Just under a week ago, Rusty Gates and Jimmy Johnson decided to go hunting for morel mushrooms in Lee County in southeast Iowa. The pair of men scoured the earth for two and half hours before hitting an absolute jackpot, collecting over 136 pounds worth of morels.

They harvested another 44 pounds the following day to make their total 180 pounds.

Nici Jimmy Johnson
Nici Jimmy Johnson
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With the explosion on social media after their find, the Iowa DNR has published a guide called 50 Tips to Spot Morels on their website. Here are a few that you mind find a bit unusual:

Imprinting
One way to prepare for the season is to look at photos of morels daily. Imprinting the morel pattern in your brain will help spot them quickly and more often.

How to Look: Use the Foveal Groucho Marx Stoop
Michigan mushroom forager and noted morel aficionado Garrett Todd believes that we cannot see and recognize morels with our peripheral vision. Foveal vision, where the view of both eyes overlap, is the sharpest, most focused, highest resolution part of our gaze. That means we will identify more morels, he claims, if we concentrate on slowly sweeping for them using foveal vision.

Black locust groves should also not be overlooked. Don’t bypass white pine plantations. Morels also grow there. Not to confuse the issue, but morels have been found near aspen groves, wild black cherry trees, shagbark hickories and oaks, in river and stream bottoms with cottonwood and silver maple and sycamore, near wild grape vines and even beneath Osage orange (hedge ball) trees. They are also found in disturbed areas with limestone and shale.

Bring children and grandchildren along to join in the hunt. Being closer to the ground, once they get a feel for finding morels, they are likely to spot more than taller adults.

To be quite frank, I knew mushroom hunting was a thing, but I didn't realize it was such a big deal -- especially in Iowa. According to MushroomAppreciation.com other than the delicious flavor, "It’s just fun. It’s hard to beat that giddy sense of triumph you experience when you find a morel. It’s like a treasure hunt, one that never gets old and comes back every year.

Another answer is that it’s a bonding experience. Some people hunt morels with their close friends and family for years. Some remember doing it with their grandparents. It’s a ritual that brings people together in a fun and beautiful way."

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