Ancestral Notes

My Family History blog

My Spring Hunting Family Tradition

My family started an unusual family tradition and its been going on near half a century. It is an unusual tradition, which has been very rewarding in a variety of ways. It is a form of hunting, without firearms, a knife is the preferred hunting weapon. The prey has a short season, and a limited range. You don`t need a license to hunt for it, but it is advisable for at least one person to have a drivers license. My family tradition is hunting asparagus.

When I was a child, before I even started school, my parents would go for a drive on the country roads, really slow, and we would hunt for asparagus. My grandfather had a big patch of asparagus in his garden, that was planted before my dad was born, it was handy, but it was more fun to hunt for it, it took some skill to be able to spot a purple tip among the green grass.

I remember mom packing sandwiches and kool-aid for our hunt,and we would make a day of it. After dad got off the main road, he would slow the car right down, and we all watched and waited in anticipation for the first siting. Once someone said `there`s one“, dad would pull over and park the car, the hunt was on! We were always in competition to see who could find the most asparagus, each of us carrying a wooden basket with a paring knife rattling around in the bottom as we scoured the ditch-banks for those tell-tale purple tips. We got a lot of soakers jumping ditches but didn`t mind getting our feet wet.

It is easiest to find early in the season, before the grass starts to get too tall, but once the grass starts to hide it, it takes a trained eye to see it hiding among the blades. It also takes some knowledge of the growing conditions of the asparagus as well, it won`t grow just anywhere. It won`t be found near trees, as they are competition for it`s water supply and they don`t like shade. You won`t find any growing in freshly turned ground, within the past ten years, as it takes a long time to mature from seed and the working of the soil will kill any pre-existing roots. the most common place to find it is in a sunny ditch. It won`t grow in colder climate zones, Zone 5-6 is about as far north as it grows. Most people don`t know this but it does start sprouting again in the fall, when the temperature cools, not as productive as in the spring, but it is a treat!

While we where walking along the ditch, hunting for asparagus, we also learned a lot about nature, we would catch tadpoles, collect fossils and rocks, pick wildflowers and if we were really lucky, would come across a strawberry patch and have a treat, wild strawberries. Strawberries and asparagus have the same growing conditions, so they were often found together. While we were out hunting for asparagus, we would keep an eye out for Elderberry bushes as well. Elderberries ripen in August, and make delicious pies.

When my boys were growing up, I took them asparagus hunting every spring and now they take their children who also enjoy it. I think that it`s a family tradition that will keep going as long as there is wild asparagus to hunt.


Filed under: Family Files, Genealogy, Haines/Hines,

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May 2009
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