May 17 shines the spotlight on a springtime treasure hunt that, if you're lucky, yields a tasty treat to eat and possibly a pretty penny in your pocketbook! Whether you are a mushroom lover, a chef in a high-end restaurant or fan of the great outdoors, it’s National Mushroom Hunting Day, an annual holiday created by freelance writer and mushroom lover, the Queen of Holidays.
Each year, throngs of die-hard hunters head out to undisclosed locations in the forests, woods, orchards and/or fields armed with containers to capture the elusive and delicious prey - the wild mushroom. From morels, porcini and black trumpets to matsutake and chanterelles, foraging for mushrooms has become an annual tradition for many. For some, it can be a lucrative business. In fact, some folks even do it on a professional basis.
Mushroom Hunting Tips
- If you are new to mushroom hunting, the first thing you need to know is which mushrooms are safe for consumption. Do your homework or go with an experienced hunter.
- Bring a mushroom field guide along. Always err on the side of caution. If you don’t know what it is, don’t pick it!
- Know your trees in your neck-of-the-woods.
- Dress appropriately and wear sunscreen.
- Bring along plenty of water.
- Bring your charged cell phone and/or compass or GPS.
- Know the rules of the land - don’t trespass!
- Bring along a walking stick.
- If Fido is along for the ride, keep in mind some mushrooms can be harmful to dogs.
- Pack a lot of patience.
- Once you know what to look for and are properly prepared, finding the mushrooms can sometimes be like a treasure hunt or finding a needle in a haystack. But once a prime spot is located, keep it top-secret.
- Keep your eyes open and be careful where you step.
- If you find one, you’ll probably find more in the same area.
- Don’t pull the mushrooms from the ground!
- And of course you’ll need a container to carry all those mushroom, just in case you hit the jackpot. Some experienced hunters suggest woven baskets or mesh bags. Plastic bags are not recommended.
- Be sure to check yourself for ticks when you return!
- Learn how to clean and prepare your delicious catch.