Measuring Hunting Success in Mushrooms

By , October 9, 2013

On Monday the Tier II Subsistence Moose Hunt ended. With it went my best excuse to wear camouflage, and my reason for carrying a rifle around the peniinsula. The last day of the hunt, unlike many the previous month, featured sunny, mild weather, excellent conditions for roaming the forest.

There’s a reason I refer to the annual opening as the “armed mushroom hunt.” On some hunting days, I may go out without my full pack of gear, but I never go without my mushroom bag. I had particularly good luck on that last day of the hunt; typically, it had nothing to do with moose.

This picturesque group made up part of my haul. The largest one measured 3.5" across. These are buttons, people! (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

This picturesque group made up part of my haul. The largest one measured 3.5″ across. These are buttons, people! (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

This year, an acquaintance who is a very experienced mushroom hunter introduced us to the mock matsutake. Sadly, this fungus gets its name from similar looks to the much sought-after matsutake, but not flavor. The matsutake apparently has a legendarily tantalizing odor and taste that this look-alike doesn’t possess. Nevertheless, it’s a good, tasty mushroom, and when found, there’s a whole lot of it.

On Monday, I found a small stand of the mushrooms. In short order, my mushroom bag had filled to overflowing. I made an excellent mushroom variation of a favorite pasta topping (see Garlic Sauce Over Pasta) for dinner that night. I only used half of one of the mushrooms to create a filling dinner for two. The rest I sliced up for drying.

Now that the hunt’s over, I won’t stop harvesting mushrooms. I’m eager to make up for lost time (see Late Bloomers). But, I will stop lugging around my rifle and other hunting gear. I may give into the temptation of continuing to wear camo, though . . . .

Do not make the mistake of using this post, or any of this blog’s discussion of mushrooms as a guide in selecting mushrooms. Do that only with a good guidebook (we prefer David Arora’s All That the Rain Promises, and More . . .) or an experienced guide—preferably both!

2 Responses to “Measuring Hunting Success in Mushrooms”

  1. Charity says:

    I had only one childhood experience mushrooming; in high school in the Cascades with my great grandmother. We went out for shaggy manes and were successful. I started my own venture last winter with Oregon coast chanterelles and hedgehogs – speaking with neighbors and triple checking against my book (I also have David Arora’s All that the Rain Promises, and More.) But I was still hesitant off my property and in Washington woods this fall. BUT then I passed what I knew were lobster mushrooms out of fear and the very next day saw them selling for $25/lb at the market. That ended my fear. I’ve been picking chanterelle and lobster mushrooms around the greater Seattle area over the past month and loving it. I’m down on our Oregon coast property and while it is a bit dry, in just my first afternoon I have found about 2 lbs of chanterelles. I also was confident enough to bring back what I knew must be some type of bolete – just for the experience of referencing my book. It isn’t something I will eat (Fat Jack – if I’m correct), but have learned that the more I try to identify mushrooms I come across, the more comfortable I will become in recognizing the various parts and characteristics and hence even more comfortable with my identifications. I highly recommend folks get a book and start identifying (WAY before eating anything), just to get over the fear and start to learn. I won’t be adding anything new to my plate before I confirm my identifications with someone experienced, but am finally gaining confidence and learning more about the fruiting fungi (and the associated deeper knowledge about trees and forestry.)

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Charity! We’ve been thinking about you, wondering how you are.

    You’re definitely going about this the right way, at least according to David Arora.

    These lobster mushrooms are a complete mystery to me. I hadn’t known about them until our neighbor, Robin, who’s living in Oregon in the winter lately, mentioned them on this blog. I’m becoming intrigued!

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