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How to Become a Rock Hound

First, let’s define what a rock hound is.  A rock hound is someone that makes a hobby of collecting rocks and/or mineral specimens from the earth.  This person usually researches the minerals and locations where they are found.  This research will aid them in identifying the mineral they are looking for and where to dig for it.  They will use every tool available to help them.  Rock hounds will often explore for new undiscovered sources of minerals.  You do not have to be a geologist to be a rock hound.  With just a little planning and the right tools anyone can be a rock hound.   

Get involved with a local rock and gem club.  Check to see if your local museum has a club like this.  Being in a group of people who are all into rockhounding will be a source of great motivation.  They will help you identify rocks, show you where to find more, and provide field trips where you can all find them together.  Rock hounding suddenly becomes much better when you find others that can appreciate and admire your finds.  

Now,you’ll need to acquire some basic rock hounding tools.  The very basic tools are a rock pick, a shovel, safety glasses, and a loupe.  A rock pick is simply a hammer with a pointed or chiseled end that is used to split or break rocks.  Always wear safety glasses when hitting rocks.  Chips and fragments can travel at very high velocities with the potential to cause damage to your eyes.  It may be difficult to be a rock hound if you can’t see.  The all important shovel will be used to move the most amount of earth where the treasure is found.   Sometimes it will only be used to move the overburden out of the way before switching to smaller hand tools to extract your minerals.  The loupe is simply a magnifying glass that will help you identify your minerals or simply to admire a specimen in all its glory.  A 10x loupe is the preferred magnification for rock hounds and geologists.  There are literally hundreds of tools that are available to rock hounds or geologists from the many online stores on the internet.  But rather than buy them all, wait until you become more proficient in the hobby and you will soon realize which ones will be appropriate for you.  Each area where rocks and minerals can be found may require different tools.  Take a few field trips with your rock and gem club and take note of the tools that were used and how they were used. You can find most or all of the tools you'll need in the RockHoundLounge Shop.    

Rockhounding is healthy for the body and spirit. Since you have to get outside and walk around, sometimes for miles then you will be getting great exercise. It works well in groups so your family or friends can all get involved. Kids seem to have a natural affinity to nature. They certainly don't mind getting dirty, and they love to explore. Not only do you have the opportunity to find natures awesome treasures but you get the health and social benefits as a bonus.

Rules a rockhound should always follow:
1.When out exploring new areas, make sure you ask permission if you are looking on private property. Rock hounds have been given a bad name in certain places because they have been caught digging on private property without permission. Introduce yourself to the land owners and explain what it is you want to do. Let them see examples of what your looking for and even offer them a specimen or two to keep for themselves. You will find that most people are willing to help you and wouldn't mind at all. They simply just need to know your not up to no good.  If you are digging on private property without permission, you are up to no good.
2. A rock hound will always cover their holes after digging.  You must always leave an area just as you found it.  Someone may fall in your hole and get hurt by twisting an ankle.  Also it's an eyesore and bad for the environment.
3.Never leave your trash.  Always clean up after yourself.  Show respect for the owner of the property even if it's public property.  By leaving your trash you're hurting the reputation of all rock hounds.
4. Bring something to wrap your specimens in.  If you are unprepared and you hike out to an area whereyour finding nice specimens, you might be better off leaving them there rather than throwing them in your backpack where they would all crunch together and get ruined.  And if you happened to hike several miles to get where you are, your not going to like the idea of leaving them behind.  Newspaper works very well.  And believe it or not the plastic bags you get from the grocery store work great.
5.  If you even have the slightest question about a specimen out in the field then keep it. You can always throw it away when you get back home.  I can't count the number of times I kept something I was sure was probably going to be trash but instead turned out to be a remarkable specimen after it was cleaned off at home.  Unless you have direct access to flowing water such asa creek to wash off your specimens, then take all questionables home so you can be sure your not throwing away some killer stuff.
6. Never leave home without some good water proof boots and digging tools.  You never know when you may need them.  And trust me, you'll need them most on the day you didn't bring them along.