Alternative Hunting Adventures
You might be walking on your next adventure. (Photo: Bob Humprey)
Furred and feathered game aren't the only things out there to hunt for. There are some real treasures, both figuratively and literally for those willing to step off the beaten path, whether you make a special trip or simply include them as part of a camping trip or ATV ride.
Wild mushrooms can be a lot of fun to collect and consume, so long as you know what to look for. Start with an experienced hunter or seek formal instruction before venturing out on your own. Then, you'll need only a field guide for identification, a pencil and notebook for recording information and a wicker basket, mesh or paper bag to transport your 'shrooms (Plastic bags cause excess moisture) and some knowledge of when and where to look for certain types.
If you prefer vascular plants, the roots of American ginseng are prized for use in medicine and herbal remedies. You'll find it growing in cool, shady woodlands with rich soils in the northeastern U.S. And it's fairly easy to identify with the help of a field guide. Be aware that many states regulate the taking, buying, selling and trading of ginseng and may even require a license to do so. Dig the roots of mature plants and let them dry.
People have been losing items for thousands of years, many of which would remain sequestered beneath the soil were it not for metal detectors. These electronic devices signal the presence of metallic objects, precious metals and even gems in the ground. Popular spots are beaches and playgrounds, but you could find treasure most anywhere people have congregated and recreated at one time or another. Before to seek permission before digging on private or public land.
There's gold in them thar hills and mountains across the continent - probably a lot more than folks realize. And you'll need little more than a gold pan and some advice on where to look for it. It also helps if you know the technique for "swishing" your pan to make heavier sediments settle to the bottom. You probably won't get rich, but it's a lot of fun. Still, you just never know when you might strike the mother lode.
Geocaching is the ultimate non-consumptive hunting sport for map, compass and GPS aficionados. You start with a set of GPS coordinates - available online. Follow them correctly and they'll lead you to a cache of various and sundry trinkets. Open the cache, sign the logbook and swap one trinket for another.