It’s a spring tradition that inspires tens of thousands of people in the bi-state to get outdoors.

It’s a spring tradition that inspires tens of thousands of people in the bi-state to get outdoors.  It’s mushroom season and one seasoned hunter is sharing his secrets – well, almost.

Jeff Barton’s parents taught him how to hunt morel mushrooms when he was a boy. He’s been hunting for the elusive morels ever since.  Our hunting lesson begins off the beaten path in Washington County.  After a long trek into the Mark Twain National Forest, Barton stops at what he calls the perfect spot for mushrooms.

“You just got to know what you’re looking for, dead trees, the moisture in the soil, the soil being kind of wet,” said Barton.  “Like the area around here, around all the creek beds is a good spot.”

Within in a couple of minutes, Barton spots a hidden gem.

“What we got right here is a young yellow morel, it’s pretty fresh so I’d say it’s been up only three or four days,” said Barton.

The key is keeping your eyes peeled and knowing exactly what you’re looking for. Bud Reber volunteers with the Missouri Department of Conservation.

“Well it looks a bit like a sponge on a stem; there’s a couple of different varieties,” said Reber.  “It will be anywhere from one and a half to two, sometimes four inches tall maybe bigger than that, but it will be shaped more like a cedar tree.”

Morels pop up in late March. Mushrooms hunters are busy through April, or early May depending on the weather.  Even experienced mushroom hunters make mistakes. The conservation department suggests the book, Missouri’s Wild Mushrooms.  Eating the wrong kind of mushrooms can make you really sick.  If you do, call the Missouri Poison Control Center immediately at 1-800-222-1222.

And for more information on hunting morel mushrooms, visit Missouri Morel Hunting on Facebook.