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Me and my fiance headed into Wauchula this afternoon to try to find some good gravel spots at the behest of @Shellseeker and his helpful advice given to me on my last post. 

 

I have been to the Peace a total of 4 times, all within the span of a month or two because these water conditions are just way too good to pass up. Every time I come back to the river I have a new game plan and every time I actually get TO the river the plan goes out the window. 

 

Today's adventure was no different.

 

We pulled up to Wauchula Riverside Park (Crews Park?) and were pleasantly surprised with the condition of the park. I had read about some sketchy things happening in that area and while we were unloading our gear a police cruiser circled the lot twice, it made me feel safe about leaving my vehicle. The park seemed newly renovated so I was assuming these past cases of break ins and theft occurred before then.

 

We walked over to the boat ramp and prepared to search for a gravel bed north of the park; that is until we came across a friendly kayaker and her son. She noted that down the river a little was an island that her fossil hunting friends liked to dig at but had to swim to get to it in higher water season since they didn't use kayaks. We were not prepared to swim but the thought of a glorious "fossil island" that my fiance can set her chair up on and watch me sift gravel for 8 hours was just too enticing and we abandoned our upriver plans and decided to head down towards the bends. 

 

We found a small sandy trail to take us as far as we could on dry land before we had to make any attempts into the river, there were many downed trees and root systems that would make walking the dry area pretty difficult. This trail lead us into some of the highest and thickest grass I have walked in. I felt like I was going to be attacked by a pokemon... or a snake... but we were lucky and did not have any issues. I think this is a trail in the Peace River Park.

 

Anyhow, we found a nice spot to cross the deep part of the river and found ourselves on the opposite side of the bank, it only came up to our thighs but there was zero visibility in the water. Then suddenly, a dad and his kids make an appearance with their fishing poles... After a quick chat we learned he was heading to a similar spot around the bend to fish a hole...

 

You should have seen the look my fiance gave me. How in the world would we be able to dig for fossils in the same area that this guy is fishing in deep holes?!

 

WHERE IS FOSSIL ISLAND?

 

My hopes were dashed, my fiance wanted to go back to gardner, and there was a huge downed tree in the middle of the river with no gravel in sight. TFF what would you have done?!

 

I continued on. 

 

Luckily it paid off.

 

We hopped up on the legal side of the bank and walked 20 feet further to the end of the first bend. It was there! Sticking out of the middle of the river like a huge zit ready to burst with meg teeth WE FOUND FOSSIL ISLAND! 

 

We hopped back into the river and crossed the deepest part to get to fossil island, it was about knee deep and the entire bottom sounded crunchy which my trusty fence post confirmed to be a pretty significant gravel layer. Fossil island was pocketed with holes from other diggers but I was more interested in the deepest part off the side of fossil island. I figured when the water level is up this deepest spot will get un-diggably high but since it is so low right now I can get 2 to 3 feet into the gravel before the water started getting too deep for my shovel. At this point the JoshRockz excavation project was in full swing.

 

I was digging in this layer and in the first couple sifts we were already finding larger than our usual size teeth. We got about a foot down before my fiance decided to go surface collect and I was getting alot of clams in my shovel loads but not alot of teeth, I widened out my hole and noticed I was pulling out  chunks of matrix as shown in IMG 6228. I will be displaying this piece, I have not encountered the hard rock matrix; I have only really encountered the thick clay in the deep areas of Gardner and I imagine this is how it weathers out of the walls of the peace.

 

Around these pieces of matrix I started to pull up many megaladon frags and hemis along with smaller teeth of other variety and quality. These are the largest teeth we have found thus far and I am so happy with our first dig in this location! The only downside was that this area in general has alot of broken glass that fortunately did not harm me but definitely made me reconsider not wearing gloves in the river. I also pulled up about 15-20 iron nails that were at times in a pretty dangerous condition and large. Tetanus city. This was 2-3 feet down into the gravel I was pulling these nails out so I am a little intrigued as to where they came from. All in all I will be returning to Wauchula in the future and I cant thank Jack enough for his advice.

 

Oh, Turns out the largest hemi (also) the largest intact tooth that we found (second left in 6226) was surface collected right on the top of fossil island by my fiance.

 

Strange are the ways of the peace river...

 

ps I am going to get a kayak because all of this could have been avoided and we could have been there in 5 minutes if we had one. 

 

 

IMG_6228 (1).jpg

IMG_6226 (1).jpg

IMG_6230 (1).jpg

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Shellseeker

Welcome to the experience of Peace River fossil hunting. I can see that you and your wife may become addicted!!! The Peace River has changed my life. I am always content and hopeful in its embrace. May you learn to love and respect it as much as I do. :default_clap2: Be careful out there.

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I too have prospected around Wauchula. We used to park at the Wauchula Riverside Park on the north side of Main Street where there is plenty of parking, a boat ramp, and (as I remember) some not so clean toilet facilities. :wacko: We also don't have kayaks and so were limited to where we could go on foot which is very dependent on water levels. Going upstream I remember encountering some very deep holes which meant you had to keep getting out of the river to walk along the banks to bypass these spots. We usually gave up before long and so we never really explored that section of the river very much. If you are concerned about the safety of your vehicle while out shoveling in the Peace, then you are probably best parking where you did. If you look on Google Maps with the satellite imagery you will notice that Heard Bridge Rd crosses the river upstream of Wauchula and Griffin Rd crosses it downstream. Both of these roads have pull-offs and a place you can launch a kayak from. Those spots do not get the monitoring that the park in Wauchula gets so you take your chances with valuables in your vehicle while you are away.

 

Since I've been in the river east of Wauchula (probably a decade ago) I believe Ive heard that they've opened up a parking area on the south side of Main Street (across the road and downstream from Wauchula Riverside Park). You may be able to confirm this if you've just been there. When we visited long ago we would park near the boat ramp in Wauchula Riverside Park and walk under the Main Street overpass and walk through a little trail alongside the west side of the river. Dense underbrush and tall grass sound very familiar. We would usually wait till we spotted the shallow section of the river and cross over to walk along the east side of the river. I remember there being a steep erosional area that formed a bit of a cliff and usually a lot of tree snags in the river just after that. Once past all that I remember the going getting a bit easier. I don't recall there being an island downstream but I'm sure islands have come and gone and lots of sand has shifted around since I've been there. Big storms like Hurricane Irma reshape the contours of the river significantly. We had good luck and found some nice fossils in that stretch but for logistical reasons (mainly not having a watercraft) we usually ply the more frequently traveled (and hunted) portion of the river from Brownville to Arcardia (renting canoes at Canoe Outpost). Though this area sees a lot of fossil hunters there are still treasures to be saved from obscurity in that section of the river if you know what you are doing. ;)

 

Getting kayaks (or a canoe) will open up more of the river to exploration. Even at spots which look like bombing ranges with the holes and piles left by other hunters, great fossils can be found (as you've proved). If I come upon an area where several others have been hunting I take that as a sign that something drew them to the spot. It is awesome to find a "honey hole" that nobody else knows about so you can have it all to yourself but quite often well-known spots are known well for a reason. When hunting an area that others have been working it is important not to end up digging in someone else's spoil pile. Often, their discard pile can get spread out after a rain event that momentarily raises the river and distributes a pile of gravel that has been searched into a surface gravel layer. I'm always suspicious of gravel at the surface. If you are not even finding smaller shark teeth or anything else of interest though the gravel is plentiful, suspect that you are searching through a trash bin of losing lottery tickets and move on to prospect for a richer location. If someone spent the time (and energy) to dig a significant hole (and resultant pile) you should assume that something likely kept them digging at that spot. I'll dig for a while in a spot without finding anything to see if it gets better but not for 8 hours. :) A large hole/pile likely means the previous hunter was turning up some nice items from time to time so leverage their work and try to extend their hole down (usually till you hit a sticky clay layer :wacko: or sideways to continue widening the whole.

 

Fossil hunting is an addictive hobby--you never know what the next shovel might hold. The Peace River is really a great place to hunt with a spectacular diversity of specimens you can find (though, sadly, no dinosaur material). If you can convince your future better half to go out on trips with you then you are certainly in high cotton.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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Nice finds, glad you guys could get out :)

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