close up of worm in the dirt with leaves and sticks

What is a worm grunter? 

By Teresa J. Frith


If you plan on raising worms in order to do vermicomposting for producing worm castings for your garden or for using them for fishing bait, first you need a way to get the worms! If you don’t want to buy your worms, you can hunt for your own via worm grunting. 


What is a Worm Grunter?

Worm grunting, which is also known as worm charming, worm snoring, worm calling or worm fiddling, is a method of luring worms out of the ground. So, a worm grunters is someone who does this either to get their own worms or to get worms to sell to others. There are actually even special worm grunting festivals where professional worm grunters show off their skills. One popular such festive is held every year in Sopchoppy, Florida called the American Worm Grunting Festival.

a mole

Worm grunting mimics a worm predator, such as a mole, digging its way through the soil to hunt for worms. So, when the worm feels these vibrations it wants to escape via burrowing to the top to get out of the ground. Then all a worm grunter has to do is collect all the worms.


How to Worm Grunt

Worm grunting is actually not as simple as it sounds, as worm grunters pass down their skills from one generation to the net. It can take several years to become good at it.  According to the Guinness Book of World Records a 10 year old girl named Sophie Smith holds the current record for worm grunting, when she was able to harvest 567 worms in a half hour during a festival in the UK.

If  you want to try it, you’ll need a worm grunting stick, otherwise known as a stob, as well as a flat metal rod known as the rooping iron. The method involves stabbing the stob in the ground, then rubbing the rooping iron over the stick in a pattern that generates a noise that sounds like grunting, hence the name. Or, you can cut some notches in your stob, then rub the roping iron over it to make the grunting sound. You can easily buy these two tools online. 

Some worm grunters use a dull saw instead of a rooping iron, along with others employing a garden fork, which they cause to vibrate as they stab it into the ground to attract the worms. Others sprinkle water or some other liquid onto the ground first to mimic rainfall, which is known to bring out worms as the burrow to the top so they won’t drown.

loose leaves in the forest

It’s best to worm grunt either early in the morning or late in the evening, and even better if there’s just been raining. Just seek out an area where there are lots of dead leaves as well as logs. These areas attract worms since they eat decaying organic materials. You can also look for worm castings, which is their poop. It looks like dark loose soil and resembles coffee grounds.

Some animals have been seen to worm grunt, particularly some types of birds and turtles. They stomp their feet on the ground to cause the vibrations which bring out the worms for them to eat.

So, if anyone asks you what is a worm grunter, you can happily tell them it’s someone who can skillfully attract worms to the surface via using the above mentioned tools.