Merriam-Webster defines rock hound as a specialist in geology. In my opinion, if you love rocks, you’re in. Rock hunting is fascinating, it’s fun, it’s exciting, and don’t tell the children but, it is educational too. It’s a great way to get the entire family off of the couch and into the great outdoors.
Location possibilities are endless. You can walk out into your own backyard, or travel around the world in search of that perfect gem. Finding a nearby rock hunting location is as simple as surfing the internet. You can also search for rock hound, gem and mineral clubs in your area. You would be surprised how many like minded rock fans there are out there. Visit the local library. Check out books about geology and guides to specific areas. Our library has an impressive display of local, fossilized flora and fauna.
The BEST TOOLS to Start With for the Beginner Rock Hound
Rock hunting doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavor. You can spend as much or as little money as you see fit and still have a great time. Many of the basic tools you need to get started can probably be found around the house or in your garage.
1. Garden trowel – to dig or to scoop out loose material.
2. Hand rake – to rake through material.
(Sturdy metal garden tools hold up much better than the plastic kind.)
3. Flathead screwdriver – to dig or pry small stuff.
4. Chisel – to cleave fractures and crack rocks.
5. Crack hammer – A crack hammer is with made tempered steel. It can be used to break rock or masonry and while working with a chisel. (Please do not use an ordinary hammer. It can shatter or splinter causing serious harm and injury. Safety glasses are a must when using hammers or chisels.)
6. Toothbrush or paint brush – handy to clean your finds.
7. Spray bottle with water – clean specimens to get a good look and reveal true color.
8. Bucket – to carry tools and finds. Zip lock bags work well to secure small stones.
9. A sturdy plastic sieve comes in handy to sift out debris or when there is a water source close by. Those in children’s beach sets are perfect to start out with. They are also easier for the kiddies to handle.
10. Magnifying glass – for a closer look and it can help with identification.
As you can tell, this is not an extensive list; I will save that for a later post. I don’t want to overwhelm anyone. If you are a beginner who is looking to try your hand at rock hunting, this list is perfect to start.
TIPS for the Beginner Rock Hound
Always get permission.
• I cannot stress this enough. Always get permission to be there, and to collect. Many public lands allow recreational collecting. Some sites are by permit only and may include a nominal fee.
• Respect the rules. Respect the land. Whether hunting on private property or public land, be mindful of the boundaries. Trespassing gives all of us a bad name.
• What you carry in, carry out. That includes your garbage.
Never go alone.
• Stuff happens. You don’t want to be in a remote location alone, without cell service, or someone there to help when it does.
Always be prepared.
• Dress for the weather and the environment. Wear sturdy shoes or boots. A wide brimmed hat will better protect your ears and the back of your neck than a ball cap.
• Bring along sunscreen, a first aid kit, and insect repellent.
• Bring plenty of water and snacks.
A few more helpful things.
• Guidebooks for the area will list collecting sites, directions, and what can be found in those locations.
• A map and compass or GPS can be helpful if you lose your bearings.
With a little forethought, rock hunting can be an enjoyable pastime for all ages. Be prepared. Be aware. Be safe and don’t forget your camera!