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Getting Ready For Mushroom Hunting Season

Are you ready for mushroom season? We are still a while away from mushroom season here in Alberta. It’s halfway through March, but it’s still really, really cold. But without a doubt, spring is coming, summer is coming, and soon it will be time to get out in the woods and hunt mushrooms. I wanted to talk to you about some of the mushrooms I am looking forward to finding, and some tips for you to get best prepared for the awesome season ahead!
If you are new to mushrooms, you might be wondering if there are any special tools or equipment needed to hunt mushrooms - or if you can basically just go out in the woods and see what you find. Well, first of all, one of the things I always forget is how bad the mosquitoes can be. I get super excited for summer, for mushroom season, and I totally forget how absolutely miserable it can get with the mosquitoes. A good mushroom year and a bad mosquito year go hand in hand….
Depending on where you live this might not be an issue, but here it is absolutely crazy and the only way to survive in the woods is to have adequate protection (bug spray, long sleeves, etc.). The one thing I haven’t figured out yet is the best way to protect my foraging buddies (my dogs) from the mosquitoes. I don’t want to spray them down with bug spray, so if you have any tips, be sure to let me know!

A Mushroom Knife

Once the mosquitoes are taken care of, I like to be sure I have a good knife. Believe it or not, there are knives that are specifically made for hunting mushrooms. They even have a brush on the end of them for brushing the dirt off your finds. Although they are helpful, you definitely don’t need a special foraging knife, any kind of pocket knife will do just fine.

Don't Forget Your Basket

And last but not least, I like to have an actual basket when hunting mushrooms. Yes, some people think they look silly, but honestly, a basket is the best thing to have. It protects your mushrooms while you are wandering around in the woods. If you just put your mushrooms in a plastic bag, the mushrooms will sweat and your mushrooms will quickly deteriorate, so it is best if they are out in the air. If you don’t want to use a basket, a mesh bag is pretty good too!  

What Mushrooms Can I Find?

This is a loaded question - because it totally depends on your local area, and the ecology around you. Some of you reading this might already, in early March, be able to go out and hunt for morels, but there is no chance I will find any until late May or maybe even June. So the first step is to find out what types of mushrooms are common to find in your area. Of course, one way to do this is to pick up a guidebook that is relevant to your state or province, and start to figure out what you might be able to find. But a way better idea is to hook up with your local mycological society and see if you can join any forays or events. If you don’t know what is your closest one, you should check out this list from the North American Mycological Society, which lists all of the NAMA affiliated clubs. It might seem goofy to get together with a bunch of people and hunt mushrooms together, but honestly, it is the best way to level up your hunting skills, your ID skills, and overall just feel more confident about what it is you are finding, especially if you are planning on eating what you find.
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