Huckleberry News Stories Archive

Late Season Huckleberry Stories

Posted August 30, 2018 By sandy

As we head into the end of huckleberry season (in most areas), stories are still appearing.  Here are three of the best ones.  Two articles include recipes!!

Deduct trail serves up movable feast  Late Season Huckleberry Stories

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin

Another reason is huckleberries. … So I eat my fill of huckleberries. …

Upon returning to the Prius, after several hours of communing with nature, my fingers a garish shade of purple from the huckleberries, I find what looks to be a nose smudge on my driver’s side window. 

My first thought is a wild creature. Perhaps a bear or deer, tired of the huckleberry diet, was hoping I was carrying the makings of s’mores, has paid me a visit.

WOW!!  A close encounter while huckleberry picking … or is it?  Read the full story here!

 

The Hunt for Huckleberries

Chelsea Green Publishing

Huckleberries are wild through and through, and a certain type of person with a fierce independent streak and a love of self-sufficiency sees huckleberries as an emblem of a western way of life. Northwestern Montana is known for its huckleberries, as are Washington and Oregon. It’s the state fruit of Idaho. Species grow all the way up the Pacific Coast to Alaska….

The huckleberry hunt can get competitive, but there is a precedent for working things out. Huckleberries were at the heart of a treaty between the Yakima Nation and the US National Forest Service. ….

This article shares some tips on harvesting and storing huckleberry along with a recipe for Buckwheat Huckleberry Buckle.  Read about it here!

 

The Grub Hunter: Heidi Haussermann scours the forests of Pebble Beach for huckleberries

Monterey County Herald

Not Val Kilmer’s Doc Holliday, who menacingly told Johnny Ringo in “Tombstone” that he would be his huckleberry. And not the target of Audrey Hepburn’s affection as she sang that famous line from “Moon River.” …

While pop culture is littered with fun, familiar references, I had no idea that those berries grew wild in the forests of Pebble Beach. It seems the Pacific Grove resident forages for food in her own vast backyard — a true huckleberry hound, if you will.

This all came to my attention one day when Haussermann sent me an email that began: “Do you want a 5-cup bag of huckleberries?”

Read the rest of the story …. which also includes the Haussermann’s Huckleberry Pie recipe!

 

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Tips for Huckleberry Pickers

Posted August 8, 2018 By sandy

Here is another fun huckleberry picking story, with some important tips for huckleberry pickers, that I recent found on the internet. 

Check out the tips here:

Hurry to get your huckleberries

From the Clark Fork Valley Press

Huckleberry season is once again upon us, and with the weather coming just right they are ready to pick, if you can find them….

If you haven’t made it out for the annual berry hunt, here are some tips to strive for to ensure your first time is fun and successful:

Scouting out the ‘best of the best’ bushes

Although you can find them [huckleberry bushes] all over in a range of places, you want to get out early and start scouting to find a picking spot.

Many seasonal pickers will have selected their own spots, and if you’re new to the hunt you want to follow suit and find more than one place to pick….

Most tip sites on the Internet will encourage pickers to avoid picking on the weekends.

They say the crowds will all converge to the many sites, and the best time to ensure you get a good amount of berries is to head up to your spots mid-week….

Investing in a hiking pack can really help. You can load it with a number of items that you can use over and over again while out hiking or enjoying the great outdoors.

HERE ARE some important items to make sure you are set and prepared for your pick:

— A bucket to load your huckleberries in

— Storage containers and/or cooler

— Plenty of water

— A packed lunch

— Bear spray

— A basic first aid kit

— Insect repellent

— A hat

— Some sunscreen

— A belt, in case you need to secure your bear spray in a handy spot

— A forest map; you don’t want to get lost

— Have good hiking shoes and long pants on when you get ready to begin…

Read the full story

 

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Huckleberries Ready for Picking

Posted July 25, 2018 By sandy

Huckleberries are ripe and ready for picking in most areas.  Fun picking stories are posted nearly every day describing the crop, picking success and fun days of purple fingers!

Huckleberries Ready for Picking

Following are a few of the articles that are circulating on the web:

9 Fun Facts About Huckleberries, the Unofficial State Fruit of Montana

Everyday Wanderer

Montana is home to majestic mountains, big skies, and everything huckleberry. While they look a bit like a large, dark-colored blueberry, huckleberries have a distinct taste. They are also much more expensive than blueberries. Find out why with these fun facts….

I particularly enjoyed this article as one of the numbered points listed the following statement:  “While huckleberries are the official state fruit of Idaho, I’m convinced they are the unofficial state fruit of Montana.” 

HA!  Huckleberries are the official state fruit of Idaho since 2000 (see the following article for more details:  Idaho State Fruit).

Eat your hearts out Montanas!!!

Another interesting story is from Castlegar, British Columbia:

COLUMN: Slow and steady to huckleberry glory

Castlegar News

I found huckleberries again this year — as ever in my usual spot not far from the Columbia River. Others have been telling stories of huckleberries in the valleys and along lower mountain slopes. The internet is alive with huckleberries for sale —hard to believe at $10 a pound….

Our last story listing some interesting picking story, but the part I like best is when the author snuck a piece of huckleberry pie into the nursing home where his grandma is living!!

Steve Griffin: Huckleberry tradition continues

Midland Daily News

Call ’em huckleberries, if you like. Some of my buddies make the distinction between tame (blueberries) and wild (huckleberries.)

Plant scientists split them differently, with Latin names and seed distinctions.

But no botanist ever shared a good picking spot with me, and a couple of friends have, so I’m siding with the buddies: huckleberries it is.

That’s what Grandma Griffin called them…

If you are interested in exchanging stories with other huckleberries pickers, check out our Facebook Group:  Huckleberry Hunting & Recipes

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In an effort to preserve grizzly bear habitat, areas of Kootenay, British Columbia, Canada is banning commercial huckleberry harvesting.

Kootenay Boundary BC Banning Commercial Huckleberry Harvesting

Here are some of the new regulations, according to E-Know:

From July 15 to Oct. 15, commercial-scale picking of huckleberries is prohibited in some areas of the Kootenay Boundary region, including Little Moyie and Kid Creek west of Moyie and Iron Creek/Sand Creek and Sportsman Ridge/Upper Flathead River west and south of Fernie and Monk Creek, west of Creston.

These areas have been identified as critical foraging zones for grizzly bears and other wildlife species. These areas are of high traditional value to First Nations, a Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development press release explained.

In case you are wondering what exactly is considered to be commercial-scale picking, the Nelson Star explains:

Commercial-scale harvesting is defined as:

  • Harvest or possession of huckleberries exceeding 10 litres per person, per season
  • Use of mechanical pickers, or any device other than hand-picking
  • Harvest of any amount of huckleberries for the purpose of resale

If you were planning a trip to pick huckleberries in this area, the following is a link to a map identifying the closed areas are available online: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/kootenay/eco/access.htm

Related story here: Commercial ban on huckleberry picking

Related story here: Huckleberries in jeopardy

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Fun Facts About Huckleberries

Posted March 7, 2018 By sandy

I recently ran across a website that lists obscure facts about different plants and animals.

This month they published 23 Fun And Interesting Facts About Huckleberry.  I’d like to share a few here:

1. The name “huckleberry” is a North American variation of the English Fun Facts About Huckleberriesdialectal name variously called “hurtleberry” or “whortleberry” for the bilberry….

4. Four species of huckleberries in the genus Gaylussacia are common in eastern North America, especially G. baccata, which is also known as the black huckleberry….

5. From coastal Central California to southern Washington and British Columbia, the red huckleberry, Vaccinium parvifolium, is found in the maritime influenced plant community.

6. The red huckleberry can be found primarily in the Pacific Northwest and the mountains of Montana and Idaho….

9. Huckleberry was one of the few plant species to survive on the slops of Mount St. Helens when the volcano erupted in 1980, and exists as a prominent mountain slope bush in 2017….

11. The garden huckleberry isn’t a true huckleberry, but instead a member of the nightshade family….

16. In the wild, huckleberries are often eaten by bears, birds, coyotes and deer.

17. The tiny size of huckleberries led to their use as a way of referring to something small, often affectionately as in the lyrics of Moon River….

19. The range of slang meanings of huckleberry in the 19th century was large, but it often referred to either a significant person or a nice person.

20. Huckleberries were often compared to persimmons, which are much larger, to express the idea of something small against something big. This eventually led to the popular phrase, “a huckleberry over my persimmon,” which meant something was just beyond one’s abilities.

21. Huckleberries have a high iron content, which improves blood circulation.

22. They help speed up the metabolism and promote healthier muscle tone.

23. It’s a good source of vitamin C, which means that it helps develop resistance to fight against immune deficiencies.

Read all 23 Fun and Interesting Facts About Huckleberry

 

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More Huckleberry Picking Reports

Posted August 14, 2017 By sandy

Some interesting stories from huckleberry pickers around the region:

More Huckleberry Picking Reports

I’m Your Huckleberry

Huckleberries may quite possibly be the best thing about summer in McCall. These round purple berries have a tart kick that make them the perfect addition to pies, ice cream, pancakes, syrup and more. …

Finding a bountiful huckleberry patch can require a bit of adventure. Start by getting to the right elevation (between 4,000 and 6,000 feet). Forest Service and old logging roads are a great way to access these high country areas. Huckleberry shrubs range in size from 2 feet to 6 feet and some of the best patches can be found in shaded areas. The leaves of a huckleberry bush are deep green with thin stems while the berries are small and range from deep red to purple to blue-black. Huckleberries typically ripen between July and September in the McCall area.

Check out the full story for a detailed list of picking tips

 

Personal Foodstory: Tart, sweet and wild, huckleberries represent this family of foraging jokesters

… If you’ve ever been huckleberry picking, you know that to reach even the halfgallon mark takes approximately an eternity. …

Huckleberrying requires patience, grit and awkward crouching. Swatting mosquitos and sweating in the summer heat, you must crawl through mountainous underbrush as scraggly branches and sticky spider webs collide with your face, only to pluck four meager berries from an entire bush.

With stained fingers and dirty jeans, you remind yourself that: Every. Berry. Counts.

If you drop one berry, you desperately hunt it down and place the precious fruit back in your picking container. Otherwise your hard labor was wasted…

Read the rest of this humorous story

 

Experts say this is the best season for huckleberry picking in years

One month in to huckleberry picking season, with up to 100 pickers each weekend, Nathan May with Washington State Parks said, “there’s still tons of huckleberries to be picked.” …

Rangers and pickers are even finding huckleberries pop up in places they never been found before….you just may have to go off the beaten path to find them.

The only place pickers haven’t had much luck is in areas with direct sunlight. as the extreme heat has hurt the bushes.

Kathy Grier has gone huckleberry picking twice already this season. Last weekend she headed to higher elevations and says she could sit on the ground and fill a quarter of a bag easily. …

More on this story

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Commercial Picking Still Illegal in North Idaho

Posted August 11, 2017 By sandy

Forest Service announced that commercial huckleberry picking in north Idaho’s Boundary County is illegal, but they nor the sheriff’s office are able to enforce the restriction.

Commercial Picking still Illegal in North Idaho

Here is the story from Rick Landers, Spokesman’s Outdoor Editor:

Illegal commercial huckleberry pickers out of county authority’s reach

Forest Service announcements that commercial huckleberry picking is illegal on Idaho Panhandle National Forests have prompted a flurry of calls to county sheriff’s offices regarding violators in North Idaho….

“Boundary County Sheriff’s Office does not have the authority to enforce the commercial  huckleberry picking restriction, that is a charge that needs to be investigated by the Forest Service as we do not have an Idaho law pertaining to commercial picking and selling of huckleberries,” the release says. 
 
“What we can enforce are any violations of the Idaho code, which may include littering, threats etc.  We encourage the public to notify the Forest Service of any suspected commercial huckleberry picking camps and to also notify our office of any camps where there may be violations of Idaho law.
 
“We will have an increased presence in the forest and popular huckleberry picking locations to help keep potential problems down.  The Sheriff’s Office has started a back-country patrol program with the use of a dual-sport motorbike and ATVs to more easily check some of these areas.  We have a few of our volunteer Reserve Officers that assist us in these patrol checks.”
 
Commercial huckleberry picking is prohibited on the national forests to prevent resource damage, avoid conflicts, assure public recreation and to preserve some of a crop that’s an important food source for bears.
 
Here are the details from the Idaho Panhandle National Forest:
It is huckleberry season! The Idaho Panhandle National Forests is reminding huckleberry pickers that commercial picking of huckleberries is not permitted. Picking huckleberries with the intent to sell them is considered commercial gathering.
 
In order to provide plentiful opportunities for recreational huckleberry, the forest does not issue commercial permits. Minimum fines for commercial picking start at $250, and can increase based on the severity of the offense. Recreational huckleberry pickers are encouraged to pick only what they can consume so that others may enjoy the fun of picking and the delicious taste of our state fruit.
 
Methods for huckleberry gathering vary widely, but pickers are strongly encouraged to hand pick their berries. This ensures that the bushes are not damaged and only ripe berries are harvested. We want our huckleberry bushes to remain healthy and productive for many years to come!  Any methods that damage or destroy the bushes are illegal and may result in a fine for damaging natural resources….
 

…. For more information about huckleberry picking on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests, please contact your local Forest Service office.

You can find more information here.

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Huckleberry Picking Reports around the Region

Posted July 22, 2017 By sandy

From the information we are receiving from huckleberry pickers, the crop is really looking abundant this season.

Around the web, stories are coming in from pickers around the area about their experiences in the woods.  Here are a few of them:

Huckleberry Picking Reports around the Region

 

Landers: Huckleberry pickers enjoying bumper crop

As predicted after seeing bountiful blooms during June hikes, the region is enjoying a bumper crop of huckleberries from all reports….

Happenings on the Hilltop

It’s huckleberry picking season again! Everyone’s favorite summer pastime has started. Huckleberries have been spotted out on Fidler and Mussleshell, among other local areas….

 

Protecting their turf: Huckleberry pickers know when they’ve struck purple gold

LOON LAKE, Wash. – It’s huckleberry season in the Inland Northwest, and pickers are staking their territory….

Huckleberry pickers typically won’t find the tarter, sweeter, and juicer version of the blueberry until they reach elevations beyond 4,000 feet.

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Huckleberries are not only enjoyed by avid pickers, but they are a major source of food for the grizzly bear.

According to the Daily Inter Lake website, 17-year old Hunter Dana found out how dangerous bears can be during his recent huckleberry picking expedition.

Berry picker has harrowing grizzly bear encounter

… Dana, of Columbia Falls, hiked up to his family’s usual huckleberry-picking spot near Hungry Horse and sat down to pick. Dana’s mother, Jennifer Wheat-Dana, said that her son reported “something didn’t feel right.”

One of Dana’s empty gallon jugs clanked against another jug and the sow came flying out of the woods.

“She kept coming after him,” Wheat-Dana said. “He would spray her, get away, and she was coming again. She followed him clear around the lake.”

At one point, the sow charged Dana, he sprayed her, and her nail caught his pant leg and tripped him. The spray had subdued her enough for him to get up and get moving, she said.

Dana is scratched from the underbrush and hit the ground hard but is uninjured. He lost his voice from screaming at the bear.

Dana’s father was on the phone with him during the attack, and simultaneously called 911 with a co-worker’s phone.

When Wheat-Dana arrived, Flathead County Sheriff’s deputies and a game warden had already arrived. Dana was picked up at the south end of the lake…

NBC Montana also picked up the story and included a video interview with Dana.  Check it out here: Kalispell teenager’s bear scare serves as a reminder. 

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The Pinchot Partners from the Packard, Washington area are working with the Gifford Pinchot National Forest to aid in the restoration of the forest and huckleberry crop.

According to The Chronicle, serving the greater Lewis County, Washington area, a meeting was held on May 24 to discuss the problem:

Those in attendance will learn about huckleberry areas in the forest and how the interested public can get involved with huckleberry restoration efforts. Information will also be available about huckleberry picking in the forest….

The Pinchot Partners and the Forest Service have worked together for the past seven years to improve huckleberry habitat. Harvesting trees commercially to “daylight” the huckleberry bushes, hand removal of competing vegetation, and conducting prescribed burning are all methods that can improve huckleberry production.

The Pinchot Partners was recently awarded two grants from the Weyerhaeuser Family Foundation to develop a forestwide strategy for restoring huckleberry habitat in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. 

In a follow up article from The Chronicle, the issue facing the Gifford Pinchot National Forest was described in detail:

As it turns out, huckleberries need a little bit of assistance from either nature or human hands in order to thrive among the dense thickets of forest that blanket the Cascade foothills. Namely, huckleberries require plenty of open canopy space in order to grow and ripen. Over the last 120 years, a combination of changing logging practices and increased fire suppression has created a forest that is choking out the once common huckleberry.

“Native Americans used to do burning to keep areas open and even logging helped,” explained Jamie Tolfree, coordinator for the Pinchot Partners. “The habitat is encroaching, bottom line.”

As the forest came under control of the U.S. Forest Service and logging operations began to dwindle, the forest grew denser. During that same time, Native Americans lost their right to conduct the controlled burns that cleared the underbrush where huckleberry bushes grow, and increasingly aggressive wildfire suppression efforts have prevented the natural thinning of timber stands.

John Squires, treasurer for the Pinchot Partners, says he’s been an eyewitness over the last few decades as formerly prime huckleberry habitat has begun to wither.

“I can remember being purple handed and purple faced and bringing my dad not very many huckleberries because most of them went in my mouth,” said Squires with a smile.

Squires used to regularly go picking up at the Midway Guard Station. Now, he says the terrain is covered in trees too thick to let the sun shine through. 

“You see the meadows just getting smaller and smaller,” said Squires, who estimates that about three-quarters of the huckleberry habitat in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest has been lost over the past 50 years or so. “We feel that if we’re not proactive and manage it appropriately it will disappear.”

In spite of the changing landscape, Squires still goes picking, but the task is much more difficult than before. He says he prefers to look in old clearcuts, but refused to divulge much more information than that. It seems huckleberry gatherers are as protective of their prime spots as golddiggers and mushroom pickers. 

“I’ll never tell you where I go picking,” said Squires. “That’s proprietary information.”

Squires said prime huckleberry season usually stretches from the end of July to the end of September, and amateur huckleberry hounds like himself don’t need a permit to go picking so long as they pick no more than 1 gallon per day or 3 gallons in a year. With huckleberries selling upwards of $30 per pound these days, Squires says that the health of their habitat is vital to the economy of Lewis County and other rural counties in Washington. He noted that huckleberries have never been domesticated, and commercial huckleberry harvesting permits typically sell out within two hours when they go on sale. 

After identifying the need to address the huckleberry problem eight years ago, the first hands-on huckleberry management efforts that the Pinchot Partners were involved in began about four years later. Those efforts include commercial logging of tall timbers and non-commercial cuts intended to clear out spindly trees and thick underbrush. The Pinchot Partners hope to monitor those sites as long as possible in order to study how those clearing efforts help to bring bright blue, purple and orange berries back to the landscape….

More info about the Gifford Pinchot National Forest

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