Picking Wild Huckleberries Archive

Huckleberry Picking in the Cascades

Posted September 13, 2017 By sandy

Huckleberry season in the Rocky Mountain region is most over for this year, but some folks are still picking in the Cascades in Oregon.

I ran across this delightful picking story that I want to share with you by John Rezell, Editor, OutdoorsNW :

Huckleberry Picking in the Cascades

Recipe for Huckleberry Bliss

We’ve ventured high into the Cascades in search of August’s bounty of huckleberries, but early signs along the trail are spotty at best. Someone or something appears to have cleaned up….

About three miles up the trail the picking pace begins to accelerate as single dark purple huckleberries pop into view. At first it’s a lone berry or two that appear ripe on a bush. Then, suddenly, a whole bush explodes with ripe berries lighting up against the green leaves like fireworks….

I can’t describe the fulfillment that comes with plucking tiny berries from a bush, nor the eruption of taste buds that follows the burst of small pea-sized berry crunched between my teeth….

When we move to the next section I’m amazed at how quickly my brain zeroes in on huckleberries as our primary target. A single berry against the forest’s sea of green appears to pop out as if a lone spotlight casts upon it in a dark theater.

The rest of the forest blends into an idyllic background. I can almost hear a choir strike a heavenly chord on cue. Ahhhhh!!!…

READ THE FULL STORY

 

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Native Americans and Huckleberries

Posted August 22, 2017 By sandy

Native Americans enjoy a long history of picking and maintaining many huckleberry stands throughout the northwest region.

The use and preservation of huckleberries is recorded as far back at 1615 when explorer Samuel de Champlain observed Native Americans collecting and drying huckleberries for winter use.  Even the first huckleberry rakes were developed by Native Americans!  (For more history about huckleberries in the Pacific Northwest, you might want to check out the USDA booklet: : A Social History of Wild Huckleberry Harvesting in the Pacific Northwest, also listed on our resource page.)

The tradition continues and is shared in the following article by Eilís O’Neill:

Tribe’s Huckleberry Harvest Brings Fire (or Something Like It) Back to the Forest

… Traditionally, the Tulalip (tribe) ate huckleberries — at home and in ceremonies — brewed tea from the leaves, and used the juice to dye their clothes. Huckleberries were abundant thanks to forest fires, which opened up wetlands and meadows and made space for short, shrubby plants that need the sun—plants like huckleberry bushes.

But, for decades the Forest Service has tried to put out fires as fast as possible, so there isn’t much huckleberry habitat left. That’s why the Tulalip Tribe is working with the Forest Service to recreate open patches in the forest…

Today’s brush-clearing is part of an agreement between the Forest Service and the Tulalip Tribe signed five years ago. The agreement is based on the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott, which reserves the Tulalip’s right to hunt and gather in unclaimed lands.

“The tribes see their treaty right as more than just the ability to gather,” says Libby Nelson, who helped negotiate the agreement. The tribe’s members also, she says, “want to be part of the stewardship as they had been for thousands of years.”

The agreement allows the tribe to keep some clear-cut Forest Service land open for huckleberry habitat.

“Logging is kind of doing what prescribed burns and traditional burning used to do to keep certain areas open and from having the conifers overtake these earlier forest stages and meadows,” she explains.

Controlled burns are still on the table for the future — but for now, the tribe is focusing on clearing the land with chainsaws—and teenagers…

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

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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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An interesting story about the huckleberries found during the 30+ miles hike to the Chinese Wall in Montana:

The Chinese Wall Well Worth the Trip

…The Chinese Wall is a limestone spine averaging about 1,000 feet tall and stretches unbroken for a dozen miles. The massive curtain of rock face marks the Continental Divide through the Bob Marshall Wilderness, home to several dramatic peaks and ridges on the eastern border of the Rocky Mountains in Montana. 

From the southern approach, the journey begins in the Benchmark area about 30 miles west of Augusta…

…The first leg of the trail gradually climbs through thick pines parallel to the South Fork of the Sun River. After a few miles, the trail begins descending, this time into a wide valley where the West Fork meets the South Fork. These are the first steps into a massive area burned years ago, time-stamped by the lush undergrowth and young pine trees standing 3 or 4 feet tall. I couldn’t find much information about the fire that left the tree population as thousands of charred, upright poles, but a U.S. Forest Service ranger at the trailhead said that was likely a large fire that occurred in 2003. ..

…The trail curves a little bit north as we approach Indian Point: a stream crossing where a Forest Service District Cabin is located with a horse corral adjacent to the structure. A little further up the road is a collection of campsites just inside the northern edge of that huge burn area. Juxtaposed below the burnt-black lodgepoles, the green forest floor seems to come alive with shrubs and huckleberry bushes. We camp a little ways down the trail from the huckleberries, in case of bears, which have shown no sign yet. People, however, are common sight on the trail….

Photo: TRIBUNE PHOTOS/SEABORN LARSON

…The next morning was set aside for huckleberry picking. We knew hiking in the afternoon would mean traveling under the worst heat of the day, but our feet weren’t quite ready to carry on. After securing perhaps more huckleberries than our fair share, we packed up camp and set off down the trail a little after noon…

…It’s unclear if it was the morning’s rest, the huckleberries or the possibility that our legs had finally acclimatized to the constant trekking, but the trip back took about four fewer hours than the hike into Indian Point. Passing through the burned area, we again caught sights of the rocky-tipped hills and striking ridges for which the Rocky Mountain Front is known for….

Read the full article published by the Great Falls Tribune

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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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Best Spots in Idaho to Pick Huckleberries

Posted July 6, 2017 By sandy

I know that telling folks your favorite huckleberry picking spot is just not done — at least not in Idaho!  But I can share with you the best areas, according to the Only in Your State website, to find and pick huckleberries.

Best Spots in Idaho to Pick Huckleberries

The 5 Best Places To Go Huckleberry Picking In Idaho This Summer

…Since huckleberries thrive at higher elevations, going into the mountains is a must. Berry picking season begins usually in mid-June and goes through August, but of course this varies based on weather and other factors. Many Idahoans are pretty tight-lipped about their favorite huckleberry picking spots, but this list contains some good places for you to start!

1. Coeur d’Alene National Forest … The Coeur d’Alene mountains are especially known for their great quantity of berries. Most people’s strategy is to pick a hiking trail and follow it until you spot a berry bush!

2. Priest Lake … Priest Lake is great if you’re looking for a camping-oriented excursion. It’s not hard to find a trove of huckleberry bushes here. There’s plenty for everyone!

3. Ponderosa State Park … Ponderosa State Park near McCall is a popular spot for berry pickers.

4. Teton Valley … The Teton Valley is located on the western slope of the Teton Mountains. Seasoned berry pickers know that if there is a sweet tartness in the air, berries are nearby.

5. Huckleberry Creek, Sawtooth Mountains … Aptly named, Huckleberry Creek is a great spot for huckleberry picking. It’s remote location ensures a certain amount of solitude while you’re out searching for berries. However, Idahoans aren’t the only lovers of huckleberries…please watch out for bears!

Check out the full article, including the beautiful, mouth-watering images!!

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Huckleberry Picking Video

Posted June 28, 2017 By sandy

You may love huckleberries, but if you pick them yourself, you REALLY have to love picking huckleberries.

Following is an informative 9 minute video on identifying, finding and picking  huckleberries.  The folks who filmed this video are well versed in wild berries, especially huckleberries.  If you watch closely, he identifies wild thimble-berries, currants and other plants that grow together with huckleberries:

Also, check out this light hearted 5 minute video, filming the long walk finding and picking huckleberries.  These folks are fun and persistant!!

And, ahhh, that stream looks so inviting:

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Huckleberries in Siberia?

Posted November 3, 2016 By sandy

Who knew huckleberries grow in Siberia?

A reader, Alexander Kopeykin, contacted us with this photo of wild huckleberries from the Eastern Sayan Mountains in Siberia, Russia.

According to Alexander, this past year was the best crop he has seen in 10 years!!

Huckleberries in Siberia

Alexander shares information about the huckleberries he finds in Siberia:

We have two main huckleberry species here.  The lowland type plants grows north of N57°30’ latitude near the sea level. Another type grows in the South in the Sayan Mountains at elevations from 3,000 to 4,000 feet.

The northern species give a little larger berries and so is more convenient for commercial harvesting. The mountain berries are more delicious and have an excellent flavor.

The plants are rather low, usually not higher than 15 inches, stems are green to the roots, and berries are covered with a waxy bloom. There is no soil in usual sense – just moss on granite stones. The roots in the moss form a sort of net.

Alexander, THANKS for the information on our huckleberry cousins near the same latitude, elsewhere on the globe!

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