My name is Alex Babich and I am in love with morel mushroom hunting.
What started as a hobby, has turned into passion & now the word “Passion” is too small to describe this. Could it be obsession? Uhhh, yes – the Morel Madness is sweeping the Nation every Spring. People from all over grab a mesh sack, a walking stick, a compass & a knife & head for the woods to check their favorite honey hole, see what kind of morel crop they can pick this year. Some people just enjoy a walk in the woods and only have a few spots to check, while others take it to the next level and travel with the morel season from South where they appear first, to up North. I will admit.. I am one of those people.
I started mushroom hunting in Kiev, Ukraine, where I was born and raised. After the big nuclear disaster at Chyrnoble, my parents started to file paperwork to move to the United States. Five years later we were finally granted permission to come over after we sold everything & literally invested all of our life savings into moving here ( its not easy to get out of former USSR. ) We came to Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1991 where we settled in nicely in a pleasant, laid back, cozy town .. the opposite of the hectic life style we were used to in USSR.
I first heard about morel mushrooms in 2001 from a buddy at a factory, who took me out for the first time & taught me a little about how to find them. I quickly remembered how much I missed mushroom hunting from the Russian forests & thats where it all started.
My first year I only found 16 morels. Some days I would drive all over, hunt in every woods I could locate & only find 1 or 2 little morels, take them home treating them like gold nuggets. I’d slice them in half, carefully rinse & saute them up in butter, sit down in the most comfortable chair in the house & taste every miliounce of natures wonder. Its when I tasted my first morel & the flavor exploded in my taste buds only making me crave more. That combination of hunting for them & enjoying their flavor had me hooked for life!
I bought a morel mushroom walking stick at a festival & wood burned into the top of the stick… 2001 – 16 morels. The following year I got a little bit better at recognizing where to hunt & my eyes were starting to train how to spot them. I found 78 that year. In 2003 it was 235. Mother nature really is the best teacher, so I ventured into the woods every chance I got in Spring eager to learn more.
In 2005 I decided that the 2 or 3 week-long season was not good enough, too short for my craving to be filled! So that’s when I decided to start my hunting in North Carolina, going up through Tennesse, Kentucky and Southern Indiana. Then I found out about the biggest Morel Mushroom Tournament in Illinois. It drew 527 competitors from all over the U.S. I decided to enter & won the Grand Championship by picking 110 morels in 2 hours’ time in the same woods with 526 other morel maniacs just like me! lol. Two weeks later I entered another Morel Hunting Tournament in Boyne City, Michigan. Out of 250 competitors I respectfully took 3rd place. I gathered 89 pounds of morels that year by covering 7 states. Now I average around 200 pounds & have over 700 secret mushroom spots that are scattered over 12 states.
I still use the same stick to hunt with & the numbers get burned into it at the end of every season.
Thanks to morels I have appeared in a number of different outlets, including newspapers, magazines, documentaries, Fort Waynes’ & Chicagos’ news, the Travel Channel, the Midwest Outdoor Radio Talk Show. I am sponsored by Merrell Outdoor Gear & the list continues to grow. I have been filming a Morel Mushroom Hunting Documentary for the past 3 years and I’m hoping that by next year it will be available on our website. It will be educational as well as a fun film that every mushroom hunter can watch right before the mushroom season to really get the bug in them.
At the end of last years mushroom season I decided to try my hand at designing a T-shirts that every mushroom hunter wouldn’t mind having. I took all year to think them through and only choose the best ones. Out of 15 designs I finalized 2 serious mushroom hunter designs & 2 fun designs. I have them printed on nice thicker quality T-shirts that are very Earthy colors. My wife & I are very excited about selling them this year. We also started doing Morel Mushroom Hunting Seminars at Gander Mountain & local outdoor shops which have drawn the biggest crowds of interest because we are telling secrets Our smallest seminar so far had 50 people. And biggest- well over 100.
My brain is like a sponge that produces unique & creative ideas all the time, so you can count on this website always being updated with new photos, links & products. You’re probably wondering.. What does this guy do for living that he can dedicate this much time into this. Well I tell ya, after working in a factory on a hot furnace for 11 years straight, I opened a landscaping/lawn care business & named it.. “Morel Mushroom Lawn Care”.. here in Fort Wayne,IN. I also do snow removal in the winter- “The Mad Russian Snow Removal.” The signs on the doors of my trucks have a beautiful morel basket picture to remind me that if I put as much afford into my business as I do into mushroom hunting I will be very successful, although my goal is just to stay away from the factory. I get comments on the name all the time & I even sell some fresh morels to a lot of my customers.
I would have to say the best thing about mushroom hunting is the people. I met a ton of awesome people that share the same passion as I do & we call each other or meet every year to swap stories over a bon fire with a skillet full of morels & blue gill filets. Most mushroom hunters are great charactors, they will take the shirt right off their back & give it to you if you’re cold, but they won’t give up their best mushroom spots even if tortured.
Best of luck this year to any beginner or seasoned hunter, I hope your skillet stays full during the season. Feel free to click on our Store link & check out our products and if you have any questions please contact us.
Mr. & Mrs. Babich