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I'm completely new to mushroom hunting, where do I start?

One of the best things you could do would be to get yourself a book on mushrooms.

One of the best things you could do would be to get yourself a book on mushrooms. The recommendations at the Hunting forum tend to be US-centric, so you should check your local bookstores for books on mushrooms of your country. If you can get a couple books, that's often a good idea. A list of recommended books mainly for the US can be found here.

Good mycology books for field mycology have keys. Keys are a list of choices where you choose between alternatives and are directed to different places in the book. For example, a typical early choice in the key will be based on what color the spore print is. Don't waste too much time on the big coffee table books with the pretty photographs, at least not at first. Those can be fun books to thumb through, but they're usually not that helpful for identifying mushrooms you find in the woods.

Then go out and find some mushrooms. At first, don't waste time picking everything in sight. You're not going to be able to identify all you find. Stick to a few fairly distinctive, common species. In other words, what are the mushrooms you see most often when you're out looking for them? Pick several and bring them home to identify.

Expect to take a couple hours trying to identify the first ones you find. And expect to be wrong in the end. That's OK. The time you spent reading and trying to ID them will help you next time. As you do it, you'll get better at knowing what you should be looking for.

If you know somebody locally who hunts mushrooms (not just actives or whatever), ask them for assistance. Mushroom people tend to be helpful.

For the first year or two, try to not spend all your time looking at LBMs (Little Brown Mushrooms). They're difficult for everybody, including professionals, to identify. In fact, expect that, no matter how good you get, you will never be able to identify every mushroom you find. I don't know a professional mycologist who can just tell you what every mushroom is.

If there is a mycological society nearby, they often have several experts among their members. Mycological societies tend to be organized mostly by and for people hunting mushrooms to eat, not get high on, so if your interest is in the latter you should be discreet. You especially need discretion if your country has laws prohibiting the possession or use of active species - prisons aren't good places to be anywhere in the world. Even so, you may meet others with your same interests in mushrooms there.

Above all, get out there and find mushrooms, and try to identify them yourself. There are places like this one to help you with the latter task. But help yourself by trying to identify them yourself first, even if only to genus. And let us know what your guess is, so we can confirm it or show you why you're wrong (most of us learn more from our mistakes than our successes).

by ToxicMan

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