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Carcharodontosaurus

Hell Creek Permission?

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Carcharodontosaurus

I have lately been thinking of going on a flight to the United States so I can hunt for dinosaur teeth in the Hell Creek Formation of Montana. I definitely won't be able to go for at least a couple of years due to budget restraints (flight tickets for just me and another person alone would be over $4,000 dollars including the return flight, and that doesn't count accommodation). but from what I understand, you cannot collect any dinosaur or vertebrate fossils on public land, so you have to ask a landowner for permission to hunt on their land.

Does anybody know how time consuming it is to get permission, and what other factors are involved?

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Uncle Siphuncle

Hunting privileges get leased out on a high percentage of Hell Creek land. It may be more a game of paying than asking, and these leases can be rather expensive. There are guided week long digs, and that may be your most affordable option. Others may have a better feel for the situation.

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RCFossils

I would agree with Dan that it would be unlikely that you will have much success just showing up and asking permission to collect. If you are going to be limited for time, you will probably be better off going out with a group like Paleoprospectors who can take you out for a week on property they are leasing. I have been out with them before and found some great material. It is a little pricey but you will be able to keep almost anything you find. It was a fantastic experience and well worth the money.

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Carcharodontosaurus

I would agree with Dan that it would be unlikely that you will have much success just showing up and asking permission to collect. If you are going to be limited for time, you will probably be better off going out with a group like Paleoprospectors who can take you out for a week on property they are leasing. I have been out with them before and found some great material. It is a little pricey but you will be able to keep almost anything you find. It was a fantastic experience and well worth the money.

What sort of stuff did you find? I see that children under 17 cost $1,300 each, but a typical adult just costs $2,550. If a child under 17 and a typical adult both went there, would the cost be combined? Also, the site has a list of what you need for each fossil trip. Do they give that to you on the trip or do you have to bring your own stuff?

The site also says that each session is limited to the first 15 applicants. Does that mean you have to be quick to apply for a trip?

Edited by Carcharodontosaurus

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Troodon

I would not recommend making cold calls with ranchers. There are still lots of land that has not been tied up but finding ranches, with dinosaur deposits, in the remoteness of eastern montana is not easy even for the experts. Even if you get their permission prospecting can be dauntless unless you have experience and knowledge of the area. Most teeth you see sold from the Hell Creek come from channel deposits or micro sites so finding one can take a while and if you are limited with time its not a good way to go. I would think your best bet is to hook up with an group that takes people out to established locations. It will cost you but there is a good chance of finding something. If you take that approach I would inquire what you are allowed to keep. There are exceptions to all these digs.

Let me conclude by saying if your going for the experience of collecting go ahead and do it, its a great. If you are going to find lots of material or a rex tooth to cover your expenses I would not go, the odds on that happening is very low.

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Carcharodontosaurus

I would not recommend making cold calls with ranchers. There are still lots of land that has not been tied up but finding ranches, with dinosaur deposits, in the remoteness of eastern montana is not easy even for the experts. Even if you get their permission prospecting can be dauntless unless you have experience and knowledge of the area. Most teeth you see sold from the Hell Creek come from channel deposits or micro sites so finding one can take a while and if you are limited with time its not a good way to go. I would think your best bet is to hook up with an group that takes people out to established locations. It will cost you but there is a good chance of finding something. If you take that approach I would inquire what you are allowed to keep. There are exceptions to all these digs.

Let me conclude by saying if your going for the experience of collecting go ahead and do it, its a great. If you are going to find lots of material or a rex tooth to cover your expenses I would not go, the odds on that happening is very low.

I was thinking of going with Paleoprospectors. They are expensive but you get to keep most of what you find, and they know a lot of ranches, which should have at least a few micro sites. That should improve my chances. Even if I don't find something like a big T. rex tooth, I will probably find some dinosaur bone fragments and common teeth like Triceratops.

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RCFossils

I was out with Paleoprospectors 2 times. They rotate ranches and do not collect the same ranch more then once a year. They have access to a variety of different deposits and depending on the week you choose, you might be searching for Oligocene mammals and turtles in the White River Formation, collecting Mosasaur material and ammonites or collecting dinosaur and other associated flora and fauna in the Hell Creek and Lance Formations.

It is expensive but you have to remember that the price includes transportation, hotel and all meals. They have to lease out the ranches and maintain insurance.

They keep the groups relatively small so that you are not walking over each others footsteps. The leased ranches are huge so you can spend a week and not hit all of the areas.

I have collected with them on ranches in both North and South Dakota that exposed the Hell Creek Formation. Both times I found plenty of material. You will typically find quite a bit of washed out bone chunks and turtle shell. If you spend time at the microsites, you can find some great specimens. I found hadrosaur, triceratops, dromaeosaur, crocodile and mammal teeth. I found quite a few small bones of miscellaneous reptiles. I also found a few claws including a nice dromaeosaur foot claw. I also found a few larger bones including a triceratops rib, triceratops femur, large hadrosaur metatarsal and hadrosaur ulna. On my last day I found a triceratops nose horn. A group of us started digging around the site and we uncovered a partial skeleton.

Just remember that there is no guarantee that you will find anything spectacular. The weather can play a big role as re your prospecting abilities. Some ranches are loaded with fossils while others may be less abundant but have better quality/ rarer material. I have seen/ heard of some amazing finds by trip participants.

The guys that run it are a lot of fun and very knowledgeable. They will help out the newbies so that you know what to look for. If you do find larger bones that require jacketing, they will provide the materials and assist you in the process.

They are very good about letting you keep what you find. Just remember that larger bones will almost always need to be stabilized and prepped. You will not need to bring any tools.

They have made quite a few scientifically important finds and have donated quite a bit to different institutions. I know that they found a unique Cretaceous aged plant site where dozens of new species were described. They also recently discovered a river deposit in the Hell Creek formation which preserves articulated sturgeon and paddlefish. I helped them get some of this material to the Field Museum in Chicago where Dr Lance Grande is currently describing the fossils which appear to be new species.

I would highly recommend these guys and it will definitely be an experience you will never forget.

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Opisthotriton

I have heard about those fish specimens, they sound fantastic! This is great evidence of this group being a good, knowledgable, and scientifically responsible one, and that should always be supported!

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