OUTDOOR TRUTHS: Hunting for Ginseng

By Gary Miller

My trail cameras are not showing me anything that I want to hunt right now, so I’m waiting on getting into the woods. My goal every year is not to get tired, burnt out, or behind, before the best days of deer hunting get here. For me, those days begin about November 1st and run through about the middle of January. It seems that everything fits me better during those times. But, like everyone else, I’m anxious to get outside. The early mornings are comfortable and there are new opportunities waiting to be taken advantage of. One of those opportunities is finding Ginseng. So, last Saturday, three friends and I spent a few hours in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, dodging snakes and perusing the mountainsides for the wonderfully elusive plant that is also a valuable find.

I can remember how years ago an old logger taught me the nuances of this plant. But, since that time, I had forgotten just about all of techniques of finding it. It was good to have one of our group give our Saturday gang a refresher course. It didn’t take long until we all were digging up a few two and three prong plants. And once you find that first plant, it’s like an obsession overtakes you, and you have to find just one more. I spent the last hour carefully uncovering about three plants that were side by side. I felt like an archeologist trying his best to brush away all the sediment around a new find. It really was exhilarating.

What I discovered through the process was how the best places to find Ginseng was where there were other plants that either hid it or acted as camouflage. Those places caused me to be more intent and focused on smaller areas to insure a hidden gem was not overlooked. But, no matter what else was there, nothing held more value than that one small, inconspicuous plant. And it was worth overlooking everything else to find it.

The value of things can get skewed. After all, there are so many parts of our lives; it’s easy to raise one above the other. Priority is usually given to those things that are the most urgent or to those needs that are most numerous. Seldom is this the case when it comes to things of real value. It seems to me, the most valuable things in life are those things that are rare and hidden among the ordinary things of life. Whether it is a gold nugget, a diamond, a special relationship, or a ginseng plant, these hold unique worth and it would do us all well, to spend more time searching for these things.

Gary Miller can be reached via email at

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