Sunday, June 16, 2019

Fishing Camp Curriculum for Coyle Outside Day One

Day One Rules and Basics:


That means not only picking up after yourself, but take a moment to pick up a few pieces of trash that you find this week. Accidents happen, and we might lose some tackle, but let's offset our impact on this place by leaving this place better than we found it.


Wading up to the knees is okay. Ideally, we don't want to scare the fish, so it's better to be stealthy


We don't want anyone to get hurt, break any rods, and again, we don't want to scare the fish.


Don't disturb other anglers. Look before you cast so you don't hook a tree limb or each other. Take in natural observations, what forage the fish might feed on and where fish might hide. Enjoy the outdoors and learning about the local flora and fauna we're going to be discovering. Don't harass wildlife. Be aware of plants like blackberries, poison oak, or nettles that could ruin our day.


- Discuss different species in the area
- Catch and release laws vs. ethics

4. Overview of agenda for the week: TBD

5. Overview of agenda for today:

- Nature walk
- Observe plants, birds, habitat, (hopefully) fish
- Turn over rocks/observe food sources for fish
- talk about what kind of bait you could find in nature
- how would you imitate that forage with artificial lures?

6. Traps -

- Creating your own traps from natural materials
- Creating your own traps from discarded plastic bottles
- Placement & strategy
- Bait and set pre-constructed crawfish traps

7. Tackle, Knots, & Rigging -

- Rods, Reels, and how they work, inside and out
- Overview of Line, Weights, Swivels, Hooks
- Fisherman's Knot
- Rigging demonstration(s)

8. Check Traps -

- Observe and identify different species
- Discuss why certain traps did or did not work

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

RE: Diane Peterson's "Kids and Guns" Letter (reduced word count version for EW)

Children will encounter scenarios legislation can't prevent. Your suggestion to "hold gun owners accountable for responsibly storing their guns" as an alternative solution is focused on legislating the aftermath of horrific events, rather than preventing them.

Derek LeBlanc has worked diligently with representatives on both sides of the aisle presenting  prevention based legislation. I've attended his course, witnessed his dedication to inform children about a real-life scenarios if they encounter a firearm that is not "responsibly stored."

I sympathize with concerns about "firearm safety for first graders," but have you read the bill? The classes are nonpolitical. Must neither encourage or discourage gun ownership. At no time may any real firearm or live ammunition be used or possessed during the class. They're a half hour each year during recess. Parents are given notice so they may opt and children can go to recess rather than participating.

While taboo for parents who don't own guns, I recommend considering Derek's program, whether or not the bill passes. Treating this subject with fear-mongering ignorance isn't going to prevent accidents. Regardless of your ideologies about gun ownership, this bill is focused on giving children necessary information that could save lives. It is deeply disappointing anyone would oppose this bill, saying it's "wrong to put the burden of firearm safety on children." You are accepting the burden of your children not being prepared for these real life scenarios, and the responsibility for accidents it could prevent.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

RE: "Kids and Guns" (Eugene Weekly Letter to the Editor)

In response to Diane Peterson's letter last week, I'd like to shed some light on the value of the bill related to youth firearm safety course for 1st graders, or SB801. It is wrong to oppose a bill that could potentially save the lives of children through education. While there IS a great responsibility on adult gun owners to store their weapons safely, children will find themselves in many situations during their lives where they encounter scenarios presented to them by irresponsible adults. Criminals who can't legally possess a gun can still acquire and discard a firearm where a child may come in contact with it. You can't prevent those types of scenarios through legislation. As a firm supporter of harm reduction philosophies, I believe we must meet these problems where they are, and do what it takes to prevent more accidents from happening. This involves educating children on what to do when they encounter a firearm. Your opposition to this bill and suggestion to instead "hold gun owners accountable for responsibly storing their guns" as an alternative solution is too focused on legislating the aftermath of horrific events, rather than preventing them from happening in the first place.

Derek LeBlanc, who originally presented a draft of this bill to legislators has worked diligently with politicians on both sides of the aisle to present a bill that is marketable and agreeable for everyone in an effort to do something to prevent accidental gun deaths involving children. I've personally attended his youth firearm safety course and seen first hand his dedication to informing children on what to do in a real-life scenarios if they encounter a firearm that is not "responsibly stored," as well as a curriculum focused on the subjects of video games vs. real life violence, the dangers of confusing firearms with toy guns, and with relation to things like airsoft guns, the promotion of aiming at targets rather than each other.

I can sympathize with the concern of parents who become apprehensive when they see headlines about "firearm safety for first graders," but have you actually read the text of this bill? It is nonpolitical and must neither encourage or discourage gun ownership. At no time At no time may any real firearm or live ammunition be used or possessed during the class. The class is a half hour each year and held during recess. Parents are given prior notice about the class so they may opt and their children can go to recess rather than participating.

Catering to the curiosity of children about guns may be a taboo for parents who do not own guns, but I would highly recommend that they consider introducing their children to Derek's program, whether or not the bill passes. Treating the subject with fear-mongering ignorance is not going to prevent accidents from happening. Most accidents don't happen in the homes of "dangerous people" that laws passed by legislators would prevent from being gun owners in the first place. Regardless of your ideologies about gun ownership, this bill is focused on giving children necessary information that could very well save their lives. It is deeply disappointing and downright disturbing that anyone would oppose this bill, and say it's "wrong to put the burden of firearm safety on children." By opposing this legislation, you are accepting the burden of your children not being prepared for these real life scenarios, and accepting the responsibility for the accidents it could prevent.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Alsea Wild Broodstock Call to Action

This weekend, the Linn Benton Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association held it's annual banquet and fundraiser, drawing record attendance. Right now, there is a great deal of momentum to improve our local fisheries, and the spotlight has been shining on potential improvements for the Siletz.

With that being said, I'm writing this open letter in an effort to shed some light on the shadow that has been forming on the other side of the mountain. My hope is to carry some of that momentum into a collaborative effort where it could be applied for the recreational anglers in our Linn Benton CCA chapter who fish the Alsea. Over the past several years, the Alsea fishery has been in a perpetual state of disrepair, and wild broodstock collection has been an arduous point of contention for guides and recreational anglers alike. Mortality issues affecting both the Alsea and Siletz have been a catalyst for long overdue equipment upgrades, but not without tarnishing the program's relationship with the community, and forming somewhat of a divide in cooperation and lack of transparency on multiple levels.

The hatchery is being extremely cautious to improve it's rapport, but hesitant to disclose information to the public that could help the productivity of the wild broodstock program on the Alsea. I have an article in the March issue of Northwest Sportsman Magazine titled "How Oregon Coast Broodstock Steelhead Programs Work." It's essentially a comparison between the Cedar Creek and Alsea Hatchery facilities.

The timing seems optimal to capitalize on some of this momentum. I'm offering a list of talking points that I'd like our regional fishing community to consider moving forward between today and the week of March 25th.

  • The Siletz Wild Broodstock program has a quota to capture 35 pairs of wild broodstock fish for spawning. 
  • The quota on the Alsea is 40 pairs (or 10 more fish of equal sex).
  • Historically, the Siletz Wild Broodstock program consistently reaches that annual quota.
  • The Alsea Wild Broodstock program has never met this quota in it's history.
  • On March 14th, Asst. Fish Biologist Paul Olmsted requested that Siletz Wild Broodstock Collection participants put the brakes on contributing fish until March 25th, citing: "You guys are too good!" and "This is a good problem to have."
  • As of today March 18th, the Alsea Wild Broodstock program has collected 18 bucks and 21 hens from anglers, 15 pairs of which have been spawned and another 9 fish that are being held until they are "ripe."
  • As of March 14th, the Siletz Wild Broodstock program has collected 33 pairs of wild broodstock.
  • There are an additional 4 bucks and 7 hens of Wild Broodstock that have been captured by the trap at the Alsea facility.
  • If the quota of 40 pairs of wild broodstock fish (the maximum allowed is 45) is not collected,  hatchery stock will be used in the spawning matrix. If hatchery fish are used in the wild broodstock program, at least 30 percent of the broodstock will be of wild fish origin. (See page 6 of the Alsea Hatchery Program Management Plan)

PVC tubes have been used by anglers to collect wild broodstock fish on the Alsea River. As effective as they are at keeping the fish calm while they're stationary, boaters are often hesitant to use them. The hatchery also cites lack of manpower to retrieve them on a regular basis from pick up points at the boat ramps. Guides have reported leaving them at the ramp overnight and seeing them still in the same place when they finish their float the next day. There have also been instances of poaching, wildlife harassment, and liberation of the collection broodstock fish (likely by parties that oppose the program as a result of these issues). However, I'd like to offer some possible solutions.

Alsea Hatchery Angler Fish Drop Off
A self-service angler drop off area for Alsea wild broodstock is a new addition to the Alsea facility this year. There are only a small handful of people who have been consistently using it. It seems that this new addition has been for the most part ignored by the majority of the guides in our region who already have wild broodstock collection tanks on board their vessels or they are simply unaware of that it even exists. I'm hoping for this open letter to change both.

One of the top contributors to the program this year (by way of the self-service angler drop off) is a 19 year old Fisheries & Wildlife student at Oregon State University by the name of Logan Ellis. He is leading by example, and deserves some positive attention for the ambitious effort he has put into this program. If a teenage recreational angler can build his own livewell broodstock tank and become one of the most prolific contributors to the Alsea Wild Broodstock program, then large groups of well-organized, influential and well known professional guides should be taking notice just how far removed they are from it.

This is a call to action. I have a set of goals I'd personally like to see accomplished, but meeting the wild broodstock collection quota for the Alsea program is at the top of the list. The Siletz only needs 2 pair of wild broodstock contributions the week of March 25th, which should be easy to achieve. It seems like mission impossible to contribute nearly double the number of angler caught wild fish for the entire season on the Alsea in a matter of two weeks, but I'm asking anyone who can fit the time and effort into their busy schedules between now and the end of the month to simply step up and lead by example the way 19 year old Logan Ellis has. Let's end this season on a high note, and go into the next one prepared.

As for my other personal goals for the Alsea Wild Broodstock program, they are as follows:

1. Improve the current self-service drop off station

The current self-service drop off station did not have a net at the beginning of this season. I was told by hatchery personnel that the reason for this was "Most boaters already have a net." However, after seeing footage online of people grabbing fish out of their wild broodstock tanks and dropping them into the raceway, my concerns were confirmed. The concrete wall is a couple feet high, and so is the fence around it, meaning there's a 4+ foot drop into roughly 18" of water. The fish are doing a cannonball into the shallow end of the pool. I would like to see squared, fine mesh nets that are constructed to fit into the corners of the livewell tanks and be easier on the transition of the fish from box-to-box. After issuing an initial request for a net, being told everyone already has one, and showing them that people aren't using their nets, the hatchery provided a landing net at the station. This is a step in the right direction, but a net designed for this function needs to be acquired, and a landing net is likely more subject to theft.

Another possible solution is some sort of slide or chute, similar to a smaller scale version of the "Salmon cannon" designed by Whooshh Innovations so the fish aren't being just dumped in shallow water with a concrete bottom. This kind of project would likely require some thought going into the design and possibly additional funding, but would set a positive example for the Cedar Creek facility drop off area, which also has a bit of a drop over a fence and concrete wall before the fish hit the water when they are released.

2. Construct Livewell Broodstock Tanks for Public Use

There are far less tanks available on this side of the mountain than guides who consistently fish the Alsea and support our wild broodstock program. Even if we can't provide tanks to everyone, those who tube their fish and leave them at the boat ramp can collaborate with allies within the program who do have tanks to expedite the transfer of wild broodstock to the self-service drop off station. We can't depend on the hatchery personnel to perform this task of picking up the fish we collect, but we can volunteer efforts to do this ourselves.

If you are a guide or angler participating in the Siletz wild broodstock program, loaning out your tanks to those who are more focused on the Alsea fishery for the next week or two (until wild broodstock collection resumes on the Siletz) is one way you can help the Alsea program without having to leave the Siletz.

3. Transparency and self-regulation
The Cedar Creek facility has a drop off station with a weatherproof kiosk that has a clipboard which lists contributions by angler/guide, date, sex, and quantity. A similar kiosk existed for a very brief period at the Alsea facility, but was "destroyed by the weather." I was told that the complete list of contributors was now being kept confidential for privacy reasons, but that I could still acquire that information by filing a public records request with the ODFW office in Salem. I think it's valuable information for the contributions to be transparent for the accountability of both the participants and the hatchery.

4. Funding these projects independently through regional angler advocacy groups

Our Linn-Benton CCA chapter has a regional project fund it has never used since it was founded 5 years ago. The Alsea Sportsman's Association also has project funding that has not been earmarked.

Thank you for your consideration in these matters. I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish in the short time frame these opportunities have presented themselves, and moving forward into being better prepared for next winter steelhead season.

Randall Bonner

Member Linn Benton CCA
Alsea Sportsman's Association

Friday, February 1, 2019


Received an email this afternoon that Senator Gelser removed her chief sponsorship from the bill. This email is public record. Please send letters of thanks and praise to Senator Gelser for responding so quickly to concerns about Senate Bill 723.

From: Sen Gelser <>
Date: Fri, Feb 1, 2019 at 1:38 PM
Subject: Re: Senate Bill 723
To: Randall Bonner <>

Dear Randall,

Thank you for following up!  It’s been a busy day and I was planning to direct message you to see if we could move this discussion to email as I was afraid I would miss things on Twitter, where my feed has been taken over by a debate about vaccines.

I appreciate that you raised the concerns you did about SB 723.  I was visited in my office and also received a number of letters asking me to sign on to legislation to prohibit a specific kind of coyote hunting contests.  I saw the photos and video, and found it to be disturbing.  I remain concerned about that practice on a personal level.

However, based on your letter and that of others I realized that I am missing a great deal of information about the hunting and fishing community, predator management, and events and strategies.  While I still oppose the cougar hunting contest, it is clear that this bill is much more broad and spreads into areas about which I lack sufficient information.  As a result, I have withdrawn my name from the bill and am no longer a sponsor.  I can’t justify being the sponsor of a bill about which I cannot answer all of the questions.  There is a process that goes through, so the website may not immediately reflect that.  It appears that it requires the approval of the Senate President to have my name removed.

I am happy to pick up this conversation later as the bill will be heard in the committee on which I serve.  I’m interested in the topic generally and do hope there is a way for it to be more narrowly tailored to the problem it was described as trying to solve. In the mean time, I do need to send notes to my constituents to whom I indicated I would sign on as a co-sponsor so that I can explain my decision to them.  I hope you will bear with me if it is next week before I can pick this thread with you back up.  However, if you have urgent questions that need to be resolved right away of course you will immediately have my attention again.

Finally, I have never and will never introduce or support legislation based on who has put it forward or campaign finance.  That’s not really my style.  In this case, I signed on because I was moved by the photos and the description of what sounded like a very cruel and indiscriminate process.  It was my error to not step back and learn more before I affixed my name to the bill that was brought by my office.  I do not fault the proponents of the bill for this—I should have taken more time to study before I agreed.

Thank you for the part you played in helping me see my error.


Senator Sara Gelser
Chair, Senate Human Services Committee
Senate District 8 (Corvallis/Albany)
(503) 986-1708

What Oregonians Need to Know about Senate Bill 723

***UPDATE: Senator Sara Gelser has removed herself as a chief sponsor of this bill***

State Senate Bill 723 filed on Tuesday reads:
"Prohibits person from organizing, sponsoring, promoting, conducting or participating in contest, competition, tournament or derby that has objective of taking wildlife for prizes or other inducement or for entertainment."
Senator Michael Dembrow (D - Portland), Senator Jeff Golden (D - Ashland), and Senator Sara Gelser (D - Corvallis/Albany/Philomath) are listed as chief sponsors of the bill. Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D) - NW Portland/Beaverton), Senator Kathleen Taylor (D - Milwuakie) and Representatives Alissa Keny-Guyer (D - Portland), Courtney Neron (D - Aloha/Beaverton/Hillsboro/Tigard/Sherwood/Wilsonville) and Rob Nosse (D - Portland) also sponsored the bill.

When news began to spread about the bill, the fishing community reacted to the threat that tournaments and derbies would be outlawed, removing many annual events statewide that fund everything from conservation projects to rural preschools. Given the history of Kate Brown's education record as governor, Alsea's rural preschool will probably take any help it can get from a recent fishing derby in the area. The Alsea Sportsman's Association also holds an annual fishing derby that funds conservation projects that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife doesn't have in their budget.

As a resident of Corvallis, I reached out to Senator Gelser on Twitter. She seemed unaware of how the bill would effect competitive fishing, and even offered to seek amendment of the bill to exclude fishing tournaments.

Upon further review, Senator Gelser discovered that the text of the bill would not apply to competitive fishing events, and was quick to point out that:

What the Oregon Outdoor Council called a "Ban on Fishing and Hunting Derbies" is more aptly an attempt at halting coyote tournaments (according to Senator Gelser). However, the text of the bill could be expanded to other hunting competitions as well. Some examples that I speculate could be included under the text of this bill include the Sport Shows Heads and Horns Competition, Burnt Woods Big Buck contest, Sportsman's Warehouse Big Game photo contests, even the magazine I write for, Northwest Sportsman's Browning Photo Contest. All of them fit the bill's definition for wildlife and the objective of taking it "for prizes, other inducement, or for entertainment."

Even if fishing tournaments are not included as part of this bill, there are some curious discrepancies about the Senator's logical reasons for specifically banning coyote tournaments. Even some interesting comparisons between scales and fur, but we will come back to that later...

Dominic Aiello is president of the Oregon Outdoor Council and a writer for the Statesman Journal. Dominic joined the conversation on Twitter, questioning,

First, let's address the concern that in a fishing contest, fish are used for food. It's important to acknowledge that this is not always the case for fishing tournaments, especially bass tournaments, where the catch is released at the end of the event. This could also be true for any salmon or steelhead derby in which broodstock is collected, spawned, and released. Sure, there are also tournaments where the fish are harvested as food. For example, the Oregon Tuna Classic has donated over a million pounds of food, including the catch from participating anglers, and food purchased with donations to the event.

But the preconceived notion that coyotes have no culinary value is false. Although regulated as a "furbearer," coyote is still legal table fare in the state of Oregon, even if it's a little taboo. In a scene from the Netflix Original Series "Meateater," host Steven Rinella stands over an open barbecue pit cooking coyote for the first time and acknowledges that,
"We humans have complex relationships with canines. Almost too complex for words. To put a piece of their flesh in our mouths is no light matter. I'm approaching this with a bit of trepidation." After a few bites, they begin to compare the flavors to other game animals, and sum the meal up by simply saying that, "On some basic level, meat is meat. It's good if you cook it good." 

Many people in the sustainable food movement have turned to wild game for the source of protein. Jeremiah Doughty is a wild chef who has dedicated himself to educating the public on processing and cooking wild game through his business "From Field to Plate," which includes hands more than just a website and social media presence, but hands-on butchering classes. Like many wild chefs, Doughty promotes the ethics of eating what you kill, and using everything possible in the process. Coyotes are no exception to this. When I asked for a recipe recommendation, he suggested trying "Coyote Firecracker Chili."
I personally have no desire to enter a coyote tournament. Then again, I'm not much of a competitive sportsman either. I like to bass fish, but I'm not even interested in doing tournaments that are catch and release. That's not the point though. My lack of interest, my preconceived notions and my mixed feelings about all of this are not justification to prevent other people from participating in these events. A ban would be under the pretenses of an ethnocentric perspective that should not govern this or any other bill.

Author and Wild Chef Hank Shaw is an exception too. While having a reputation for an adventurous palate and trying just about anything, crows, canines, and felines are off the menu for Hank. Shaw says that he would never shoot a coyote, cougar, bobcat, or any other predator unless it endangered his life. In an entry on his blog, "Hunter Angler Gardener Cook," Shaw elaborates on "The Lines We Draw."

"We are fellow predators and view each other with wariness and respect."
Shaw acknowledges and accepts that other people don't share his views, but respects the right of people to kill predators where it is legal.

"While I don't like it, I am not about to impose my moral standard on someone else. Coyotes are almost as clever as crows. While I accept the right of hunters to kill coyotes  where it is legal, I will never do so unless a pack threatens me. I know this is irrational. Part of me says I am limiting my culinary horizons by declaring certain foods verboten. How do I know I won't love something if I refuse to try it? Maybe crow is better than duck. Maybe it is, but I am content to never know."

I understand the Senator's concern for management. Coyotes are one of 8 species regulated as "furbearers" that are open season all year. 8 other species have specific seasons, and 5 more species are not legal to hunt in Oregon. It's not evident that the state has any desire at this point to change the course of managing it's coyote populations, and if there's concern of the adverse effects of overpopulation, then killing as many as quickly as possible IS the management plan, is it not?

Hunters often point to the fact that coyotes are "fawn killers," and adversely affect big game animal populations, and there is truth to this. However, coyotes also pose a risk to domestic livestock, especially as we encroach upon their territory. Western Oregon however, which is home to all 7 Democrats who sponsor the bill, is relatively new territory for coyotes. In fact, coyotes were rarely seen west of the Cascades prior to the 1940s.

In recent history, coyotes attacked two young girls, ages 7 and 9 in separate incidents in southwest Portland last fall. Unfortunate incidents like these have been on a steady incline in urban areas of Western Oregon since the 1980s. In a article, Bill Ripple, an ecologist at Oregon State University in Corvallis says, "the coyote's arrival will have unpredictable effects on other species in the ecosystem.

Still, many will likely view predator management as wasteful, and competitive events as barbaric. However, these private events play a role in management that saves the state from having to develop programs out of it's own pocket. And that's where things come full circle, and offering prize money for the best predator "managers" comes back around to comparisons between animals with scales and animals with fur.

The Northern Pikeminnow bounty fishery does just that, and this year will have paid out over a million bounties on the native fish in an effort to reduce predation of salmon smolts. You can track historical pikeminnow bounty data at which shows that 108,309 bounties were paid out on pikeminnow in 2018 alone. These bounties are paid out by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. In fact, the payscale is $5 per fish for the first 25. Then it goes to $6 per fish for 26-200, and $8 per fish from 201 and up. The payscale resets for bounty anglers annually. In addition to bounties set for various quantities, there are tagged fish in the system that fetch $500 each. They are tagged with both a spaghetti tag and a PIT tag, so that even if the spaghetti tag falls out, the PIT tag can still fetch an additonal $100 bounty. Last year's top angler scored a $70,000 paycheck. Do the math here.

Now ask yourself what's different about an incentive bounty on scaly predators with fins that are not (typically) revered as quality table fare and a privatized bounty on coyotes, which seem to fit the same mold? Both ARE managed for their role as predators that target populations of fish and game animals that are harvestest for food. The Humane Society of America is not after bounty anglers killing hundreds of thousands of pikeminnow in the Columbia River, but they have been vocal opponents of pinniped management in spite of serious predation issues that threaten endangered fish species.

Senator Jeff Golden (D - Ashland) told reporter Elise Herron of Willamette Week that being approached by the Humane Society influenced his decision to support this legislation.

"I didn't know about the practice before the Humane Society came to me early in the session. After reading up on these competitions, I decided to become a sponsor."
The Humane Society claims that "during wildlife killing contests, hunters compete by killing as many wild animals as possible." This is a dramatized statement. Even most of the contests operate on a set bag limit, and the winners are declared based upon weight, not quantity. They also claim that "no wildlife management purpose supports these contests," but a year long open season on coyotes is clearly a management decision, and private events that are held, bought in and paid out on their own are much more practical than involving the state to pay out bounties as a form of management.

Lastly the Humane Society claims that "some animals are sold for their fur, but most are discarded and go to waste." The problem with this claim is that is already against the law. Coyote hunters are required to purchase a furbearer permit in addition to a hunting license, which for a resident is $25. A resident furtaker's license is $53 and a non-resident furtaker's license is $395. In order for a furtaker to make use of the hides collected by those with furbearer permits, a tournament is an efficient collection point. Furbearer regulations set by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife also state that:

"It is unlawful to waste the pelt of any furbearer except when authorized by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife."
 Perhaps enforcement of existing laws would eliminate the issues of "waste" that legislators and the Human Society are concerned about.

Please contact your local legislators and ask them to withdraw their sponsorship for Senate Bill 723. While the intention of this bill may be directed at coyote tournaments, the text is simply too vague and broad beyond it's intentions. It also opens the door to banning other competitive tournaments and derbies, many of which, like hides being turned into purses for auction, fund charitable causes.

Senator Sara Gelser

Democrat - District 8 - Corvallis, Albany, Philomath, Millersburg, Tangent, and unincorporated parts of Linn and Benton County

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1708
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, S-405, Salem, Oregon 97301

Senator Michael Dembrow

Democrat - District 23 - Portland

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1723
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, S-407, Salem, Oregon 97301

Senator Jeff Golden

Democrat - District 3 - Ashland

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1703   District Phone: ​541-843-0720

Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, S-421, Salem, Oregon 97301


Twitter: ​@SenatorGolden​


Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward

Democrat - District 17 - NW Portland/Beaverton

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1717
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, S-213, Salem, Oregon 97301
District Mailing Address: PO Box 2281, Portland, Oregon 97208

Senator Kathleen Taylor

Democrat - District 21 - Milwaukie

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1721
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, S-423, Salem, Oregon 97301

Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer

Democrat - District 46 - Portland

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1446
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, H-272 Salem, Oregon 97301

Representative Courtney Neron

Democrat - District 26 - Aloha, Beaverton, Hillsboro, King City, Sherwood, Tigard, Wilsonville

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1426
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, H-281, Salem, Oregon 97301

Representative Rob Nosse

Democrat - District 42 - Portland

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1442   District Phone: 971-217-8037
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, H-472, Salem, Oregon 97301

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Winter Mushroom Hunting

photo by Hanna Marklin
The typical hunter-gatherer types think of picking mushrooms primarily as a spring and fall activity. However, if you learn enough of the edible varieties, habitats they grow in, and the longevity of their seasons, you can easily make this past-time last all year. Winter is one of my favorite times of year for mushroom hunting. While the gold rush for fall chanterelles is probably the most popular among mushroom hunters, they tend to disappear once the rains and freezing weather put an end to the harvest. Mushroom hunting during the winter months also reduces conflict with most hunting seasons, particularly in regards to big game. Best of all, it's a great excuse to get outside when the river is blown out and the weather isn't cooperating for winter steelhead, or you've already bagged your limit of ducks in the morning.

The progression of different species that fruit during this seasonal transition begins with Hydnum repandum, commonly known as hedgehog mushrooms, which are very similar in density, texture, and taste to chanterelles. Some species of hedgehog mushrooms begin fruiting in late summer and early fall, however there are others that will continue to fruit long after chanterelles have gone past their prime. Hedgehog Mushrooms get their name from a unique spiky pattern of spines beneath their caps where you typically see gills on most mushrooms. Their lack of imposters also makes them a fairly easy mushroom to identify and distinguish as an edible. These are a great choice for savory dishes, mushroom soups, or even pickling, and will maintain their density and texture fairly well after cooking.

As the season transitions into colder, freezing temperatures that are inhabitable for most fall mushroom species, another prolific and unique mushroom is the Lactarius or more commonly known as "Candy Cap" for it's strong maple syrup aroma. There are three North American species of Lactarius, but the Lactarius Rubidus is more common on the west side. This particular mushroom requires a little more advanced identification, as it resembles a large pool of lookalikes known by the mycological community as "LBMs" or "Little Brown Mushrooms." The Galerina is one toxic lookalike that grows in the same habitat. It's recommended to gather Candy Caps by hand rather than with a knife. The texture of their stem (known as a "stipe") is fairly fragile and breaks more like an old, dry twig, while it's imposters have a stipe that is more flexible, and tends to bend and break more like a green willow branch. Another analogy to explain this would be the difference between bone and cartilage.

Candy Caps are pretty unique in their range of culinary applications, and are typically dried first and ground into powder. Drying them is recommended at very low temperatures in order to best preserve the flavor and aroma. Once they're dried, use a coffee grinder to turn them into a fine powder. A blender or food processor would be a good substitute in the absence of a coffee grinder, but you'll end up with a much more coarse product. The powder you can use in almost anything sweet, but some of the more common uses are adding it to home made ice cream, pancakes, cookies, muffins, or other baked goods. The maple syrup flavor and aroma becomes a dominating focus of whatever you choose to add it to.

Finally, one of my personal favorite mushrooms of this season is Craterellus tubaeformis, aka the yellowfoot, or winter chanterelle. They have a very similar gill structure like the unique key identifiers for all chanterelles, which are gills that fork or web rather than running parallel to each other, and have erratic termination points where the gills connect to the stipe. The top of the mushroom is almost brown, with a dimple in the center of the cap. The name for yellowfoot comes from the stipe, which is a subtle, earthy, golden color. Unlike the golden chanterelles, the stipe on a yellowfoot is hollow.

Yellowfoot lends itself as an easy to forage forest product, growing in small clusters and often prolific within a small area. Whereas it's gold and white cousins typically push up from the duff and come covered in pine needles and debris, yellowfoot tends to grow from the same habitat, only from the surface of the forest floor rather than just beneath the first layer of it. Much like the candy caps, you won't need a knife to harvest them, you can simply pluck them by bending them at their base until they snap. In spite of the fact that yellowfoot are hollow-stemmed and significantly smaller and less dense than their chanterelle cousins, the process of harvesting them involves a lot less cleaning and is very low maintenance. Their size doesn't require any slicing or cooking prep, so with enough care harvesting them in the field, you can simply bring them home and toss them in a skillet, or add them to your favorite savory dish.

This article was published in the December 2018 issue of Northwest Sportsman Magazine and received 2nd place honors in the 2019 Excellence in Craft awards for the Travel, Camping, Recreation magazine category at the Northwest Outdoor Writers Association conference.

The diversity of species available to pick during the winter months offers a wide range of uses in a variety of meals. The versatility of their culinary value will not only expand your palate, but with very little effort, you can easily stock up on side dishes for your winter meals, and enjoy a little more time in the outdoors, rain or shine.