Saturday, June 7, 2008

Mushroom Hunter’s Tools: The Walking Stick

The Mushroom Hunter's Tools segment explores some common (and not so common) tools of the hobby. Let's take a look at what our bearded friend below has got in his hand . . .

Gandalf here has a good idea. Now, I’m not suggesting that the average mushroom hunter should invest in a magical staff to aid in the casting of spells (although more power to you if you can do it ;p). However, a walking stick can be a valuable tool for any MH that frequently hikes in the woods.

What are the advantages to having a walking stick?

  • Having a walking stick can obviously help the MH keep his balance in situations where this would normally be very difficult. I can’t tell you how many times a trusty walking stick has saved me from a serious fall in my usual foraging spots.

  • Using a walking stick to discretely poke around underbrush, leaves, and even mushrooms is an even more important reason to keep one with you. Having stumbled upon several Copperheads and Rattlesnakes (both types of snakes are common to my area), I can say that a walking stick has also saved me from a few snake bites and other hazards. You never know what can be lying below the leaves or even the next mushroom cap.

  • They simply look cool. Who doesn’t want to think of themselves as the sagely mycologist as he scours the land for prize finds? . . . Ok maybe I’m the only one who thinks like that . . . ;p

MH walking sticks can come in many different makes, shapes, and sizes. I’ve seen and used everything from sticks I’ve found in the woods to four foot long metal poles (nicknamed the rocking stick) and everything in between. Some MHs I know have taken great care in carving and personalizing their walking stick. The stick becomes very symbolic, just like a MH’s basket. Exactly what you choose to help your hunting – if you use anything at all – is completely up to you.

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