Another Dandy Dogtooth Pocket Day

Earlier this week I decided I was going to drive back down to MFQ and see if I could find anything good, after checking out both of the most recent blast piles last Sunday, and finding some nice yard rocks. I figured after they stirred up both piles a bit, if they decided to work both piles evenly that is, that more material could be uncovered…little did I know what lay in store for me.

I had talked to Nathaniel and he decided to ride down with me and on the way down, he told me that he sure would like to find one of those chocolate brown colored dogtooth crystals….little did he know what lay in store for him. I always pray for a few things before I make each trip…I pray for a safe trip for Onyx and I, pray for no flat tires, and I pray that I will find some pretty crystals and minerals. Sometimes when I get where I am going and there is some rock overhanging a pocket in front of me, I will say a quick prayer to keep me out of harms way and when I find nice stuff, I thank God for that as well. On really hot days, when the wind stirs up and brings us a nice cool breeze, I thank God for turning on the fan, too…and I usually thank him for nice weather as well….I realize he is super busy, but I believe in keeping the lines of communication open.

We didn`t get a real early start yesterday morning, but as I told Nathaniel, it wasn`t gonna get light til about 7:30 am, and it was gonna be cooler than what we were used to so far, so if we arrived around 9 am, with full sun, that would give it time to warm up a bit. We loaded up the truck as the sun was rising prettily…..

01A Sunrise

On the way down there, we spotted two bald eagles in a tree top next to the highway… soon as we passed them and confirmed it, I turned around and returned so we could both photograph them, pulling off the side of the highway to do so… I turned around, one took flight and passed overhead, leaving one in the tree for us….

02 Bald Eagle in Tree Near Houston

…we had to approach from the side so as not to spook him, and after a few seconds of snapping images, he took flight…we just kept shooting images….

06 Bald Eagle Takes Flight

07 Bald Eagle Takes Flight

…a local farmer stopped by to make sure we were okay and told us that there were alot more eagles that could be seen along the river at Houston. Nathaniel used his phone camera and I was shooting with my Nikon D200 and zoom lens. I wasn`t sure what I had in my images until I got home last night and looked at them after loading them into my computer, sometimes my autofocus doesn`t work as well as I would like it to…needless to say, I was pretty happy with my images of the eagle. As I told Nathaniel, I have never seen two eagles in a treetop like that, so I took that as a good sign for our day ahead.

We stopped shortly after that at Alley Spring Mill to see how it looked with the fall colors…, only finding one small maple tree in color nearby….

09 Alley Spring Mill

We got on the road again and when we arrived at the quarry, we found the pile on the left side to be quite a bit less than when I was there the week before. The pile was steeper so there would be no climbing to the top, and we could see stuff sliding down so we both donned our hard hats and grabbed tools and bags….

11 Other Side of Pile

….setting out to check for signs of pockets. Nathaniel went to the right from the middle…..

10 Looking For Crystal Pockets

…..and I went to the left from the middle, stopping at a big boulder 20 feet from the middle, where it appeared that a few pockets were located, one under the boulder, and one or two on the left side of it……

12 My Pockets

…pretty soon, Nathaniel went past me to the left and set up camp about ten feet from me, finding some openings in what appeared to be a vuggy wall….

20 Working Our Pockets


…and pretty soon after that, he was telling me that he had some nice dogtooth crystals inside…

21A Nathaniel Works His Pocket


…..I had walked back to the truck to get my flashlight to look inside my pocket at the base of the boulder, and I grabbed my camera as well. When I returned to the wall to see what he had found, he was pretty excited and I saw that he had good reason to be excited…..

14 Nathaniels Pockets15 Nathaniels Dogtooths

JACKPOT !!!   I was excited for him and told him to get his phone out and photograph them before and after, then told him how to remove the ones that were anchored in there, after carefully removing the ones that were loose, and to go ahead and wrap them up soon after removing them if possible…yes Virgil, I told him to wrap them up, just as I wrap mine up as soon as I can after removing them from the pockets…and yes I told Nathaniel all about you, Virgil….lol….

16 Nathaniels Dogtooths

….I then returned to my pocket and said a quick prayer, that while I was glad Nathaniel had found a great pocket of dogtooth crystals, I would sure like to find something similar as well…

18 My Pockets


…..and what do you know…the next thing you know, I am pulling dogtooths out of my pocket soon after too….Nathaniel took some photos of me with my finds, every time I pulled a nice one out…

Me Holding Up Dogtooth From My PocketHappy Camper Me


….he said I was killing him pulling one after another out…as he was chipping that huge plate of his out of his pocket….

Cluster of Dogtooths Nathaniel Chipped Out


…and in no time at all, we had been working those pockets for about three hours, opening the mouths of the pockets pretty big from the small openings we started with. Nathaniel had to open his up big time to remove that huge plate that he was chipping out, that alone took him about thirty minutes to do. When I was finally able to open mine up more, I shined my flashlight inside to see what all I had yet to pull out, turned out to be about fifteen inches deep inside and almost two feet across, with a massive base of chocolate colored calcite latched on to the top of the boulder and pointing down, those were the singles I had pulled out before, having broke off the base and were just laying there when I started reaching into the vug. 

22 My Pockets

When that pocket ran out on me, I moved a few inches to the left and right and found a few more and then another pocket under the boulder on the left side of it, opened up….

19 My Pockets

…as I was checking it out, pulling a few plates of black and brown sparkly druse out, Nathaniel finally liberated that huge plate of dogtooth calcite crystals from his pocket, he turned around with it in his hands and a big smile on his face, and I snapped this photo of him holding it….

23 Nathaniel With His Huge Dogtooth Cluster24 Nathaniels Dogtooth Cluster

…and here is another photo of another nice one he pulled out of there as well….

Dogtooth Cluster Found By Nathaniel

….after a short water break, we loaded Onyx up and drove over to the other side and checked out the wall over there, and found some more nice pockets of dogtooth crystals once again, spending about 90 minutes before heading for home. I stopped off at Rocky Falls to see if there was any fall color there, and found some nice color and some kids there…..Nathaniel remembered swimming there as a kid growing up in the Ellington area….

26 Rocky Falls

28 Rocky Falls29 Rocky Falls Pond

…on our way home, we saw several deer including a doe and two fawns, both fawns were as big or bigger than their mama….sure was nice to see so much wildlife, made for an even better day. Here are a few of my crystals from my pockets Saturday…..

30 Double Terminated Dogtooth30A Double Terminated Dogtooth34A Large Single Standing Up31 Small Dogtooth34B Large Single Standing Up

32 Small Dogtooth Cluster35 Large Single Standing Up

38B Set of Three Dogtooths35A Large Single Standing Up37 Large Single Slim Dogtooth Up39 Set of Bubbles42 Calcite Druse Plate44 Calcite Druse Plate46 Dogtooth With Bubbled Base46B Dogtooth With Bubbled Base47 Dogtooth Standing Up48 Dogtooth Partially Exposed45A Dogtooth Twins51 Dogtooth Partially Exposed52A Brown Druse Piece54A Dogtooth With Crown

…and a closeup of Nathaniel`s huge cluster, that he photographed yesterday and sent to me……


Close Up of Nathaniels Huge Cluster

… still has him pretty excited…which is always a good thing. 🙂


if you have any questions or wanna say hi, give me a shout at





Secret Spot and MFQ With Rockhound Friends

Last weekend I took a couple of rockhound friends to a couple of places I frequently go rockhunting at in central Missouri. One of my friends is from northern Georgia, I had the pleasure of digging with Mark Bishop at the first machine dig at the Eureka Mine this year, courtesy of a referral by good friend Jeff Deere, who wasn`t able to make it to the machine dig. Mark had mentioned to me that he would be driving up to Keokuk, Iowa in September to attend Geodefest and would love to stop by on his way home and go rockhunting with me if I had time. As soon as I got home, I cleared my calendar for that weekend so I could take Mark to the Secret Spot and to MFQ. A few weeks ago, one of my Kentucky rockhunting friends who is fortunate to live within an hour of the Eureka Mine, met a new rockhound at one of the public digs there, found out he was living in the St Louis County area, and referred him to me for information and put him in touch with me by email. Nathaniel, it turned out, is a world wide renowned Pastry Chef and loves to collect the same thing I like to collect, pretty crystals and minerals…he had a really nice large specimen of fluorite given to him by a fan in Florida while he was living and working down there a few years ago, yet had no clue where it might be from. I gave him my opinion, that it appeared to have come from the southern Illinois mines, and we started talking about rockhunting…I found out that he had not been on any other field trips in quite some time if ever, and invited him to go with Mark and I. He was available that day and accepted.

I had to work the night before for a few hours, and then left early to come home and get a good nap in, prior to Nathaniel arriving about 7 am, followed shortly by Mark about 7:30 am. My carpenter Joe Johnson, arrived in between them to make a small repair on my kitchen ceiling and when he finished, we loaded up and headed down to the secret spot. It was a cloudy and cool morning, there was a threat of light rain possible, however the temps were pretty much perfect for a good workout ahead. After a brief stop at the donut shop, we arrived at the secret spot…after showing them around and explaining things to them, they divided up and set out to explore the place and see what they could find. The water holes that I normally have to contend with there, were completely dried up and made walking around there much easier….

05 Secret Spot

…and that enabled us to dig into a few areas where there were indications of dogtooth crystals…while we found a few, it appeared that maybe we had only found the top of an old pocket that had mostly been removed way earlier….from there both Nathaniel and Mark wandered over to one of the walls to look for pockets….

01 Brandon & Mark Exploring Wall

…after a short water break, I wandered over to the wall below them a ways and looked for some pockets too…Nathaniel snapped a few of me doing just that….

Me Up On the Short WallMe Up On the Short Wall 2Me Up On the Short Wall 3

…..and soon enough, Nathaniel found a good pocket and was able to find some poker chips with matrix attached….the look on his face was priceless….

04 Brandon Finds Good Pocket

…shortly afterwards, we decided to pack up and head to MFQ and see what we could find there. Mark decided he was too worn out after the past few days at Keokuk, digging and lifting and hauling around some large geodes, so he decided to head for home from there, while Nathaniel and I drove over to visit with a good dealer friend of mine, who sells Viburnum Trend minerals. Nathaniel really liked what he saw there and picked up a few from him. We then headed on down to MFQ and arrived to find about a third of the wall remaining. After a short lunch break, Nathaniel decided to snap a photo of me getting prepared to find more goodies…..

On Arrival Getting Ready to Hunt More

….we started looking around at the face of the wall and found pockets staring us in the face all over that wall….

15 Remainder of Wall

…Nathaniel dug into this one spot above and below and soon was pulling out several brown dogtooth crystals from it….while it looks a little shaky looking, this particular spot he was in was quite solid around and above him, even forty feet to the right….

01 Brandon Works Dogtooth Pocket

03 Brandon Works Dogtooth Pocket

04 Brandon Works Dogtooth Pocket

06 Dogtooths Up Close Nathaniel Found

08 Dogtooths Up Close Nathaniel Found10 Brandon In Front of Dogtooth Pocket

…to the left where I started, was quite a different story, alot of overhang, so I didn`t mess with it much, just pulled out the easy ones out of the much and moved on…

02 Brandon Works Dogtooth Pocket11 Whats Left of Coved Blast Wall12 West Side of Wall

…after walking around and pulling out some loose crystals, I walked over to his crevice along the main wall and found a small pocket up about midway on the wall, and after retrieving my chisel and hammer, was able to pop out a few plates with brown and black dogtooth crystals all over them, they appeared to have sugar frosting all over them as well….

14 Blk & Brown Dogtooth Pocket

…after that, we walked around and found several nice twins and clusters in the loose rock below that high wall as well…each of us filled a couple of bags before we headed for home, Nathaniel snapping this selfie of both of us with the walls behind us….

Nathaniel and I at Crider Q

… we came into Rolla, this beautiful sunset appeared to the west…..

16 Sunset On Way Home Rolla

17 Sunset On Way Home Rolla

18 Sunset On Way Home Rolla

…we were both tired but happy with our finds…Onyx on the other hand appeared to be exhausted, having stretched out across the back seat of my truck on the way home. I found out later on that Mark made it home by 10:30 that night safe and sound. I returned to work later that night and then took the next night off, my exhaustion catching up with me, having been up for about 22 hours straight…haven`t done that in a very long time….had a great time tho and can`t wait to go again. 🙂

if you have any questions or wanna say hi, give me a shout at