Author Topic: Very Generalized Rock Hunting Tips  (Read 142 times)

Oxenkiller

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Very Generalized Rock Hunting Tips
« on: May 07, 2018, 08:02:54 AM »
With a lot of people requesting specific hunting tips, relating to certain specific areas, I was wondering if people would be willing to share generalized hunting tips- that is, tips about finding material that could apply to anywhere. 

I always start with the guidebooks, but those are only a starting place.  The key is to start there and move to areas that are "off the books." Which involves scouting topo maps, landowner status, road atlases, and so on, then a lot of hiking around- and sometimes this is fruitless, sometimes it is productive.

I have chased a lot of "leads" and tips over the years that have proven to be fruitless- they either led to nothing, or to private property, or to an area that has long since been cleaned out. It's all part of the hunt.  Sometimes I have found unexpected prizes- Once, chasing down a tip for thundereggs, I didn't find any thundereggs, but I did find some really nice plates of honey colored calcite crystals that made great display pieces.

The more I have collected in the field over the years, the more I have learned about the basics of geology- and this has helped me in my search for material.  In other words, learning about the types of environments that things can be found, especially when you see them in the field.

For example, I know that agates form in volcanic environments- in cracks, bubbles and fissures in basalt or rhyolite.  If you are in an area with a lot of basalt or rhyolite outcrops, there is a good potential for finding agate. 

Crystals form in pockets, or in pegmatite formations.  If you find rocks with large visible flakes of mica or large patches of white feldspar and massive quartz- there may be pockets nearby with quartz crystals, or the pegmatite itself may even contain interesting less-common minerals like garnet or black tourmaline.

Some old mining sites have interesting material- some of my best mineral and crystal finds have come from there.  The key is making sure these places are accessable and not actively being worked- some places will give you permission automatically, some will but you have to ask ahead of time, and some wont.

Oxenkiller

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Re: Very Generalized Rock Hunting Tips
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2018, 07:38:27 AM »
does anyone else have any generalized tips they want to share?

HeySal

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Re: Very Generalized Rock Hunting Tips
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2018, 09:52:39 AM »
My advice is to look at as much raw material as possible - rock shops, museums, local club member's collections.  Pictures, too, but pics don't do the job as well.  Then get into books and find out what different locations you might like to go to have.  Then -- get out and hunt.  You might not find anything, but there's nothing real shabby about a day outside in nature.  All hunters have to earn their stripes and you need to learn to find things on your own because as land continues to get shut down, people are going to become more and more cagey about telling people where their favorite sites are.

When possible, I pick out a site or two I'm familiar with en route, then spend some time in spots I've never been before.  It's easy - see a road that leads off into no place?  Take it.  Check ditches, rock bars, creeks, etc.   If I'm not on a time limit, you wouldn't believe how often my rig stops before I get to my destination.
Sal

Life's Short.  Rock Hard.

CCanfield

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Re: Very Generalized Rock Hunting Tips
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2018, 06:25:59 PM »
Yup same I will not tell anyone best advice think like a 49er. ;-)

Oxenkiller

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Re: Very Generalized Rock Hunting Tips
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2018, 07:52:13 AM »
...you mean, kneel during the national anthem?  (ARK yark yark yark.)

(Well, I guess that would be EX-49er now.)

I'm hoping to get out and hunt a few weeks; I have some leads, but I'm pretty tied up though for the next two weekends.

lizziebird

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Re: Very Generalized Rock Hunting Tips
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2018, 08:18:19 AM »
Oxenkiller, I think you hit on some key tips in your first post.

I would add some tips to help rockhounding stay a reputable hobby.  Mostly because, while I think these things should be common sense, there have been many sites that have been closed to the public because of issues like these:

Don't litter.
Pick up some litter (make the place look better than when you found it)
Don't dig crazy wacko gigantic dangerous holes (and if you do, fill 'em in again!)
Don't trespass on private property
Be generally respectful to the property owners, the land, the wildlife that lives there, and other people who happen to be around
Leave some for the rest of us.  (do you really need a truck-full of rocks from one site?)

On a more general "where do I find the rocks?" theme:

Well, there are books, maps, clubs, internet, fee dig sites, club digs, word of mouth, and good-old-fashioned-exploring to help you with this.
Sometimes, the place is closed or posted "NO TRESPASSING" and if that's the case, that's life.
Sometimes you don't find anything, and that's life too.
Sometimes you get lucky; enjoy it.

I have found that the first time I visit a place, I'm more likely to just wander around, just looking at it all, getting a feel for the lay of the land.  If I like what I see, I will plan a return trip, bring appropriate tools, and focus on a particular area.  If that spot turns out to be unproductive, move to a different spot and try again. 

Some sites you need to dig to find stuff.  Some sites you need to dig deep to find stuff.  Some sites you need to have heavy tools and be prepared for some hard rock work.  Some sites, you can just wander and surface collect.  Just depends on the site and what you're looking for.

Joining a local club is a great way to meet some other people interested in rocks and maybe get on some field trips to interesting places.