by Tara Morgan
According to foraging expert Darcy Williamson, huckleberries are now starting to ripen in McCall, a couple of weeks later than usual. Huckleberries are usually found next to conifers, like Grand Fir trees, and tend to prefer sloped ground.
“They’re starting to come on now, but there’s not a great deal of them,” said Williamson. “There’s little patches where they’re thick but a lot of places where they’re normally thick, they probably froze off. It’s not going to be a bumper crop.”
But that’s not to say there isn’t an abundance of other mountain berries.
“I like the bog blueberry,” said Williamson. “It’s a native blueberry—they’re quite small, but sometimes there’s enough of them to get enough for a few jars of jam.
“My favorite berry is the thimbleberry. It’s like a raspberry: It has a large leaf, no thorns and it grows in the areas that the huckleberries grow. It likes cooler areas along streams and shaded old-growth forest areas … They’re very common, and they’re going to be very abundant this year.”
Williamson had a few choice words of advice for people who still plan to forage for huckleberries in the coming weeks.
“[They should] wear long pants and sturdy footwear, and if they find a patch of huckleberries with fewer scattered berries, just keep looking around the area. They’ll probably find other areas where the sun has hit just right and they’ll find bushes just loaded with berries,” said Williamson.