Getting out there! Where to hunt, part 1

hunting, national forests, national parks, permits, private property, state parks -

Getting out there! Where to hunt, part 1

Larry Short, hunting for chanterelles and other early fall mushrooms, yesterday in the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest.One of my favorite fall hunting grounds is in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, about an hour or so south of my home in the great State of Washington. Here we usually hunt in rainforest at the foothills of the magnificent Mt. Rainier, typically at the 2,000-3,000 foot elevation.

In many national forests here in the Northwest, while limits are stated and enforced for hobby hunters (typically 3 gallons per day maximum), permits aren't required. The Gifford-Pinchot (filling the space between the triad of volcanoes, Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Hood) is an exception. A "free forest products use" permit is required, renewable at the beginning of each calendar year. The good news is there is no cost associated with this permit, and they send you a very nice map with it. The bad news is, you have to have this permit and map on your person when you hunt, and there is a "catch card" of sorts which you have to fill out in accordance with your take. Then you turn that in when you ask for your next permit.

Permits for the Gifford Pinchot can be issued in person during regular business hours at the National Forest office in Randall, WA, or will be sent upon request in writing to:

Cowlitz Valley Ranger District
10024 US Hwy 12
PO Box 670
Randle, WA 98377

Provide a copy of your driver's license or other official identification when you request your permit.

As I mentioned, other national forests have different rules. Here in Washington State, the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest also requires permits (call 1-800-627-0062 for more information). In the Olympic National Forest, no permit is required for hobby hunters, but the daily limit is 1 gallon. In the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, no permit is required and the daily limit is 5 gallons, but the hobby hunter must be in possession of an information sheet available on their website.

There are more than a dozen other national forests in the Northwest, with a variety of regulations, so be sure to check with the one that manages the area you plan to hunt in. (Here's a map of all the national forest boundaries in the Pacific Northwest.)

Note that, in general, mushrooms CANNOT be legally hunted in national parks (like Rainier)!

I find that mushroom hunting regulations in most state parks in Washington are less clear. Their websites have very general statements like "Off-trail use for nature observation, photography, cross-country skiing, harvesting of mushrooms and berries and similar uses are permitted to the degree that they do not significantly degrade natural processes." Which obviously you don't want to do anyway, if you are committed to the "leave no trace" principle as I am. (And you should be! Our wildlife areas are a trust and a collective stewardship responsibility.) But once again, check with the park where you intend to hunt first.

And if you intend to hunt on private property, get the owner's permission first (preferably in writing)!

Once you have your permissions, you are nearly ready to forage. In my next post I'll talk about how to safely equip yourself for your hunt, and then where and when to hunt for your favorite mushrooms.


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