Mushroom hunting is a tradition that has been practiced for centuries. While on the surface it sounds simple, the fact that some species of mushrooms are poisonous means you need to do a little research before you head out. Here is a brief guide on how to mushroom hunt safely and where you can go to try it out.
What Is Mushroom Hunting?
Mushroom hunting is a form of foraging. Edible mushrooms are a healthy food choice and have a wide array of interesting flavors. Some of the most popular species of hunted mushrooms are:
- Lion’s Mane
Mushroom hunting doesn’t always revolve around gathering edible mushrooms, however. Many pick up the hobby for the thrill of finding the mushrooms that are hidden deep in the woods, sometimes only growing in the proximity of certain trees or in very specific climate conditions. Many mushroom hunters don’t even pick the mushrooms they find but, instead, just document their discoveries and continue to hunt for more.
What to Know Before You Go
If you want to hunt for mushrooms, the first thing you need to do is to make sure you know what you are looking for. Pick up a field guide for the region you are hunting in and be sure to study it before you go. This will not only let you identify the species of mushrooms you want to gather but will give you an idea of what to avoid.
Pay close attention to each mushroom you find, as many look similar but can have different effects on the human digestive system.
Where to Go
The next challenge is to find a good place to go. Just like coveted fishing spots, the best places to gather mushrooms are guarded by those who are aware of them. You should enlist the help of local mushroom hunters or join a local club if you want to figure out exactly where to go. To start, though, here are some of the best regions in the United States to find mushrooms.
Oregon is a great place to find one of the most coveted types of mushrooms, truffles. The Oregon truffle is distinct from the more well-known versions in Italy in that it binds to the roots of the local Douglas fir, making it much easier to harvest.
It still might be a tough time finding one, however. Many of the most successful truffle hunters employ trained dogs to help track down the truffles. Truffles tend to pop up after the first few weeks of heavy rain in the fall.
The long, low mountain range that stretches across the Northeast of the United States is another excellent place to hunt for mushrooms. The big prizes here are the beautiful and delicious morels that grow in the early spring across a multi-state region.
Morels are full of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins and have a unique texture and taste. They can be eaten raw or sautéed to bring out an even richer flavor.
Finding Those Fungi
Another great way to learn more about mushroom hunting is to attend a mushroom festival. One of the best is the Oregon Truffle Festival, held every winter after the peak truffle gathering season has ended. By attending a festival such as this, you can experience all of the wonderful products made with truffles and make valuable connections in the mushroom hunting community.