“We got 5 min before class. Just found an oyster mushroom. Wanna come grab it?”- Me
“I’ll be outside in a second!”- Andrew
I got out for another rabbit hunt with my buddy Andrew and my trusty 870. Andrew was thinking about enrolling in the hunter’s safety course to obtain his hunting license so I asked him along. I figured that he would benefit from a little field experience before deciding if he really wants to go through the course.
The meadow was wet from a nice rain the night before and when we arrived the landscape was cool and still. Our first path yielded no rabbits, but our second sweep kicked up three. I got the second one and missed a shot at the third.
Andrew really seemed to enjoy the experience and I think he’s now convinced on taking the course and getting his hunting license!
The next day my girl, my dog, and I headed up to the mountains to cut a Christmas tree. As we crushed brush back in the woods of a friend’s land I spied the distinct shape of a beautiful mushroom on the side of an oak well over 30 yards away! It was a Lion’s Mane; an unmistakable beauty!
My girl cut the nearly five pound fungus free from the tree and a few minutes later she felled a nice cedar for the family room. It was a nice way to spend the afternoon!
My brother had been reporting daily of the loads of boletes and black trumpets he had been finding...he even found a copy of David Aurora's field guide "All that the Rain Promises and More!"
I had been finding a few fungi in and around town, but most were poisonous (though beautiful like theses yellow strainers and ink caps).
Then I found some puffballs, a Ma'am on motorcycle, and my first shaggy parasol!
I keyed them out using Mushrooms Demystified (also by David Aurora...the Bible of mushroom hunting). Though I am positive of my identification, I decided not to eat these guys as I have little experience with them and Aurora cautions that "some are made ill by them" (at least the latter two).
The following day I found a beautiful oyster mushroom on the side of a hardwood tree not 3 minutes walk from campus! It was a good thing too as Andrew and I had only five minutes to get to it, harvest, and get back to class. I felt a little guilty walking in to lecture a couple of minutes late, but it was worth it to see the stares of our peers when they noticed the massive mushrooms in our hands!
I got to cooking a couple of days later and used some of the massive Lion’s Mane, the oyster, and the rabbit to make a delicious seasonal stew! It was just in time for the rainstorm I have been praying for! Andrew and I ate contently in my office watching the rain fall and hatching plans to find more delicious fungi in the not too distant future!
Today I used the last of the rabbit (yes there is a ton of meat on a jackrabbit!) to make another tried and true recipe…pulled pork style rabbit and mushroom sandwiches. Anyone who doubts the delicious flavor and great texture of a carefully cooked common hare has clearly never tried jackrabbit prepared this way. It was amazing!
Well, the rain finally came. I’m getting outdoors and I suggest you do the same! Fear getting damp? Why? There’s no reason! And if you don’t you’ll miss out on the best season! Get out foraging for fungi and greens, get some shellfish, and hunt some small game by all means! The winter here in California’s wild side, is a season of adventures so do not hide inside. You can pick a mushroom in a minute (well maybe five), so remember get out there and “Keep the old ways alive!”