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Back from the hunt of a lifetime!


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Hi All, well I just got back from the meteorite hunt of a lifetime! I'm sure most of you are aware of the recent fireball sighting and meteorite recovery effort currently underway in the town of West Texas. Ruben was heading out there to hunt it, he gave me a call and personally invited me out to join in on the tremendous opportunity of hunting a fresh fall. At first I hesitated to go thinking it would cost me a fortune in travel expenses but I looked into it (airfare, hotel, food, rental car, etc), I realized I could do it relatively cheap (though I had to dip into the Jeep fund). So I bit the bullet and said "screw it I'm GOING!" to myself. I mean after all how often does somebody get the opportunity to hunt a freshly fallen strewn field? Not to mention I knew it would an experience of a lifetime and if I didn't do it I would regret it later. So I took a couple days off from work, jumped on a plane, and off to the small town of West Texas I go to hunt for meteorites.

I arrived in Austen ~12:00 am Texas time Saturday morning grabbed a rental car, drove to Waco and got a Motel room. Ruben gave me a wake up call at 6:00 am and off to the field we went to meet up and hunt with a group of hunters. Here's a pic of some of the hunters... there’s a few faces I'm sure some of you will recognize-

GroupPic.jpg

The first place we hunted was VERY grassy and VERY difficult to hunt. I followed Ruben around for a few hours getting hunting tips and I also watched him pluck a couple small ones. I didn't find anything because I was still adjust my eyes to the terrain and this was definitely the hardest I've tried to hunt-

Terrain1.jpg

The whole time I kept thinking to myself "sheez I wonder how many meteorites I'm walking over!".

Around noon, Ruben and a couple other Big Dogs wanted to go and blaze new trails to hopefully get on the scent of some big ones (pretty much everything is small out there so far). Of course I was keeping my fingers crossed for an invite so I can learn the more advanced topics of Meteorite Hunting, but it didn't happen and that’s ok with me. I figure to get an invite from the Big Dogs you have to earn it and I'll keep busting my butt hunting until that happens. So Ruben handed me off to Steve Arnold who was kind enough to point me and a couple virgin newbie’s to a field where he had found some small ones the day before. We packed in the car and followed him to a field a couple miles away. Steve pointed me and the newbie’s to the area we had permission to hunt on and gave me the lowdown on the place. He then left to grab some lunch returning a couple hours later.

I was very happy to see terrain that looked a little more familiar to me and I was confident I could pop something if I could adjust my eyes to the conditions

Terrain2.jpg

I gave the newbie’s a couple hunting tips I picked up from dry lake bed hunting (sun to the back, gridding, etc), pumped some motivation into them, and off I went hunting by myself. I hunted Steve’s field for a few hours and decided to try my luck and expand the place a little bit more and try to and get myself into some ground that looked like it hadn't been walked on yet (especially when a pro hunter has been through there!). Since I had been hunting grassy areas pretty much the whole day and I felt my eyes were somewhat tuned to it and I decided to hunt an area just outside and over the fence from Steve’s. It was definitely harder to hunt, but I was confident there were meteorites there and I was definitely up for the challenge.

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Hours rolled by and I kept walking and finding nothing. I started to think "maybe this was not a good idea" to myself. Heck I even started to accept the fact that I might get skunked my first day. Then I noticed an area behind a fence that had some flattened grass and bamboo on it (a tip I picked up from Ruben) that looked like a trail cows frequently walked on. I thought it was worth a try. So I slowly started walking this path... nothing... nothing. Then I came across this little black and whitish gray rock that stuck out like a sore thumb. BOOM my first West, Texas area meteorite! YES!

8grammeteoritein-situ.jpg

Close up-

8gramcloseup.jpg

8.0 grams

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I took the in-situ pics, did the meteorite dance and called Steve Arnold over since he was nearby. I showed him, high fived him, and graciously thanked him for his generosity. I also wanted to get a pic of me right after my first freshly fallen meteorite find. Oh yeah... and also my first find in the state of Texas!

Delwith1stWestTexasFind.jpg

Of course I had to also get a pic with Steve since his pointy finger lead me to it-

DelwithSteveArnold.jpg

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Feeling very confident after conquering the hard terrain I decided to tag along with Steve and do some gridding in his field. While working the field I ran into the newbie’s who had nailed their very first meteorites. Heck one of the guys found two! I was happy for them, though I regret not being around to see them find it. The sun was starting to set and I was still motivated to find another one. Steve was nearby and he nailed a small one grammer. Then (knowing meteorites like to fall together) I started sniffing around like a hound and BAM... another one! Hell yeah, two small meteorites in a new place I was unfamiliar with. What a way to end the first day!

In-situ-

56gramin-situ.jpg

Close up-

56gramcloseup.jpg

5.6 grams

The sun set and the original group congregated again at a local Tex Mex restaurant. There were cheers and toasts all around and congratulations on peoples finds. Everyone in the group scored at least one find for the day. Unfortunately I left my camera and I couldn't get a pic.

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5:30 am my phone rings with a wakeup call. I took a quick shower and got ready. Ruben called at 6:00 am and we went and met up with the group again. We all followed one another and started out at Steve’s spot. This time around though our group got a little bit bigger (I think like 10+) and there were a lot of newbie’s. Ruben took off to go and blaze new trails and Sonny Clary stuck around for a little bit trying to get warmed up for the day with a find. I tagged along behind him trying to learn a few things and he decided to take off while I stuck around. Steve took the group of newbie hunters (many still virgins) to his field and taught them the fundamentals of meteorite hunting starting off with gridding. Unfortunately I'm not much of a Social Butterfly when I'm trying to focus on hunting space rocks so I decided to hunt by myself and I found my first one in a couple hours-

In-situ-

52gramin-situ.jpg

Close up-

52gramcloseup.jpg

5.2 grams

After getting the first find of the day under my belt, I decided to to head down and join the group for a little bit of "Meteorite Hunting 101". I gridded slowly for a little bit with the group. It was cool to see some people get their first finds. After a few sweeps, I decided to try and expand the area again after seeing a pattern where the meteorites had fallen. After a couple more hours I nailed another one-

In-situ-

56gramin-situb.jpg

Close up-

56gramcloseupb.jpg

5.5 grams

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Noon time rolled around and it was time to eat lunch. So me and a couple other people from the group went back to the cars to eat something. A farmer came out to greet us and ask about meteorites. We showed him some finds, taught him a few things about meteorites and also informed him his house was in the center or a meteorite strewn field. I also asked him for permission to hunt his backyard, he gave it and off I went after breathing in some food. I hunted his backyard for a little while and came up with nothing. Oh well, it was worth a try! Came back to the car and the rest of the group came back, Steve Arnold took off somewhere. We all rested for a little bit since all our legs felt like jelly from walking so much. All of a sudden my cell phone rings and it's Ruben calling to announce the field had been expanded a little bit. He told me "just follow Steve!" he's gonna take you somewhere new. Woohoo! Steve came back; we all hopped in the cars and off we went to a new place. A few dirt roads later we were there. I immediately got out and started hunting excited about the prospects of a new place. It was completely different terrain (recently plowed field) from the other two places I got my eyes tune to. Though I was confident meteorites were there since Ruben verified it already, I just had to train my eyes for another type of ground. Hunted for a couple hours until the sun started setting. Tried to squeeze one more find in for the day but it just didn't happen. The second day I was happy to score some finds, but a little frustrated that I hadn't found anything over ten grams yet. Oh well, I've got about 3/4's of a day left to hunt. I'll nail a good size one for sure before heading back to Cali!

After the sun went down, Ruben had some business to take care of so I had to find a ride back to the Motel. The only person I knew that was staying in the same place was Mike Miller. I asked him for a ride and he told me to hop on in. Here I was getting a ride from one of the best pro meteorite hunters around, so of course I had to jump on the opportunity to learn something! Immediately Mike and I started talking meteorites.

I was hungry to learn more advanced topics of meteorite hunting so I can confidently go out and find spots on my own to hunt instead of following somebody’s pointy finger. Right away Mike started schooling me on strewn field analysis and tools to use for it emphasizing the importance of tenacity. Some topics I soaked up like a sponge and logged into the long term memory bank, while others I didn't quit grasp until I annoyingly asked him a million questions until I understood. We both went and had dinner as I continued to eagerly pick his brain to learn things. After we got back to the Motel, we both called it a night and went to bed. Mike loaded my brain with enough information all I could do all night was think about techniques to find more meteorites. Heck it was so bad I think I only got about three hours of sleep!

I promptly woke up to my 6:00 am wakeup call eager to find a nice size meteorite before I left, didn't know where Ruben was so I had to track him down since my car keys were in his Jeep. I found him, picked up my keys and off I went to the place he turned me and the rest of the group onto yesterday.

I hunted this field for a few hours and I knew it was going to be very difficult terrain to pop find a meteorite on-

terrain3.jpg

I realized to find a meteorite here I would have to rethink my hunting technique because spotting was very difficult. It was a field probably plowed a few weeks back before the fall occurred. It had rocks, corn cobs, shredded bamboo and just about everything you could imagine. The surface had a slight hardened crust on top probably from a recent rain. When you took a step, your foot sunk down to various depths. You could easily see other people’s footprints in it.

So this got me thinking… if this was a soft surface and a good size meteorite plunging down from the atmosphere hit it, the meteorite would most likely bury itself down a few inches. If it was a smaller meteorite deep, or it might stay on the surface. To prove this theory I grabbed a rock about the size of a fifty gram meteorite and threw it into the ground as hard as I could. What do you know, it buried itself! The hole looked very similar to what a crater looks like… a little dirt pushed up on one end and a buried mass.

Next I thought about the angle of the sun and I attempted to find the best angle for spotting a divot in the ground. As it turned out, for the best spotting angle seemed to be from the sides or directly into the sun. Exactly opposite of what I had learned from hunting dry lake beds. I thought to myself “this has to work!”.

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I pressed on confident my new hunting strategy will work. Look for the divots AND small meteorites on the surface! I found various size divots all over the place. I even noticed there must have been a dog and other animals out there recently because I could see the tracks. Occasionally I would come across a divot all by itself and dig into it… Nope, no meteorite. I couldn’t figure out why they were there but they were. I kept this up for a couple more hours turning up nothing. Then I came across a divot all by itself two feet away from some footprints. I dug down and felt a stone roughly the size of the hole. It knew it had to be a meteorite the shape just felt right! I pulled it out…. And BOOYAA a gorgeous 51 grammer!! My technique paid off, success!

In-situ

510gramin-situ.jpg

Here’s the top

510gramcloseup.jpg

Here’s close up a pic of the fracture side-

51grammerback.jpg

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I continued hunting hungry for more but turned up nothing. I got a call from Ruben asking me about my progress and I told him about my find. He was happy for me and he and Mike came out a little bit later.

When Mike and Ruben showed up I told them I had found it buried. They asked me how I found it and I told them the technique I tried that worked. Mike asks me “so what do the holes look like?”, I picked up a rock threw it into the ground and said “that’s what you’re looking for right there!”. Off Mike and Ruben went to go and hunt and maybe try the technique I figured out.

My time to leave came up and I decided to stay an hour longer because my flight left an hour later than I thought. I didn’t find anything and Ruben introduced me to the landowner. She was motivated to find a meteorite so Ruben and I both told her what to look for on the ground and showed her a few meteorites. I spent the rest of my day visiting with her (she was a sweet lady) and ended the trip with a smile on my face and meteorites less than ten days old in my pocket. A successful hunt and a good time. I headed back to the car wishing I could stay longer to hunt for more meteorites. On the way out I was trying to spot meteorites on the side of the road and I actually stopped a few times. Unfortunately this put me behind schedule and I missed my flight out. I ended up staying the night in Austin and catching a flight out the next day.

Here’s the pic of my total take-

WestTexasHaul.jpg

5 West Texas area (guess it still hasn’t been named) meteorites- 5.2, 5.5, 5.6, 8.0 grams, and a 51 grammer totaling 75.3 grams.

This trip was the experience of a lifetime! I got to rub elbows with the Big Dog meteorite hunters and hunt a fresh fall. What more could you ask for! I have so many people to thank (Mike Miller, Sonny, Steve Arnold). Thanks guys, because of you I was successful on a fresh fall. Ruben, I specially want to thank you for inviting me out and teaching me a few things.

Getting caught up in the excitement of hunting a fresh fall will be a memorable experience for the rest of my life! The people I met and the places I saw made the trip worth every penny! I’m leaving some details out, but for the most part with was it.

I know this is a very long post, but I wanted you guys to read what the experience like I did!

Del

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Del;

that is a most excellent adventure you had!!! Your account is exciting and well written...you might want to write a complete account and offer it to the Meteorite magazine...I am confident the editors would accept it. Thank you for taking the time to post your adventure.

Fred

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Hey Del:

Congratulations – now you’ve been hunting with the pros – that’s excellent. Those are certainly some beautiful specimens. Nice fusion crust. This certainly sounds like a once in a lifetime experience, so I know it was worth it. Great pics too.

Greg

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Del,

:whoopie:

What a refreshing treat to click (view new posts) and actually find something worth reading.

Your story was well composed and your Texas excursion was something that many of us only wish that we could have experienced. Stomping around in a fresh strewn-field is what it is all about, let alone finding 75.3 grams in five stones. You will replenish the jeep money and forget that you ever spent it, but what you spent it on will never be forgotten.

Do not sell yourself short, your time invested, knowledge gained, knowledge shared and a multitude of other meteorite related achievements puts you in the big dog category............

Thanks again for the in depth review of a West Texas meteorite hunt......

Jim

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Hey thanks for the congrats guys, yeah it was definately an experience I will never forget worth every penny I spent to go.

Del;

that is a most excellent adventure you had!!! Your account is exciting and well written...you might want to write a complete account and offer it to the Meteorite magazine...I am confident the editors would accept it. Thank you for taking the time to post your adventure.

Fred

Fred, I think I'll leave the Meteorite Magazine story up to one of the big dogs.

Del,

:whoopie:

What a refreshing treat to click (view new posts) and actually find something worth reading.

Your story was well composed and your Texas excursion was something that many of us only wish that we could have experienced. Stomping around in a fresh strewn-field is what it is all about, let alone finding 75.3 grams in five stones. You will replenish the jeep money and forget that you ever spent it, but what you spent it on will never be forgotten.

Do not sell yourself short, your time invested, knowledge gained, knowledge shared and a multitude of other meteorite related achievements puts you in the big dog category............

Thanks again for the in depth review of a West Texas meteorite hunt......

Jim

Thanks Jim, yeah I loved every minute of it. Just wish I had more time to spend out there since the meteorites will probably be lost to a farmers plow in less than a months time. As for being a "Big Dog".... boy I've got a long way to go to get to that point, I've barely scratched the surface of meteorite hunting. I was just happy I got the opportunity to learn something from a few highly accomplished hunters.

Del

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Del,

:whoopie:

What a refreshing treat to click (view new posts) and actually find something worth reading.

Your story was well composed and your Texas excursion was something that many of us only wish that we could have experienced. Stomping around in a fresh strewn-field is what it is all about, let alone finding 75.3 grams in five stones. You will replenish the jeep money and forget that you ever spent it, but what you spent it on will never be forgotten.

Do not sell yourself short, your time invested, knowledge gained, knowledge shared and a multitude of other meteorite related achievements puts you in the big dog category............

Thanks again for the in depth review of a West Texas meteorite hunt......

Jim

G'Day Del

First off and one thing that's appropriate, a Big CONGRATULATIONS!!! I totally agree with what Jim said.

Second, I've been trying to constantly keep up with what's going down in regards to this new Texas fall and it's been hard because of my work constraints and I haven't been posting on a regular basis. But I can tell you now that I think your information, adventure and I must say a very detailed report, is the best yet. I say yet, for the simple reason I don't know who else is out there that is putting together such an in depth report on this new fall in West. But as yet, not had the time to post, not here or anywhere else and I can understand that.

The adrenaline must be pumping for those, including yourself that had the opportunity to get into the thick of it. Not only that, you have demonstrated the ability that anyone regardless of experience or non-experience can succeed.

My hat's off to you for a great break down and report on your personal experiences in Texas.

Kat and I thought we should have gone, but situations prevented us. But as you stressed, you would have regretted it if you hadn't have. Well, you guessed right, we regret it because we didn't move. We procrastinated and now it's too late. So we have accepted the fact that a small portion of this latest fall will not be a part of our collection, unless we get out there and hunt for ourselves. We put out a desperate call to friends in Texas, one in particular was only 100 miles away from West, but could not oblige due to the restraints on him, his job and his family and they definitely come first..

But once again, I want to congratulate you on your enthusiasm, your adventure and your success.

Cheers

Johnno

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Wow that really sounds like the hunt of a lifetime! No lie!

That must be incredible to chase down a fall and find pieces of

what every collecter will want in the next year and years to come!

So fresh. =]

I'm still waiting for one to fall within the city limits.

Saves on gas/lodging.

Congrats Del!

And Ruben too!

[Erik]

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Hey Del; the Big Dogs don't have your perspective...I had "Fred's Local Adventure " accepted by the Metorite magazine and there was an article by Mr meteorite in the same edition...you most certainly have something to offer whether the Big Dogs bark or not...of course, if you have agreed not to write such an article that is entirely different matter...

thanks again for sharing your adventure.

Fred

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Del: Congratulations on a great adventure and a very well crafted post. You had me right out in those corn fields with you. Fabulous experience. The PCSC folk will be in for an extra treat for sure during your upcoming April presentation. Way to go!!

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It is done! The classification is in! :confused0013:

Excellent report of findings Del, kudos' to you for a great job, well done..... And a great big appreciation for your story... thank you :whoopie:

One question.... does the West, Texas meteorite have an official name yet ??? :hmmmmmm:

Thanks again, and best wishes for many more hunt's and findings,

jim "bones" :coffeetime: :outtahere:

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Rock & Roll!!

You knocked 'em dead Del!

Fantastic story and pic's, I thank you. Like Jim said, don't sell yourself short, you hung with the Big Dog's, therefore you are.

Fantastic! I'm so excited for you, there's nothing like a fresh fall/find! (I did it back in 2003, Park Forest) Hard to beat, for sure. I'm not surprised you missed your plane! Too funny!

I can't wait to get down there. I wasn't able to go right away, I had just got back from AZ and had things to tend to. I'm going end of next week I hope you left some for me!

Thanks again for the great report, the best I've seen yet.

-Larry

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Del, (Big Dog )

Way to go man!!! What a great story of your adventures in West Texas. The pictures you have posted are outstanding and worth a thousand words. Memories my friend, memories that you will definitely remember for the rest of your life. I am glad for you that you were able to make it to West and be so successful in your meteorite hunt! To think you found several freshly fallen meteorites which have not been exposed to the elements yet, outstanding!

Thank you for posting your great story and pictures of your finds so quickly so that we too are able to enjoy your great adventure!!

Kudos to you Big Dog Del!!! :cool04:

Dean

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Del, Absolutely awesome, The writing and the pics are great and allow us to live vicariously thru your adventure. Hardly a newbie now by any means. As previous, :bowdown: Big Dog Del , Clifton

I'll have video, pictures and my story of the west texas hunt on my web site next week! Of course "BIG DOG" Del's story will also be on my site... stay tuned.

Ruben (NOT SO BIG DOG) Garcia

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