SHELLFISH FORAGe and a feast - Hood Canal, washington

We live in a unique place to be able to collect and enjoy such a bounty of seafood, right in our back yard. Clams and oysters (bivalves) are considered by some a superfood with their high levels of vitamins and minerals. These nutrient-rich mollusks are also a vital part of our ecosystem with their efficient filter feeding. This one-day course in Hood Canal, Washington will introduce you to an area abundant with life that spends a good portion of the time underwater, called the intertidal zone. You'll learn what to look for and how to dig and find manila clams and oysters, how to care for clams and shuck oysters, and how to cook them on the beach. We'll also look for edible seaweed if it presents itself. You'll take home several meals of live shellfish.

One way to protect our natural resources is to experience them firsthand to appreciate and respect our amazing biodiversity. Realizing the joy of eating wild shellfish foraged by our own hands moments earlier is a wonderful reminder that everything is connected. 

Shellfish Gallery photos: David Delfs

course dates:

  • Saturday, February 24th | 2:30 PM - 6:00 PM  [Full - Wait List]
  • Sunday, April 1st | 10:30 AM - 3:30 PM  [Full - Wait List]
  • Saturday, June 2nd | NOON - 5:00 PM  [Full - Wait List]
  • Saturday, June 16th | 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM  [Full - Wait List]
  • Sunday, June 17th | 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM [Full - Wait List]

Location:  Hood Canal, near Brinnon, WA. (Exact location details provided after registration.)

Course Fee: $79 - Required to secure spot.  (Kids under 15 FREE; please bring lunch for them)

Includes: Lunch on the beach (steamed clams, pan-fried oysters, sauteed asparagus and mushrooms, bread, cheese, fruit, etc.)

Maximum participants per course: 10


course requirements

Shellfish License from the WDFW

Clothing

  • Rubber boots or water shoes
  • Layers appropriate for weather
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Equipment

  • Work gloves (leather or heavy rubber)
  • Clam net (produce nets work great) - one for each limit.
  • Bucket 
  • Water-tight container for shucked oysters (pint or quart - jar w/lid, Tupperware, Ziploc bag)
  • Cooler with ice for transporting your catch home
  • 4 Tine Cultivator Rake or similar (long or short handled)*
  • oyster knife (this is my favorite)*
    * We have extra rakes and knives if you can't find/borrow your own.

Recommended

  • Shade hat, Sunscreen
  • Water bottle
  • beverage of choice for lunch 
  • Small backpack (short walk to the tide flats)
  • Pack-able camp chair (buckets also work well for seats)
  • Headlamp 
  • Discover Pass 
  • Consider staying the night at the Dosewallips State Park Campground
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About your Guide

Bruce is a third-generation shellfish forager in the state of Washington. His folks, who incorporated him into their fishing and foraging trips from the beginning, are the ones to thank for his love and connection to the Salish Sea. During family salmon fishing trips to Pillar Point in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Bruce's grandmother, Harriet (while not busy teaching him and his brother and sister to play cribbage) would accompany him on the beach at low tide when he was too young yet to fish all day with the adults. Countless hours of looking under rocks and observing the complex life in tide pools etched into his psyche two ideas. One, nature is awesome; and two, everything is connected. Give him a chance to show you the wonders of the intertidal zone and you won't be disappointed. You may be surprised how good it feels to tap into your inner hunter/gatherer... 


“I had a fantastic time foraging with Bruce. I learned all the essentials of clamming and oystering so that I can now do it on my own with my family. Bruce is patient, knowledgeable, and passionate about sharing his love for the outdoors with his clients. I felt like I was reconnecting with a piece of my heritage by harvesting and eating nature’s bounty right there on the beautiful tide flat. Thank you, Bruce!”

- Amy Waeschle, Poulsbo, WA

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“Looking for oysters is like going on a treasure hunt.” 

- Elsa, age 9

 

“I liked digging for clams. And measuring them!”

- Lauren, age 6

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I went shellfishing last Sunday with the Human Nature Hunting School. It was a super fun day of sand, sun, and delicious eats. We hunted for clams and oysters and fried them up right on the beach. I just made a big batch of clam chowder last night with my catch. So delicious!! I would recommend this experience to anybody looking to experience the pleasure of owning your meal from start to finish.

- April Neubauer, Seattle, WA

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Participating alongside other eager oyster novices was delightful at the Forage and a Feast last weekend. My limit of manila clams were steamed in pinot grigio, fresh limes and a fist of fresh parsley...when we finished those tasty morsels with a green salad, hubby asked me to pan fry the 18 oysters for dessert.! The freedom to roam and explore is encouraged in Bruce's class, and I highly recommend wearing the Teva sandals to feel the cool river water while packing your quarry of 40 clams back to the cookstove.

- Kristie Westergaard Miller, Tacoma, WA

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For anyone who’s ever wondered how to go about local oyster and clam foraging this is a really excellent class and adventure! Bruce and his team worked with our small group to make sure the entire afternoon was not only relaxing but educational as well. The "classroom" was beautiful out on the Olympic Peninsula, and it was great to get back to nature and really study the techniques on how to forage for this type of food. And the best part was the gourmet dinner Bruce's team made for us right off the beach using our recent catch. I am recommending this to my friends. I guarantee that if you take this class it will be a one-of-a-kind experience!

- Mike Enright, Seattle, WA


Caring for and Cooking Your Catch


Transport

Steamer Clams
Stop along the drive home (Hood Canal Bridge - Shine Tidelands, or along the Canal if headed south) and get a third of a bucket of fresh, clean, cool seawater (must be saltwater, not river water) in which to soak your clams. Ensure the bucket (or cooler) is void of residues from chemicals or cleaners. As long as the water stays cool they will last a few days like this and expel extra sand, etc. If you don't have seawater, they can be stored for several days in a bowl in the refrigerator with a damp towel over them. They should close up when tapped. If the shell remains open after squeezing them they likely have expired.

Oysters
After shucking on the beach and leaving the shells (required by law) place in an airtight container on ice in a cooler. They should keep in the refrigerator for several days and can be frozen for a few months without noticeable compromise to quality. 


Field Recipes

Steamer Calms
Human Nature Steamed Manila or Native Littleneck Clams (in the Field)

  • 1 - 2 limits (40-80 clams) 
  • approx. 1/2 cup white wine (or water)
  • 1/2 stick of butter (more or less to taste)
  • hearty sprinkling of dill

Cover and steam in a pot on high until it appears that most or all of the clams have popped wide open (usually within 5 min.) then continue steaming for an additional minute or two for good measure. Add a crusty bread for dipping into the clam nectar (juices in the pot).

Alternatively, there are countless recipes to try online

Oysters
Human Nature Pan-Fried Oysters (in the Field)

  • Cover in flour (wholewheat or white) by dredging or shaking in a bag
  • Fry in high-heat oil (grapeseed, ghee, refined coconut) AND BUTTER until browned and slightly crispy. Butter will help them brown.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Highly recommended to use a cast iron frying pan. Serve with lemon juice and tartar sauce for added flavors.

Explore other fried oyster recipes and oyster stew recipes