Summer has been good to Swan Hills, and the berry bushes in the area are ripe for the picking. Just a short walk out of town will bring you to blueberry heaven, with a good chance of finding a nice bunch of raspberries as well. People can be pretty tight-lipped about their favorite berry picking spot, much like anglers and their best fishing spots, but luckily for us in Swan Hills, the forest surrounding us is lousy with full blueberry bushes right now.
There are a few things that you might want to keep in mind to make your outing as enjoyable as possible:
· Stay hydrated
· Bring bug spray
· Bring bowls or containers
· Dress for the weather
· Pick ripe berries - leave the pink or white ones to ripen further
· Pick clean – try to avoid stems and leaves
Another very important consideration is that we live in bear country, and bears also love berries. They are also very focused on bulking up for the winter right now. All of the bear safety basics definitely apply when going berry picking:
· Consider carrying bear spray and a noise maker
· Keep an eye out for fresh bear signs – tracks, droppings, diggings, scratched logs, etc.
· Bring a friend
· Make sure someone knows where you are and when you expect to be back
· Pay attention to your surroundings; this is not the time to be listening to earphones
· Make noise – talk loudly with your friend, sing, etc. You do not want to accidentally surprise a bear
Stay safe and have a great time berry picking!
Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette