Searching for Morel Mushrooms in Kentucky’s Woods

For my family, in Kentucky, springtime means two things–trout fishing & mushroom hunting. Often referred to as dry land fish (because of the shape when viewed from the side), morel mushrooms begin popping up mid-late April & end early May. I’ve been hunting them since childhood, when my dad would announce that mushrooms were probably up & it was time to go dry land fishing. We would take to the woods–a group of adults & lots of little ones. Dad would remind us to watch where we stepped, lead us to poplar trees & when he bent down & plucked something from the earth, we all came running, too excited to remember to watch where our feet landed. Many times I stood, in the middle of the woods, thinking ‘God, why can’t they be purple or blue?’. My eyes could not see them & I had not yet developed the patience to search for the elusive morel.

My how things change.

Over the years, I kept going mushroom hunting with Dad. He taught me how to identify a poplar tree, took me to his secret mushroom spots, places where he had found oodles in the past. We discovered new spots together & still every time he bent down to pluck one from the earth, I had to resist the urge to break into a full run to see what he had found. The most important thing I’ve learned from my Dad about searching for the morel is that you can’t be in a hurry. I’ve learned a wealth of other important information, too: Look near sycamore trees & poplars. Search old apple orchards. Begin searching in mid-late April after a rain & then a few warm days in a row. Never eat a morel with a ‘cottony’ stem (This is the ‘False Morel’, which is poisonous. ‘True Morels’ have hollow stems.) Pinch mushrooms off at the bottom. Conceal your mushroom bag until you get in the woods! And never reveal your good mushroom spots. But most importantly, take your time, look in a spot two or three times. Move slowly & cautiously. Enjoy the hunt as well as the finding. And if you find a lot, share them with someone you love!

Last night’s findings–My husband & I found 106! We were ecstatic.




Mushroom tip: Always carry your mushrooms in a mesh bag so the spores can fall as you walk! A couple of years down the road, you’ll be happy you did!


  1. Krissy says:

    Oh, my old Kentucky home. I miss it so! Love coming to your blog as it brings back so many memories for me. And your new doll has the best boots ever!!

  2. Lily says:

    Beautiful story by a beautiful Kentucky Belle.
    Blessings, Lily…

  3. Rebecca says:

    Thank you Lily & Krissy!

    I can imagine that you do miss Kentucky. It is truly beautiful…in every way…the people, the land… I’m so glad that you feel a little closer to home by coming here!


  4. Chris says:

    I am a Minnosotan morel mushroom hunter and lover. I have huntd them for years, first with my daughters, now with my grandsons…little people are sure good ushroom hunters I have found, I suppose because they are closer to the earth then I am. Anyway, I’m now moving to Kentucky and hope to find some great spots there.I love being in the woods, I feel closest to our creator there…his beauty surrounds me and makes me peaceful inside. You have a great site…more folks should take thier children morel mushroom hunting and less time at the malls is my opinion. Thank you for sharing….

  5. pig hunting says:

    I like your site. I’m looking forward to more visits here. Thanks!

  6. Brian says:


    I have an uncle that lives in a little farther north in Indiana who hunts morels all the time. I live in Northern Kentucky, and I’d like to take this up as a hobby. Is there a certain part of Kentucky that is specifically popular for morels. Will I find them in the woods of Northern Kentucky? Spring will be here before we know it and I’m trying to get myself as educated as possible before going hunting!

  7. Jerry says:

    I like Chris’ note (above). I am originally from Illinois, and kind of thought that Illinois is the only place where morel’s grow, until I found 3 last year here in Kentucky, and that is all I found. I hunted several days, for several hours each day last spring only to find the three. I hope I can find more this year, but the only grounds/land I have to hunt them is Fort Knox.

  8. kathy says:

    hello ive hunted dryland fish here in kentucky im 36 year old female and i live in eastern ky ive hunted dryland fish for as far as i can remember and ive always done good but if you wont to find dry land fish you wont find them on a dry side of the hill and there about any where you look so if you move to ky your sure to find them my husband last year found a big one and we had it put in the paper.good luck hunting

  9. Jerry says:

    Hello, I am back again this year trying to fid the elusive morel. Here it is mid April and I still have not found any. A friend of mine for about 25 about 2-weeks ago. Boy if I could only find about 10-20 I would be happy. I guess I will have to drive up to Illinois for a weekend to have a chance.

  10. Cathy says:

    Just moved to the Louisa Kentucky area from Florida. I grew up in Michigan and Moral hunting as a little girl with my Dad every Spring and loved it so much. After 30 years in Florida I was happy to move here it is beautiful and I had high hopes to Moral hunt once again. I have not had much luck and have not spoken to one person who has ever had the Morals, help. I read on line on different sites that they hunt them here but have not been able to talk to anyone about them. I will keep looking until mid May just in case some poop up.

  11. Rebecca says:

    Hi Cathy & Jerry. Thanks for visiting my site.

    Last year my husband & I found nearly 800 morels total. This year, we’ve found 1 so far. The has by far, has been a disappointing morel mushroom season. I believe it’s because of the (until recently) dry conditions we’ve had. Even with the rainfall that we’ve had over the last few days, we’re still at a low for this time of year. Hopefully, this rain will improve the conditions & make those little boogers pop out of the ground! That’s what I’m hoping anyway. Good luck! I hope you guys find some. I hope we find some as well!

  12. billcecil says:

    I never hunted them, but always wanted to. I worked with some folks that hunt them in Indiana, and they all say the morel is plentiful there. I’m in Louisville, is there anyone here that hunts?

  13. April Hamilton says:

    I moved to Georgetown Kentucky last September from Illinois, where the morel hunting is superb. Not knowing the land here yet or even where to hunt around here, i was wondering if anyone has any idea where i could go around Georgetown? Wanting to get out and start hunting as quick as possible. Please throw a hint out there 😉 Thanks to all

  14. Gordon Wiles says:

    Can you tell me if there is a side of the hill I should look on ? North, South ? Are they close to creeks or on the hill side ? I love these things and have a 100 acre farm of woods and creeks, but I’m not real good at finding them. I’m not getting any younger so the slow hunting is just my thing. I love these things with salt, pepper and meal, deep fried. Better than the best fish or steak.

  15. keith mann says:

    i have lived in central kentucky all my life and have hunted mushrooms as long as i can remember i have my honey holes ever yr but from my growing whenever we went to a new spot i always looked for julip popular trees they tend to like it around a good stand of them got 76 blacks sat so happy hunting

  16. daniel says:

    last year was the first time i ever ate a morel and i love thim thay are the best my first one i found i was hooked i will hunt thim the rest of my life

  17. james hall says:

    They are nothing like the hills of kentucky it the olny place that im free

  18. Greg Happel says:

    Excellent story!!! I was trying to research how the far below normal temps we’ve had this year (Central KY) might affect when the morels pop. I assume it’s been about the same for you in east KY. Always good to talk to a fellow ‘Shroomer’! … Have to relate this anecdote. I was cooking up some meadow mushrooms when a friend’s son (6 or 7) came into the kitchen and asked what I was making. Knowing his past refusal to eat any kind of mushroom, I responded ” Makin’ deep fried shrooms”. Well, as he was eagerly gobbling them up, his mother came in and asked “What are you eating, Noah?” … “Shrooms”, “But you don’t like mushrooms!”, “No, but I like shrooms!” 🙂 My work often takes me to Appalachia. Would love to stop in and see your place! …Best!

  19. earl says:

    hello fellow mushroom hunters I live in eastern ky and I found around 40 this year ive had had the chance to go once so not bad im going this weekend so hopefully ill have better luck but a tip I found them all on or around rocks so hopefully jerry and others can find some good luck to all the hunters

  20. Marty says:

    I grew up in Florida and have lived all over the U.S. Started going to Kentucky with my partner where he grew up, now have 50 acres with the Danial Boone National forest joining our land at the back line. Seven years ago I spotted my first morel under an old apple tree and asked what kind of a mushroom is that and once being told that it was a VERY large white morel I was Hooked, still living in Florida but make the trip to our cabin on the mountain every April for a month of mushroom hunting! Three weeks and counting, can’t wait!
    Thanks for a great and all the stories.

  21. Rebecca says:

    Hi, Marty! I’ve been counting down the weeks, too. I even have mushroom hunting dreams…had one last week. In my dream I always find tons and end up looking for garbage bags, something to put my hail in. I’ve only had that happen in real life once…when my husband and I wandered into a spot where we found a little over 200 mushrooms. It was an intoxicating experience. We’ve had lots of rain and snow in Ky this winter…I hope that means good mushroom numbers come April. The best year that I’ve had for mushrooms was 2009 and I believe that was because we had an ice storm the previous year with lots of fallen trees and breakage in my area. If that’s the case, we had an ice storm and breakage this year too. So next year, I will definitely be curious if the mushroom count explodes again. Thanks for visiting my website and commenting. I love hearing from enthusiastic mushroom hunters!

  22. Marty says:

    Don’t think you will find another person that is more enthusiastic as myself, I have the fever bad this year! Been telling the family in Irvine and Clay City that they have about 3 weeks to get things warming up(as if they have that power). I learn more each year by being in the woods but I think the biggest thing I have learned is not over think where they are and where they aren’t. Lasts year I spent about 5 hours in the woods and only found 3, that afternoon cleaning up around the cabin I found a patch of 14 within 20 yards of the cabin in the middle of yard.

  23. Ant says:

    Just curious if u have found any yet this year? I believe after our harsh winter we will have an amazing year of dry land fish. I went today scouting new ground but didn’t have any luck. Just curious if u had any luck yet or need to wait til this weekend after the rain tomorrow. Happy hunting 🙂

  24. Marty says:

    Well, getting that time of the year once again and the fever has hit me. Fly to Kentucky April first and start hunting. Last year was a good year and hoping for another good season. I will update once they start coming up!
    Happy hunting everyone!

  25. Rick fears says:

    Wanting to hunt morels in Kentucky this spring. Could someone give me approximate dates and places in northern ky or lbl to hunt? I have hunted in Indiana for many years.

  26. Thomas says:

    Well this will be my first season hunting them but my wife has hunted them all her life. We started last weekend and only found one. But after the three days of rain we have found 11 today. A couple blacks and three whites. They are getting ready to start exploding up any day now. We are in south central Kentucky. Happy Hunting…

  27. Rebecca says:

    You are right, Thomas. I’m hearing reports of folks around my area finding small ones. We are supposed to get lots of rain this week. I’m hoping to begin my season a little later on in the week. I surely have morel fever by now. I’ve been thinking about them for weeks now! Good luck guys on all your hunting! Hope you find lots. If you do, don’t forget you can dry them in a food dehydrator. I have done this before and they’re great added to soups and sauces.

  28. Rebecca says:

    I’m sorry, Rick. I don’t have a lot of info about places in northern Ky to hunt mushrooms but I would guess that the season is just a little bit later than ours. Which means I would start looking up there in about a week.

  29. judy bussey says:

    Dear Becca, I love your writing and this story has great appeal. I think it’s because of the mystery surrounding dry land fishing for mushrooms. My mother was of old pioneer stock and they may have hunted the delicacies. I grew up in a coal camp and my “true” knowledge of the woods was limited. I knew trees, leaves, flowers, and greens, but not mushrooms. My rural friends, however, just over the hill or up the hollow had your wonderful experience. Now, some of my childhood friends are up north, still roaming the woods and bragging about what they find. I’ll try to share this with them on facebook–with pride! Born and raised in the hills of Kentucky, your story is new to me. I love seeing your creations, and learning of your art successes. Maybe this summer I can see you in person! I love you and David. Aunt Judy

  30. Michael says:

    I grew up finding these little boogers with my dad and love them so much. I went yesterday and found 52 they are coming up early this year in Southwest Virginia.Good luck everyone.

  31. phillip weir says:

    i love them…haven’t been in many years looking forward to trying to go this year (between work and kids) season should be now or very soon if someone could let me know i be ever in your debt.ty i really enjoyed your site and look forward to coming back often

  32. Rebecca says:

    Hi Phillip. I haven’t been yet, myself, but I’m thinking the time is near. I’m not sure how these cooler temps and hard freeze will affect them but it’s probably time to get out in the woods and start looking! I have found it’s good to start up high early in the season (along ridges, etc.) then drop down as the weeks go on. Good luck! I hope you get to go mushroom hunting this year!

  33. Rebecca says:

    Thanks for the heads up Michael! I think it makes it extra special when you learned to find them at the feet of your dad! I so appreciate the effort my own Dad made to take me every year. Even if I was probably a pest when I was little!

  34. aaron says:

    Lived in eastern Ky my whole life (breathitt co) . Been walkin these woods since I can remember got my wife addicted to mushrooming about 9yrs ago. And now lorianne our 5yr old daughter is catching on fast. We found 11 little Grey’s on the first of April and we finally got a big eat in mess yesterday we found 102 and they were all under sycamore and elm in the bottom of the holler. Gonna hit the hills in morning we are expecting a cold spell this weekend we will have to see

  35. kadetta says:

    this year I found 7:( better than last year I only found 1

  36. Rebecca says:

    It’s been a bust for me so far this year. We’ve found less than 30 in all, mostly tiny and dry. The ground is dusty right now. I’m hoping a little rain might make them grow in my neck of the woods. And I’m hoping we get that rain!

  37. Ron says:

    My beautiful wife and I live in Kentucky, and the only thing we knew about morel mushrooms, is kind of what they looked like.
    We were walking through the forest, and I saw one that I thought to be of grand proportion, went on line to check it out, then discovered what a morel really is all about. We found one other of great size, that day.
    It was in an area of a previous wild fire, around old growth which survived the fire a few years ago.
    There were several smaller morels in the area, and we decided to come back in a week to harvest more. Wrong move. When we returned, we watched the deer graze in the area we found the morel mushrooms. Nothing was left. We will not make that mistake again.
    We will reserve the entire month of April, and dedicate it to hunting.

  38. Rebecca says:

    Thanks for commenting Ron! I try to remember areas of the Daniel Boone National forest which have been burned either through accident or controlled methods for this very reason. For me, personally. I’ve noticed that a couple of years after a big ice storm produces good results too. I can only imagine that the rotting debris helps things along. Good luck on all your morel hunts in the future!

  39. Kadetta says:

    Wondering if anyone is gearing up to hunt in Mammoth Cave. We have had some warm weather now cold.Rain coming in this weekend, I just feel like they will come up early this year.

  40. Melissa says:

    You can also find them around may apple and on a hillside. I’m only 17 and have had tons experience looking for morels. My grandpa taught me everything I know. Kentucky is my forever home!

  41. Kristi Tackett says:

    We live in Pike Co Eastern KY and mushrooms usually come up here by the 1st of April and are gone by May 1st we always find them under pine trees, by fence lines and near may apple flowers if this helps anyone. My children LOVE these and you can freeze them.

  42. Barbara Tackett says:

    I live in Eastern KY and have hunted morel mushroom since I was a kid. They are quite plentiful here if you know where to look. They seem to come up in the same spot about every year. I took my kids hunting many years ago. My son , who is now 34, can sniff out a mushroom better than anyone I’ve ever met. By the way, I live in Grayson.

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