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, Jace Shoemaker-Galloway.
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 - 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. 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.