Before daylight wanes any further, it’s time to head outdoors for wild edible foraging and wildlife viewing; hunting or fishing; and possibly digging for razor clams on coastal beaches.

Fall is an exciting time around Washington to embrace the vibrant change of scenery, go on a nature hike or walk, and forage for wild edible foods.

Mushrooms are highly sought after in autumn especially as the first major rainfalls occur in October and early November and before the first frost sets in. When gathering mushrooms, the top priority is being able to identify what you’re picking before you dish it up to eat. Safety comes first, and nobody enjoys getting sick or even worse winding up in the emergency room.

Several popular fall mushrooms to gather around Washington are the fragrant Japanese pine (matsutake), golden chanterelles, king bolete, lobster, and oyster mushrooms. You can find helpful tips on mushroom gathering and identification by reading the WDFW Medium Blog.

The Puget Sound Mycological Society has fall classes and workshops at the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture. The Society’s Annual Wild Mushroom Show is October 22nd and 23rd at Shoreline Community College. The event features more than 200 mushrooms on display, speakers, information on field trips and classes and you can even bring in mushrooms to be identified by experts.

There are other organizations offering seminars, field trips and classes on mushroom gathering. The Whidbey Island Wild Mushroom Tours are held October 8th through December 10th; the Northwest Mushroomers Association in Bellingham hosts classes and events; and the Alderleaf Wilderness College has a wild mushroom identification course beginning Oct. 8 in Monroe.

Edible ferns, plants, roots, nettles, nuts, and flowers are available to gather year-round, and look for chickweeds and dandelion greens sprouting up this month.

Before venturing out to gather edibles you’ll want to clearly understand what is and isn’t poisonous or edible; cooking procedures; etiquette and guidelines like proper identification and research; correct licenses, limits, and rules (if applicable); techniques or tools used (especially when it comes to mushrooms); and being respectful of harvesting locations.

While out for a stroll in the forest or in the field be sure to take advantage of autumn wildlife viewing for a variety of deer, elk, migratory and resident birds, and other critters.