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Sagebrush Steve

Field Equipment Checklist

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Sagebrush Steve

I'm getting ready to head out on a field trip to Nevada and Utah in a few weeks and thought I should get organized and plan out the fossil collecting equipment I should remember to bring.  So I put together a list of items, and I'd appreciate any feedback.  I've created categories to cover things for "Fossil Extraction," "Preparation/Packing," "Inspection/Documentation," and "Personal Protection."  First thing you might say is "boy, that's a long list."  Don't worry, I've already got most of what's on it, and I want this to be the list I work from for future trips as well.  I won't take everything on every trip, but I'd like to make sure I'm not missing anything.  I want to keep it to mainstream-type items, so I've left off things like rifles, pistols, flamethrowers, etc. And one more thing, I will primarily be hunting for invertebrates, with an occasional trip for Green River fish or similar.  This isn't meant to be the list I would use if I was going to hunt for Hell Creek dinosaurs (unlikely!).  Here's my current list, tell me what you think:

 

Fossil Hunting Equipment List.pdf

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Uncle Siphuncle

Rations always in my backpack in summer....water bottles and/or Gatorade, frozen solid with a couple tacos or a sammich in between.  Travel light, replenish in style.

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Sagebrush Steve
9 minutes ago, Uncle Siphuncle said:

Rations always in my backpack in summer....water bottles and/or Gatorade, frozen solid with a couple tacos or a sammich in between.  Travel light, replenish in style.

Good point.  While this isn't intended to be the complete list of everything I would take on a camping trip, water and snacks are important things to have with you while you are out on the hunt.  Thanks.

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Fossildude19

I would also add insect repellent to the list, as well as butterfly closures in the First Aid Kit. ;) 

 

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Kane

I was going to suggest flamethrowers, but I see you've ruled those out already. :P 

 

A small towel is not a bad idea if it gets very hot, at least to mop the ol' brow.

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Sagebrush Steve

@Fossildude19

@Uncle Siphuncle

@Kane

 

Thanks everyone, these are all good recommendations and I have added them to my list.  I'll wait a few days to see if there are any more inputs and then I'll post an updated list in case anyone wants to use it.

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Ryan Dye
1 hour ago, Fossildude19 said:

I would also add insect repellent to the list, as well as butterfly closures in the First Aid Kit. ;) 

 

Wise words.

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SailingAlongToo

I always carry an emergency poncho and emergency blanket in the backpack. Both are very light and only the size of a standard pack of cigarette each, but they come in very handy for many uses.

 

I also carry a length of parachute cord, about 10 ft. Again, very light, takes up very little space but once again, very useful in the field.

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RJB

I cant open a PDF file, but if your taking any Cianoacrylate, keep it in the shade and once open, do not let it fall over!!!  

 

RB

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Herb

Nice list, you left out the kitchen sink though.  Paper towels, Saran Wrap and aluminum foil to wrap delicate specimens

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Malcolmt

Pretty comprehensive list. I always take some black Sharpies to mark on the fossils where they were exactly found and the date. I will also circle something that caught my eye in the field to make it easier to figure out once I get home. Also to outline where I want to make saw cuts.  I also take pink garden tape to mark my fossil finds when at a quarry so that I come back to them at the end of the day to cut them out or trim before hauling them out.

 

I never go anywhere without my Rock saw. But you are probably collecting very different fossils and matrix than I do. All my best finds tend to be in slabs that weigh hundreds of pounds..

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Sagebrush Steve
17 hours ago, Malcolmt said:

I also take pink garden tape to mark my fossil finds when at a quarry so that I come back to them at the end of the day to cut them out or trim before hauling them out. 

 

I never go anywhere without my Rock saw. But you are probably collecting very different fossils and matrix than I do. All my best finds tend to be in slabs that weigh hundreds of pounds..

I added this to my list but changed the color to green   My excuse is that I do most of my hunting in desert environments so green stands out better against the rock.  And I was thinking about adding a Bobcat loader to my list but had to draw the line somewhere. :)

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Scylla

Cell phone. Can replace GPS, camera, magnifier, and flashlight in a pinch. Can also call for help. Can post pics to TFF from the field. Also, cell phone charger.

 

Cash. Credit cards. Have needed those more than any other single tool for fossil hunting. 

 

Waders/water shoes. Not for this trip, but if this is to become your generalized list you need to prepare for creek crawling and beach walking. Also screens or florida snow shovel.

 

Someone said small towel. I would add big beach towel. Douglas Adams would agree. Leave it in the car, but works as picnic blanket, sun shade, neck pillow (jus roll it up and wrap it around your neck like a travel pillow for when you're sleeping on a long drive) or even as a towel. Or did they say trowel?

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Sagebrush Steve
8 hours ago, Scylla said:

Cell phone. Can replace GPS, camera, magnifier, and flashlight in a pinch. Can also call for help. Can post pics to TFF from the field. Also, cell phone charger.

 

Cash. Credit cards. Have needed those more than any other single tool for fossil hunting. 

 

Waders/water shoes. Not for this trip, but if this is to become your generalized list you need to prepare for creek crawling and beach walking. Also screens or florida snow shovel.

 

Someone said small towel. I would add big beach towel. Douglas Adams would agree. Leave it in the car, but works as picnic blanket, sun shade, neck pillow (jus roll it up and wrap it around your neck like a travel pillow for when you're sleeping on a long drive) or even as a towel. Or did they say trowel?

 

Good comments.  Here's how I approached it.  You need a GPS, camera, magnifier, and flashlight.  Whether you choose to fill those needs with separate pieces of equipment or a single smartphone is a personal decision that doesn't change the need.  And as for the GPS, I wrote a whole book on the subject of GPS navigation here: Outdoor Navigation with GPS.  It includes a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of using a GPS enabled smartphone. I do enough hunting in remote corners of the American Southwest that I usually prefer a separate GPS, but I am also happy to use a cell phone.

 

My approach to the list was to only include things necessary for fossil hunting that I wouldn't need on an ordinary road trip.  That's why I left out the cell phone and cash/credit cards.  But there is one use for a cell phone that you should keep in mind.  If you enable its GPS function when taking a photo, that data is recorded with the photo.  So you can take a photo of where you are digging and have a record of your exact location.  Much simpler than writing it all down in a notebook, although for anything important I would still do that.

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Sagebrush Steve

OK, thanks everyone, I have taken all your inputs and created the attached final checklist.  I'm happy with it so I don't plan to make further edits, but feel free to modify it for your own use.

 

Fossil Hunting Equipment List-v3.pdf

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erose

IMHO, the most important item wasn't listed: Labels, or at least paper to make them as you go. You have notebook and pens listed so I think you are already 90% there.

 

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Sagebrush Steve
1 hour ago, erose said:

IMHO, the most important item wasn't listed: Labels, or at least paper to make them as you go. You have notebook and pens listed so I think you are already 90% there.

 

I've always worried about labels becoming detached so I use a Sharpie to write on the backs of the slabs.  Works for things like Utah trilobites and Green River fish, anyway.  The inevitable loose items I put in empty take-out food containers and label the containers at the end of the day.  I don't hunt for dinosaurs or other large vertebrates so I'm not the one to make recommendations there.

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DPS Ammonite

You also need to bring a geological map along with descriptions of the rock units to help pinpoint where your fossil came from. A GPS location won't be that useful to ID rock unit if there are lots of units exposed in a canyon or area of vertical relief. Remember what Karl Malden said: "Don't leave home without it."

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Mike_H

This is coming for an avid outdoorsman/bushcrafter.  Take a belt knife and keep it on you.  Make sure it is a good quality knife as well.  In a pinch, it can be a pry bar or used to burlap for jackets.  A survival kit in and of itself is always a good idea.

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Sagebrush Steve
46 minutes ago, Mike_H said:

This is coming for an avid outdoorsman/bushcrafter.  Take a belt knife and keep it on you.  Make sure it is a good quality knife as well.  In a pinch, it can be a pry bar or used to burlap for jackets.  A survival kit in and of itself is always a good idea.

Good point.  I always carry one but didn't add it to the list.  I will add it under "Personal Protection."

22 hours ago, DPS Ammonite said:

You also need to bring a geological map along with descriptions of the rock units to help pinpoint where your fossil came from. A GPS location won't be that useful to ID rock unit if there are lots of units exposed in a canyon or area of vertical relief. Remember what Karl Malden said: "Don't leave home without it."

I tend to use online maps from state geological surveys but having a paper printout isn't a bad idea.  I will add it under "Documentation."

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Nimravis

I just came across this topic and I thought I would add 1 item that I always carry with me on my backpacking trips  in areas with no cell coverage and I would also take it if I was fossil collecting in remote areas, either solo or with someone. The item is a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon)- this is a great piece of equipment to have on you, and something that you hope you never have to use. They are somewhat expensive, my PLB cost a little over $600.00, and after I bought it, the price came down. The one that I have is registered to me through NOAA and is accurate to within 100 feet. The key thing is to have it handy, it serves no purpose if you get hurt and can not access it to to send a signal to the orbiting satellites.

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caldigger

I always like to pack a Sherman Tank.  They work wonders at extracting large amounts of shale or removing much of that pesky overburden to get to the right layer.  And you really can't beat their off road capabilities. Just be sure to bring a fan, they tend to get a bit warm inside when traveling in those desert environments.

 

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Sagebrush Steve
On 12/9/2017 at 5:34 AM, caldigger said:

I always like to pack a Sherman Tank.  They work wonders at extracting large amounts of shale or removing much of that pesky overburden to get to the right layer.  And you really can't beat their off road capabilities. Just be sure to bring a fan, they tend to get a bit warm inside when traveling in those desert environments.

 

When I was young many years ago rumor had it there was an army surplus Sherman tank for sale nearby.  I tried to talk my mom into buying it but she politely declined.  That was when I still thought I would become a paleontologist when I grew up, a career she supported.  If I had known then they were useful tools for collecting fossils perhaps I could have made a more compelling argument. :wacko:

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