Fishing/Foraging/Hunting

Spring Morel Mushroom Hunting in the Canadian Prairies

morel mushroom hunting

Hunting the elusive morel mushroom in the Canadian prairie during the springtime is a family tradition that is as imprinted in my memory as my own name. The only memory that can hold a close second to mushroom hunting is fishing, as I outlined in my recent post My First Authentic Canadian Food Memory: Wild Caught Fish.

While we have foraged various types of mushrooms growing up the Morel remains the most sought after one, a true family favorite. Morels grow for a mere few weeks in the springtime, if they grow at all. Finding any mushroom is hard enough for a forager but Morels take the cake for elusiveness.

Morel mushrooms grow when they want, where they want and it’s never the same year to year. You may be lucky enough to find your lucky morel picking patch, but even that won’t guarantee that those brown beauties will be there next year. Morels depend on so many magic factors all happening at one time that even having a patch means that you have to check them almost bi-weekly in the spring. They will grow once and be done with it for another year.

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Morel mushroom hunting is one tradition that didn’t fall by the wayside as much when I had my children. I’ve still managed to get out every second year or so to hunt them, sometimes in Alberta and sometimes in Manitoba on trips back to see family.

I never stop looking down at the ground in the springtime, even walking in the River Valley here in Edmonton, there’s always something to be found.

Plus my own feet to trip over, of course. Looking down and to the side has its disadvantages when you are clutzy like I am.

The family tradition of picking morels has been passed on to my children without intention. It’s simply what I do, just as it’s simply what my mother did and my grandma, and so on down the family lines. Spring comes, you forage morels. Teaching children to fish has more intention to it, more planning involved. Foraging mushrooms happens on a simple walk to the park, or a quick stop at the side of the road because the time of year and natural area is just right.

My sister and I took the my kids back to visit my Grandma in Dauphin when my daughter was a few months old and my son just over 2. It was a beautiful Manitoba spring and we managed to fit in some morel hunting along the way.

This would be my son picking his very first morel, simply because we knew that the time was right in Manitoba and my sister and I saw plant habitat on the side of the road that was just right for morels.

It almost cannot be taught, but ingrained into you.

morel mushroom huntingMr K with his first haul of morels. His sister was napping the car seat as we foraged the side of the ditch in rural Pine River area in southern Manitoba.

morel mushroom huntingThe year we went back to Manitoba for my Grandma’s funeral, we went out morel picking with my Aunt and cousin Cody as well. It’s just what my family does in the springtime. If you get us all together and in one place during morel season – even if it’s for a funeral-  you can bet that a group of us will most certainly be going out mushrooming.

Oh, be still my breaking Mama’s heart, he’s so little here. I want my too-tall nine-year old boy to be this little again, a sweet little three-year old angel.

morel mushroom huntingWhy put mushrooms in buckets when you can wear them?

morel mushroom huntingIt’s official. My heart just can’t take it. I’m going to now go and dig in the bins of baby clothes, hug and smell their baby blankets and try to ignore the fact that I want a baby.

morel mushroom huntingOh, but if they are babies they can’t go hunting Morels. I need to remind myself every now and then why having children that are through and done with their toddler years is wonderful.

My beautiful seven-year old morel hunting girlie was out kicking butt and taking ‘shroom numbers this past weekend. Those morels didn’t stand a chance. How beautiful it is to see another generation of children in my family learning the ways of the spring Morel hunt, and that I get to be the one guiding my children in this journey is a gift beyond measure.

She can stay this size now.  This is just right.

morel mushroom huntingTomorrow I will be posting some insight on how to find those elusive morels, not that I am an expert by any means. However I found that when I was sharing pictures on my Facebook page that I received many questions on where to find them.

Don’t expect that I’ll be giving away my secret spots, however I did take a lot of photos in the hopes of helping others learn what to look for when picking areas to search for those elusive beauties known as Morels.

Does your family have any foraging traditions? Any mushrooms that you pick every year?

I’m now off to smell those baby blankets and convince myself that I don’t need another child.

Love,

Karlynn

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15 Comments

  • Reply
    FirstSophie
    November 17, 2017 at 6:37 am

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  • Reply
    JOSEPH Lewis
    July 16, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    i have nephew who lives in ottawa what are the dates he should be looking for morels there

    • Reply
      Jeanine
      January 17, 2018 at 11:02 am

      After the middle of May, typically. I take a week off every year just for the pleasure of hunting morels, and the third week in May has been my best bet!

  • Reply
    Alison Beyer
    March 6, 2015 at 3:33 am

    I am so happy to have found your blog! I stumbled upon it when searching for a Steak Oscar recipe. I loved your style so started poking around and was so surprised to find you’re from Edmonton and even have a Manitoba connection. I love foraging at the cabin and just started up my own food blog. I can’t wait to spend a few hours looking around your site and referencing your blog for all my fishing, cooking and gathering pursuits this coming season! I’d be honoured if you could find a minute to check out my very new bloghttp://prairiekitchendigest.blogspot.ca/ thanks!

    • Reply
      thekitchenmagpie
      March 6, 2015 at 4:06 pm

      Alison Beyer Welcome to blogging! Your site looks lovely! 

  • Reply
    Alison Beyer
    February 18, 2015 at 3:36 am

    Where did my comment go 🙁 ?

  • Reply
    Alison Beyer
    February 18, 2015 at 12:56 am

    I am so happy to have found your blog! I stumbled upon it when searching for a Steak Oscar recipe. I loved your style so started poking around and was so surprised to find you’re from Edmonton and even have a Manitoba connection. I love foraging at the cabin and just started up my own food blog. I can’t wait to spend a few hours looking around your site and referencing your blog for all my fishing, cooking and gathering pursuits this coming season! I’d be honoured if you could find a minute to check out my very new blog http://prairiekitchendigest.blogspot.ca/ thanks!

  • Reply
    The Kitchen Magpie
    June 11, 2013 at 1:26 am

    Very soon!

  • Reply
    Frank Furter
    June 11, 2013 at 1:24 am

    So when Karlynn Johnston do we get to drink wine?

  • Reply
    Genevieve Olivier
    June 11, 2013 at 1:00 am

    We are just learning about foraging here. So I don’t know yet. Was gonna take a peek through the trails around here this week.

  • Reply
    The Kitchen Magpie
    June 11, 2013 at 12:50 am

    No wonder you drink wine….. 😉

  • Reply
    The Kitchen Magpie
    June 11, 2013 at 12:49 am

    If Australia has morels you can bet that they will be the largest, most poisonous mushrooms every created, with 8 legs and a mouth full of teeth that eat you, instead of you eating them.

  • Reply
    Frank Furter
    June 11, 2013 at 12:46 am

    Will you teach me?
    I forage Pinot Noirs, Gris & Sauvignon Blanc. Surely we can help each other out?

  • Reply
    Karlynn Johnston
    June 11, 2013 at 12:14 am

    Try a morel, they can be found fresh this time of year. Make them into a cream sauce, it will change your life!

  • Reply
    Rambling Tart
    June 10, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    I love this post. 🙂 I dream of hunting for mushrooms and cooking with mushrooms and photographing mushrooms but there’s just one hitch – I can’t abide mushrooms. 🙂 I keep trying and trying to like them, to find some redeeming quality in their texture and flavor, but alas, it just hasn’t happened for me. I do have hope though, for I once felt the same way about olives and now I LOVE them. 🙂 I shall keep trying.

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