by Brady Raymond
Heading out to the woods to look for some delicious mushrooms? Bought yourself a sweet new ride five years ago, what could go wrong? A dead battery at 5000ft. with no cell reception, night setting in and lows in the 30’s. You don’t have a blanket, you ate all your food and there is only one bottle of water left. You feel responsible for the two friends you took out hunting, neither of which has much if any experience in the woods. They couldn’t tell you the difference between a Phaeolus schweinitzii and a Russula xerampelina let alone any of the cardinal directions. You secretly hope their lack of skill in the backwoods is an advantage for you if things come down to cannibalism.
Truth is, you’ll only be out here one uncomfortable night. Your at a a popular trailhead and more than likely you can get a jump sometime tomorrow morning, at least you have jumper cables.
It seems obvious to pack for unintended circumstances but I’ve been mushrooming with folks who don’t even bring knives and once someone forgot water. Below is a list of things you should probably have in your car just in case.
Jumper cables, know how to use them, there are plenty of youtube videos and instructions should be supplied upon purchase.
Water, bring more than you think you’ll need. I usually bring a gallon per person on a day trip. Water filters are good to have too but require water to be filtered. Filters take time to use and could be difficult to operate if you’ve sustained an injury.
Food, a short trip could become a long one if your car breaks down. Make sure to have plenty of food available, don’t forget about your dog if you brought one.
Blanket, use in an emergency to stay warm at night or to keep an injured person from going into shock. You can also make a stretcher with a couple of appropriately sized branches.
First Aid Kit, for the obvious reasons.
Rain Gear, or at least a cheap poncho you can throw on if you need to.
Toilet Paper, you’ve been eating fried mushrooms all week and went out this weekend to look for more, and… You get the picture. Carry some on you while you’re out looking, but an extra roll in the car can come in handy if you need it.
Hand Sanitizer, sometimes you touch gross things in the woods.
Atlas/Map, know where you’re going, know where you’ve been.
Cell phone and charger, while I don’t recommend relying solely on your cell phone to save you, reception and coverage is getting better every month it seems and if it works use it.
I like bringing an extra set of clothes too, usually an extra shirt and some sweatpants, just enough to wear home in the car and be comfortable if I’ve gotten soaked. Having some dry clothes could also be a lifesaver in an emergency.
There are other things that can go a long way as well and worth checking before you hit the road. A fully charged battery is one thing as stated above but don’t neglect other things vehicular too. Often times during the spring and fall showers will occur, not a big deal but if it decides to really cut loose driving a mountain pass in a downpour with old windshield wipers is next to impossible. Another thing to think about is your vehicle’s fluids, (oil, radiator fluid, windshield wiper fluid and transmission fluid etc…). If you’re due for an oil change soon, why not head in a little early and get everything checked out.
Don’t forget about your tires. Make sure your tires are in the condition they need to be to take you to and back from your hunting grounds. Tire pressure is also important and will not only affect your vehicles handling but also your gas milage. It is also recommended that you know how to locate your spare wheel and install it in case of a flat. If you do not know how to do this there is a Youtube video for almost everything and is worth your time to watch, this goes for jumping a dead battery too, I highly encourage folks who don’t know how to do this to take the time and learn.
Get to know your local auto parts store too, many actually have quite knowledgeable staff and often times will check and charge your battery for free, install windshield wipers etc… I needed a new headlight socket for my motorcycle, the employee recognized the socket as the same style used in certain cars models and set me up with everything I needed to repair it for a fraction of the cost that a dealer or mechanic would charge. Obviously, use discretion and know your limits as to what you can safely and responsibly repair.
This article is intended to cover aspects of your vehicle that you may overlook before the trip ahead. I’m sure more could be said but you get the picture, think ahead and plan for the worst. I have written a few article in the past concerning other aspects of mushroom hunting safety and preparation for the hunt that are linked below.
Spring Time Safety Tips works for the fall too