Ash Creek, Texas

On February 15th, 2009 at around 11AM local time, a small asteroid entered the atmosphere and broke up over Birome, Texas.  Larger fragments were found as far away as Aquilla, nearly fifteen miles WNW.  As hunters descended upon the rural area, Peter and I lamented the fact that we were both busy — he had work and I was in school.

A video of the fireball was luckily captured by a news crew covering a marathon in Austin, Texas, and doppler radar picked up the meteorite fragments and dust as they fell through Earth’s atmosphere.

So, we watched the photos of peoples’ finds come out one at a time while we sat at home wondering if it might be productive or possible to take off for a weekend of hunting. By the time spring break came around, we didn’t know if it was worth going at all, or if the open areas had been hunted by the scores of hunters who descended upon the local fields.

We bit the bullet and decided to head for Texas, arriving the night of March 23rd. Maps showing the strewn field had been published in at least one local newspaper as well as elsewhere online…we had four days to find something.

Our first day was spent walking back and forth across fields that had been walked over countless times by other hunters. The farm we’d found was apparently a hot spot for the early birds, who had paid daily flat rates to hunt on the land. Several stones had been found on the farm, and, while we were there, veteran hunter Derik Bowers managed to find yet another ~10 gram stone by walking carefully through a field covered with 6-8 inch tall thick brown grass.  He was hunched over, parting it with his feet as he went along…

On day two, we decided to wander off the beaten path. Realizing that most of the roadside/open land was probably hunted thoroughly before the now-tall grass had grown, we decided to strike out in the hope of finding virgin ground. Wandering down a small dirt track, we came to an orchard crossed by a creek. On the far side of the creek, we quickly stumbled across a black rock!



4.8 grams, found March 25, 2012. Note the small brown patch on the top of the stone. The meteorite either fell onto the now-dessicated rabbit dropping, or was pooped-upon in the ~45 days after the fall.

Moments later, a second stone turned up!


6.4 grams in two pieces. Found March 25, 2012. The chip at lower right fits onto the broken corner on the right side.

An extensive search of the surrounding area yielded nothing — pretty surprising considering that these stones were found within ~20 feet of each other.

Peter kneels near the first stone. The GPS is adjacent to the second.

While recording the two finds, a storm front rapidly approached from the West.  A linear wall of clouds crossed the entire sky. We were forced to take shelter in a stand of trees just off to the right of the above photo.  After a ten-minute show of lightning and deafening thunder claps accompanied by hail, we ran back to the car.  The rental car couldn’t easily make the trip back to the highway, and we had to find brush and boards to wedge under the tires. I got to push, while the wheels tried to find solid ground. By the time we made it, I was caked with mud and soaked through.

That evening was spent in Aquilla, walking along some local roads. Nothing found. We had some car trouble; the vehicle started making loud banging noises any time we went over ~30 mph or so. The car’s wheels were unbalanced because they were still full of mud, on the inside of the rims.  We stopped at a do-it-yourself car-wash to hose them out.

Day three began with a walk-around at a local school, a park in town, then a helicopter landing area, then a school, etc.  We covered a lot of ground, but didn’t have much to show for it.

We were brusquely turned away from several locals’ farms upon asking whether or not we could hunt. It seemed that the locals were offended by some of the early comers’ practice of paying $1-5 per gram for meteorites found on their land — especially after seeing the first few stones sell for over $100 per gram on eBay.


DSCN1852It was a fun day despite the lack of black rocks.

Our fourth day in the field began bright and early, just like the others. We found ourselves wading through the dew-soaked grass near the freeway by six. Half an hour into the hunt, one of the countless black pieces of tyre rubber scattered about….stuck to the end of my magnetic cane.


175.4 gram 100% complete stone. Found May 27, 2009.

We covered much more ground that day with no additional finds, though the day ended beautifully.

May 27, 2012. West, Texas.

Our final day in Texas dawned much like the others. We returned to the local park and explored some adjacent forest.

DSCN1902DSCN1905 DSCN1910 DSCN1912 DSCN1919Nothing but beautiful scenery.

We headed to the small end of the strewnfield in the hope of bolstering our odds of finding an additional stone or two before leaving. We’d heard some stories about stones found at a small local cemetery, so we decided to check out the area. Just outside of the cemetery, we came across a team of meteorite hunters from a local college using leaf-blowers to systematically hunt a field covered with tall grass. We headed on to the cemetery, and found a local hunter from Dallas combing the tall grass there. A nearby field wasn’t fenced and was covered with only short grass, so we decided to walk it. A short while later, I found what appeared to be a drop of black tar near the base of a telephone pole.

Celebration was in order.



2.4 grams, found March 28, 2009.

Some additional photos from the last day:




DSCN1958In short, we had a wonderful time and were fortunate to find several stones, including what I think is the 12th largest stone recovered. Based on the fact that we showed up a month late, the relatively short amount of time we had, and the total area that we covered, I estimate that only a small fraction of the stones that fell were ever found.  There are untold thousands of stones lost in fields around town.

I don’t know what to make of the fact that we met with very open animosity from most residents.  Not one local was remotely friendly towards us before we explained ourselves and the fact that we weren’t there to find stones and turn a quick buck.  While many hunters do risk their time and money to chase falls, I believe that some meteorite hunters took advantage of locals in the region, and this has been glossed over in most accounts I have seen.  Some were more fair, but our community must be mindful.