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The Amateur Paleontologist

Hey everyone - hope you're all havin' a good time :) 

 

Some of you might remember that I was making preparations, some time ago, for a field trip to the Kansas chalk. I'm hoping to be there for a few weeks in august, but I'm trying to get the preparations done in advance ;) 

One of these is compiling a list of useful things to know, just little bits of information that'd be good to keep in mind during my field trip.. What to you people think of this?

Some of these are based on what other TFF members have told me (e.g. @Castle Rock, @Ramo...)

 

  • Having a solid ‘collection policy’, but not too specific (for instance, "collecting only fish material" etc…)
  • Concerning field trips, try to always have a Plan B (location-wise)
  • Anything fairly large should be removed with a plaster jacket

            - concerning this – for fish, no ‘release layer’ between fossil and plaster jacket should be added (due to fragility of bones) – plaster is enough to keep the bones safe

  • Fossils in the yellow chalk are “easier” to excavate, as the matrix is strong and it protects better the fossils
  • Most fish bones are very thin and very fragile
  • Fossils should be prepared in the 'usual way' (dental picks + consolidant/preservative)
  • Record EVERY bit of information that can be acquired (i.e. stratigraphy, systematic paleontology etc…) as it can come in very handy
  • Watch where you sit…
  • Always be sure to have permission to collect
  • Given that collecting opportunities in the Niobrara Chalk of Kansas are very limited, be very attentive to the slightest possible hunting spot (road cut, small outcrop…) 
  • Natural dangers (sinkholes, rattlers, you name it)
  • Articulated vertebrae are potentially a good sign
  • Reduce as much as possible the mass of a block of chalk (i.e. for transportation back home)
  • Sometimes material can be found just laying, and only requires picking up
  • Somewhat good chance that I might find some fairly extensive (i.e. a big fish) articulated vertebrate material
  • Rent a vehicle with high clearance as access to certain fossil sites might sometimes be a tad difficult
  • Spend quite a bit of time on google maps to find best sites and access points and whatnot
  • If finding 'float' that looks freshly broken (and not eroded...), look up - might lead to finding more of the fossil

 

Is there anything else I should add to my list? :) 

 

Thanks in advance!

 

-Christian

Edited by The Amateur Paleontologist

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Ramo

Sounds like you are getting pretty excited and ready!

My collection policy is: collect everything I find exposed, because if I don't it will erode away.

I usually just go out on single day trips.   After a few hours of hiking in those hot dry fields I get exhausted.  Bring plenty of drinking water.  I usually bring old milk jugs of water for plaster, and have had to drink from them due to running out of drinking water. 

You may want to just hike around during the mornings,  and mark possible items to dig to return to later.  You don't want to spend a day on a scrappy fish tail, then find something better around the corner, but be out of time and energy to get it.

Don't set your expectations too high.  I usually find 3 or 4 short vert strings, a couple small teeth, and a nice big tooth or two in a day. 

You can hunt the steep canyons, or the flatter eroded areas, but remember if you find something sticking out of the base of a cliff,  it may not be safe or possible to dig.

Enjoy the sights, and solitude of the open prairie.

 

 

20181227_095513.jpg

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UtahFossilHunter

Maybe @KansasFossilHunter could lend some advice.

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Raggedy Man

Are you meeting with forum members or do you already have a few sites you know you have permission to hunt? I only ask because I see you're coming from France and I would hate to see you come all this way and be turned away. I know hunting locations in Kansas are extremely limited due to laws and land ownership.

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The Amateur Paleontologist

@Raggedy Man Don't worry - I'm aware of the limited collecting opportunities in Kansas, and I'm also aware that most good sites are on private land :) I do have a few sites that I can count on (one of them being Castle Rock in Gove County); and I'm also contacting a few institutions to see if I can tag along for some fieldwork.. And I'll probably spend the first day of the field trip doing no fieldwork, but rather driving around from ranch to ranch to see if there's anyone who'd be willing to allow me access to their property.

 

@Ramo Alright, thanks for the advice! I'll keep in mind what you said about bringing loads of water, and how to organise the prospection.. And yeah I am pretty excited!

 

-Christian

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Raggedy Man
11 minutes ago, The Amateur Paleontologist said:

@Raggedy Man Don't worry - I'm aware of the limited collecting opportunities in Kansas, and I'm also aware that most good sites are on private land :) I do have a few sites that I can count on (one of them being Castle Rock in Gove County); and I'm also contacting a few institutions to see if I can tag along for some fieldwork.. And I'll probably spend the first day of the field trip doing no fieldwork, but rather driving around from ranch to ranch to see if there's anyone who'd be willing to allow me access to their property.

 

@Ramo Alright, thanks for the advice! I'll keep in mind what you said about bringing loads of water, and how to organise the prospection.. And yeah I am pretty excited!

 

-Christian

Ok good. Like I said, I would hate to see you make the trip for nothing. Good luck! I hope you're able to find some generous land owners. Might I suggest taking a liability waver with you. Most people say no because if you are injured on their property you can sue for damages. 

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The Amateur Paleontologist
26 minutes ago, Raggedy Man said:

Might I suggest taking a liability waver with you. Most people say no because if you are injured on their property you can sue for damages. 

That's really good to know.. I hadn't really thought about that, actually

-Christian

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Raggedy Man
18 minutes ago, The Amateur Paleontologist said:

That's really good to know.. I hadn't really thought about that, actually

-Christian

I find a get more people willing to allow me to collect on their property when they know im legally responsible for my actions that result in an injury.

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Ramo

You can try the legal document if you want, but it may scare some landowners off.  Looking someone in the eye, a firm handshake, willingness to visit a little, and simple honesty are preferred by most farmers and ranchers out west.

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Ramo

Like the explorers of old, some trinkets from the homeland as gifts can go a long way.  I've found that sometimes being from far away increases your chances of obtaining permission.  I know land owners around here that don't let anyone local hunt their land, but someone from another state shows up at their door, and they bend over backwards to help them.  Not sure I understand why.  Others are the opposite. 

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The Amateur Paleontologist
On 27/12/2018 at 10:05 PM, Ramo said:

You can try the legal document if you want, but it may scare some landowners off.  Looking someone in the eye, a firm handshake, willingness to visit a little, and simple honesty are preferred by most farmers and ranchers out west.

 

On 27/12/2018 at 10:10 PM, Ramo said:

Like the explorers of old, some trinkets from the homeland as gifts can go a long way.  I've found that sometimes being from far away increases your chances of obtaining permission.  I know land owners around here that don't let anyone local hunt their land, but someone from another state shows up at their door, and they bend over backwards to help them.  Not sure I understand why.  Others are the opposite. 

 Do you guys think that a few landowners live on their property where there are chalk outcrops? 

-Christian

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jpc

I'm not sure I understand this question.  I think the answer is yes... most landowners live on the property where the outcrops are.  This is their ranch.  

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Castle Rock

As I have said other times, I do know that many land owners live elsewhere.  You can try to get information from the nearest house, but they are few and far between and you cannot count on useful information. This is my experience in the area over many years of collecting on private land.  Good luck. Dave 

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