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Written By Kris Brown.

Posted on July 27th, 2021.

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This summer, I found a berry patch loaded with blackberries and blueberries and I had it all to myself. Use this blog to help you know when and where to look for your own wild berries in the Catskills.

Back in early August 2020, I was out in the woods scouting for deer on public land in Delaware County, New York. Many of these New York City Department of Environment Protection (NYC DEP) Public Access Areas / Water Supply Lands that I use for hunting are abandoned agricultural lands. Telltale signs include stone walls, smooth or even ground, plow troughs and terraces, old road cuts, gnarly pasture trees, border trees, and more. To learn more about what these clues reveal about past agricultural use, check out Forest Forensics: A Field Guide to Reading the Forested Landscape, by Tom Wessels.

On this particular woodlot, there were lots of small open areas (likely old pasture) scattered throughout a mix of young and older woods. These openings are getting smaller as the forest reclaims them, but for now they are thick with saplings, bushes, and briars.


This photo is representative of the habitat I was traversing when I stumbled upon loads of berries.

While my main purpose on the day was deer scouting, I kept getting sidetracked by the blackberries. I would grab a handful of berries and keep moving only to come upon another patch that looked too good to pass up.


In early August, these blackberries were ripe and ready to eat.

As I worked my way through the brushed-in fields, I started to find a few blueberries as well.


I had my fill and then some, so I filled a Gatorade bottle with berries to bring home to my wife. The pickings were so good, I was surprised that I didn’t encounter a black bear. The habitat certainly seemed ripe for a bear given that the back of the property had a secluded ridge overlooking the old fields. 

On my drive out to this property, I saw a sign for a “U pick ‘em” blueberry farm. It made me wonder about the origin of the blueberries I had picked. Were they planted by previous owners or did they come back naturally? A quick internet search showed me that New York has two types of wild blueberries, highbush and lowbush blueberries. I figured that I was picking highbush blueberries as many of the plants were above 18 inches tall. Also, I guessed that they had come back naturally as the blueberry bushes were scattered throughout the old fields as opposed to regularly-spaced plantings.


This was the tallest and ripest blueberry bush I found.

So, if you’re looking to get some exercise and free fruit in late-July or early-August, try hiking along the sunny edge habitat between forest and field, or better yet, dive into an old field reverting back to forest. You don’t need much equipment beyond a berry container, plenty of water, some thorn-resistant pants, and some sunblock. Just remember to be bear aware and use good tick-prevention practices.


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