Mushroom hunting is one of the most fascinating and fun outdoor activities. I have to tell, I too am a mushroom hunting enthusiast, not quite a beginner, let’s say mid-level. So everything in this article is from my experience as a mushroom hunter, essentials that I use when I go mushroom foraging.
Mushroom Hunting Is Addictive!
Before we start, I have to warn you of one thing: mushroom foraging is addictive!
Mushroom picking is like looking for the Easter eggs hidden in the Spring grass. It gets you zoomed in into the present moment and is more than just gathering food. I do believe that mushrooms cast a spell on their hunter, making him/her always want to come back for more.
Mushrooms Are Great Spiritual Teachers
Either we cook them, or use them as medicine, mushrooms are very high vibrational and uplift our spirits. They are great healers and spiritual teachers for those willing to listen and expand their consciousness.
Some say that mushrooms are not native to our planet, and that their spores have been brought here on extraterrestrial ships. So if you want to meet aliens, go in the woods and pick mushrooms.
Mushroom hunting is a very spiritual endeavor, that gives you a sense of fulfillment that you can get amazingly nutritious free food from nature. If you add the long walks in the forests and trail paths, you have a recipe for wellbeing, amazing outdoor exercise and therapy for the mind and body.
Without further ado, here are the 9 essentials for any mushroom hunting beginner. Let’s begin.
9 Mushroom Hunting Essentials for Beginners
1. A Good Mushroom Determiner
The first rule of mushroom picking is to KNOW what you are picking. I do not recommend anyone to go mushroom hunting without any knowledge about wild mushrooms. My mushroom teacher, a local mycologist told me that I should not go mushroom hunting without knowing the Death Cap mushroom (Amanita phalloides), one of the deadliest mushrooms in the world.
For this, I recommend that you pick up a local mushroom identification course by a specialist or try to identify a single mushroom very well. For this, I have written a complete article about the 9 most delicious wild mushrooms, that I invite you to read.
Never eat (or even swallow a tiny bit!!!) of a mushroom that you’re not sure what it is. If you don’t know it, you don’t eat it. Poisonous mushrooms do not spread poison while next to other mushrooms in the basket, for instance. They need to get into the body through swallowing. But never joke about this matter.
Hence, the top mushroom hunting essentials to take with you when you go mushroom hunting it’s a mushroom determiner or identifier. There are many such books or booklets online, but choose one that determines mushrooms from your area. One of the best mushroom determiners is the pocket guide below that I totally recommend.
So, rule #1 in mushroom picking is knowing your mushrooms!
2. Mushroom Basket or Bag
Number 2 on our mushroom hunting essentials list, is, of course, a mushroom basket. This is where you can collect the mushrooms and carry them safely home. There are 2 reasons for getting a special backpack style mushroom basket.
Number one is are specially made to allow mushroom spores to fall on the ground while you walk through the woods. By this, you actually help the mushrooms propagate in the wild, just like a pollinating bee.
Second, mushrooms are generally frail and break easily. A backpack bag or a rod basket that is specially made for mushroom picking is robust and prevents mushrooms from breaking. I once picked mushrooms in a small canvas bag and I don’t want to tell you how they ended up when I arrived home.
If you don’t want to invest too much money in a specially made mushroom basket, a regular picnic (or Easter) basket should do. Just like the one below.
3. Mushroom Knife with Brush
Number 3 on the list of mushroom hunting essentials is the mushroom knife. What is special about a mushroom knife is that it has a small brush at the other end that you can use to brush off the dirt from the mushroom.
A knife is essential for mushroom picking.
I didn’t understand this until after my first 3-4 mushroom foraging trips when I arrived home with a basket full of dirty boletes and russulas. The amount of work to clean up every mushroom and the mess it makes is drastically reduced with a good mushroom knife at work.
You can use it to cut the bottom part and leave it in the woods and brush all the dirty bits and leaves off. Any pocket knife will do, but I recommend the knife below, special for mushroom picking. Such a game-changer.
4. Insect Repellent
This may not seem like a mushroom hunting essentials, but trust me it is. Depending on the climate and weather conditions, some places are packed with blood-thirsty mosquito and curious insects that want to have a taste of…. you.
On some occasions I have been running out of a forest just because I plunged in a cloud of mosquito willing to have a bite.
The best way to be prepared for this unnecessary encounter is to apply a natural insect repellent before entering the forest. Essential oils that naturally repel mosquitoes are lavender, eucalyptus, lemon balm and mint. Protection against mosquitoes and other stinging bugs is a must when mushroom hunting. Trust me!
5. Mosquito & Bugs Repellent Suit
And if the body spray doesn’t work, then go for the heavy artillery. That is the mesh top to bottom body suit that doesn’t allow bugs to touch you. I’ve personally tried the essential oils first, but still got the bugs around buzzing around my ears and a lot of stings. When I get bit by insects I usually get nasty inflammation that lasts for weeks. So I had to do something.
I personally have and use the Lixada mosquito suit and I am super happy about it.
The only minus is that it can get very hot wearing it after a while but this is way better than getting bitten by mosquitoes and other insects. If you too are sensitive to mosquito bites, this insects repellent suit should be on your mushroom hunting essentials list.
6. Comfy Trail Shoes
Next up, another mushroom foraging essential is a comfortable pair of trail shoes. Depending on the forest terrain geography and weather conditions, a pair of hiking or trail shoes can make a huge difference. Some forests are almost flat, while others are a roller coaster of climbing hills and down streams. Flips flops or other improper footwear will make the mushroom hunting trip a struggle and not as fun.
Once I went mushroom picking when all of a sudden rain started to pour in like crazy. Luckily I have my trail shoes on that have great grip, almost like soccer shoes. Still, the overly flooded forest paths were very slippery even for this type of footwear. A comfy pair of trail shoes with a good grip should make your list of mushroom hunting essentials, no doubt about it!
7. Lightweight Trekking Poles
A great accessory to have when mushroom foraging in the wild is a pair of trekking poles. These poles have a double function. First, they help you climb and descend easier, and create a better overall trekking experience. Then, they help you look through the leaves and mounds without needing to bend down to search. Very many mushrooms are harder to spot because they are covered in leaves.
If you’re going to get a pair of trekking poles, look for the lightest weight ones because it matters to travel as light as possible. When you end a mushroom hunting day with a heavy basket full of morels or boletes, you will appreciate this, trust me.
8. Rain Coat
When mushroom foraging is good to have a super-light rain coat around just in case. If you’re 100% sure that there is no chance of rain, or it will be a light rain and this doesn’t bother you, then leave the rain coat out. However, if the weather forecast predicts greater chances of rain, be prepared with a rain coat or poncho.
9. Dog Repellent
The last item on the mushroom hunting essentials list in the order of importance is an ultrasonic dog repellent. This tool is very effective if you want to deter dogs that come as aggressive, while in the forest or whereabouts.
It happened to me a couple of times to pass by shepherds who graze their sheep in pastures, while on my way to the forest. And of course, my heart skipped a beat when a large hauling shepherd dog approached me. I absolutely love dogs and animals in general, but I was a bit on the edge.
So I figured a solution that ever since I carry with me in case of need: a dog repellent. I don’t mean to scare you or anything, this is just another thing to consider. Maybe you don’t have shepherds grazing flocks where you go mushroom foraging, but if you do, this simple tool can do the work.
Mushroom Hunting 101
Mushroom foraging is an amazing experience for the entire mind and body. It’s like walking through a forest filled with precious gems waiting for you to pick them.
But not all mushrooms share the same purpose.
Some are here to give us unusual experiences, such as the psychedelic mushrooms. Other mushrooms are here to nurture and feed us and taste absolutely fabulous. There are some on a mission to heal our aches, the medicinal mushrooms. And then there are others that pose a real-life threat for humans.
The latter serves a different purpose and we have to respect that. My advice to you is to never eat a mushroom you aren’t 100% sure you know what family and species it is. There is a saying amongst mushroom hunters that if you’re not sure what mushroom it is, then it is not good and you need to throw it away.
When we learn to respect the wild mushrooms, then they open to us and give us the most amazing life experiences as tasty dishes and they can also heal our pains.