DUBUQUE COUNTY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Now that those warm temperatures have finally arrived, it is almost time for the start of morel hunting season- but it could be more difficult than in years past.
Because the start of the season has been delayed compared to years past, that does not necessarily mean the morel season will be shortened.
Despite the warmer temperatures finally showing up, morel season is still about a week away.
Monday was a perfect day to get back on the bike on the Heritage Trail in Dubuque County, but normally this time of year, however, morel season is underway- and all along the Heritage Trail, morel hunters can find their prizes.
"Eastern Iowa is a fantastic spot for morel hunting," said Brian Preston, Executive Director of the Dubuque County Conservation Board. Preston is also an avid morel hunter as well.
But thanks to some late snow and cold temperatures, the season this year has been delayed.
Experts say the ideal soil temperatures for morel season would be around 50 degrees.
The TV9 First Alert Weather Team says soil temperatures have been in the 30s or 40s- a few spots hitting 50 degrees for the first time yesterday.
That means for morel hunters, eastern Iowa might be on the right path to the beginning of the season around the corner.
"I actually think next week, if you look for a night that gets a low in the 50s and you have some good moisture, you should start to be able to find morels in the south facing slopes within the next week or two," Preston said.
Despite being a week out from hunting those morels on your normal paths, Preston said there is no better time to start scouting for good potential spots then right now.
"Morels are really camouflaged, they're hard to find, so you have to go out, spend some time in the woods, know the trees that you want to look around," Preston said. "There's certain species of trees that morels grow around. If you know what those are and you know the timing, you'll be successful."
Preston said he expects the gray morels to be out sometime next week, with the yellows and giants to follow, depending on the weather and how much rain we get in the coming weeks.
Preston said he, like all die-hard morel hunters, do not give up specific locations, but he did offer some tips for those who plan to head out this year.
He said the best practice is to cut morels with a knife to keep the roots intact. Preston also recommends leaving one to two behind at each location for the next crop.
Preston added when hunting, use a bag with holes at the bottom to spread spores across the area, so there could be even more morels to hunt next season.
Finally, Preston said you need good knowledge of trees- look for elm trees and black ash trees, as they are popular spots for morels.