A Gem of a Hobby
My first recollection of rock hunting was when as a child growing up in Kansas, I would search for pieces of flint to rub together tin order to see the sparks fly. As I was looking for flint, I occasionally would find an arrowhead, at which time my mind would start thinking about the early days in Kansas. My next experience with rocks came as our family started taking trips to Colorado for a vacation to try our hand at dry-fly fishing for trout and to hike and hunt for rocks along the way. My mother, who was an astute and knowledgeable rock hunter taught us (including my father) all about rocks, minerals and fossils. I was excited the first time I found turquoise. Little did I know that one day I would prefer jewelry with silver and turquoise, rather than with gold and gemstones.
For many years, the family continued to vacation in the mountains of southwest Colorado, where I would put on my waders, walk upstream as though I was trout fishing, when I was really looking for rocks under water. During those years we visited many other states, including Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska, Missouri, Wyoming, South Dakota and several others, where I continued to learn more about rocks and rock hunting. My first trip to New Mexico was when we brought Geiger counters with us to search for uranium. On many of our hikes, we would pass abandoned silver and gold mines, never going inside, but always stopping to look for rocks that might have been missed by previous rock hunters. Every year we went to southwest Colorado I al- ways got to visit the old mining towns and Creede and Silverton, where I learned a great deal about mining.
As an adult, I rock hunted in Kentucky, where you had to be very careful about picking up rocks, as frequently you would find a copperhead snake underneath. In New Mexico, and a few other states, you have to watch out for rattlesnakes in the rocky areas. I also hunted in the Adirondacks and Catskills during the years I lived in New York. I even ended up looking for rocks back in the Flint Hills of Kansas, when I was working on my Master's Degree. One of the great places to rock hunt is right here in New Mexico, where I have been hunting rocks since 1980, when I joined my family here.
For the past 10 years, I have been living near Reserve and have hunted rocks at every opportunity. When I decided to display my rocks I got an idea to make 3 triangles out back, using railroad ties and filling them with dirt and crushed rock. The picture shows how they are arranged. This way I can enjoy looking at them every day and I can continue to add to the triangles. Rock hunters are like elk hunters, they never tell you exactly where they go, but I have found beautiful crystals. Luna blue agate, quartz, petrified wood and geodes in abundance, as well as some treasured gemstones and minerals.
Rock hunting can be a great family adventure, as you enjoy the beautiful scenery, the fresh air, the birds and animals that you can identify, as well as the camaraderie that will exist. Try It! You'll like it!