Scouting For Morels From The Air
By OutdoorAly

Posted: April 14, 2013

One of the most interesting aspects of being a private pilot is meeting new people through aviation. And you just never know who will end up on your doorstep. A couple of weeks ago my husband and I had the lovely experience of meeting Western Montana Mycological Association guru Larry Evans. If you are anything like me, the word mycologic isn’t in your vocabulary. For the layman, it means Larry loves mushrooms. He is one of Montana’s most active and knowledgable mushroom guys around.

We met Larry through a mutual friend and he was interested in taking a plane ride over the burn areas in Southern Montana to scout out potential morel mushroom growth this spring. Morel mushrooms are like fungal gold in Montana. Larry is one of the best people to know if you want help figuring out where to find morels. He was excited to get an aerial view of the landscape so when he asked us to take him up, we were more than happy to oblige.

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Above is an aerial photo over the Bitterroot mountains taken on the flight.

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The image above is a rough outline of the flight path with Larry.

The following is Larry Evans full morel report which can be found at WMMA website here.

Montana Morel Report

This year I was able to fly over the burns, as well as my usual drive-by ground truthing of the aftermath of the fires of the long hot post summer of 2012. With over 300,000 acres burned in our local region, western Montana and Idaho were not unique last year. California, Oregon, and Washington all sustained equally hot and dry fire seasons, and the results will be weighed in this spring.

Generally, the forest burned too hot. I saw slopes that were totally decimated of trees, and broad swaths of moonscape over the Bitterroots. Still, with such a large area burned, there is bound to be some good habitat out there.

We should have a pretty good early season if the weather stays cool, many places the snow is still blocking access, and this will probably continue for another couple of weeks or a month at least, check your snotel readings. I expect the end of May is looking pretty good still. We have certainly had cool snaps then, and I remember more than one Memorial Day Hunt dampened by snow.

Feedback about our morel hunt offerings has told us one thing about our membership, which we suspected: nobody cares about staying in a motel, or eating a gourmet dinner. You just want to get out in the field! So, we have CHANGED our approach, to try to best reflect the interests of our members! We won’t be sponsoring any dinners or package tours.

Starting on Memorial Day, we will be taking people out to hunt for morels twice a week, on Saturday and Tuesdays, starting in the mornings at 9am. We will announce the location of carpooling locations in Missoula on the website here ahead of time. Suggested donation is $20 for nonmembers; Check out the many ways to become a WMMA member and get free gifts on our Membership Page.

Our annual Memorial Day Morel Hunt will be held in the Missoula area. Hope to see you there!