Fall 2015 Big Bend Agate Roundup

This is the third in a series of press releases I wrote to send to local papers along with the September 2015 Rock & Gem magazine.  This information has been published in other blog posts here, but I’ve included it again because it was part of the press kit.

The Big Bend Agate Roundup is a semi-annual event which brings rockhounds from all over the country for two weeks of rockhunting on local ranches. These rockhunts are led by local rockhunting guide Teri Smith, and allow participants the chance to find many varieties of agate that would otherwise be difficult to obtain.

The October event this year consists of 15 straight days of rockhunts held on five ranches in Brewster and Presidio counties. All of the rockhunts begin in Alpine, in the lobby of the Antelope Lodge, where participants pay their fees and sign liability waivers before they caravan to the selected ranch.

The terrain on the ranches varies from almost flat to quite mountainous, providing locations perfect for people of different fitness levels. The Ritchie Ranch, which is close to Alpine, has rolling hills, and you can drive right to the locations where the agate can be found. The South Larremore Ranch is also quite flat, but more walking is required. For both the Walker and Singleton Ranches, there are locations where you can park right by the agate beds, as well as more remote agate locations that require walking and some hill climbing. At East Needle Peak, you need to be prepared to walk and climb to get to the locations where you can find agate and fossils.

The last Agate Roundup, held in April, 2015, brought over 60 rockhounds to the Big Bend from all parts of Texas and other states as far away as Oregon, Virginia, and Indiana. The schedule for this fall’s event is posted on the website www.terismithrockhunts.com and listed here:

Monday, October 19: Ritchie Ranch. Start time 11:00 a.m.
Tuesday October 20: South Larremore Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Wednesday, October 21: Walker Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Thursday, October 22: Walker Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Friday, October 23: Walker Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Saturday, October 24: Walker Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Sunday, October 25: Walker Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Monday, October 26: Walker Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Tuesday October 27: South Larremore Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Wednesday, October 28: East Needle Peak. Start time 6:00 a.m.
Thursday, October 29: Singleton Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Friday, October 30: Singleton Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Saturday, October 31: Singleton Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Sunday, November 1: Singleton Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Monday, November 2: South Larremore Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.

 

Rockhunts are Fun for Visitors, Profitable for Locals

This is the fourth in a series of press releases I wrote to send to local papers along with the September 2015 Rock & Gem magazine.

Rockhunts are a tourist attraction in the Big Bend that have not been well publicized in the past, says Teri Smith, local rockhunting guide. “In the past there were a couple of ranches that were open all the time for rockhunters, but not much beyond that. Now only the Stillwell Ranch open all the time, but I lead periodic field trips that allow rockhunters access to ranches that they would not be able to go to otherwise.”

Although the rockhunts occur in ranches in both Brewster and Presidio counties, all of them begin at the Antelope Lodge in Alpine. This makes it convenient for rockhounds to stay at motels and RV parks in Alpine.

The economic impact of rock hunting can be extrapolated from the number of rockhounds that go on Teri’s field trips each year. In 2014, 175 people came to Alpine to go rockhunting with Teri on local ranches. In addition to representing all parts of Texas, these rockhunters came from 15 states from coast to coast, and from Canada.

The average rockhunter went on 4 field trips, meaning they stayed at least 4 days in the Big Bend.

While most of these visitors came to the Big Bend specifically to go rockhunting, they also visited other tourist destinations, such as Big Bend National Park and Fort Davis National Monument, stayed in local motels, RV parks, and campgrounds, ate in local restaurants, and shopped at local stores.

Others came to the Big Bend for a vacation and decided to try rockhunting while they are here. One day of rockhunting can lead to a lifelong hobby, and many people who go on one of Teri’s trips make their next trip to the Big Bend just for rockhunting.

Rockhunts are scheduled regularly during the cooler months from October until May. Twice a year, Teri hosts the “Big Bend Agate Roundup”, which is two weeks of daily rockhunts. These concentrated rockhunting events are popular enough that more than 30 people have signed up for a specific field trip.

Local Rocks & Gems on Display at Last Frontier Museum

This is the last page of a set of press releases I sent to local newspapers with a copy of the Rock & Gem magazine for September. The purpose is to let Big Bend area residents know that rockhunting is a viable tourist attraction in the Big Bend Region.

Using mostly rocks found on her field trips, Teri Smith has created the Last Frontier Museum to show rockhunters and others what collectible and valuable rocks and gems can be found in the Big Bend Region.

The museum fills a room in the office of the Antelope Lodge. Except for the contents of a display of “Agate from Other Locations”, most of the items in the museum were found by Teri during her years of rockhunting in the Big Bend.

According to Teri, the museum could be much larger if she had the room. “There are many wonderful examples of agate and other minerals that I simply don’t have space for right now”, says Teri.

But the museum is quite crowded as it is, with exhibits covering the different types of agate found in the Big Bend, the colors and forms of quartz crystals found here, the different ways agate can look when you find it, and examples of what you can do with the agate you’ve found. There’s also an exhibit comparing what can be found on each of the ranches where Teri leads rockhunts.

Fossils, too, have a place in the museum. They can be found in profusion in the area near Terlingua, and also as far up in elevation as Alpine and its environs.

The Last Frontier Museum is in the lobby of the Antelope Lodge, 2310 W. Highway 90 in Alpine, and open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day. Admission is free.

Fall 2015 big Bend Rockhunts

Here’s a complete schedule so far for the Fall 2015 rockhunts. The 2015-2016 rockhunting season will begin on Wed., 10/7. The schedule includes the Big Bend Agate Roundup rockhunts scheduled for 10/19 – 11/2.

Right now, I don’t have any rockhunts scheduled during mule deer season, which is 11/27 – 12/13 this year. 11/27 is the day after Thanksgiving, and 12/13 is a Sunday. HOWEVER, I can probably schedule rockhunts during that time on the Singleton, East Needle Peak, and South Larremore ranches, once the landowners have decided when to allow deer hunters onto their ranches. So – if that’s your vacation, and you wish to go rockhunting, let me know and I’ll see what I can schedule.
I won’t be available from 11/19 – 24, as the 23rd is our (John & Teri Smith’s) 30th anniversary, and we hope to have our family visit us during that time.

Wed., 10/7: South Larremore Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $40 per person per day.
Thurs., 10/8: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Fri., 10/9: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Sat., 10/10: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Sun., 10/11: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Mon., 10/12: South Larremore Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. $40 per person per day.

Mon., 10/19: Ritchie Ranch. Start: 11:00 a.m. Cost: $10 per person plus $1 per lb for agate.
Tues. 10/20: South Larremore Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost $40 per person per day.
Wed., 10/21: Walker Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost varies: see below.
Thurs., 10/22: Walker Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost varies: see below.
Fri., 10/23: Walker Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost varies: see below.
Sat., 10/24: Walker Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost varies: see below.
Sun., 10/25: Walker Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost varies: see below.
Mon., 10/26: Walker Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost varies: see below.
Tues. 10/27: South Larremore Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost $40 per person per day.
Wed., 10/28: East Needle Peak. Start: 6:00 a.m. Cost $40 per person per day.
Thurs., 10/29: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Fri., 10/30: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Sat., 10/31: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Sun., 11/1: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Mon., 11/2: South Larremore Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost $40 per person per day.

Wed., 11/11: South Larremore Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost $40 per person per day.
Thurs., 11/12: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Fri., 11/13: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Sat., 11/14: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Sun., 11/15: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Mon., 11/16: South Larremore Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost $40 per person per day.

Wed., 12/16: South Larremore Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost $40 per person per day.
Thurs., 12/17: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Fri., 12/18: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Sat., 12/19: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Sun., 12/20: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Mon., 12/21: South Larremore Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost $40 per person per day.

Wed., 12/23: South Larremore Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost $40 per person per day.
Thurs., 12/24: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Fri., 12/25: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Sat., 12/26: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Sun., 12/27: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Mon., 12/28: South Larremore Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost $40 per person per day.
Note that all of the field trips begin at the Antelope Lodge, 2310 W. Highway 90, Alpine.
The price for the Walker Ranch is: $75 per person per day, or $150 per person for 3 days. The fourth and fifth days are $37.50 each. I believe that Bryan Crumpton will offer the usual “pay in full and get an extra day free” deal for the Walker Ranch hunt, but I haven’t gotten the details for that yet.

Also, remember that Rollin’ Rock Club membership is required for all of my rockhunts, and it costs $10 single/$16 dual. If you haven’t joined yet this year, your dues will pay for the rest of 2015 and for the 2016 calendar year.

Please let me know as soon as you decide that you are coming on a particular rockhunt or set of rockhunts. Even if you are tentatively planning on coming, let me know. If I don’t have anyone signed up for a rockhunt a week before the hunt is to occur, I will cancel the hunt. I will then make other plans for that day and not be available if someone wants me to “un-cancel” the hunt at the last minute.

Regards,
Teri

May Rockhunts

Thank you for 2 weeks of successful rockhunts. The hunts keep getting bigger each time we have them, and we get participants from all over the country joining us. I wish to especially thank my great friend Johnny French, who continued his tradition of providing us with the main dishes for our Sunday rockhound barbecue. Johnny orders the brisket and ham ahead of time, and stops on his way from Corpus Christi to Alpine to pick it up. He certainly knows where to find the best food!

I’ve made great friends through these field trips, and keep meeting wonderful rockhounds. I hope y’all are making new friends, as well. To find additional friends while it’s too hot for field trips, check out the many Facebook groups for rockhounds. There are also lots of websites with interesting information on them about all areas of our hobby.

If you’re happy with my rockhunts, please consider posting to http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g30158-d7713497-Reviews-Rock_Hunting_in_the_Big_Bend_of_Texas_with_Teri_Smith-Alpine_Texas.html. I’ve gotten two 5-star reviews there, which makes me the #1 attraction in Alpine. Getting more good reviews will help me to get noticed by the Alpine and Brewster County Tourism groups for the rockhunts that I do, and hopefully get some support and advertising money from the hotel/motel tax money collected from you, the rockhunters.

We have one more month before it gets too hot to rockhunt. The May, 2015 Schedule is:

Wednesday, 5/6: South Larremore Ranch

Thursday, 5/7 through Sunday, 5/10: Singleton Ranch

Friday, May 15 – Sunday, May 17: Walker Ranch hunt (if we can get at least 6 people – and hopefully more – signed up, Bryan will come out and do a short hunt for us)

Wednesday, May 20: South Larremore Ranch

Thursday, 5/21 through Sunday, 5/24: Singleton Ranch

Monday, 5/25: Ritchie Ranch rockhunt for both adults and kids.

After that, I’ll be closing down for the summer. I’ll hopefully get time to sort my rocks, clean them up, and make some additions to the displays in the museum. I’ll also be working at the Antelope Lodge. Rockhunts will start again during October, probably with a big 2-week Field Trip Extravaganza like we just did.

I’d be really interested in your comments about my rockhunts in general and about this last set of hunts. The number of people attending the hunts is growing, and that can have both positive and negative effects on your experience. Please email me at agatehunter@sbcglobal.net.

Regards,

Teri

A New Ranch is Opening for Rockhunts!

Terlingua Nodules.  Could they be fossils of egg masses?

Terlingua Nodules. Could they be fossils of egg masses?

Larremore Ranch Fossil Concretion

Larremore Ranch Fossil Concretion

Plume Agate from the South Larremore Ranch

Plume Agate from the South Larremore Ranch

Petrified Wood from the South Larremore Ranch.

Petrified Wood from the South Larremore Ranch.

Petrified Wood from the South Larremore Ranch.

Petrified Wood from the South Larremore Ranch.

Announcing the opening of a new ranch for rock hunting in the Big Bend of Texas: the South Larremore Ranch. This is an entirely different area than the northern part of the Larremore Ranch, which was open for rockhunting in the past. I was out there yesterday, and I hunted at three different locations within half a mile of each other on the 2,500 acre ranch. One area was full of flint nodules, fossil concretions, and some cool things I call “Terlingua Nodules”. The second area had lovely moss agate chunks and a few pieces of plume agate. And the third area had small pieces of fully agatized wood in great colors. Here are some photos of my finds.More details about field trips on this ranch will be available in about a week.

October 2014 Rockhunt Information

Hi Y’all! We’re starting to get signups for the October rockhunts this year. There’s still space available for all the rockhunts on the schedule. If you don’t have the schedule handy, got to www.terismithrockhunts.com and scroll down to the email dated August 21.

SOME IMPORTANT FINANCIAL DETAILS:

The Walker Ranch trips require payment of half the fee in advance. If you send your fee postmarked by September 16, and received by Saturday, September 20, you get a free day at the end of your rockhunt. We’ll need to have a minimum of 20 people who have paid their deposits by September 30 for each weekend in order to have that weekend of the rockhunt happen. The price is still the same: $75 per person per day, or $150 per person for 3 days. The fourth and fifth days are $35 each. To send your Walker Ranch deposit in, please make a check out to Bryan Crumpton for half of your total fee, and send it c/o Teri Smith, 509 N. 8th Street, Alpine, TX 79830.

You don’t need to send me deposits for the Singleton Ranch and the East Needle Peak rockhunts. However, you do need to let me know that you are coming on those hunts. If no one signs up for a hunt, I’ll cancel it, so I need to know that you are coming.

The Singleton Ranch wants to be paid in CASH ONLY. It would be great if you had close to the exact change of $50 per person per day. The Rollin Rock Club can be paid by check at the time of your field trip. I cannot accept credit cards for anything that has to do with rockhunting because our beloved federal government would consider that to be money laundering. There are several ATMs in Alpine that you can get cash from if you need to.

Here is the list of people currently signed up for the Walker Ranch hunts:

Allison, Linda: 1 person for 2 days. Starting date: 10/25 total fee $150.
Backo, John: 1 person for 3 days. Starting date: 10/25 total fee $150. Also 10/28 – 10/29 Singleton
Bean, Debra: 1 person for ? days. Starting date: 10/23.
Braun, Betty & Mike: 2 people for 3 days. Starting date: 10/16 total fee $300.
Cantou, Pierre: 1 person for 4 days. Starting date: 10/16
David, Ken & Sandra: 2 people for 3 days. Starting date: 10/17 total fee $300.
De Hoyos, Joe: 1 person for 4 days. Starting date: 10/16
Easom, Carol & James: ?
Foegelle, Thomas & Barbara: 2 people for 3 days. Starting date: 10/16 total fee $300, paid.
Gazdar, Di: 1 person for ? days. Starting date: 10/23.
Gunter, Christine: 1 person for ? days. Starting date: 10/16?
Haffey, Suzanne & David: 4 people for 4 days. Starting date: 10/23. Also 10/21 Singleton
Ivie, Steve: 1 or 2 people for ? days. Starting date: 10/16. Also 10/9 – 10/12 Singleton
Jahn, Andy: 1 person for 3 days. Starting date: 10/16 total fee $150, deposit of $75 received, balance due $75. Also 10/15 Singleton
Manis, Paula: 2 people for 1 day. Starting date: 10/26 total fee $150. Also 10/12 Singleton
Montgomery, Mark: 1 person for 5 days. Starting date: 10/16 total fee $185, deposit of $92.50 received, balance due $92.50. Also 10/9 – 10/12 Singleton, 10/14 East Needle Peak
Newberg, Stephen: 1 person for 2 days. Starting date: 10/23 total fee $150.
Redmond, Robert: 1 person for 2 days. Starting date: 10/16 total fee $150, deposit of $75 received, balance due $75. Also 10/15 Singleton
Rutledge, Greg & Paula: 2 people for 1 day. Starting date: 10/16 total fee $150.
Terlecki, Larry & Margie: 2 people for 1 day. Starting date: 10/16 total fee $150. Also Singleton 10/15
Tindell, Ed: 1 person for 6 days. Starting date: 10/16 total fee $220, paid. Also may go to East Needle peak 10/14 and Singleton 10/15
Tirey-Butler, Lisa: 1 person for 4 days. Starting date: 10/16 total fee $185. Also East Needle Peak 10/14, Singleton 10/15
Waugh, Steve: 1 person for ? days. Starting date: 10/16.

Please let me know if I don’t have your information correct. Remember that the 16th is the postmark deadline for the Walker Ranch deposit if you wish to hunt an extra day for free.