By: Scott Einsmann of Bowhunting360.com

While bowhunting for elk David Bradt  discovered a 70-million-year-old dinosaur.

You never know what you’ll see or find when bowhunting. You might see two bucks sparring; or you might stumble onto gourmet mushrooms, ancient artifacts or even a fossilized dinosaur!

Nakonanectes Brandti: Not Your Average Fossil

“This is one of the most complete examples of this group of marine reptiles ever found in North America,” said Dr. Patrick Druckenmiller, the lead paleontologist who investigated Bradt’s find.

David Bradt had spent a long morning chasing elk in the remote mountains of Montana. He took a break by a creek, and splashed some water on his face. That’s when he spotted something unusual in the water. Upon closer inspection, he realized it was some type of fossilized dinosaur, which is rare enough. But Bradt’s discovery was extremely rare.

“This is one of the most complete examples of this group of marine reptiles ever found in North America,” said Dr. Patrick Druckenmiller, the lead paleontologist who investigated Bradt’s find. “Really, one of the best anywhere in the world. And significantly, it’s a new species.”

Bradt’s dinosaur was rare and special, but it’s not uncommon for hunters to find fossils. “In fact, many of the big finds in paleontology are made by non-paleontologists,” Druckenmiller said. “Because hunters and anglers are often out in wild places, they are naturally in a good position to find things.”

If you stumble upon a fossil while hunting you need to follow certain protocol. “It’s critical to know who owns the land, because they also own the fossil,” Druckenmiller said.

If you find a fossil on public land, you’ll receive no cash reward. However, if it’s a new species like the one Bradt found, you get to have the dinosaur named after you.

Bradt was hunting on federal land, and so he contacted the nearby National Wildlife Refuge System’s office.

“If a fossil is found on state land, then the state should be contacted,” Druckenmiller said. “If the fossil is found on private land, then the landowner needs to know. (Private landowners) can do what they want with it.”

State and federal agencies usually have connections with state repositories such as museums and universities, which have staff to collect and care for fossils found on public land. That allows them to study and share fossils with other scientists and the public, Druckenmiller said. “This is what I consider the right thing to do.”

If you find a fossil on public land, you’ll receive no cash reward. However, if it’s a new species like the one Bradt found, you get to have the dinosaur named after you.