Fall Mushroom Hunting in Pennsylvania | John Royer, Leatherwood Outdoors

Fall Mushroom Hunting in Pennsylvania | John Royer, Leatherwood Outdoors

The vibrant colors of fall are a clarion call of sorts to the cool, crisp mornings and many outdoor adventures. As this time of year approaches, many outdoorsman look forward to sitting in their archery stand with hopes of encountering a Booner and watching all the wildlife prepping for winter. But, there is something else that captures the interests of hunter enthusiasts while not in the deer stand and allows them to still put food on the table—fall mushroom hunting. Mushroom hunting is common in the spring yet can be lost amongst the more charismatic pursuits in the fall. When the rainy days come in the fall and you’re not sure how to enjoy the outdoors, jump in your car and take a drive and look at the colorful leaves and look for mushrooms. Mushroom hunting in the fall provides a way to enjoy the colorful leaves while looking for specific tree species. Mushroom aficionados know that hunting is a year-long pursuit and each outing is a curious hunting ground.  It never ends!

The Initial Steps for Mushroom Hunting

Fungi are excellent and efficient wood destroyers.[1] Therefore, the logical and initial step in mushroom hunting the four prized fall mushrooms is learning the skill of tree identification. An easy place to start is learning to identify oak species, especially white oak. With a firm grasp of the shape and color of its bark and the leaf shape and color (especially their fall colors), jump in the car or take a walk through the woods. Now, finding and remembering the location of the correct trees can be a hunt in itself, so always keep a note of where you find these trees (for future hunting pleasure). You may want to come back to them later next year as different mushrooms come out at different times of the year. Prior to our discussion, it is important to mention that if you would happen to spot any mushroom(s) on the roadside or near a parking lot, it is recommended not to pick them. The reason is that many pollutants and herbicides are used along roadways and public places. Therefore, it is best to hunt for mushrooms well away from the road. It is wise to use caution.

Hunting for a Chickens in the Woods

The first mushroom of interest is Chicken of the Woods. Another name for it is Sulfur Shelf because of the shelf-like growing structure on the side of trees or stumps. Furthermore, this mushroom literally tastes like chicken, hence the name Chicken of the Woods. Chicken of the Woods is a good starting point for beginning hunters because is very easy to find (throughout the spring, summer, and fall) and it does not have poisonous lookalikes. There are two kinds of Chicken of the Woods and both are valued edible mushrooms, but I will be focusing on Laetiporus sulphureus which is most commonly found in the fall. Three main characteristics of this mushroom are: 1) It grows on a stumps or fallen tree limb. You will not find this mushroom growing on the ground, 2) It is bright blaze orange on top couple with a bright sulfur yellow colored underside, and 3) It does not have gills or a stem. I found my first one ever as I was looking out the window (of my car) while my wife was driving down a backroad in mid-September. I caught a glimpse of a bright orange mushroom on an oak stump 20 yards off the road. I had her stop and turn around.  I ran out of the car and there it was, my first chicken! I harvested the mushrooms and safely tucked it in a plastic bag so that we could devour them at home. The best way to harvest this mushroom is to cut the outer ring of the mushroom where it is most soft and flexible which is usually the first 1–2 inches. We cleaned and fried it up with some butter, salt and pepper. It was delicious! A simple way to prepare this mushroom for consumption is to cut it in bite sized pieces and put it in a skillet with some butter. Salt and pepper to taste and cook until it turns golden brown on the edges. My wife loved it so much that now all she does is look for mushrooms everywhere we go!

Hunting for Sheep, Rams, and Hens in the Woods

The second fall mushroom is the Sheepshead Mushroom (Grifola Frondosa), also known as Maitake, Rams Head, and Hen of the Woods. Like with the Chicken of the Woods, I found my first one by spotting it right next to the road while looking out the window as my wife was driving. This mushroom also loves white oak trees and you will typically find them growing on the ground close to dead and dying oak trees or stumps.  In some cases, this mushroom is very hard to spot; therefore, it will be more difficult to see from a moving vehicle. This mushroom is grey, light tan, or brown on the top. They sprout out feather like florets and can grow very quickly and get very big.  It is pure white underneath with no gills. It might look like a pile of dead leaves to some people, but do not be fooled! Sheepshead is highly sought after not only because it is a delicious edible mushroom, but also because it has medicinal qualities. Also, it is it high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants while it supposedly has cancer fighting properties along with numerous other health benefits.

Hunting for Honey in the Woods

The third mushroom is the Honey Mushroom (Armillaria mellea). This will grow in patches or clusters on the ground or on trees and stumps of dead and dying oak trees. There are two main kinds of honey mushrooms. One has a ring around the stem and the other does not. Both have yellow to light brown color or a honey color on the top and white gills underneath. Both are edible, but you should always make positive identification because there is a poisonous lookalike. This brings me to a tip that an experienced mushroom hunter once told me. Mushroom hunter pro-tip #1: make sure you use at least three mushroom identification books. Try to find books that focus mainly on the region you plan to hunt for mushrooms. Never positively confirm the identification of mushroom solely based on pictures because images can look very different in various publications. The more books you have the easier it will be to identify a variety of mushroom species.

Hunting for a Lions in the Woods

The last mushroom I would like to talk about is the Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus). Another name for this mushroom is called Bearded Tooth Mushroom. This mushroom is harder to find than the others listed above. Although I have not hunted for it specifically, I have never run into it while hunting. This mushroom has eluded me for years! Lion’s Mane grows on hardwoods (including American beech). It is supposed to have a taste like seafood or lobster taste.  It also has many health benefits as well. Sometimes this mushroom can be hard to see because it can grow very high up on dead and dying trees. If you do spot one to harvest, you must be very careful harvesting it. This mushroom is unlike all the others. It looks like a white spiny ball that is stuck to the side of the tree. It has many little spines that hang from it in all directions.

Happy Fall Mushroom Hunting!

An intriguing aspect of  mushroom hunting is that there is always a challenge. There are some that are easy to find and to identify and some are not while some are edible and others are poisonous. There is so much information about mushrooms and the role they play in the forests and landscape that there is always something new to learn and something to hunt for in the woods. Whether it be tree identification or the search for a wild edible mushroom there is always a reason to explore the outdoors no matter the weather conditions or time of year. [1] George Barron, Mushrooms of Northeast North America: Midwest to New England (Edmonton: Partners Publishing and Lone Pine Media Productions, Ltd., 2014), 27.

Resource Recommendations

Field Guide to Wild Mushrooms of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic By Bill Russell

Mushrooms of West Virginia and the Central Appalachians By William C. Roody

Trees of Pennsylvania Field Guide by Stan Tekiela

See Legacy Land & Wildlife website for additional resources

Keystone State Deer Camp: Baydot Camp

Keystone State Deer Camp: Baydot Camp

Deer camp.

Baydot Camp in 2007.

What memories does it bring to mind?

The many exciting stories shared around the campfire — stories that dredge up the hunting tales of old?

The memorable hunts with your dad or grandfather?

The yearly visit to deer camp with family and friends to participate in the long-awaited deer hunting season?

Deer camp hunters are a unique bunch, family and friends, young and old. Deer camp through the eyes of a youngster is much different than through the eyes of a seasoned deer camp hunter.

The young generation hangs on every word from the tales of hunting veterans, while the weathered generation fans the energetic and optimistic flame of another deer season at camp. One commonality for both is that deer camp cultivates the fertile ground of a deer-hunting heritage.

Deer camp is a historical tradition throughout the U.S., especially in the Midwest and the Northeast. Throughout these regions, camps dot the landscapes — from farmland to forest. And all camps have a storybook that adds a chapter each year. Hunters in Pennsylvania use this time at camp as an extension of the Thanksgiving. It really is a time of year to express gratitude for a multitude of God’s provisions.

Throughout the years, camp goers come and go. Some grow up and move away, while others pass on from this earth. Sad and joyous times are forged at camp.

Baydot camp is no different. Young and old family and friends gather each deer season for a joyous time. This camp is more than a deer camp — it’s a family camp.

Baydot Camp

Family and friends gather at Baydot Camp.

For nearly two decades, Baydot has been a place for people to gather. People at this camp sense the warm and welcoming atmosphere like a family gathering during Thanksgiving or Christmas.

The small camp is in western Pennsylvania — on the fringe of a diverse landscape among roughly 300 acres of mixed northern hardwoods, pines stands, old and reclaimed strip mines, and a beautiful stream traversing a portion of the property. It is originally the McCall family camp. The camp is named after the owners (Bay – the nickname for Carl McCall and dot – short for his wife, Dorothy). Also, it is only one of two deer camps in the immediate area.

The inside of the camp welcomes each visitor into a hunter’s haven. Like most camps, the hint of wood-fired smoke catches the nose of each camper. Pine wood walls are lined with several antiques, taxidermy work, and old farm tools. Everything about this camp exudes the genuine atmosphere of a hospitable camp.

 Tradition of Hunting at Camp

The night before opening day at Baydot Camp.

Several traditions take place in the hours leading to the first day of deer season at Baydot. The inaugural “Welcome Hunters” sign greets visitors from the front porch railing. On the night before opening day, hunters participate in a 6 p.m. poker game.

Also, Ron, a family friend, shares his favorite chili along with his wife’s cookies. The morning of opening day starts with a delicious breakfast by Carla Royer and her sister, Lori, Ron and John Royer also sport their “lucky shirt” with hopes to bring down the giant buck.

Traditions create memories for camp goers, and these memories remain the topics of conversation throughout the years.

Memories of Hunting at Camp

2003 Super Bowl Year. From left to right: Ron, Kale Royer, and John Royer.

Memories from camp can be so plentiful that they become hard to sift through.

Soon after the construction of the Baydot, Ron cut the ribbon of buck harvests with a 5-point in 2000 or 2001.

The blockbuster year to remember for hunters at camp is known as the “Super Bowl Year.” This is the best year and day of buck hunting from camp. Ron, John Royer, and Kale (John’s brother) harvested their personal best bucks. The icing on the cake was that all of the deer were harvested before noon on the opening day of the 2003 Pennsylvania rifle season (the second year of the antler restrictions in Pennsylvania).

The flintlock season for the ages!

Furthermore, another record book year was the 2017 flintlock season. Five does were harvested. This is the most recent favorite story at camp.

In addition, many campers look forward to the special meals: jerky, ham and bean soup, and the scrambled eggs, sausage, and pancakes.

Lastly, some of these memories at Baydot have been recorded for all deer hunters to enjoy. John Royer, the grandson of Carl McCall, has published these memories on YouTube channels: Leatherwood Outdoors and Leatherwoodoutdoors2. Also, some of John’s friends contribute various types of hunting and trapping videos. The videos on these channels are concise yet very enjoyable and entertaining to watch.

Fun Facts From Camp

Each deer camp is distinct, especially the fun facts the pile up each year. They are stats that become the nostalgic remembered history of camp. Some are forgotten while others become the staple story to tell each year at camp.

Ron’s 2003 Super Bowl Year buck.

Deer camp at Baydot is full of all sorts of fun throughout the year, especially during the weeks of deer hunting season. Like most deer camps, records (though not complete) have been kept of the deer that have been harvested over the years.

The biggest buck (during deer season at camp) shot is Ron’s 13-point buck (see photo on right). This was the buck he shot during the “Super Bowl Year” in 2003.

And the largest buck (antler score) shot on the property was harvested by a neighbor, Bud, and his grandson in 2009. The buck’s gross score was about 160 inches. Another fun fact: The longest dry spell of not killing a deer belongs to John Royer’s dad. He hasn’t killed a buck.

Last John harvested a buck in 2015. This was a large, typical main frame 10-point. John shot the deer with a 30-40 Krag-Jorgensen. In the past, the 30-40 Krag was used by the U.S. army.

John’s 2015 record book rifle 10-point buck.

This Danish gun replaced the 45-70 for official use in 1892 after thorough consideration of other rifles by the United State Ordinance Board. This rifle was brought into production in 1894 and remained in production until 1903. The gun John used on this hunt was built in 1899, according to the serial number. A distinct feature of this model was the rear sight, which was borrowed from the 1898 model. [1]

This fertile ground of deer hunting from camp has been something hunters have always anticipated. Hunting is a privileged opportunity to take part in the faithful management of God’s creation and enjoy His handiwork. It also gives hunters the opportunity to forge lifelong relationships.

Deer camp combines a passion for the outdoors with the desire to establish relationships with like-minded people. May the tradition of deer camp in Pennsylvania continue to flourish. And may hunters participate in the faithful management of the healthy habitat and populations of deer.

Click here to view “Deer Hunting 2016 Rifle Season Pennsylvania” from Baydot Camp on the Leatherwoodoutdoors2 YouTube Channel

[1] Bruce Canfield, “U.S. Krag-Jorgensen: The Foreign Rifle,” American Rifleman (October 2010). https://www. americanrifleman.org/articles/2010/10/11/us-krag-jorgensen-the-foreign-rifle/ (accessed November 19, 2017).

A Commitment to Faithful Stewardship of God’s Creation

A Commitment to Faithful Stewardship of God’s Creation

Mountain bedrock stream

An aspect of faithful stewardship is promoting best management practices (BMP’s) with a result of clean water.

Stewardship is a part of every persons life. The significant part of being a steward is understanding the task and committing to the responsibilities. Stewardship for God’s creation is not easy nor is it simple, but it is our priority at Legacy Land & Wildlife LLC. We are committed to the entrusted responsibility to wisely organize and manage all God has given for His purposes. We recognize that each client has different needs and objectives and will strive to manage their land and the wildlife as if they were our own.

In the task of being stewards, we recognize three crucial aspects of stewardship: 1. The Challenges of Faithful Stewardship, 2. The Priorities of Faithful Stewardship, and 3. The Approach to Faithful Stewardship.

The Challenges of Faithful Stewardship

Various challenges are present in the landscape of intentional management of land and the wildlife. Our business is determined to address these challenges in a purposeful manner.

Misconceptions and Wrong Presuppositions

Many reasons exist for these, yet we are determined to provide an honest management perspective in order to be an accurate example of faithful stewardship.


The lack of knowledge (intentional or not) may cause people to have misconceptions and erroneous presuppositions for land and wildlife management.

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Some approach land and wildlife management with a specific political agenda with limited understanding of proper management methods.

Invasive Species

Plants, trees, insects, and disease all contribute to the challenges of faithful stewardship. These can create difficult scenarios for successful management.

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This economic dynamic can contribute to multiple challenges especially when it comes to buying and selling timber.

The Priorities of Faithful Stewardship

Management priorities are important to establish prior to any strategic management of lands and the wildlife. Our business is committed to several management priorities so that we can provide our clients with excellent services.


Accurate knowledge of the land and wildlife species is a key aspect of fruitful management.

Management Methods

These are the practical application of the knowledge of land and wildlife management in order to bring about beneficial results.


Planning is a crucial part of faithful management. This gives structure and organization to our management approaches.

Natural Resources

We value God’s creation and work diligently to manage for healthy land and wildlife species and populations.


Our clients will always be prioritized so that they will always receive excellent service.

The Approach of Faithful Stewardship

All aspects of management requires a simple and purposeful approach. Our business provides our clients with the following approach with our services:

Be Informed

We make detailed observations in order to make comprehensive suggestions and prescriptions.

Always be Learning

We are determined to have an attitude of a voracious learner so that we can be better stewards of our client’s land and the wildlife.


We are resolute to have a strategic and organized work ethic so that we can best serve our clients.


We are devoted to provide service to our clients that is marked by honesty, diligence, and hard work so that we provide our best effort.

Click Here to find helpful resources geared toward assisting landowners with the faithful management of their land and the wildlife.

Welcome to Legacy Land & Wildlife LLC

Welcome to Legacy Land & Wildlife LLC

Large Medina county Ohio cuccumber treeWelcome!

Our company was founded on honesty and integrity with the purpose of being faithful stewards of God’s creation and to provide excellent service to our clients. Also, our desire is to leave a legacy of faithful stewardship for the next generation.

We invite you to browse our website, inquire about our services, and/or call with questions regarding land and wildlife management.

Have a blessed day!

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)