Moving all our worldly possessions from a rural Utah town to a small city 3 hrs apart has consumed our lives for the past several months. It’s time for a road trip.

We’ll join our local Gem and Mineral Club members on an outing to search for hematite and Jasper. We never know how many members will join the caravan to our outings, which is part of the fun. The only part that bothers me is the lack of a discussion on “how much each member should take”. When I was being taught how to harvest natural materials for baskets, my indian sisters cautioned me not to take too much product from each plant. Take a little from each plant so it will grow and provide again. Rockhounding should be no different.

Nevada Agate

Nevada Agate

While waiting for our house to be available we spent the month of January in Quartzsite, AZ rockhounding and attending some of the annual events. We visited a unique used book store where we picked up several old copies of “Rock and Gem” Magazine. The April 2003 issue contained an article entitled “Catch and Release Collecting” and talked about how self-imposed limits would extend the life of our hobby. Here are the key points Mary E Garatti made in her article.

1. Take only the material you will actually use, and have a specific use in mind.

2. Take more photos and less material. Start a scrapbook of fossil and mineral photos and call it “The Ones That Got Away”.

3. Don’t collect for others. Either invite others to join the fun or give them directions to the site.

4. Embrace the concepts of self-restraint and self-regulation. Self-imposed is better than closed sites.

5. Our hobby is growing and collecting sites can’t keep pace.

“Whether fishing for trout or hunting for quartz crystals, practice catch-and-release after bagging your personal limit.”

And remember to give back. My native American family believes you must give thanks back to the land by leaving something for what you took. I carry a small jar of corn seeds with me and I spend a quiet moment at the end of each outing leaving corn seeds for my friends the Raven and others in thanks for sharing the bounty of the earth.

Until next time ———