The Wisconsin hunt of 2010
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 hay.
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 grams.
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.