It's been very dry for a while, so this Pluteus cervinus was a special find. This is one of the most common mushrooms in our area, but it never grows in large groups. The deer mushroom is fairly easy to identify once you become familiar with it, but given how nondescript it is, it can be misidentified. I recommend that the beginner take a spore print to verify that it has pink spores. Macroscopic features to look for: the gills do not touch the stem and there is no partial veil or ring. The color is also usually helpful. It's called a deer mushroom because its color is similar to a deer's winter coat. What I look for, however, is the sheen. It has a distinctive sheen that reminds me of fish scales. The one in the photos is quite pale, so it lacks this sheen. Another useful ID strategy is to harvest only the ones growing on logs. These do grow from the ground (this one is), but you will have a more certain ID if you see it growing directly on well-decayed wood. A final feature is its subtle radish scent.
Many guides are dismissive of this mushroom, but I think it has a very pleasant, though subtle, taste. They tend to be buggy and are fragile, so choose wisely what you bring home to eat.
Pluteus cervinus literally means "deer shield," another common name for this swamm.