A column about how to get completely lost in the woods, wild-harvesting strange things from nature, and exploring unknown rivers.
Thursday, October 13, 2016
2016 Fall Mushroom Forecast
This article appeared in the October 2016 issue of Northwest Sportsman Magazine
Several early rains this summer have brought success for hunting Fall mushrooms as early as mid July. At this rate, the season is on track for a stellar showing of edible wild
mushrooms. Dry weather stalled last year's crop, but still showed signs of life as early as August, particularly with lobster mushrooms. 2015's fall chanterelles were not nearly as plentiful as the following 2016 winter crop, but if rains fall early and frequent, a low yield year can potentially be followed by a significantly higher yield the next.
Early harvests of sulphur shelf, or “Chicken of the Woods,”
along with lobster mushrooms, and the ever popular white and yellow
chantrelles are easy to find once the rains appear. Pigs ear and bolete mushrooms also rise through the substrate of the
forest floor later in the fall.
Chantrelles are perhaps the most widely sought after variety, and there
is an abundance of them along the coast range at higher elevations. When
you happen upon one, stop and pay attention to your surroundings. It’s
not uncommon to trample several mushrooms in one area while overcome
with the excitement to pluck the first one you lay eyes on. Look for
mossy areas under old growth, evergreen debris, where salal and Oregon
While moisture from the rain is key to activating the mcyelium, you will
find that some of the mushrooms that are more exposed to the elements
tend to deteriorate, become soggy and inedible. The best days for
harvesting are during periods of warmer weather after rains have
saturated the soil enough that it still remains damp. When the ground is
really wet, look underneath the gaps of fallen logs that have made
contact with the forest floor. The areas in which the log shields the
ground from rain creates a dryer environment that will produce firmer
mushrooms that tend to keep longer. If there's frequent wet weather, you'll also find better quality mushrooms on south facing slopes. On the contrary, if the rains are few and far between, north facing slopes, shady areas, and flat spots on hillsides will hold more moisture and provide more productive habitat.
Be sure to use these tips when hunting mushrooms…
-Being aware of your surroundings is vital to enjoying your outdoor
experience; keep in mind that’s it’s fairly easy to wander into private
property on accident. Check your local regulations on harvesting and
entry permits for public lands.
-Do not consume any mushrooms you can not identify with confidence; lots
of lookalikes out there have made people pretty sick over the years. A
good place to pick up some resources for identification is at our very
own Saturday Market.
-If the quality of your find is in question, the general rule of “When in doubt, toss it out” applies.
-While on your hike, keep track of time and your path so you don’t get
lost in the woods after dark. If you are unsure about how long your hike
will be, bring a headlamp or flashlight.