Intro to Chanterelle Mushroom Hunting
You would pay a fortune for a plate of them in a five stars’ restaurant. Top chefs around the world compete in creating the most delicious meals out of them. Even if you wanted to buy them out of the farmer’s market, it would cost you an arm and a leg. However, they grow wildly in nature, and they free for the taking, and you might even sell them and make some money.
Chanterelle mushrooms are one of the most beautiful and delicious mushrooms in the world. They grow in forests around the world, from Sweden to North America. From the woods of Missouri to the forests of the Pacific Northwest.
Chanterelles are a great starting point for would-be mushroom hunters. They are relatively easy to identify, they are abundant in nature, and they are delicious. In this guide we’ll learn more about Chanterelle mushroom hunting, where to find chanterelle, the mushroom hunting gear you will need, and much more.
Identity of a True Chanterelle
There are too many false alarms out in the wild. Too many pretending species that look like chanterelles. Be aware of this deceivers! However, identifying real chanterelles is easy once you know the drill. A recurring advice that you’ll hear during the whole of this Chanterelle mushroom hunting guide is never to eat a mushroom that you can’t identify. Don’t be deterred, with practice; you will be able to spot chanterelle mushrooms a mile away. You’ll begin to understand how and why they differ from “impersonators.”
Furthermore, the scientific classification of chanterelle mushrooms has been somewhat troublesome for scientists. They believe that Cantharellus cibarius contains many species of mushrooms than initially thought. However, for the purpose of this guide, we will avoid using too much jargon and describe the key features of C. cibarius.
In this section, we will handle two sides of the issue. We will discuss the features of chanterelle mushrooms. Secondly, we will glance at how they differ from their false look-alike. At this point, it is crucial to pay attention, so you avoid making the mistakes that most newbie hunters fall in. Learning these differences will save your time.
Once again, I must warn you to avoid consuming any and all mushrooms you can’t certainly identify. It is best to go with an experienced hunter for the first few times. Last but not least, don’t believe everything you read online, especially, in this guide!
As a general rule, the color of a true chanterelle is golden yellow, gold, and yellow. There are exceptions, but for now, we’ll have to settle to these colors to be on the safe side.
When a chanterelle mushroom is fully matured it is said to have a funnel-like shape, it looks like a bowl or a horn. It’s cap, and the stem is not separate like many other mushrooms. You will see that the stem gracefully unfolds to form the common agricultural policy in a seamless unity. Also, you will notice the bowl-like characteristics allows the chanterelle to carry rainwater. In a mature chanterelle the cap unfurls, so the edges are somewhat curvy. Thus the water runs out. Small chanterelle looks like they have round caps, but a closer look will reveal that it still hasn’t furled yet.
The size might vary from as little as your thumb to as big as the palm of your hand when fully grown. Chanterelles have a smooth surface as well. The sure way to identify C. cibarius mushrooms is by examining its underside gills; its color is lighter and finer than the cap. If you rip it open you will notice that the inside is pure white, firm, and fleshy.
An excellent way to identify chanterelles mushroom would be its smell. It has a peachy smell, and other hunters say it smells like apricot. Moreover, the stronger its scent is, the richer its flavor.
Bearing in mind that, depending on weather conditions the appearance of a chanterelle might slightly differ from the descriptions above. To understand better, let’s take a glance at the chanterelle’s look-a-like.
It is one of the closest looking mushrooms to C. cibarius genus. It is poisonous but not deadly. The main differences are that they are way larger than the C. cibarius, and the cap is large too. The second difference is in color, chanterelle is brighter in colors and tends to be yellow. While Jack-O-Lanterns tends to be orange, and sometimes brown. Also, Jack-O-Lanterns grow in groups near each other. Chanterelles doesn’t grow that way.
Chanterelle Growing Season
If everything goes according to the plan, the chanterelle growing season in the United States usually starts early June in the southern area. In some other sectors such as North Texas, the season may be delayed starting in late June. It is helpful to do a Google search in your area to get the most up-to-date information. Since the dawn of time, the C. cibarius season is inseparably tied to rainfall. If there’s no rain, there will be no mushrooms. Thus, the ideal time to start the hunt is two or three days after rain. Especially, in hot weather, the hunt may go on up to two and three weeks after rainfall. If it continues raining, that’s more reason to keep hunting!
Where to Find Chanterelle Mushrooms
It is quite the burning question, where do chanterelle mushrooms grow and where to find them? For starters, C. cibarius mushrooms are not really hard to find if you know where to look, and if you actually LOOK. Moreover, chanterelle mushrooms don’t exist in a vacuum. They don’t grow on their own; they need other trees to live. They form a relationship with other plants. So, if you know what plants to look for you’ll probably find chanterelle mushrooms around them.
Mixed hardwood forests are a good place to start looking for C. cibarius mushrooms. Namely, chanterelle mushrooms grow around oak trees, beech, maple, birch, and poplar. Furthermore, in the Deep South, they are often found growing on blueberry bushes. Moreover, if you’re trying to find them in the mountains look for Douglas fir and white pine. The habitat of the C. cibarius mushroom is moist by nature, so look within creek beds and those areas where the water from the rain tend to precipitate. Many hunters follow old trails and logging roads, and they get harvest around the edges of the tree line. The key here is old forests. The reason is that only old and healthy trees could support the growth of C. cibarius mushrooms.
Even for absolute beginners, it is really hard not to hunt chanterelle mushrooms. If it’s the season, and if you’re looking in the right habitat, there’ really a little chance that you won’t harvest. The same couldn’t be said about Morel mushrooms which are another story altogether! If there’s enough rain, a beginner hunter could easily collect 10 pounds of mushrooms in one-day foraging, at least.
Chanterelle Mushroom Hunting Tips
I have touched upon this earlier, but it is worth repeating. If you are a beginner forager, it’s absolutely critical to accompany other experienced foragers for the first few times. They can help you with identifying, collecting chanterelle mushrooms, and avoid the false ones. Furthermore, if you’re really interested in hunting wild mushrooms (besides reading this guide), you will also need as many field guides as you could have, for cross-referencing. The best-known author in this area is David Arora, but I’ll recommend which book in just a few minutes, so keep reading.
You’re also welcome to do your own research. Beside those field guides, you’re going to need a field guide specific to the area\region where you’re hunting. There are poisonous mushrooms that will kill you so make sure to follow the golden rule: “If you can’t identify it, you don’t need to eat it.”
Sightings of Chanterelle Mushrooms
Armed and guided by the advice provided in this manual your Chanterelle mushroom hunting mission will be a breeze. You will also find that most hunters hide and guard their hunting grounds, and you will be wise to do the same. Honestly, chanterelles are not really the rare kind of mushrooms, try morel!
For the purpose of this guide and as a sample here are some places where sightings of chanterelle mushrooms have been reported. Moreover, these are the places known to have high populations of the C. cibarius mushroom. However, part of the thrill of the hunt is to explore. With that said, let’s see where to sight and hunt chanterelle mushrooms.
In California and the Mid-Atlantic coast, chanterelle mushrooms make a stable relationship with oak trees! In the Pacific Northwest, chanterelle mushrooms prefer Douglas fir and western hemlock forests. As noted, in old forests you will find plenty of mushrooms. The older and stronger the trees, the more your chances will increase, or rather the chanterelle’s to survive! The trick is to look for the plant that supports the golden chanterelle mushroom!
Chanterelle Mushroom Hunting Gear
First of all, let’s talk about what you should wear. The shirt you wear should be loose fitting and quick-dry with a roll up sleeves. It doesn’t have to be fashionable or fancy. You’ll probably go through places where there are a lot of bushes, and they tend to snatch your clothes.
Zipper shorts aren’t cool, but they are comfortable for getting around. Good hiking boots are a MUST as well. So, bring some boots, no matter how “old” they are. It is really important to have the right footwear as this could help you avoid injury.
Furthermore, any time of the year, bug spray is highly recommended. Also, a pair of sunglasses\safety glasses is a good idea because sometimes branches might snap back and smack you when you’re not looking. If it’s too bright or sunny, a hat might prove useful as well. Usually, when you are looking for Chanterelles, it might be dark and sometimes rainy so that a rain jacket may serve you well.
You might also need to keep a pair of clean backup clothes in your car. Just in case you need them. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Knee pads are optional. The reason you’ll need them is you’re going to be kneeling down most of the time to get the mushrooms from the ground. You might get your clothes dirty, or even injure your knees. It is also helpful in case of muddy ground.
- Cell phone: For emergencies in case you need to summon help.
- Camera: Good for taking photos of yourself and your harvest to share with friends and family.
- Brush: Very useful in getting the dirt off of the mushrooms. It is called “field cleaning.”
What is field cleaning important? It is important because mushrooms are usually on the downside and they pick up dirt quickly. Unless you pluck them off early and keep them clean, you’ll be spending a lot of time cleaning them at home which is a pain itself. Plus, dirty ones tend to spill over clean ones.
- Book: Not just any book, but a field guide, as mentioned above, my recommendations are David Arora’s Mushrooms Demystified and All the Rain Promises and More. It is a really great guide and it explains a lot about mushroom hunting. Never eat mushrooms that you haven’t identified, is a solid advice found in the book.
- Walkie-talkie: If you are hunting with somebody, it’s important to keep in touch. Usually, when you go hunt you go in different directions, and you might lose track of each other.
- Map and Compass: Another optional item that might become handy in an emergency. If you lose your way, this could be a life-saver.
- Whistle: very useful in communication to check on your companions or call upon them.
- A Pocket Knife: Any knife will do. Don’t use a butter knife, but you can use a steak knife. However, it should be relatively sharp and have a locking blade on it so you can put it away if you have to. You should definitely bring a knife. You will need it for harvesting and trimming
- Extra Food and Water: It is important to stay hydrated while on the hunt. You will need your energy.
- Waxed Bags: For separating and protecting the mushrooms. Don’t use plastic bags.
The Mushroom’s Hunter Basket
Your basket should be durable, and if you can enforce is with metal that’s good. It is better than other materials out there. The basket is for protecting the mushrooms from getting wet in the rain. If you got an open basket without covers, it is a good idea to have something to use as a cover to keep the mushrooms from getting too soggy. The basket is for storing your gear; it should be stable, and you should be able to set it down quickly.
Generally speaking, hunting for mushrooms is allowed in most areas mentioned earlier in this chanterelle mushroom hunting guide. However, some regions forbid mushroom hunting or limit it. In other areas you might need a permit if you’re hunting more than a particular limit, i.e. not for personal use. If you plan on hunting mushrooms for profit, in most cases, you will need a license. It really depends on your area from this point onward.
The laws and rules are different between states. It is strongly advised that you seek professional legal help before embarking on your hunting journey! Also, note the difference in areas of hunting, and good luck!