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Hey guys! As a new fossil hunter, I am terrible at keeping up with my trip reports, so instead of struggling to remember the little details, here's a compiled post on how the past three months went. I don't have professional photos of every find, but hopefully what I do have will scratch the itch for anyone interested in my escapades.


Oh - I'll be in NJ this Saturday for another hunt with DVPS - any tips for shallow creek hunting would be appreciated!  




My first ever attempt at winter hunting.

Armed with tips from you generous folks, I went solo!

Due to high winds, low temps, and icy shores,

my scant finds were all broken or small.

Even so, I learned a lot and went home with tiny, worn ecphora. 


This trip was originally scheduled to be a CHAPTours trip, but Paul wisely cancelled due to the weather. I, however, had gotten myself a hotel room in the area and couldn't get a refund. Therefore, I made the...interesting choice to try hunting in 20-degree weather with 10-15mph winds. I posted in the forum to get some tips on winter hunting, adapted my plans accordingly, and when the date came, headed out. 


The signs pointed to "go the hell home, Samantha" rather early. When I arrived at Matoaka, the owners were out and I didn't have change with me for my ATM-obtained $20. :( I hope they used the extra $10 to feed that new pup of theirs! :b_love1: After I came to terms with this, I went down the cliff and started my hunt. 


Well, attempted to, anyway! The ice made hunting very, very difficult. The waves reminded me of a melting slushie (video!), building up more ice with every wash. I discovered quickly that walking on the ice was a no-go unless I wanted a busted ankle from falling through into the shallow water. Pulling clayfall apart was impossible too - the blocks were frozen solid. Therefore, I stuck to scanning the beach for material.  

 The cold never once really bothered me; I was dressed in chest waders, a polar knee-length coat, 5mm neoprene gloves, and a neck gaiter to protect my face when needed. The wind, however, bit like nothing else! My glasses fogged no matter what I did and what direction I faced, and my nose and ears were all complaints when not covered. @RuMert was a genius to suggest a vacuum-sealed thermos containing hot water, because keeping my core warm was what allowed me to stay on the beach for 6 hours. 

 At the end of the day, the hunt was not at all productive for a tooth-lover like me. I found a broken hemi, a drumfish tooth, and a few other tiny fossils. However, I did walk home with the smallest ecphora I've ever seen, about 90% complete (still needs prepped), and a wealth of knowledge about winter hunting. This was an important lesson.





My first tour with a guide, Paul of CHAPTours and DVPS.

Tides were low and the weather cooperated for the most part.

While my finds were few, I walked away with my first whale vert!


Rescheduled from January, this was my first time going on a guided fossil hunt. I finally got to meet Paul, a fellow member of DVPS and owner/operator of CHAPTours in Maryland. He made the experience smooth for me and the other attendees by having us caravan from beach to beach, with GPS for back-up guidance. 

At the first beach, the exceptionally low tide exposed sandbars that prevented wave activity, and my rubber boots allowed me to walk several meters out into the crystal clear water without getting wet, which made hunting so very easy. 


While walking along towards the cliffs, diagonal to the shore, I came upon an old drone that had been in the ocean for a few weeks at least. I pulled this out of the water to be discarded on my way out, and placed it on the shore with my heavier belongings. Then, I returned to where I'd been walking to be sure I hadn't missed anything. A few moments later, I found my first ever whale vertebrae in about a foot of water! Further exploration yielded a broken piece of cetacean bone, as well as a thin piece of rib from a land animal of some sort, as well as a few small hemis, but the highlight of this beach was definitely the vert! 

Beach two was known as an "unusual" beach, where unexpected finds tend to pop up. Personally, I had no luck here, though I brought home a few interesting shells for friends. Even so, I enjoyed the walk and took a photo of some of the impressions left in iron by shells.

The final beach of the day was good ol' Matoaka! Being that we were there thanks to Paul, we were able to park much closer to the beach than usual. The wind picked up though, so the crowd thinned out rather rapidly. I found a couple more tiny teeth before the unexpected cold chased me to my car as well. I thanked Paul for his time and effort, then headed on home. All in all, a great first time with a guide!






The experience with CHAPTours was so good that I signed up again. 

The weather was better, but the tides were higher as well.

I found an unexpected artifact in fresh fall and educated a passersby here and there.

A large clay-fresh hemi made the trip for me!


 This tour was quieter than the last, with a scant four attendees plus Paul leading the way. I enjoyed the peace, and the weather was nice too! While the tides were higher than desired, the water temperature was just nice enough that I was excited to sift with my sore feet in cold water.


We began with an unfamiliar beach, one that was best known for large shells. While this wasn't really my speed, I made it my goal to help spot fossilized invertebrates for the shell enthusiasts along with me. It turned out, however, that I had very little spotting to do! We came upon a massive amount of fresh fall, yet undisturbed by the weather or other people.


This fall was so fresh that we were trying to avoid falling through the loose dirt and clay! Needless to say, my fellow hunters found many a large shell here. I picked up a smaller, easier to carry shell, and a delightful but small hemi.


While the guys continued to fawn over their massive bivalves, I started back towards the cars. Then, I found something even further out of my wheelhouse - a lid to a clay pot!


Once home, I contacted archeologist Dr. Alex Glass and provided her with additional photos. She had this to say: 


"...I'm going to stick with a stoneware crock lid.  Probably a straight sided vessel rather than the type with rounded shoulders you sometimes see.  It's a little hard to tell because the glaze looks pretty eroded but it may have had a Bristol slip-which is a thick white glaze that was applied to the surface.  If it isn't Bristol glaze, it may be a clear salt-glaze.  Salt-glaze is identifiable by an 'orange peel'-like texture. It may be difficult to see because of the eroded surface. These were common from the 19th to the early 20th century, but starting in the early 20th wheel-thrown stoneware became less common as potters switched to more mechanized production. If you're seeing fingerprints it may suggest that this dates closer to the turn of the century.  I can kind of see some dragging on the edges that might also be from wheel-throwing, but again it's kind of hard to tell...."

 Again, I don't typically have much interest in archeology, so this lid will be donated to the archeology lab when I next visit Maryland. I thought the extra information was very cool to read though! 

Now, back to the hunt!  For the second beach, we once again headed to the place where I found my whale vert. This time, the sandbars were submerged and the tide kept us close to the cliffs. There was some older but "new to us" fall here, which we had to navigate, including some fallen trees. I didn't have much luck this time, finding only small teeth, but I enjoyed myself nonetheless! 

We then hit Matoaka as our final beach. It was busy this time, as the weather was good enough for beachgoers to be out and about. This time, I had my sifter out, and I was prepared to get wet. I spent the majority of the time there sifting away, pulling up small but pristine teeth - some of which I was able to send home with curious folks who had budding interest in what we were doing. (It was this trip that convinced me to start bringing along a dry box of small or broken teeth to give to potential hobbyists, because there's nothing like the excitement in someone's eyes when they realize what you've given them!) Eventually though, I took a break from the constant bending and lifting, and began using my fossil-hunting stick to dig through some fall. This was where I found my best find to date - a large, prisitine hemipristis serra, protected from erosion by the fall it was buried in. You don't find them much bigger in Maryland, from what I've heard! This was a dream find for me, and it sent me over the moon. I found other beautiful teeth on the beach that day, but nothing surpassed my gorgeous bed 17 snaggle.


Going home that day, I was exhausted in the best way. The hunt was a delight, the company was good, and the experience was unforgettable.



Edited by Mara_Masina
Formatting, AGAIN again. Google Photos insisted on being included despite me copying and pasting the images, not the URLs.
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Some of your links are broken.


Why are you hiding the different parts of your story ? That and the broken links that make 10 lines each spoil the reading a bit...


That said, beautiful Hemipristis.



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Taking a bit of extra time to post your reports directly would have been much better, but thanks anyway for what I can still decipher.

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5 hours ago, Coco said:



Some of your links are broken.


Why are you hiding the different parts of your story ? That and the broken links that make 10 lines each spoil the reading a bit...


That said, beautiful Hemipristis.




That's so weird; all of the images and links work perfectly on my phone and laptop. I directly pasted them into the post so they should be showing up without issue, but double-checking on my husband's phone shows that some photos aren't showing for everyone else. I'll have to fix it when I'm on my laptop again later today.


I was trying to separate the sections so that people on slow connections could load the images at their leisure. Ah well.

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5 hours ago, Ludwigia said:

Taking a bit of extra time to post your reports directly would have been much better, but thanks anyway for what I can still decipher.

Like I replied to Coco, the formatting works fine on two of my devices, but not on my husband's phone. I'll have to see what I can do to remedy it.

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It is always best to post photos directly to the Forum, as links go bad, or have permission issues (Google Drive links)  and make the topic less appealing/less informative (sometimes to the point of uselessness)  due to lack of photos.  :(


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16 minutes ago, Fossildude19 said:

It is always best to post photos directly to the Forum, as links go bad, or have permission issues (Google Drive links)  and make the topic less appealing/less informative (sometimes to the point of uselessness)  due to lack of photos.  :(


Thing is, I technically copy and pasted the images directly into the post, not the URLs! But I suppose Google held onto the image permissions and decided to direct link instead, which broke everything. Ugh. 


Anyway, it should be readable now. 

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Great trip reports (I tuned in after the formatting issues I guess, so everything looks great!). Good luck on your NJ trip tomorrow. I assume you'll be heading to Big Brook or Ramanessin Brook. It's definitely a little bit different than the shoreline hunts.


I used equipment advice from FossilGuy's site, which worked pretty well for my first trip to the brooks last summer. For equipment, I used a round sifting pan with 1/4 inch spacing and a small shovel. Would definitely bring waders, as some areas are very shallow, but to reach others, you may need to wade through some pretty waist-deep water. Also helps to be able to just sit/kneel down in the shallow water with waders too. You look for collections of gravel, dig those up, dump in the sifting pan, and see what you find. 


Next time, I plan to bring a small collapsible stool because there was an awful lot of bending down. There's a neat variety of fossils in the brooks. I hope to make it out there again in May. 


Good luck!



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