Montana Outdoors

July 28, 2013

’tis the season for huckleberries

About this time in late summer one of the delicacies of the northwest begins to ripen and nearly everyone in these parts take to the mountains to harvest a few huckleberries. Black Huckleberry, Vaccinium membranaceum, is perhaps the most common in this area but I read somewhere that the native Indians were able to recognize 21 different species of them . I can recognize only three, but what the heck… they’re all good! I did a brief search and found an advertised price of $69 for a gallon (about 5 pounds).

Today I ventured out to pick a few and succeeded in getting enough for my wife to make one of the most delicious pies that anyone has ever tasted. And, at today’s going price, the berries I brought back at least paid for my gas.

The location:

Today I chose a section of USFS trail 404 (the CC Divide trail) just inside the southern border of the Patrick’s Knob – North Cutoff roadless area south of the town of Plains Montana. Trail 404 proceeds for many miles along the crest of a high ridge that roughly separates the Lower Clark Fork River from the St Regis River

From Trail 404

From Trail 404

The trail:

Trail 404

Trail 404

Trail 404

Trail 404

The star of the show:

Huckleberries

Huckleberry

The competition: 

When attempting to acquire about anything that is desirable, there will be competition. Today the largest competitor was probably back in a thicket somewhere sleeping, but others were out and about.

Dusky grouse

Adult male Dusky grouse, Dendragapus obscurus.

Dusky grouse

Dusky grouse, this summer’s chick.

Dusky grouse

And always there are flowers:

Fireweed

Fireweed

Harebell, Bluebell of Scotland

Harebell, Bluebell of Scotland

Fireweed

Advertisements

39 Comments »

  1. Oh yum! I can almost taste them! Make me a huckleberry milkshake please:-)

    Like

    Comment by twoscamps — July 28, 2013 @ 9:44 pm

    • I picked some a week ago but not enough for a pie. Were they ever good on ice cream though!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 28, 2013 @ 9:55 pm

  2. Great story. Thanks. – Lynn

    Like

    Comment by badwalker — July 28, 2013 @ 9:56 pm

  3. I’m a big fan of huckleberries. In fact, I have some homemade (farmer’s market) jam in the fridge now that’s been going on English muffins. A pie would be nice. Nice sequence of pix en route to the star of the show.

    Malcolm

    Like

    Comment by knightofswords — July 28, 2013 @ 10:46 pm

    • Thanks Malcolm. That’s a very nice trail, much of it in roadless areas. I’ve hiked almost all of it over the years. I like huckleberries very much, but actually prefer jelly or syrup made from chokecherries.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 29, 2013 @ 8:27 pm

  4. That Dusky Grouse shot is a real beauty – such great detail

    Those blue/purple/black looking ‘huckleberries’ look similar to what we call Blueberries in Australia. Are they the same thing or a different variety?

    Like

    Comment by Vicki (from Victoria A Photography) — July 28, 2013 @ 11:24 pm

    • They are the same genus. There are dozens of different species, including blueberries and cranberries.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 29, 2013 @ 8:27 pm

  5. Where is the bear!

    Like

    Comment by Anonymous — July 28, 2013 @ 11:44 pm

    • He was around. I did see some scat. There are quite a few of them in that area.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 29, 2013 @ 8:28 pm

  6. That sure looks like bear country and I’m pretty sure bears love huckleberries.

    Like

    Comment by wordsfromanneli — July 29, 2013 @ 12:01 am

    • Yes, I think a bear did some harvesting before I got there. That’s a big food item for them this time of year and there are lots of bears in that area.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 29, 2013 @ 8:30 pm

      • It’s most unnerving when you’re into a good huckleberry patch and see bear droppings nearby. Huckleberries make me nervous. Maybe that’s why they’re so expensive to buy. Someone has to risk their life to get them.

        Like

        Comment by wordsfromanneli — July 29, 2013 @ 11:15 pm

        • Very low risk unless you are in Grizzly territory. I remember a story about my mother and her sister picking berries. Mom kept talking to her sister whom she thought was making noise on the other side of the patch. Then she noticed that her sister was far away on the hillside and when she looked closer, it was actually a bear that she had been talking to.

          Like

          Comment by montucky — July 29, 2013 @ 11:20 pm

  7. All I know about huckleberries came from the Huckleberry Hound cartoons. He was blue, so I always assumed huckleberries were too. Some of them do look a lot like blueberries.
    That’s a beautiful area, but I can picture bears ruling those paths when the berries are ripe.

    Like

    Comment by New Hampshire Gardener — July 29, 2013 @ 4:20 am

    • They do look a lot like blueberries but the taste is different. I picked some of three different varieties. Oh yes, bears use that trail, but they have berry patches in places that I don’t know about too.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 29, 2013 @ 8:32 pm

  8. Just love the picture of the male grouse watching you. I would rate this trip as a 10+ since you not only came home with a bounty of beautiful berries but saw some great scenery and wildlife. Yup, that’s pretty much the perfect day in my book.

    Like

    Comment by anniespickns — July 29, 2013 @ 7:37 am

    • I sure agree that was a good day. That place is even quite close to home too, < 20 miles.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 29, 2013 @ 8:34 pm

  9. Wow! What lovely scenery, and I love the pics of the huckleberries and the dusky grouse. The pie sounds amazing! Sounds like the berry season is coming round quite quickly – looking forward to our own berries, too. Hoping this comment can be posted (having WordPress problems recently).

    Like

    Comment by Jo Woolf — July 29, 2013 @ 10:43 am

    • I enjoy getting into the harvest season as do all of the wild critters. The bears are putting on as much fat as they can for winter. I’ve heard that they need about 6000 calories a day this time of year.

      Yes, your comment posted without a problem. I hope your WordPress trouble are getting over!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 29, 2013 @ 8:36 pm

  10. Now that’s a great place to pick your own!!! Mountains, flowers, critters, big blue sky, and not another soul in sight!

    Like

    Comment by dhphotosite — July 29, 2013 @ 11:38 am

    • Exactly how I like it! I’ve found that the roadless areas are usually as remote or even more so that the wilderness areas and get far less traffic, although I spent the whole day in the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness and saw no one else there.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 29, 2013 @ 8:48 pm

  11. Oh my, huckleberry pie, yum! Haven’t had huckleberries in years. Glad you beat the competition. We had to cover our blueberry bushes with netting to keep our competitors out.

    Like

    Comment by Mama's Empty Nest — July 29, 2013 @ 2:02 pm

    • Yes, blueberries and huckleberries are universally popular. I saw some huckleberries today though that weren’t picked over yet. Not a lot of bushes though.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 29, 2013 @ 8:49 pm

  12. Those berries look good. Can you eat the competition too? The grouse that is – not the larger slumbering variety!

    Like

    Comment by Finn Holding — July 29, 2013 @ 2:30 pm

    • Yes the Dusky grouse is delicious and large enough for a good meal for two. It’s my favorite wild game. I’ve hunted them since I was about 10 years old and still enjoy it, partly because their habitat is so beautiful.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 29, 2013 @ 8:51 pm

  13. This is a fantastic and beautiful serie of photos … Your first photo has a wow factor, at least for me as well as the second photo of the little Dusky Grouse chick ! // Maria 🙂

    Like

    Comment by mariayarri — July 29, 2013 @ 3:43 pm

    • Thank you Maria. That’s a pretty area up there. I was in another beautiful area today, a new one for me.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 29, 2013 @ 8:54 pm

  14. I didn’t realize that huckleberries were in the same genus as blueberries (and cranberries, unless I am mistaken). I froze about a pint of blueberries last week.

    Like

    Comment by jomegat — July 29, 2013 @ 5:49 pm

    • Yes, it included cranberries. There are a whole lot of species in that genus. I can recognize only three species of huckleberries but I know there are quite a few more in the general region. It’s a very important plant for the wildlife.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 29, 2013 @ 8:57 pm

  15. I have never tasted huckleberries….and these are the first I’ve ever seen!
    They do look a lot like blueberries. Do they taste the same?

    Like

    Comment by Mary Strong-Spaid — July 30, 2013 @ 11:42 pm

    • They are in the same genus with blueberries and even cranberries. Their taste is entirely different, hard to describe. They are very popular up here and there are even annual huckleberry festivals held about this time every summer. As opposed to blueberries, it has remained impossible to grow huckleberries commercially.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 31, 2013 @ 8:27 am

  16. Well, they look delicious but I don’t think I’ve ever had them either. I agree with your other commenter, you not only made your gas money back in huckleberries but got a bonus of a beautiful trail with animals and flora, and great photos to boot. That grouse chick is sure cute.

    Like

    Comment by Candace — July 31, 2013 @ 10:07 pm

    • I don’t remember seeing huckleberries in Arizona, but aI have very fond memories of wild raspberries up on the rim!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 31, 2013 @ 10:44 pm

  17. The grouse in the larch tree is simply magnificent. What an image ! There are plenty of fireweeds around the chalet here, lovely Summer sight. As for the blueberries… I eat some almost every day. A glorious Season. Thank you montucky.

    Like

    Comment by isathreadsoflife — August 1, 2013 @ 7:53 am

    • Yes, a glorious season indeed! I love to see all of the berries and see the deer and elk feeding on grass up to their bellies. The season of plenty!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — August 1, 2013 @ 10:00 pm

  18. Great post. I love very much those bird photos. We have blueberries, but Black Huckleberries no. Our forests are now full of blue berries everywhere. Raspberries are ripened and cloudberries a couple of weeks ago. Cloudberries can be found further north, not here in the Southern part.

    Like

    Comment by Sartenada — August 1, 2013 @ 11:26 pm

    • This is a wonderful time of the year, with all of the berries and vegetation for the wildlife. I’m glad it is that way now there too!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — August 2, 2013 @ 11:37 pm


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: