Mention Mason County to someone from elsewhere in the state, and they're likely to respond with one of two words: deer or topaz. These are two of the commodities for which we are best known, and we have little trouble bragging about either.
The biggest difference about the two is that, within 30 minutes, I can probably show you several deer in their native habitat. Finding even one topaz in the field, however, is a bit more difficult. If it were not rare, it would not be considered a gemstone, so I suppose it comes with the territory.
For years, people have trekked across ranches, down creek beds and through pastures looking for signs of topaz; and, for many, it has been a successful hunt. Over at the Mason Square Museum, there is a Smithsonian-quality stone on display. At Country Collectibles, a faceted giant awaits visitors. And, at Underwoods, Gems of the Hill Country and other retailers, both rough and cut stones await examination by potential purchasers.
But, it's the thrill of finding your own stone that still brings many to the area, shovels, buckets and screens in hand. They have hunted on the Seaquist and Hofmann ranches, walked gravel creek beds, and sifted yards of dirt. And, they do find stones. You usually know they've succeeded when you hear their squeals of glee and see them waving the stone in the air.
I'm fortunate in that I live in an area of the county that has topaz deposits. After years of moving irrigation pipe in the fields and fixing watergaps in the creeks, I've been lucky enough to have found a few small stones, as well as arrowheads, along the way.
But, imagine my surprise last week while checking fence lines with a friend to have found a stone that was the size of a small chicken egg. It had almost no flaws, beautiful clarity, and was laying on top of the ground. I was walking with the landowner when I found it and proffered it to him; but, he declined. We ended up offering it to a neighbor as a holiday gift (Christmas was over, so it didn't really fall into that category).
You will notice that I'm going out of my way NOT to mention where it was found. I've discovered that many people will ignore fences, NO TRESPASSING signs, gates, or just about any other obstacle to find topaz. The same people who might be shocked if I walked into their home and sat down often think nothing of climbing a fence, shovel in hand, and digging holes on someone else's property. So, the location will remain with the vague description of "around Katemcy." Of course, that's the same location that many of the local stones carry, so there is no shame in not being more specific.
Someone asked me if I had taken a photo of it... No. I've already passed along ownership and if the new owner wants to share that, they may.
As for me, I'm just pleased to know that big stones are still out there to be found. It was obvious from this stone that it might have been part of a larger crystal. So, I'll keep looking.
And, for all those that say that the opportunity to find stones needs to be shared, I would remind them that I found this stone in a place it should not have been. It was on a small hill, not in a creek or wash. It was on the surface, not buried. It was just waiting for the right time to be found.
And I did!
It’s all just my opinion.