels have been known to grow as much as one half of an inch in 24 hours. Since the shrooms do not have a use-by-date on them it is necessary that you examine each one collected for any decay. Look under the caps for any signs of decay. Many collectors will use the 50 percent rule when dealing with these mushrooms; if 50 percent is still good then bag it. It is also recommended that you do not keep them for more than three or four days before eating.
To harvest simply pinch or twist of the mushroom at ground level. It is recommended that your collection bag be a large open weave design. Some hunters believe that the open bag will facilitate the spoors falling to the ground, during your travels, allowing for a crop next year. Others think this is an old wives tell but at the very least the open weave design will allow tiny nasty forest critters to fall off the mushroom.
After harvesting, take them to a sink and rinse them in cold water to remove any foreign particles which include bugs. Then cut then lengthwise and rinse them again. Sore the clean mushrooms in a bowl with a cloth draped over them.
If this is your first time hunting, you should always go with someone who has several years shroom hunting experience. They can show you how and where to hunt successfully and in addition they can show you what a good moral looks like. Never eat a mushroom before you check to see if it is poisonous or not. Many good web sites exist that have very good pictures and description of the edible and poisonous verities of mushrooms.
Attending a Moral Mushroom Festival are excellent sources of information for the newbie and seasoned hunter alike. Muscoda, Wisconsin is the self-styled Morel Mushroom Capital of Wisconsin and this may be a good place to start.