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Rockhound Memories

A Rock Hunt To Remember
By Walter Beneze
Posted on 8/14/2020 2:48 PM

A Rock Hunt To Remember
    by Ray Tyler, Ex Luna Rock Champ

Some time ago while talking to Rick and Brent, I foolishly suggested that this summer we would take a few days and cruise over to Luna, NM for a few days of rock hunting. No real danger of a rookie rock hunter and his kid could possibly show up a veteran Luna hunter. So I leave on Saturday, July 6, and arrive in Luna Sunday afternoon circa 5 pm, only to find Rick at the appointed campsite, less the kid, who is in Colorado. After setting up the trailer, leveling and setting the emergency brake, we traipse off down the road so I could show the rookie what a piece of agate looks like, Luna style. Well, he faked his amazement for a while just to lull me into a false sense of security. So after a pretty good supper (dinner don't seem too appropriate out in the middle of the forest), we built a nice campfire and chatted about how wonderful it is to cruise 600 miles an hour in a sleek F-4 or T-38, neither of which I ever experienced in my brief 39 or so years. He showed a reasonable knowledge of the stars and their orbits. Not to worry though. Rock hunting was just one daylight away.

Comes the big day. I proceed to gather up a nice catch of agates, with the "big" one weighing in at a hefty pound or so. So Rick accidentally stumbled onto a pebble or so I thought. It weighed in at a fraction under 6 pounds. Not to worry though. Beginner's luck don't last long. Well, his stars apparently were in the right orbit as his beginner's luck continued. About this time on Tuesday afternoon, Don and Phyllis arrived on the scene, accompanied by dog "Dudley". Ah-ha, thought I. That pup with hair over his eyes wouldn't be much of a challenge. Time proved me right. Dudley couldn't hunt beans. So we passed off the balance of the day digging about 350 pounds of Amethyst crystal from a hole "I" found about 4 years ago. Tiring of that, we hunted the old fashioned agate that used to be so plentiful back in the "good old days". Again yours truly was low man on the agate hunters totem pole.

Wednesday, Bill Carnes and Orvil Gryder came over to show us where some "agate used to be" so Rookie Rick ended the hunt by finding and digging out a blue agate from the road bed that eked out a mere 35 pounds on the scale. Orville came onto the scene while Rick was digging it out and said: "Rick, they don't like for you to dig up their roads". Next couple of days were rather uneventful as Don and Rick continued to show up the old man. Well sir, on Friday afternoon we divided up the crystal by lottery. Rick drew the long straw and chose first. Of course, he took the prettiest piece. I countered by choosing second and took the largest. This lottery was almost as fun as finding it. Of course Bill and Orville wanted to see where we dug. Not to worry though. The hole will remain undisturbed unless they can get Newma and Mary on a shovel handle.

Mercifully, Rick left for Lubbock Saturday morning with the 35-pound agate securely fastened in the passenger seat with the safety belt. The Pendleys also departed the same morning with a nice catch of agate safely tucked away in the motor home. 

Now a serious note. It was a wonderful week od good hunting and great fellowship. On Tuesday I left for Alpine, Arizona to spend a couple of nites with the Carnes and Gryders. They have a large catch of large agate. I managed to find a 13-pound blue, which under normal circumstances would have brought joy to my heart. Memories of Rick's 35 pounder and Bill's 60 or 100-pound blue dulled my joy. I left for home on Thursday morning the 18th and arrived home 13 hours later. 

Two conclusions: 

  1. Don't hunt with a Rookie Yankee from Connecticut". The humiliation is overwhelming.
  2. Bill Carnes domino prowess is mostly in his head. 

Wow! Let's all go next year. That much fun needs to be passed around.

story originally printed in The Rockytier, Vol. 4 Num. 8, August 1991

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