Picking Wild Huckleberries 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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Huckleberry Picking Rakes Myths

Posted June 14, 2018 By sandy

Huckleberry picking season is nearly here!  With all the talk about picking huckleberries, I am reminded that there are several misconceptions about using huckleberry rakes. 

So, I have decided to share some excerpts from an article I wrote awhile back on this particular issue:

What is the Real Story Behind Picking and Harvesting Wild Huckleberries?

There are many myths in the outdoor community concerning using huckleberry rakes and the history behind the huckleberry rakes. The International Wild Huckleberry Association, in particular, has received fiery responses from readers attacking the use and recommendation of using huckleberry rakes.

We would like to share with you some of the stories behind the myths and why they are just that — myths!!

Huckleberry Picking Rakes Damage Plants and Should Not Be Used in Wild Huckleberry Stands

Dr. Dan Barney (or Dr. Huckleberry!) has stated the following about the use of huckleberry rakes:

Dr. Barney demonstrating huckleberry rakes

“The use of rakes to harvest huckleberries has long been a highly emotional one. During the early 1900s when there existed a large commercial huckleberry industry in the Northwest, many pickers used rakes or other devices. This is well-documented in “A Social History of Wild Huckleberry Harvesting in the Pacific Northwest” – General Technical Report PNW-GTR-657, 2006, USDA-Forest Service by Rebecca Richards and Susan Alexander. If the rakes damaged the bushes and berry yields, the pickers would not have been able to return year-after-year to the same sites.

“I have harvested all nine species of western huckleberries and bilberries by hand and with rakes. Used properly, rakes cause little or no damage to the bushes. Our western huckleberry and bilberry species bear fruit on shoots which form that same (current) season. In other words, when you are harvesting berries, the wood that will bear next year’s crop does not exist yet. To damage next year’s crop, you would have to either break off fairly large shoots or damage the lateral buds along those shoots. I have not observed either type of damage when using rakes to harvest huckleberries or bilberries native to the northwestern United States.

“Rakes do not work well for some species due to small berry size, twig conformation, or the way the fruit is borne on the branches. For other species, rakes can be used to quickly harvest fruits without damaging the plants.

“If a harvester is breaking off twigs and leaves with a rake, then the rake is not being used properly and the harvester is going to spend a lot of time picking few berries and much more time than necessary cleaning them. In other words, they are not going to be making any money and are not likely to persist with the rake.

“I, personally, do not support … legislation banning mechanical harvesting devices.

“As for the U.S. Forest Service banning such devices, The only National Forest, to my knowledge, that does so is the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in south-central Washington.

“I am far more concerned with the practice of cutting or breaking the branches off and harvesting the berries from the detached branches. This practice can severely damage the plants.

“Likewise, I have seen formerly productive colonies damaged by people digging up the plants, apparently with the idea of transplanting them in mind. Particularly sad is the fact that, for several native species, most of the transplants will die. Container-grown (huckleberry) plants transplant easily. There is no good reason for digging wild huckleberry or bilberry bushes from public land for transplanting.”

Dr. Danny L. Barney

March 7, 2007

The Native Americans Never Used Huckleberry Picking Rakes, so Neither Should We!

The myth about the damage caused by huckleberry rakes comes primarily from some members of the Native American community who, for cultural and spiritual reasons, do not like the use of man-made “tools” for picking huckleberries. So they’ve made broad claims about how damaging rakes are, and this myth is becoming an unfortunate urban legend over time, perpetrated by media which does no fact checking before putting misinformation into print.

Just as a point of fact, some Native Americans DO buy commercial picking rakes for huckleberries; and the FIRST HUCKLEBERRY RAKES or “combs” known to US history, were from native peoples, as reported on Page 8 of:

A Social History of Wild Huckleberry Harvesting in the Pacific Northwest” – General Technical Report PNW-GTR-657, 2006, USDA-Forest Service.

Native Americans used wooden hand-carved picking combs, or a raking tool made up of the backbone and one side of the rib cage from a salmon. Apparently, those tools worked quite well. And I am sure they were not out to rape the wild huckleberries or damage the plants.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

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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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