What equipment will you need before heading out to the woods to go mushroom hunting?
I've been mushroom hunting for a few years now and each year I probably head out to the woods 20 times or more. After a few times out in the woods I learned what to bring with me to make mushroom hunting easier and more enjoyable. Here on this page I compiled a list of what in my opinion is the best equipment and tools for hunting mushrooms. I also linked each item to Amazon to give you an idea of the cost and for more details of the item. I’ll keep updating this list as I come across more and better products in the future. So what are you waiting for? Go out there and get some mushrooms!
Waterproof Back Pack
I consider a light weight, waterproof back pack with many compartments to be an essential part of mushroom hunting. Be sure to pick out one that is water proof. I have been caught in a sudden downpour of rain before without one and ended up trying to keep things dry by putting things like my camera under my shirt and hunching forward as I made my way back to the car. Your pack will also brush up against wet leaves so that is another reason to make sure it's waterproof. Also make sure the pack has a side pouch for a water bottle.
GPS And Maps
Having a GPS while mushroom hunting is a huge bonus. When you are mushroom hunting in the woods you are always looking down at the ground while aimlessly walking and it is very easy to get lost. I find it almost fun to get lost and find my way back, haha. With a GPS you can also mark where you found a specific mushroom so that you can return to the same spot the next year. I found that to be especially helpful when you're looking for morel mushrooms. If a GPS is out of your price range another good idea is to head on over to Google maps and find the area that you will be mushroom hunting in. Switch the maps to satellite mode and zoom in on the area. Print out a few copies and bring them with you. Be sure to bring a pen to mark important places on the map.
Mushroom Hunting Knife
Having a sharp knife to cut the mushrooms is very important. A mushroom hunting knife will have a curved blade and a brush at the opposite end of the knife for cleaning off the mushrooms. I prefer one that folds for easy storage. Cutting the mushroom at the bottom of the stem will leave the stem butt in the ground and assure the mushroom will grow back the following year. Such is the case for morel mushrooms. Now if you're going out looking for a mushroom like maitake (hen of the woods) that has a large base you'll want to bring a knife with a long blade to cut the base evenly and leave the mycelium intact that is underground.
Mesh Bags And Paper Bags
I use nylon mesh bags to carry my picked mushrooms. This not only lets the mushrooms breath but it allows the spores to fall through the bag and spread while you are walking around looking for mushrooms which is very important when it comes to morels. I also bring a few small paper lunch bags to keep the different varieties of mushrooms separate from each other. You don't want to put a mushroom that you are unsure about in with a mushroom you plan to eat.
Strong Insect Repellent
Nothing can ruin your mushroom hunting experience like a swarm of mosquitos. They get especially bad in the late spring. I've tested quite a few insect repellents over the years and the best I have found is Ultrathon Insect Repellent for the skin used along with a spray repellent such as Repel 100 Insect Repellent for clothing.
Bite and Sting First Aid Kit
These two items are very important to have on hand in the woods. While I have never been bitten by a snake, I have come across snakes while mushroom hunting though nothing poisonous yet. When you’re looking for mushrooms around fallen trees and stumps for hours chances are you will some across a snake. This is especially true in the southern parts of the United States. I recommend getting a bite and sting first aid kit like the Sawyer Products B4 Extractor Pump Kit. It is a suction device that sucks the venom out of the bite/sting area. It is not perfect for snake bites but it will get some of the venom out and that’s better than no venom at all. If a snake does bite you, use the kit and get immediate help.
Now for the mosquitos…those little devils! This past spring I went out late in the season when it was warm and wet. I forgot to bring any sort of mosquito repellent and I was already at the woods so I thought I’d go for it. That was a big mistake. All was fine until about ¾ of a mile into the woods they really started to bite. I pushed on for a little while more and they got worse. I pulled my hoodie over my head and trekked back out of the woods as fast as I could. I must have had fifty bites only on my hands and face and by the time I got home my face was really swollen. My wife took a cotton pad and some ammonia and wiped down my face which gave instant relief. The swelling went down after about 90 minutes. That was a severe case but if it was just a few bites or a bee sting you should carry smoothing like After Bite to give instant relief so that you continue hunting without pain or discomfort.
A Whistle and Cell Phone
You must bring a cell phone! Anything can happen when you’re out in the woods and when you’re deep in the woods where people don’t usually go, nobody will find you if you’re injured. I came across what seemed to be an old well that was uncovered and had I not been paying attention I could have easily fallen into it. I also use a cell phone to call home to tell my wife I hit the mother lode of mushrooms, lol. Bring a loud whistle with you. If you do need help, people will be able to find you. There are lots of coyotes in the woods where I hunt and have only come across one that was being chased by a deer. I don’t know if they hunt in packs but a whistle might be a good thing to scare them off if they decide you look like dinner.
Mushroom Field Guide
A mushroom field guide is a must have for all mushroom hunters. The best mushroom field guide I have found is called Mushrooms Demystified. It covers 2,000 different species and has nearly 1,000 photographs of mushrooms. It is a bit pricey but it is absolutely the best. Another thing that I do during mushroom hunting season is head over to morels.com where they have a message board for each state in the United States. People post what mushrooms they are finding and will give you a good idea on what to look for in your area.
Waterproof Trail Shoes or Boots
Your feet WILL get wet during the spring mushroom season. With all the low lying emerging foliage that hold water on their leaves I guarantee your shoes will get wet as well as the lower portions of your pants. Get yourself a good pair of waterproof shoes or boots. The best brand of waterproof all around shoes that I have found are made by Columbia. They keep your socks dry and let your feet breath. This is the only brand shoe that I buy because they are so comfortable and they last for years. I wear them every day. I used to get gym shoes like Nike or Adidas but they don’t last more than 8 months wearing them every day.