Huckleberry season is just around the corner in the Inland Pacific Northwest. Soon those delicious purples berries will be hanging off the bushes just waiting for someone to pick them. Are you looking forward to making your first huckleberry pie of the season? Or how about the batch of huckleberry jam?
Did you know – if the crop is moderate to heavy – you could pick four to ten times as many wild huckleberries in an hour, with an inexpensive tool known as a “huckleberry rake”? Read on to learn more.
Correct Use of a Huckleberry Rake
Berries on most species of huckleberry plants, grow only on the current year’s growth. Harsh picking practices can damage the plant possibly stunting the current years growth. Since the tines of a huckleberry rake are usually quite sturdy, there is a high risk of damaging the wild plant if you try to rake more than absolutely necessary.
Huckleberry rakes work best with a small, manageable clump of berries. Short, quick, relaxed strokes, with just the right amount of berries and branchlets as a target, will net you the greatest yield. Until you get the hang of the wrist action, chase the smallest branchlets first, at the tips of the main branches. Slide the tines in just under the lowest huckleberry in a clump of maybe three to five berries, to start, then pull the tines up and through the loose bunch of wild huckleberries.You want to bring up the rake against the slight “pressure” of the attached berries.
Using Both Hands with a Huckleberry Rake
As you get the hang of the basic stroke, and get a feel for how many branchlets and berries you can really rake in with one stroke, without snagging, you develop a sort of rhythm. Now it’s time to add your other hand as a feeder to the huckleberry picking production line. In fact, you probably were already doing this by now, instinctively.
A huckleberry bush often displays berries across a span of ten or twenty inches (or more) around the top and outside of the plant, while your rake might only be six inches wide. You can really only rake a swath four inches wide or so, cleanly. But by using your hands in tandem, you can cover a lot more of the plant in less time.
Your free hand gathers branchlets together, between the thumb and fingers. You pinch the twigs; either together to make a larger clump of berries, or away from the main plant so they are easier to rake cleanly without snagging. And try to avoid as many leaves as possible.
Then in comes the rake. Swish. Repeat. Feel the rhythm!
Testimonials from Satisfied Rake Customers
Unsolicited comments from our rake customers
I purchased your rake at the General Store in Spokane, WA last week and headed up behind Wallace,ID to do some picking. We love going to Idaho because its so beautiful and the people are always friendly. I have to tell you first that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis in my hands along with other places. The rake was a life saver allowing me to pick for a longer period of time with out much pain in my hands. I also picked three times as much! I recommend this to anyone with arthritis in their hands to make picking berries more enjoyable and A LOT quicker. Plus in does no damage to the bush! You have perfected this product ten fold. Thank you!
~Angela Ordway, Spokane, Washington
Every year a group of ladies and I take am annual camping trip to the mountains to pick huckleberry’s when they get ripe. We took that trip a week before we could order our huckleberry rakes. Each of us working 6 to 7 hours for 2 1/2 days brought home a little over a gallon of berry each.
I ordered and received our rakes the week after we returned from our trip. The rakes came in on a Friday we met to pick on a Sunday. During that approx six hours of picking we took home approx 2 gallons of berries each. I can only imagine how many more we could have brought home during our camping trip. Next year.
Thanks for this wonderful product and thank you for the lip balm you included. It is yummy and works well to protect the lips.
If I have any complaints about this tool is it can be difficult to use in the middle of a bush, and you have a few extra stems to pick off the berries, but that is something we usually do when we are sitting around camp.
~ Tammala Froman, Lebanon, Oregon