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dcampbell07

Montana fossil hunting vacation advice

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dcampbell07

Hi, I'm looking for advice as a fist time collector. I was thinking of taking a trip to Hell Creek Montana to look for T -rex teeth. I know it's a long shot in regards to finding one but it sounds like fun in my head anyways. I was wondering if anyway could give me advice (links etc) where I can pay to collect or look on public lands (if possible). I'm want to do this for fun but would like to get my hands dirty, no pun intended :-). I realize law enforcment take this stuff seriously so I don't want to get into trouble!

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Troodon

Having collected in Montana's HC there really are not localities you can just go to and collect dinosaur material. Most collectable land is on private ranches that would take time and effort to build a relationship and secure a collecting locality.

There are dig tours that can give the Dinosaur collecting experience and is great for the family. I can recommend PaleoAdventures. Unfortunately you do not get to keep big finds like a Rex tooth.

http://paleoadventures.com/dinosaur-dig-site-tours.html

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dcampbell07

Thanks Troodon,

I figured as much, I saw similar web sites however most don't let you keep the "good stuff" which I understand at some level but on the other hand it's like you have to pay them to "work" for them which is the case if you find something. They should at least refund your money if you find something of value for them!

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Troodon

Correct most are very similar. You can try to negotiate a refund and see if it works, nothing to loose. I've spoken to a few that have gone on the tour I mentioned and they enjoyed their experience. Just an FYI, finding theropod teeth like Rex are not very common but they pop up. Good luck

Edited by Troodon

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dcampbell07

I might just go with trilobites ha! Seems like there is a lot less "red tape" with them.

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Canadawest

Its best to go out with someone the first time to get a sense of what you are looking for. After that....then fun to explore on your own.

You can't keep any vertebrate fossils on public land but it doesn't mean you can't have the thrill of finding them, take a photo, etc. Not unlike catch and release fishing.

For just roaming the badlands for hours, enjoying nature and and finding Dino teeth and other fossils on the surface, my favourite stretch in Montana is north of Jordan about half way to the Fort Peck Reservoir. Just stop randomly and check out the hoodoos, etc. If you have 'the eye', then it's quite rich in all types of teeth...not so much larger bone elements. Also lots of croc, skate, etc.

Jordan is a neat little town to stay in. The locals are friendly and happy to chit chat. For Peck area is also fun to explore...ammonites, etc.

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Susan from PA

Hi, I'm looking for advice as a fist time collector. I was thinking of taking a trip to Hell Creek Montana to look for T -rex teeth. I know it's a long shot in regards to finding one but it sounds like fun in my head anyways. I was wondering if anyway could give me advice (links etc) where I can pay to collect or look on public lands (if possible). I'm want to do this for fun but would like to get my hands dirty, no pun intended :-). I realize law enforcment take this stuff seriously so I don't want to get into trouble!

I'm glad that someone posted this topic, because I've been wondering about the same thing lately. I've been collecting Hell Creek dinosaur fossils for about 5 years now, and it's about time that I get off the couch and get the experience and thrill of finding some fossils myself. The mere thought of touching a fossil that has been in the ground for 66 million years is just surreal. In fact, I'd probably sit there crying like a sap if I found anything, even if I couldn't keep it.

Troodon couldn't have said it better, and I'll put it into perspective from my experiences. Most of my Hell Creek fossils over the last 5 years have come from the same ranch and seller. Over those years, we've become friends. The wife of the ranch and I talk via email almost every day. Most of our conversations don't even revolve around fossils, but life in general. We've talked about my desire to go on a Hell Creek fossil dig many, many times over the years. This fall was the first time she has mentioned the possibility of me coming out to the fossil site, what the fees are to come and collect, and what is charged if you find anything you wish to keep. It takes years of building a relationship and trust in order to make this happen. I can't speak for all ranchers, but I would think most would be skeptical about those they don't know digging on their property, and rightfully so.

That being said, I'm more interested in the actual science of the dig than the actual collecting. I want to learn about the geology of the site, how to properly map fossils once they are found, how to properly excavate them and identify them. I think that is the main focus of Paleoadventures, more focus on education and less focus on collecting. I have spoken to Walter Stein a few times, and he seems like a great guy who is fantastic when it comes to working with kids and families. We are going to go on one of his digs when my daughter turns 10 in 2 years. I know one of the quarries he goes to he calls "Tooth Draw Quarry", as I just purchased a T.rex premax tooth from him a few weeks ago. You can arrange to purchase a T.rex tooth on one of his digs should you find one, but it won't be cheap.

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FossilizedBob89

My dream is to find dinosaure bones since I am a little kid! I am a fossil collector from Quebec, Canada and I would like to plan a trip in the USA for the end of summer or in fall! I was wondering if someone can help me planning my trip? I dont mind not keeping my finds.. Maybe few small things that the owners dont mind me keeping for a souvenir.. I am ready to pay! I am passionated about all kind of fossils since I know how to walk and this year I got a new job and my schedule is 3 weeks work / 2 weeks off so I will have 2 weeks to do that trip.. So if someone is planning a trip to at the end of summer I would like to join if I have off on the date you are planning the trip! I am friendly with everyone and I talk about fossils none stop... Well I could write a book right now on thia comment but ill see what you guys have think about my comment!

Thankyou for your time and for talking about this topic!

Bob

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FossilizedBob89

Sorry about the spelling mistakes!

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Peat Burns

I recommend PaleoProspectors (http://www.paleoprospectors.com/) if you are interested in the Lance Formatiom of Wyoming or the Hell Creek of South Dakota. I believe their is also a trip to Judith River (hard to get into though). In my opinion you won't be disappointed. Check out the details on the website. If you find a fossil that is not part of a skeleton or is not of scientific importance, you get to keep it. So if you find an isolated T. rex tooth, it's yours...

Edited by Peat Burns

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dcampbell07

I recommend PaleoProspectors (http://www.paleoprospectors.com/) if you are interested in the Lance Formatiom of Wyoming or the Hell Creek of South Dakota. I believe their is also a trip to Judith River (hard to get into though). In my opinion you won't be disappointed. Check out the details on the website. If you find a fossil that is not part of a skeleton or is not of scientific importance, you get to keep it. So if you find an isolated T. rex tooth, it's yours...

Thanks Peat Burns for the link. I like the fact that they will give you a finders fee on higher valued items. Seems fair. I did happened to live in Bozeman, MT a few years back however my hobbies then were climbing and backpacking. The idea of incorporating those hobbies along with looking for bones seems really fun! So Judith River I'll have to look into.

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Peat Burns

Thanks Peat Burns for the link. I like the fact that they will give you a finders fee on higher valued items. Seems fair. I did happened to live in Bozeman, MT a few years back however my hobbies then were climbing and backpacking. The idea of incorporating those hobbies along with looking for bones seems really fun! So Judith River I'll have to look into.

The Judith River trip does require experience climbing and good health, so that sounds like it would be right up your alley. Inquire as soon as you know you are interested in going, because that excursion fills fast from what I understand.

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missmary49

Having collected in Montana's HC there really are not localities you can just go to and collect dinosaur material. Most collectable land is on private ranches that would take time and effort to build a relationship and secure a collecting locality.

There are dig tours that can give the Dinosaur collecting experience and is great for the family. I can recommend PaleoAdventures. Unfortunately you do not get to keep big finds like a Rex tooth.

http://paleoadventures.com/dinosaur-dig-site-tours.html

I've been searching as well for reviews. It seems this guy has a lot of client videos, and it looks like a good time. You can keep some little things, and you can buy significant things you find, to help fund the land leases and business I presume. Looks like fun tho, I am interested.

http://youtu.be/XW7EPuXnFcM

Edited by missmary49

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Troodon

I know Walter who runs the tour, a nice guy, very knowledgeable and professional. Last year I was staying at a motel in Belle Fouche and there were a couple of guest from the tour. They seemed very satisfied with their experiences spoke highly of Walter but were disappointed they could not keep their better finds. One was a femur from a Thescelosaurus. Not perfect but a great way to get some basic training on how to collect at a dinosaur quarry..

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dylandreiling

I've got a friend in Montana who has access to a lot of private land. Been itching to make my way up there. It really is about who you know when you start talking about collecting permissions. 

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Troodon

Yes but you have to be fortunate to know people that have dinosaur fossils on their land.  Montana is vast and the Hell Creek is in a very small portion of it.

 

He'll Creek in black

gsa hellcreek.png

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Susan from PA

Getting permission to hunt for dinosaur fossils on private land is not an easy matter.  I've been collecting dinosaur fossils for 5 years, many of them purchased from ranchers who self collect on their land in Montana.  The rancher's wife and I send emails to each other almost every day.  Most of our conversations don't even evolve around fossils, though many do.  After 5 years, this spring was the first that she has asked me to come out for a dig.  I'm going out there in a little under 2 weeks.  Ranchers are very protective of the dinosaur fossils on their land, and rightfully so.  No one gets rich ranching, and it's hard work.  Many ranchers use fossils to supplement their incomes and improve their lives. 

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