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Uncle Siphuncle

Site Prospecting 102 - Closing The Deal

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Bear

*tries to imagine lighting a quarry on fire* (j/k)

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Search4

I have been metal detecting all my life. A letter before hand to a private property owner is advised. When someone you don't recognize approaches your house it can be a little unsettling. These days there aren't too many door to door salesmen so don't expect to be greated as if you have the next thing that's going to replace sliced bread. Send a letter and mention in it that your requesting their permission to access their land but didn't want to be intrusive or rude by knocking on their door, out of the blue. Tell them a little about yourself, your hobby, and leave your number. If you have any chance of gaining their permission, then your chances are just as good for recieving a call back. Many people are phone shy, and find it easier to turn you down that way, but that's ok. I'd rather not get a call back then get permission on the spot because someone was too nervous to say no when you approached them, only to have a rough and tough family memeber or concerned neighbor come back later on while looking at you down the barrel of a gun and telling you to leave. (true story).

On commercial property, in urban areas, obey all posts and fences over three feet. If there is contact info on a sign somewhere then use it. If the site is not posted but there are buildings, out buildings, vehicles, or houses be weary. If the property is say, a dirt lot, not posted, debries fence, and no contact info, give it a shot but leave the tools in the car the first time out. Chances are that an owner, police officer, or neighbor may happen by. If someone finds you digging they may be suspicious of the possibility that your a serial killer disposing human remains or some very illegal substance. (true story while bottle digging private, vacant property without permission).

On commercial properties in rural areas, posted signs are key. If it appears that any effort has been made to deter trespassers its probably best to speak with locals that know the property. Don't venture deep into the woods if your not sure, dogs can run faster than you and so can bullets. Just use your head and tell yourself that there probably aren't any goodies there in the first place. At least thats what I think about when I talk myself out of diving for shark teeth in Venice. I mean really, do I want to get bit by a shark while hunting its darn teeth? LOL

Good luck to you all.

Edited by Search4

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E.T.

I have 100% success in site permission so far. Of course I just asked my first private land owner today... It's a great little story so I will tell it.

I was driving home from school today just west of Caesar's Creek State Park north of Cincinnati, Ohio, and saw a big hill entirely exposed limestone with a little house at the top of the hill and a little dirt road on the right, stomped the brakes and swung into a driveway, walked up rang the doorbell and an old lady opens the door and immediately says "Come on in and get a cup of coffee". Her husband, comes in and directs me to the back porch and pulls up two chairs. We sit down and he asks me what I'm doing there. I tell him I want to collect fossils on his land if he is the owner of the hill, which he was. We start talking and two hours later I am amazed at the new friend I have. He is an 81 year old Austrian survivor of a German concentration camp. He was 12 when he was imprisoned there in 1941 when the Germans took Austria. He was in the camp until the end of WWII and moved to the US in 1950. We walked down the hill 5 feet past his back fence and the first rock I picked up was packed full of brachiopods and bryozoa. He has about 5 acres of hillside exposed limestone from the Ordovician and the hill hasn't been touched in 60 years. He said I can collect anything I want, anytime I want, just make sure I stop and talk to him sometimes, which I will be sure to do!

Lucky day or what...

Edited by E.T.

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jpc

Excellent story, E. T. Hopefully it'll lead to many more from the ole man. They sound like a great old couple.

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JohnJ

That's great E.T. and such a small price to pay. ;)

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tracer

in a way, perhaps, luckier for him than for you. be sure and stop by and talk to him sometimes. you might have made his day by showing interest in him and indicating there is something special about his land. there are a lot of lonely people in the world.

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MikeD

You will get some great stories and personal history lessons. Be sure to offer him some of your good finds.

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bruce

I understand that one can legally collect invertebrates on BLM land, however if the land is leased for grazing or to ranchers, is it within their rights to restrict public access? (Not that i would want to argue with a rancher about collecting on his leased BLM land - but i wonder what the official position at BLM is?)

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Auspex

The lease is for grazing, and does not include any other rights. I know a fellow who strayed onto leased BLM land from private land for which he had permission to collect (the lease was to the same rancher, and the boundary was unmarked). It was a world of trouble...

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Alphazeal

What are the ethics behind finding major finds on the property?

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Ameuraman

I have collected at road cuts and at construction sites around Kansas City and near Columbia, and to date have never had any problems. I started wearing fluorescent orange or green work shirts with vests and helmet, to get that semi-official highway worker look. So far, so good.

But when i was in Wyoming visiting my parents, i contacted the local BLM paleontologist to inquire about collecting plant fossils on BLM land near Worland in north central Wy. The Worland branch paleontologist gave me the location, told me I could collect as much as i wanted of the plant fossils, that if i dug deep holes,then fill them up so cattle or people don't break their legs stumbling into them. My dad and i found the site and dug some great fossils, but it was so cold and windy we didn't stay long. The BLM folks have been very helpful when I called to ask for info on collecting sites.

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drhemlock

These techniques to a newcomer are essential and very informative and I have logged them into the brain locker for later. I hope to try this year to get out to some sites mostly road cuts and the like and try my luck. I wish there was some form of a letter that one can generate using word that would fit the bill for most if not all sites a general agreement letter spelling out the necessaries. Or is this to formal or upfront like was mentioned different strokes for different folks. I would like to have something I could keep in the car just in case, Are there lawyers out there?

Thanks

James

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kimmh

that child with you is great as we went to a closed area in oregon as not one could get access and had the niece by hand and the owner was nice and even hooked us up with electricity and helped us collect fossil crabs and kept writing us to come up but he had bad migraine headaces and finally commited sucide darn, and now its closed again.

kimm.

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gwestbrook

Some very good information! Thanks for the post .

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Quarry411

Great Topic!

As a land owner, I can possibly give you some insight from the other side of the fence.

First, I believe some of the posts above underestimate the level of knowledge the land owners hold. Most farmers and ranchers know well and good what's on their property. To level with you, I've even played dumb once or twice to see if the individuals asking for access are truly being honest

Second, PLEASE and THANK YOU go a long way...you'd be surprised at some of the things I've allowed to take place, when asked respectfully. There's been camping on the property (including BBQ's), telescopes, dogs, children, hiking, quads, dirt bikes, shooting, and many other activities that just needed a "please". As for Thank You, do not wait to write them a letter. Call or approach them as your leaving the property. One of the things I really dislike, is when an individual or group leaves without letting me know. I then have to go looking for them, usually around dusk, just to verify their no longer on my land.

And third, bringing children along might work sometimes, but I would probably deny access based on their age. My liability insurance only covers children as young as 10. However, exceptions have been made when the group had their own liability insurance. A few months ago a boy scout troop and cub scout pack visited - and they carried their own insurance.

For those interested, I will forward the standard liability waiver we use - and it is not a bad suggestion to carry it with you, as someone wrote above. Just email me and I'll attach for you.

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Uncle Siphuncle

Good points above. Some of the more elderly landowners may appreciate and relate to a written thank you letter more so than an email, so that's what I tend to send them. Also, I tend to spearhead the group when I arrange a visit with a landowner, and I make sure that any collectors without ranch experience fully understand the etiquette expected by landowers, i.e. don't show up with too many people, don't stay too long, no litter, in fact pick it up even if its not yours, leave gates as found, respect fences, respect livestock, etc. Many ranchers have had very interesting lives, and I like to spend time talking with them. Especially with the older landowers I like to set aside as much time to sit and talk with them over coffee, even if it cuts into collecting time, and I let any collectors with me know ahead of time not to rush that part of the outing, during which time I like to give them some goodwill fossils from other areas. I hate to show up empty handed when someone is doing me a favor. Good times!

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NatureGalTx

Qarry 411... Thank you so much for the inside knowledge... Getting a peak behind the curtain or at least the opportunity to view it from another perspective! DW is so gregarious, honest, smart..that he typically does not have trouble but I had also attributed some of his greater successes to his young, adorable, smart son.. I had never, ever considered as a land owner that a child could represent a potential risk... Unfortunately, America seems to be a very litigious society...so sadly this must be a consideration... However, in even in Europe to visit a quarry... we had to show proof of insurance so I guess it is everywhere... Thank you for the post but I would have to think a well, mannered friendly little kid might soften some of the landowners around these parts! ;)

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Fogouman

I love hunting for fossils in quarries , oxfordshire is great for it .

The peace of the quarry and the surrounding nature etc its great . one by me we call mars its so red and dry in the summer crazy place .

my mrs found a huge belemnite there last year , she never goes then comes with me and finds the best belemnite in my collection .

More people should try Oxfordshire it only ever seems to be me out there .

Oh yeah Great post

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larry739

I found this post very helpful. Thanks for sharing.

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trilobitten

This is exactly the kind of advice I've recently been searching for. Thanks so much for sharing this with everyone. One thing, do you suggest compensating landowners, monetarily speaking, or would you say something like this is verboten?

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Uncle Siphuncle

i like to give them fossils much different than what is found on their land. i wouldn't pay them in ca$h...money has turned texas deer hunting into an aristocratic sport where average guys can barely afford to "pay to play".

i think that once surrounding landowners find out their neighbors are getting paid for fossil trespass fees, the land will soon be locked up in leases, as in NE/SD badlands and western KS

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Uncle Siphuncle

one more related topic that really deserves its own thread....courtesy between collectors in a fashion that promotes fair and mutually satisfying site sharing... its a touchy subject that can make or break the experience...i have years of observation of human nature related to this topic and have seen some clear trends, both positive and negative....maybe a subject for another day

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JohnJ

Yes, speaking of site sharing, many of us have learned the hard way and some spots that are

not on private property have been earned through reading many pdf's, buying books on the

area you are interested in (some have sites right in the book), and old fashioned scouting.. Yes, sharing is great but I hope members

will share using the PM system for the lesser known sites. It is disappointing to see the directions

to a site published on the forum that may have been found by many on their own or through research.. I also don't think

people realize how many hunters will now know and pass the sites info on themselves.. You may never

find a fossil on the site you had again.. I have seen this happen when someone on a different forum posted a

highly productive site.. It did not take long before the site was cleaned out. What used to produce well now

produces nothing but a few scraps. The person took their post down but the damage was done.. Hunting

there now even after several years produces the same result..

Just a little food for thought..

Excellent points, Roz.

When you're new at all this, it is easy to let your exuberance overload what you would normally realize is "too much information". This forum sometimes feels like we are just talking amongst ourselves and we forget that it is seen by the world. So, using the PM system or email is a much better way of sharing specifics. Doing so will minimize the verbal 'instruction' that rookies sometimes get from veteran collectors. :D

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Auspex

...sharing is great but I hope members will share using the PM system for the lesser known sites...

It's good to occasionally point out that our "little community" here attracts 30,000 to 45,000 unique visitors every month, and at least some of these are commercial diggers looking for sites to plunder. Think twice before you dump the cat out of the bag in a roomful of hungry wolves...

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Uncle Siphuncle

*note: the comments below are intended to reflect only the sentiments of yours truly*

yall are preaching to the choir. personal investment and subsequent personal loss tend to shape perspectives on sharing. here is my current perspective, for what its worth.

"smart sharing" is a good thing. let's expound on a few tenets of smart sharing.

-i send people i dont know well to the same few sites. these sites still produce, but i dont collect there anymore, thus insulating my more valued sites from the wild card of human behavior. start sharing with a new person with something of little personal value, then give it time to see how they handle the info before sharing something of higher personal value.

-i relate best to hard working, experienced collectors who have been burned before by others who bring to the table little more than their ability to unload the site YOU earned. thusly, quid pro quo site sharing tends to keep people more honest.

-tough logistics also keep people more honest, so i like sharing with those better than a day's drive from the site of interest.

-i like dealing with those who realize that we get only 1 shot at reputation in this pursuit.

-personalized sharing is the safest. i like taking people out one on one. groups depersonalize the experience, and guests seem to feel less accountable in groups. broadcasting site info online is the most depersonalized treatment of info possible, and leaves everyone with a feeling of carte blanche use of the site. nature refreshes sites at its own rate, and many sites cannot support the current influx of collecting interest.

-look the guest in the eye and tell them your intent for their use of the site in no uncertain terms. if you let people fill in the blanks for themselves, in my experience one way rationalization will set in which never works out well for you, the host, the one in a position of vulnerability.

-be aware that in dealing with certain academics, they could get between you and the landowner, leaving you muscled out of the site you found, obtained access to, and showed them! get to know who you are dealing with whether professional or amateur before playing your hand completely.

-don't let any one person know all your sites.

-i've shared lots of sites with lots of people. 80% have been satisfying experiences. 20% have left me feeling sorry i ever shared. quite a few take the site information and disappear without even a thank you. this comes across as rudeness and entitlement.

no mincing of words above, as one can see. above all else, ensure that you are philosophically in sync with the other person before you share, and communicate your intent with consummate precision and unequivocal clarity before you share, then the experience is more likely to be fulfilling.

if you get burned, learn to choose your company with increased discernment. do your best to part company without bitterness then seek more courteous company, or take a breather and enjoy some field time alone. when really compatible field company enters the picture, treat them well. i've found a double handful of collectors over the years with whom i can drop my guard, and give without measure. by all means take care of those courteous and generous folks!

Edited by danwoehr

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