Fossil Fossils Tips for Fossil Hunting Fossil Hunting

When setting out to fossil hunt, there are several things to consider beforehand. Whether its choosing the right equipment and gear or knowing where to look and documenting your finds, these are just some of many tips for fossil hunting. Below is information for those who have an interest into paleontology and gathering fossils.

Location, Location, Location

As with any real estate, location is key. For amateur fossil hunters, look to local and regional groups for support and guidance. These groups can be found either online or through history and science museums. Many of these groups know fossil guides who are capable of accessing private areas. By connecting with a group, a whole new world of fossil hunting can be opened up. Also, these groups have a great deal of knowledge and experience, techniques, and equipment that can possibly be loaned to those who are just starting out.

Gear and Equipment

Most who join this hobby already enjoy being outdoors. What some may not be accustomed to is the length of time in the elements: sun, rain, hot or cold temperatures. When spending time in the great outdoors, it is important to be prepared for all climates and weather. Loose, comfortable clothing, waterproof poncho, and good hiking boots or shoes are a must. As for tools and mapping devices that will be needed, see the list below.

-geological and topographical maps

-GPS device (if possible)


-geological hammer, brushes, trowels and chisels

-magnify glass

-plastic containers

-newspaper for wrapping



The most vital part of finding fossils, is the documentation that is done. To record information properly, pictures should be taken and the correct information written done in a notebook. This information includes the geographic location of the fossil, the possible age, and any specific details regarding the appearance of fossil. By individually cataloging the specimens and placing them in newspaper and storing in plastic containers, one will be able to properly keep the specimens safe.

Laws and Regulations

When hunting for fossils it is important to take note of the regulations regarding the collecting and where it is done. According to the USBLM (U.S. Bureau of Land Management), private collecting of fossils is either limited or banned on most federal and state properties. The USBLM also states that the public may collect a  reasonable amount of plant fossils and common invertebrate without a permit form the USBLM. Approved plant fossil specimens would include leaves, stems, and petrified wood (up to 25 pounds). Also, the collection of fossils and materials are to be only for a private collection and are not to be sold or traded for profit. Collection of fossils done on a commercial basis is not allowed on federal lands.