I was a sheep rancher in western Wyoming

 

Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story, Who owns these bones?

"I was a sheep rancher in western Wyoming. One day a gun trader came riding by and I traded a bunch of fossils for a rifle." - Rick Hebdon

Rick Hebdon owns Warfield Fossil Quarries in Thayne, Wyo., and sends tourists on fossil safaris: $35 per day buys you all-you-can-dig fossil hunting in the Green River Formation.

"I was a sheep rancher in western Wyoming. My dad and I were going to the spring to get water. My dad was dipping with a bucket when he saw a fossil fish had eroded out. He almost fell into the spring. We threw the water cans down, found a shovel, and boom, we started pulling out fish. After that I would go and dig for the hell of it. One day a gun trader came riding by, and traded a bunch of fossils for a rifle. My dad said, 'Son, there is a Cadillac in there. If you want to dig it up, you can get it.' So I sold the sheep.

"Sheep ranching is a good life. But there is a lot less money than in fossils. The coyote had eaten all our profits."