What to Bring When Mushrooming
- A mushroom picking permit is necessary in many areas. The fines are quite high if you are stopped and don’t have one. A personal use permit is free from the Forest Service and it should be good for a calendar year. When getting your permit, note where you can hunt for wild mushrooms, and how many and what type of mushrooms you can pick. It varies with different locations and different states. If you want to hunt on private land it is important to first get permission, otherwise you could be considered trespassing.
- Many places charge you for parking so you will need to bring money. A day pass is usually $5. If you go out often, then you will be interested in an annual permit available for purchase such as the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass. It is offered at most staffed BLM, FWS, NPS, Reclamation, and USDS-FS recreation fee areas. They also offer an inexpensive lifetime National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass if you are over the age of 62 and a US citizen or permanent resident.
- You can get maps from the forest service and outdoor supply stores. Be familiar with the lay of the land in the hunting area that you plan to visit. The more you know about the ridges, roads, and streams in your area the better off you will be.
- Bring a watch of some kind or accurate time piece.
- Bring your cell phone, if you have one, but you may be out of range, so don’t rely on this for calling anyone.
- Bring food and water, and even some extra food.
- Wearing adequate clothing for the weather is important, but not cotton (this means jeans). Better to wear layers made of wool, fleece, or polypro. Bring a small back pack containing warm clothing including rain gear, since the weather can turn at any time. Bring a hat and gloves. Hypothermia can be life threatening.
- Wear a brightly colored vest or bright clothing. Mushroom season occurs around the same time as hunting season. Plus, bright clothing is much easier to see just in case others need to find you.
- Wear boots, not sneakers or flip-flops. It may be cold and muddy.
- Using a hiking stick can be very helpful, especially if the terrain is uneven. It can also be used to lift leaves that may be hiding mushrooms.
- A whistle and other safety gear is important to bring. The sound of a whistle caries much further than your voice.
- Bring something to carry your mushrooms in: a basket, a bucket.
- Also bring a knife so you can cut the mushroom at the place where the stalk meets the soil, unless you need to identify it; then dig out the complete base, such as when you need to ID an Amanita
- Bring a mushroom brush so you can brush off the forest debris from the mushrooms before putting them in your basket. A dirty mushroom can contaminate the others making more work for you if you plan on eating any of them.
- Bring paper bags or wax paper. You can use wax paper rolls, but wax paper bags are more convenient. You can also use paper lunch bags. Do not use plastic bags to store your mushrooms. It is important to wrap your edibles and non-edibles separately. Separate your poisonous mushrooms from all the others.
- Bring mushroom books to help with mushroom identification. You probably don’t want to lug them around, but you might want to look up some information when you return to your car.
- Bring a fire starter/lighter and a flashlight.
- Keep an eye on where the sun is and the direction you are heading. It is even more important to pay attention to your location on cloudy days. Have a reliable GPS, make sure it works, the batteries are fresh, have spares, and know how to use your GPS. It’s not a bad idea to also carry a map and compass for back-up if you know what to use them. A pair of walkie-talkies are great to have if you are in separate groups.
- If you have a life threatening health problem be sure to have medication with you. If you have an allergy to bees or yellow jackets, bring your Epi-pen. They are often active until there is a hard freeze.
- Have a basic first aid kit with you or at least put one in your car.
- Have a “fix a flat” in your car and tires that are better than just your average city tires. If you have an electric pump or compressor in your car or pick-up that could be an extra bonus, if needed. Make sure it can reach each tire just in case you have a flat tire out in the middle of nowhere. That actually happened to me and I was very thankful that someone had a compressor in the back of their pick-up.