Of Blacktails and Chanterelles

Hunting Blacktail Deer in Western Oregon
by nimrod243

I had such a blast hunting for a blacktail buck this fall.  I think this year I enjoyed just being out in the woods more than I ever have.  The possibility of shooting a buck was enough to get me out there, but accomplishing that objective was not absolutely essential to my success.

Sound like the words of a failed hunter?  Just trying to make myself feel better about not shooting anything this year?  Not really.

I only saw two deer during legal shooting light- both were does.  It was fun to watch them though... got my heart pounding.

We enjoyed some splendidly beautiful weather this year.  On two occasions, I actually laid down on the ground in the timbers, and feeling quite comfortable and sleepy, I took a blissful nap.

I also had a totally new and interesting experience this year.  When hunting on Oregon's coast range, I saw lots of mushrooms, and became quite curious as to whether or not they were edible (though I was smart enough not to try them, of course) since I had no way of knowing if they were of the edible variety or not.

So, when I got home that night I started searching online for information about the edible mushrooms found in Oregon's coast range.  One of the mushrooms that I had previously heard about was the Pacific Golden Chanterelle (Oregon's official state mushroom), which grows in second growth and old growth forests in Oregon, between mid-August and early December.

I familiarized myself with the characteristics of the Pacific Golden Chanterelle just in case I was to come across a patch of them in the future.

The next Saturday, I was out hunting east of Brownsville, and as I drove up a road looking for a new place to hunt, I came around a corner and was surprised to see a car practically parked in the middle or the road with a rather large freshly picked mushroom laying on top of it.  Then I saw a man and a woman who were in the process of harvesting mushrooms.

I quickly threw my car in reverse and headed back down the road, but my curiosity was definitely piqued!  I had gotten a pretty good look at the mushrooms they were picking and was pretty sure they were chanterelles.  This was pretty surprising to me because I had thought that chanterelles were only found in the coast range.

As soon as I was down the hill a little way and out of sight, I stopped the car to get out and see if I could find any of these mushrooms for myself.  I was very excited, thinking that I was going to find some any second.  But, after a few fruitless (or fungi-less) moments, I decided that I better get out of there, lest they should find me invading their mushroom picking grounds.

I had another place in mind, so I headed over there.  I got out of my car and started walking up this old logging road through some second growth timbers (with my rifle over my shoulder in case I saw a buck).  I was quite surprised and delighted when I quickly found a patch of what I thought to be chanterelle mushrooms.

Oregon Pacific Golden Chanterelle Mushroom
I picked one and looked at the "tell-tale" ribs on the underside of the funnel-shaped cap (sorry, no picture available).  I was almost certain that I had just picked my first chanterelle mushroom. 

I say almost certain because my knowledge was only based on photographs and descriptions that I had read about the characteristics of said fungi and the places they grow.

I was sure enough about it that I picked about five or six of them and put them in a sack to take home. 

When I returned home that night, I sat down on the computer and looked at more photos and viewed videos on YouTube to make sure that I really had the right mushrooms.

The mushrooms I had picked matched every one of the characteristics described in the various online resources I found about chanterelles.

In addition to matching each of the characteristics of true chanterelles, I also researched information on false chanterelles to determine their characteristics.  I concluded that I didn't have any false chanterelles in the bunch I had collected.

I don't take this type of thing lightly.  Never eat wild mushrooms unless you are 100% certain that you have correctly identified them as edible!

I decided to play it safe.  I'd take one small bite, and then wait 24 hours to see if there were any adverse side effects.

I grabbed one of the best looking mushrooms and sliced it lengthwise and tossed a small piece in a frying pan with some butter.  A few minutes later the small piece of mushroom had shrunk to about a third of it's original size. 

Then, for some reason, I decided to sprinkle some salt on it.  In the process, I accidentally put way too much salt on it.  When I took my first bite, I could not taste anything but salt. 

This was actually quite disappointing to me because I had heard that chanterelles were quite delicious.  But, I quickly reminded myself that the purpose of this experiment was to determine if there was any adverse reaction to consuming a small piece of the mushroom, so I finished it off and began the 24 hour wait.

I didn't get sick.  So, when I got home from work the next day, I sliced up a couple of my chanterelles and sauteed them in some butter (without adding any salt this time) and put them on a slice of pizza. 

They were delicious.  I was quite thrilled with the experience!  Now I had something new to look forward to- something to keep me entertained during the middle of the day when the deer hunting is slow.

Happy Hunting!
~nimrod243

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