WILD BLUEBERRIES

Wild blueberries are smaller but sweeter than their cultivated high-bush cousins. They tend to be a little tart but sweeten as they ripen. They pack a tasty punch of flavor high in vitamin c and antioxidants.
Cooked over cast iron and campfire coals, this is the quintessential summer dessert.

July

Peak Season

1. Did You Harvest?

a photo of your harvest in the field!

 

The RecipeS:

2. Did You Eat?

a photo of your meal!

 

The RecipeS:

FIELD NOTES

 
How do I identify blueberries?
Where do I locate blueberries?
What is a ripe blueberry?
How should I properly pick and transport?
How do I properly clean blueberries?
How do I freeze or preserve blueberries?
 

FORAGE BASKET 

For gathering walnuts.

HAMMER

For busting their husks.

KNIFE

For prying forth their fruit. 

HEAD 

River rat bucket hat. Bonus points if it’s made from straw.

SUNGLASSES

A great all-around pair of fishing glasses includes the superior clarity of glass lenses with polarized, color-blocking technology that expose the presence of fish beneath the surface.

SHIRT

Tanks on the banks!

UNDERWEAR

Synthetic or wool briefs that wick moisture and prevent odor

SHORTS

Find a pair of durable, quick drying, stain resistant shorts with reinforced pockets.

FOOTWEAR

A hybrid sandal-water shoe with excellent traction allows optimal amphibious mobility.

Apparel

COMPLETE A BLUEBERRY HARVEST?

1/1

1. Did You Harvest?

2. Did You Eat?

3. Repeat!

You harvested a natural food source from your local environment. That's awesome. 

It's an honest, well earned meal.

You deserve a reward. Maybe one day, after you submit photos of your hunt and harvest, you'll receive a blueberry token, that unlocks merchandise exclusive to those are one with the blueberry. That day is not today. But you're excited even without the incentive, you say?! Well, submit and share your bounty anyways! 

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Get oot and after it.

You are how you eat.

You might be new to muskrat trapping. We've got the important questions covered.

An Introduction to Harvesting Muskrat

what do blueberries even do?

HOW TO BE THE BLUEBERRIES

Blueberries peak ripening is late July and early August. 

Good summer crops are boosted by above average snowpack, early spring temperatures and frequent summer precipitation. 

 

Two varieties of these low growing fruit bushes carpet open sunlit spaces.  They prefer sandy, acidic soil, more common in the coniferous forests of the northeast Arrowhead region. 

what does muskrat taste like?

Take a weekend trip into the Superior National Forest or Boundary Waters canoe country. Seek out open spaces along hiking trails and forest roads. These early colonizers will be some of the first to repopulate recently logged or burned areas. Take a closer look at rocky outcroppings, hillsides and pine woodland clearings with thin cover.

 

The wood twigged bushes will grow between six inches and two feet fall, with short, oblong leaves 2-4 cm long, finely toothed and alternating on the stem. One variety has velvety leaves, the other are shiny. Clusters of white or pinkish flowers yield deep blue berries up to 10mm in diameter when ripe; white, green or pale blue when still immature.  

Gamey is a flavor profile that isn’t popular, but is often accepted. Muskrat is a step beyond. A wild flavor, for the more adventurous eaters. Their diet is clean and healthy but as they are prepared the musk of the marsh lingers. Prepared correctly, the funky and fishy brackishness can be processed out of the lean, dark meat. The result is a distinct meat - a tender beef consistency, where liver meets rabbit. This is one meat that doesn’t taste like chicken.

 

Purist recipes par-boil and fry the animals whole, served up with sauces and sides. Better recipes slow cook meat from the bone, the choice cuts coming from the backstops and hind leg hams. Serve it in stews, on sandwiches or in tacos and heartily fill a pot pie, meatloaf or casserole. Delicious dishes are aided with flavorful sauces; barbecue, curry, horseradish, hoisin, and additional fats to conduct flavor like butter, cheese, bacon or coconut milk.

can anyone do this?

HOW TO BECOME A CERTIFIED TRAPPER

Persons born after December 31, 1989, who have not been issued a trapping license in a previous license year may not obtain a trapping license without a trapper education certificate. The Minnesota Trappers Association conducts trapper education courses statewide, free of charge to participants, and issues the certificates. The typical format is a classroom or online course followed by a scheduled field training day with an instructor. Find available course information here.

 

After a valuable introduction to the characteristics of local furbearing animals, trapline equipment, techniques, safety and ethics you’ll become eligible to purchase a trapping license for $24. You will also need to hold a current small game hunting license, which would have cost an individual resident $22. 

 

Muskrats are a great introduction to trapping, as the traps are smaller and easier to handle. The animals aren’t very trap shy so you’re also more likely to be rewarded earlier. The pelts are easier to handle than other animals, and selling the fur can pay back what you've spent on other harvest licenses. While earned income is the primary motivator for folks to run a trapline, muskrats and beavers are fur bearers that also make good eating. Even when market prices for fur are at historical lows, say $2 each, a few good weekends of muskrat trapping can earn you a check that pays back the license fees and gas money. Though it’s tasty, this is probably more muskrat than a person is interested in eating. 

sounds good. what do i need to trap them?

where do I go to trap muskrats?

HOW TO LOCATE MUSKRAT HABITAT

Muskrats range across the entire state of Minnesota. 

They live and travel all water bodies but the best habitat to run a trapline is on ponds, small lakes and wetlands. A large cattail marsh can hold hundreds of muskrats. When populations are excessively large they will move into the tiniest farm ponds and flooded roadside ditches. 

 

Muskrats eat many parts of water plants like cat tails, water lilies, wild rice and reeds. They also eat clams, snails, small fish and turtles. They shelter in houses constructed from cat tail plants and mud. They dig into the shore to create bank dens. Optimal habitat is a mix of open water area and cattails, with soft mucky bottoms, elevated dirt banks and lots of aquatic vegetation.

where can I set traps?

HOW TO FIND LEGAL TRAPPING WATER

Navigable waters are public in Minnesota. The general understanding; if you can enter a body of water from a public right of way - a park, road or watercraft landing - then you can travel a shoreline from the water and set traps along the way. In many counties there is a public right of way that extends ten feet from any road. You can drive along a series of ponds and ditches and set a trapline in this manner. Interpretation and enforcement of this access is determined at a county level Conservation Officer. Always best to check local regulations.

Public lands across the state will produce muskrat to trap. Always research the regulations and seasons for particular units, but generally muskrat trapping is allowed in the following places.

  • National forests (Superior and Chippewa) including the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area. 

  • National Wildlife Refuge System waterfowl production areas.

  • State forests, wildlife management areas, aquatic management areas.

 

Trapping is generally restricted, sometimes allowed with additional permits and permissions in National Wildlife Refuges.

Trapping is generally not allowed in national parks or state parks. 

Contact your local land managers to determine legal access and use regulations.  

what am I looking for?

HOW TO IDENTIFY MUSKRAT SIGN 

Muskrats are industrious animals. Look for these common constructions.

 

House; conical domes rising 2 - 4 feet above the water. Made from vegetation and mud, often cattail stalks. 2 to 5 submerged entrances lead inside and where shallow are approached by trails; excavated channels in the substrate. 

 

Bank den; where shoreline topography allows, muskrat will burrow into a bank. The den entrances are 6”-8” wide and are near or at the bottom. 

 

Feeder house; or pop ups, are mud and vegetation domes smaller than houses. They provide enough space for one muskrat or two to emerge from below the frozen water surface and feed temporarily.

 

Feed bed; during open water, muskrats will tamp down a flat pad often at the base of cattails and feed their regularly. Look for cuttings, the chewed remains of bright white and yellow-green cattails and lilies. When the water freezes, you may see these pieces floating below the surface. 

 

Scent posts; similar in appearance to feed beds, but are instead used to excrete gland solutions to mark territory and attract mates. 

 

Slides; the trails left where muskrats enter and leave the water. Often onto feed beds.

 

Runways; are trail channels dug in the bottom of shallow waters. These protective passages connect bank den and house entrances to feeding stations and deeper water. Use these to locate den entrances and choke points to place traps in. When actively used, the bottoms will be “shined up”. The harder, brighter, sandier substrate beneath the mud and veg can be seen or felt. 

 

Any and all of these things are evidence of muskrats. Each feature can be set in several different ways with several different traps. These are the best starters. 

Equipment

GEAR GUIDE

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