Revised May 1, 2002; August 31, 2007; August 27, 2008; April 21, 2013; and Setember 11, 2016.
Copyright 1998-2016 by John W. Allen.

A Trip To The Field

On a first trip to the field, one need not be elaborate while hunting for magic mushrooms, especially in and around ones own neighborhood. If you happen to live in the Bay area of San Francisco, California and north up to the Puget Sound region of the Pacific Northwest from Oregon and Washington to British Colombia, Canada, then you are in a heavenly playground when it comes to magic mushrooms. Magic mushrooms are not just restricted geographically to pasture lands but also occur very abundantly on lawns and gardens in parks and around apartment complexes, new restaurants, condos and apartment buildings, and often can be found in the gardens of office buildings (occurring in woodchips and bark mulch).

In the Seattle region, magic mushrooms have even been collected from the lawns of such well known restaurants as MacDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King and Jack-in-the-Box. There are 23-25 species of Psilocybian fungi in this region of the world. However, Great Britain and Europe has only 9 Psilocybe species and more than 59 Psilocybe species occur in Mexico and South America. This does not include the other genera where we have over 100 or more species distributed throughout the world.

Psilocybian mushrooms enjoy a wide variety of other habitats and may also occur in flat-bottomed valleys and on gentle slopes or small hills, along cattle trails in woods and mountainous regions. Some species grow on sphagnum moss, moss along streams and river banks, dead tree trunks, branches, twigs and stems in deciduous woods, and in woodchips and bark mulch in gardens surrounding public buildings.

After locating a good field for mushroom hunting, it is possible that more than one species of magic mushrooms could occur there. Word of mouth communication by fellow mycophiles is often another source for reliable information on mushroom locations, especially on the internet at numerous mushroom related websites.

An avid mushroom hunter requires certain equipment to get through a day of picking. Basic mushroom hunting equipment include a small cardboard box or several paper bags for collecting fresh mushroom specimens. Paper is the preferred method for preserving the quality of the freshly picked mushrooms. Never place fresh picked mushrooms into plastic bags, baggies, or metal containers. Rain clothes might be necessary since mushrooms grow well during and after a rainfall. However, the best time to pick fresh mushrooms is a few days after the rain has stopped. Mushrooms drying naturally in the sun for a few days after a rainfall are better preserved for collecting and harvesting than if picked when they are wet and fresh. This is especially true for mushroom species which belong to the genus Copelandia and Panaeolus. If harvesting wild mushrooms during a rainy period, then it would be wise to place your collection box or bag inside of a plastic bag to keep the rain from soaking through your box or bag of collected shrooms.

If driving to a specific picking location, be sure and park your vehicle far away from where one might go picking. This is to insure the safety of the picker. Parking next to a picking location could attract the attention of the farmers or even the police, both of whom might decide to hassle a picker for trespassing. Be sure to always ask permission to go onto private property. Respect the owner and he just might allow a perspective mushroom enthusiast to venture forth out onto his property for a few hours. Some farmers charge mushroom pickers a small fee for collecting mushrooms on their land. Do not bring dogs into a field and do not litter the land. Never leave a gate open or unlocked. These are but a few of the many reasons why farmers do not want strangers on their property.

One more note on this is that in Oregon, home of Psilocybe azurescens along the northern coastal dune areas of Hammond and Astoria, Oregon, local law enforcement officials such as county sheriffs and police often park at public beach areas and watch for dune shroom pickers to come along. So be careful where you trespass or pick when in the open country areas. For woodland clear cuts, late fall species such as Psilocybe pelliculosa and Psilocybe silvatica are common and one may purchase an annual mushroom picking permits which may be obtained from Weyerhaeuser for clear cuts in the PNW. Such permits from the logging firms allow pickers to buy a fall permit which usually allows one to enter at least three clear cuts in both Washington and Oregon States. An annual pass is good for a three month period each fall.

For those picking edible mushrooms in these clear cut forest areas, they can usually sell their pickings to small business mushroom vendors who wait for pickers to exit the clear cuts and then offer to buy their prized freshly harvested mushroom collections. One will find several dozen cars or vans parked along side the logging road entrances on coastal highways and other mountainous regions of the PNW. They constantly await pickers to exit the forests and then offer to purchase what one has picked. Usually, many unload some of their collections to these car vendors who then prepare the mushrooms for sale in public markets or to overnight mail services to foreign restaurants on a daily basis in the fall months when the fungi appear.

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