Tools for Fossil Hunting in Rivers

People often contact me asking where they can get the tools I use for fossil hunting in rivers.  The screen scoop and screen sifter I used for years came from the general store at the Peace River Campground in Arcadia, FL.  I added some water pipe insulation (local hardware store) around the sides so it floats.  Another option that gives even more buoyancy is to use those little kid's pool noodles (see below).  But, these tools are pretty wimpy - You need a better scoop and screen, so read on below for better options!

Screen sifting scoop & shovel
See better sand scoops below!

My screen sifting tool
Shovel and screen scoop above are dumped into this screen.

The problem I found with my screen scoop is that it's too weak.  It's hard to really get a good scoop of rocks from the bottom without bending the aluminum.  Also, you're working in about 3 feet of water and it's awkward to operate with little leverage. I've since borrowed a much better scoop from a friend of mine in Florida.  It comes from the metal detecting world and looks like a vented coffee can on the bottom of a pole.  This works MUCH better because it's stronger and is designed so you can use your foot to dig into the bottom like a shovel.  I won't try to keep current info here on where to get these, just do a Google search for "long handle sand scoop".  Here's what they look like.

Long Handled Sand Scoops
Stronger and allows use of foot to dig in like a shovel.

There are two problems with this screen sifter I bought.  First, it's too wimpy - a larger, stronger sifter works much better. Second, it's not buoyant enough - when you dump a big scoop in, it wants to sink!  I added pipe insulation which helped, but kid's pool noodles work much better.

Kid's Pool "Noodles"
Another option other than pipe insulation for even more buoyancy of screen sifter.

Rather than buying a sifter, I'd recommend you just make your own.  The cost of material would likely be less than just the shipping costs if you bought one.  Try these links:

Screen Sifter
Just add "Noodles"!

Good luck and happy hunting!

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[Created 07/11/2010]
[Last Updated: n/a]