Local Rockhound Featured in National Magazine

This is the first of five press releases I wrote to send to local newspapers about the article that was printed in Rock & Gem’s September 2015 issue about me and my rockhunts.  It’s amazing to me that most locals haven’t even heard of rockhunting at all, let alone know what we rockhunters do.  So I decided to try to get the word out…

Local rockhound Teri Smith leads agate hunting field trips on ranches in Brewster and Presidio counties. This activity has brought her some measure of renown in rockhunting circles, and led to a feature article on her and her rockhunts in the September 2015 issue of the national magazine Rock & Gem.

Teri, who with her husband John owns the Antelope Lodge in Alpine, has been leading field trips for over 15 years. Her trips are for children as young as 3 or 4 years old up through mature adults who rockhunt from lawn chairs while seated in the shade.

Texas is a wonderful state for rockhunts, says Teri, because it’s all private land. “In the states west of us, where much of the land is Federal property, there are few collectible rocks left on the surface in many areas. In Texas, however, you can only go rockhunting with the permission of the landowner, and there’s often agate all over the ground at rockhunting sites.”

Texas’ Big Bend is known around the world as an agate collecting location. Some local agate can produce cabochons (domed, polished stones used in jewelry) that are incredibly beautiful. Other pieces make great display specimens just as they are.

Teri’s field trips bring in people from all over Texas and the rest of the United States. People regularly drive or fly in from both coasts to go on her trips. Rockhunts cost between about $20 and $75 per person per day, depending upon the site selected. The fee includes both the entrance to the area and the agate hunters choose to take home. All the fees go directly to the landowner. Teri’s compensation for leading the field trips is to be out on the ranch and collect agate without a charge.

Rockhunting season begins in October and continues through the cooler months until May. Teri runs special rockhunts for kids during school holidays. Twice a year, in October and April, she hosts large groups of rockhunters for what she calls “Big Bend Agate Roundups”. These roundups feature trips to five different ranches, including one that is only open during those times.

If you haven’t been on a rockhunt before, Teri will help you understand what the collectible rocks look like and where to find them. She’ll direct you to areas where the agate is known to be, and help you sort through what you’ve found so you can learn which agate pieces will work for your desired purpose, whether it’s to make jewelry, or to collect specimens or “garden rocks”.

If you’re interested in attending a rockhunt, in hosting rockhunts on your ranch, or just want to see what agate from the Big Bend looks like, you can look at Teri’s website at www.terismithrockhunts.com for more information, or visit her museum in the lobby of the Antelope Lodge, 2310 W. Highway 90, Alpine.

So Just What Exactly is a Rockhunt?

This is the second in a set of press releases I wrote to send to local papers in conjunction with the story on me that was published in the September 2015 Rock & Gem Magazine.

If you go rockhunting with Teri Smith, a rockhunt is a day when you go to a private ranch, accompanied by Teri, to find agate and other collectible rocks to take home with you.

Before you begin your rockhunt, you’ll want to have your vehicle ready for rough roads, dress for a desert adventure, and assemble lunch, drinking water, and simple rockhunting equipment for your group. While you can get to some of the collecting areas in a passenger car, high clearance is needed for most sites, and a 4wd vehicle is ideal.

First thing in the morning, you will meet with Teri and the other rockhunters who are going on the trip with you in the lobby of the Antelope Lodge, 2310 W. Highway 90, Alpine. Teri will have
you fill out some paperwork and collect the landowner’s fee for the rockhunt. She will then tell you the rules for the ranch you’ll be going to, tell you about what types of collectible rocks can be found there, and perhaps take you to her museum to show her examples of what she has found on that ranch on past rockhunts.

You’ll also join the Rollin’ Rock Club, a national group of rockhounds that sponsor Teri’s field trips. The Rollin’ Rock Club is a member of the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies, and participants in Teri’s rockhunts follow the AFMS rockhunting guidelines.

Teri will explain the route you’ll all take to get to the ranch, and you’ll follow Teri in your own vehicle to get there. Driving times vary from 10 minutes to more than two hours.

Once you arrive at the collecting site, Teri will give you some instructions, advise you of hazards in the area, and show you samples of the agate and other collectible rocks found there. You’ll make arrangements to get back together at some time later in the day, and head off in on your own to hunt for the agate.

If you’re new to agate hunting, you can remain with Teri after the others have dispersed, and she’ll give you hints on what to look for in order to find agate among the other rocks on the ground. In almost all cases, agate will be on the ground or partly covered, and digging is generally not required. Teri will make arrangements to meet with you again in a short time to critique what you’ve found. Then you’ll be off collecting on your own, and meet back with the others at the end of the day.

At the end of the collecting day, you’ll all meet back at the vehicles and compare finds for a while, then Teri will lead the group back out to the paved road. From there, you can follow her back to Alpine, stop along the way to photograph the sunset, or head to another one of the nearby towns for dinner.

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.

First Signups for Big Bend Agate Roundup

Hi Y’all! We’re starting to get signups for the October Agate Roundup. 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 16.

Here’s the list of people I have signed up so far:

Allison, Linda Number of people: ? Walker: 10/23-10/24

Backo, John Number of people: 1 Walker: 10/23-10/26 South Larremore: 10/27

Bean, Debra Number of people: 1 Walker: ? South Larremore: ?

Budde, Dee Number of people: 2 Walker: 10/23-10/26 South Larremore: 10/27 East Needle Peak: 10/28; Singleton: 10/29-10/30

Contreras, Michael Number of people: 1 Walker: 10/21 South Larremore: 10/20

Dean, Adam Number of people: 1 Walker: 10/21-10/23 South Larremore: 10/20

Edwards, Ron & Lori Number of people: 2 Walker: 10/26 South Larremore: 10/27 East Needle Peak: 10/28

Guinn, Larry Number of people: 1 Walker: 10/21-10/23

Johnson, Roger Number of people: 1 Walker: 10/23-10/26 South Larremore: 10/27 East Needle Peak: 10/28 Singleton:1 0/29-11/1

Martin, Jane Number of people: 1 Walker: ?

Morgan, Marion & Whaley, Kathy Number of people: 2 Walker: 10/25 South Larremore: 10/27 Singleton: 10/29

Muncee, Tammy & Burge, Pandora Number of people: 2 Walker: 10/21-10/22

Newberg, Steve Number of people: 1 Walker: 10/21-10/23

Speck, John Number of people: 1 Walker: 10/23-10/25

Tindelll, Ed Number of people: 1 Walker: 10/21-10/26

Waugh, Steve Number of people: 1 Walker: 10/21-10/24

SOME IMPORTANT FINANCIAL DETAILS:

The Walker Ranch portion of the Agate Roundup requires payment of at least half the fee in advance. As an incentive for you to send the complete fee in early, if you send your entire fee postmarked by Wednesday, September 23, and received by Saturday, September 26, you get a free day at the end of your rockhunt. The price is still the same: $75 per person per day, or $150 per person for 3 days. The fourth, fifth and sixth days are $37.50 each. To send your Walker Ranch deposit in, please make a check out to Bryan Crumpton, and send it c/o Teri Smith, 509 N. 8th Street, Alpine, TX 79830.

Here’s what you’ll need to pay before and after the deadline for the extra day:

If Payment In Full Received by 9/26

1 day, 1 person: $75

2 days, 1 person: $75

3 days, 1 person: $150

4 days, 1 person: $150

5 days, 1 person: $187.50

6 days, 1 person: $225

1 day, 2 people: $150

2 days, 2 people: $150

3 days, 2 people: $300

4 days, 2 people: $300

5 days, 2 people: $375

6 days, 12 people: $450

If Payment In Full NOT Received by 9/26

1 day, 1 person: $75

2 days, 1 person: $150

3 days, 1 person: $150

4 days, 1 person: $187.50

5 days, 1 person: $225

6 days, 1 person: $262.50

1 day, 2 people: $150

2 days, 2 people: $300

3 days, 2 people: $300

4 days, 2 people: $375

5 days, 2 people: $450

6 days, 12 people: $525

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 Agate Roundup happen. Right now we have 19 signed up to attend at least one day at the Walker Ranch. We’ve never had a problem getting to the number 20 and beyond, but there is plenty of room for everyone at the Walker Ranch.

The only other limit on the hunts is a maximum number of participants on the South Larremore Ranch. Each hunt will be limited to 20 participants.

You don’t need to send me deposits for the Ritchie Ranch, 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 South Larremore Ranch and East Needle Peak can be paid with cash or a check. 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.

I hope to see a lot of you in October!

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.

Spring Rockhunts for 2015

The cold weather is over for a while, and I was out on the Singleton Ranch this last Sunday, on top of Telephone Hill.  The rain, ice and snow that we’ve had in the past six weeks has made agate visible everywhere.  The grass has not yet begun to grow, and the pickings are very, very good.  The same applies at the Ritchie Ranch, and I’m sure it applies to the Walker Ranch as well.

I’ve got Singleton Ranch rockhunts scheduled for the second and fourth weekends in February and March.  If you have a chance to come out in February and March, the weather should range from cool to moderate.  In other words, just about perfect for rockhunting. The schedule for the Singleton Ranch hunts will be modified in April, when the Walker Ranch hunts occur.

The second and third weeks of March are Spring Break for most schools in Texas.  I’m scheduling special hunts for families with kids at the Ritchie Ranch during these weeks.  The hunts will be Monday, March 9, and Wednesday, March 11; and again the following week on Monday, March 16, Wednesday March 18, and Friday, March 20.  The hunts will be about half a day long, and start at 10 a.m. at the Antelope Lodge in Alpine.  For details, look at my website at www.terismithrockhunts.com.

The special April rockhunts will begin on Tuesday, April 14, which is the week of the Gem and Mineral Show in Alpine.  There won’t be any hunts the weekend before that because I’ll be out of town for my husband John’s 59th high school reunion in Goliad.

The hunts at the Walker Ranch will probably begin Wednesday, April 15 and continue through Monday, April 20.  After that will be hunts to the Singleton Ranch, the Ritchie Ranch and East Needle Peak.

One of the reasons I haven’t finalized the schedule is that I’m looking at a brand-new ranch this weekend.  If there is lots of agate on this new ranch, it will impact the schedule for the days after the Walker Ranch hunt.  The ranch is located between Highway 118 and Highway 385, close to Santiago Peak, so it may have agate that’s different from any of the other places where I lead field trips. I’ll let y’all know early next week.

This year, another event is also taking place in Alpine on the same weekend as the Gem Show and Walker Ranch Rockhunts.  It’s a show at the Museum of the Big Bend entitled Trappings of Texas.  It’s been held for many years, but until this year it was in February, concurrent with the Cowboy Poetry weekend.  What this means for rockhunters is that lodging in Alpine is going fast.  So as soon as you decide that you wish to come out for the rockhunts, consider booking a room.

More to come next week.

Regards,
Teri

October Rockhunting Field Trip Report/Singleton Ranch Schedule

The field trips of October 2014 are over, and I’m enjoying sleeping in for a few days. The fieldtrips were extremely successful, with a total of 82 rockhounds going on 19 field trips at the Singleton Ranch, the Walker Ranch, and East Needle Peak. The weather varied from hot to cool to rainy, and all the rain we’d had in the summer moved the soil around enough that lots of agate nodules were poking up from the ground, waiting to be found. There were lots of wonderful agates found at each ranch. Labradorite was plentiful at the Walker Ranch, especially around a little spot that Ed Tindell has named “Labradorite Hill”. Animals spotted included mule deer, pronghorn antelope, javalina, jackrabbits, cottontail rabbits, foxes, lots of horned lizards in a variety of colors, a Western box turtle and a Texas Banded Gecko. The wildflowers were blooming out of season, and there were butterflies everywhere, along with lots of grasshoppers. There were a couple of rattlesnake sightings, but one of those really doesn’t count, because Robert Redmond photographs snakes and went looking for them. Lisa Tirey Butler photographed the Milky Way from the Walker Ranch, and the photos are spectacular. If any of y’all have photos you wish to share, email them to me at agatehunter@sbcglobal.net. I’ll put as many up on my website as I can! Some of y’all had been here many times. Others were new to these field trips. We had kids as young as 12 and as old as – me. Besides coming from all parts of Texas, rockhounds came from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. And remember that the season’s just starting! There are hunts at the Singleton Ranch scheduled on the second and fourth weekends of each month from now until next May. Here’s a schedule for those hunts: November 6 – 9 (yes, this week!) November 20 – 23 December 11 – 14 (tentative, because it’s deer season, and hunters with guns have priority) December 25 – 28 (‘ll hunt on Christmas Day if anyone wants to go!) January 8 – 11 January 22 – 25 February 12 – 15 February 26 – March 1 March 12 – 15 March 26 – 29 April 9 – 12 (before the Gem Show and the Walker Ranch hunts) April 23 – 25 (after the Gem Show and the Walker Ranch hunts) May 7 – 10 May 21 – 24 Just let me know when you want to go! For those who have kids who would like a rockhunt that doesn’t last a full day, the Ritchie Ranch will be available for hunts during Thanksgiving week, Christmas Vacation and Spring break. The ranch is ideal for kids and beginners. Contact me for details. The Spring Walker Ranch hunt is tentatively scheduled for April 19 – 23, which should be concurrent with the Alpine Agate Festival, which hasn’t posted its dates yet. I’ll let you know when the dates are finalized for that hunt. And East Needle Peak, the Singleton Ranch, and the Ritchie Ranch are also available on a “need to go” basis. Let me know the dates when you’ll be out here, and I’ll set the field trips up just for you! See you soon! Teri 

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.