The Wisconsin hunt
Well it happened 2 years
in a row, 2009 we planned to get together with our kids in California
and make a road trip to the Monetary aquarium and then camping on the
coast. My Suburban was full of people and my quad trailer was full of
camping gear. There were 2 canoes 8 or 9 fishing poles, and all the
other stuff you need to camp for a week. We had just purchased some
fire wood for our camp fire and we were driving down highway 1 on the
California coast to our reserved campsite. My cell phone rang and it
was Robert Ward he was part of the group hunting and finding meteorites
in the Whetstone strewn field. I had about 10 more days of solid plans
with the kids and camping and large family BB Q's so I had to thank
Robert for his kind invitation to come down and hunt with their group,
but I just had too many solid plans to drop everything and head to Tucson.
Then in 2009 were making the 750 mile drive in the morning when I made
the final decision to go and chase the Utah fireball. This one looked
pretty promising because we had several good videos of the event and
we were confident we could pin the area down pretty close. Now the wife
and kids went on without me and had Thanksgiving dinners with our families,
I was forgiven but had a mark against me for missing that trip.
Then in April of 2010 we agreed to take the kids out of school for a
few days and come to California to join in with everyone and celebrate
mom and dads 50th wedding anniversary. There were a lot of people coming
from as far away as Ohio and their entire church would be involved.
So I had been watching the Wisconsin fireball pretty closely and thought
I should go but there was just too much planned to side step the trip
and send the family without me again. The 50th anniversary is a pretty
big milestone and I thought I really shouldn't miss this one. Also I
have two boys in California who have birthdays at about this same time
and we had planned a dual birthday party for them. While we were making
the 12 hour drive to California I heard that Rob and Mike B were on
the road to Wi, I also got a call from Larry A who wanted some help
getting on the right spot, so I called Ruben and Eric. They both gave
Larry their version of where we should be looking, mostly based on Radar.
Then shortly after that Ruben called me and said that He and Stan were
going to make the 25 hour drive and they were packing right now. Well
at that point I knew I would be late to this event, I still had 5 days
of family events planned and decided to try and enjoy the family trip
in spite of really wanting to be in Wi.
So after all the family events were passed Wenona booked my flight from
Vegas, so we left early on the morning of the 19th and drove 11 hours
to the airport. I got on my flight and basically traveled all night
long with little or no sleep. I arrived in Madison around 8am, picked
up the rental car and headed towards Livingston. People had found stones
by this time Sonny, Carl, and Marvin had all found pieces by now. So
I knew my hunt would be tougher since I missed the first 5 or 6 days.
When I was in the car Larry called me and directed me to where they
were hunting in a large group. Once I found him he pointed all the finds
in the area and showed me what they had established as a line at this
time and I hunted with them the rest of that day and part of the next.
But then I wanted to break away from this large group and try to locate
the smaller material as I could see the 100 to 300 gram material was
very spread out and to be the first one there ....well in a large group
I don't run so fast. They already had sprinters in their group Like
Robert and Sonny.
So Eric arrived on the scene
and we headed back 7
or 10 miles back to look for the little end. I thought well it would
be nice to find some thing before the 7 days is up. That is another
chapter in the Wi hunt I had a deadline to move. We had already set
everything in motion before the fireball to move across town, so when
I finally got to Wi I already knew I had to leave in 7 days to go home
and move. So I didn't have time to go chase down a big chunk, I wanted
to locate the small end and no one that I was talking with had found
it yet. I did finally find 6 small stones but had to leave to get the
move done back home on schedule. I was right in the thick of things
on my last day there I found three pieces.
So I made the trip home thinking the whole time I should have stayed
longer knowing I really couldn't have stayed. Moving was much harder
than I thought it would be. We had a 4 bedroom house full of stuff,
plus a garage full of heavy equipment to move. Yikes that was a lot
of stuff and now we feel cramped in our 3 bed 2 bath house with 2 storage
sheds and everything is full.
Finally got everything moved and decided to make another trip back to
Wi, well this time the wife said she was coming with me. So we both
headed out for a week in the Wisconsin strewn field. I had been told
that all the good areas we knew about had been planted by the time we
arrived and it was true the entire small end it seemed was lost to planting
and tall hay fields. We tried some way down range areas and heard that
many people had been there, every where we went so that didn't sound
too promising. But we poked around the edges hoping to find one they
had missed. We spent a lot of time in good areas that were hard to hunt
looking for something that was missed. This strategy was not producing
any meteorites. At this time we were hunting with our friend Stan and
Jim S who was going to join us in the morning for the day. It looked
like rain so Jim said he would join us the next day, so the three of
us headed out to hunt some pastures on the edges hoping to find something.
After about half a day of that (we were a little tired) we told Stan
we were going to the Friendly place to get some lunch and then we were
going to drive through the strewn field and have a look around. So after
lunch we drove down across the strewn field one road further towards
the big end looking for some little field that might have been missed.
Well we did find a spot to hunt they had just started cutting rye for
You can see the fresh
cut rye behind Nonie and myself
It was planted on the
tops of the hills and had just been cut. There had been quite a bit
of rain so we had to hike the mile or so to the field and I was not
sure it was in the right place so I called Eric and gave him our position,
he plugged it in and said we were about a half mile north of the line.
Well that is close enough for me so we started griding the fresh cut
rye grass and after about an hour Wenona says hey I think I got one....yea
she said it is with a very big smile. She was right it was a 7.8 gram
perfect Wisconsin meteorite. It was her first fresh fall and we had
a little celebration. Then we learned a little more about this strewn
field, we spent the rest of the day griding that field and found nothing
more. The next morning Stan and Jim joined us and we finished griding
that field with the hay still on the ground and still nothing. Then
we hunted several other rye fields that had just been cut for the rest
of that day and nothing.
Jim headed back home empty handed and Stan left the next day. Stan had
found a 3.5 gram stone when he first arrived and then for the rest of
almost 2 weeks he found nothing. This is a very tough strewn field.
We went back and finished griding the rye field after they flipped the
hay over to help it dry. We in the end gridded that entire field and
still found nothing more, it was probably a 50 acre field. While we
were still in the rye hay field the farmers started cutting a regular
hay field on the same property but in our estimation closer to our line.
The field in the distance
by the buildings is where Nonie found here 2nd and third stones, the
field in the foreground is the field where she found her first stone.
So after the tractor
made a few passes we started walking those rows and on the very first
pass Wenona started complaining about a rock that looked so good she
just couldn't believe it wasn't a meteorite. Then she said hey wait
a minute it has been driven into the ground by the tractor and it is
one. She had her second stone 17.1 grams.
You can see this one
was almost lost to the tall grass near the edge of the hay field, 17.1
The tractor had run over
it so when she touch it with her magnet on the end of a stick it didn't
pick the stone up. Now making this find on the very first pass ...well
we though we were really going to find some meteorites now! But remember
we are hunting the Wisconsin meteorite, it is a tough place to find
meteorites. We hunted till it was lunch time and Wenona said she was
going to the car to get some food, so at the end of a row she just headed
across country towards the car, and a minute later I heard her say hey!
Of course I was not surprised that she walked right over the top of
her third Wisconsin meteorite. Somewhere around 8 grams. So we had lunch
and finished this entire field with hay covering about half the ground
and found nothing else.
We only had 1 more day to hunt so again we got in the car and drove
through the strewn field and looked for a mowed field in the right spot.
A couple miles down range and about a half mile south of the line we
found a freshly mowed hay field and a very gracious farmer who gave
us permission to hunt it. Now remember I have been hunting here 6 days
in the right areas of the Wi strewn field and have found nothing. So
this is our last day and we hunt this mowed hay field all day long and
nothing. When I say all day long I mean 10 hours of walking back and
forth looking for that meteorite the we just know is laying out there.
But not this time my wife found 3 small stones in 7 days and I was right
beside her for 7 days and found nothing. Needless to say next time you
see me out there she will most likely be right there with me.