A very muddy treasure hunt at the end of the season
Yesterday I found Susie and myself on a day-long metal detector hunt just an hour from home. We had never been to this hotel before but several friends told us we should try it. An entry fee is paid to participate in these hunts, and the group running the event buries old coins and tokens for prizes in the boxes found by the participants. We followed the instructions on the hunting flyer and soon came across a sign that pointed through a small opening in a tree line along the road.
I turned in and immediately slipped down a muddy driveway (trail? Lane? Whatever.). When we cleared the trees, an area of grass covered with mud, tire tracks and ruts opened up. Apparently the rainy week left this field in poor condition. I then had to drive over the flat terrain upstairs, down a fairly steep hill and over another flat plain where two trucks and a trailer were already stuck. I grabbed the gear stick, put on four-wheel drive, and drove down the hill. I had to reach the other side of the field to the designated parking lot.
I hit several large ruts that bounced the truck from side to side, reached the other side of the field, and did a quick U-turn without stopping so I would go when we had to leave later in the day. When we stopped and looked around, I found that we had just passed one of the hunting fields that already had a large amount of silver groschen, quarters and halves buried. We had arrived early and in the next hour there would be many more vehicles coming down the hill and across the hunting field. Many ruts were already filled with water.
As I watched this scene, I figured I could get going on my four-wheel drive and make it up the hill later in the day. I wondered how the cars and the numerous trailers that had made it down would get back onto the main road. But we had to find treasure before we worried about it.
We started exploring the tents that were set up with different displays and vendors selling different items and came across the breakfast tent. Cookies and gravy, bacon and eggs and, oh dear, boxes of mixed donuts! It had been so long since I had a maple glazed long john with a filling and nuts on top. I had to have one, even though I knew when I checked my blood sugar at noon it would be extremely high. Susie tried to help me by taking two or three bites of my breakfast.
We finished the search and went back to the truck to prepare our metal detectors for the first hunt. Large areas of the morning hunting field were covered with standing water. The rest didn’t look so wet until you stepped on the grass and sank. When the detector indicated a buried target, the lucky participant who found it used their knife, shovel, or other various digging implements to uncover the buried coin. Most were buried about six inches in water and very sticky mud. When the small pinpointers on most of the detectors indicated that their target was in a small lump of mud, it took a while for the coin to be hidden in the lump of earth. If you then tried to put the find in the bag to hold the prize, it would often get caught on your fingers and be dropped on the floor to be found again.
Susie and I hunted for about 90 minutes of the two hour hunt before we stopped. My lower back and the back of my legs ached so much that I had to stop several times as I walked back to the truck. My pants, vest, jacket (it was cold, damp and windy.) Hands, pin pointer, metal detector, digging tools and boots were caked with dirt. We emptied our finds on the tailgate of the truck and tried to separate coins from the mud. I had 39 coins and Susie 63. I washed my hands with the gallon jug of water we carry for this purpose. Then I put four ibuprofen in my mouth to help ease the pain in my back.
We relaxed in our garden chairs for a while, ate a sandwich, and then got ready for the second hunt of the day. It was on the furrowed field in front of our truck and contained nothing but silver coins. I quickly found out that it also contains a lot of junk. As I bent down to dig up the targets in this field, the back legs of both legs began to cramp. I never had these problems 20 years ago!
Once again we finished early and started loading the truck for our attempt to break out of this mud hole. We said goodbye to about a dozen friends who were hunting. We probably wouldn’t see her again until next summer. We had another two day hunt the following weekend, but it was in Arkansas and few of our friends would go that far.
Between my heart therapy and our return to the gym this winter, my back and legs should be in better shape by the time we hunt next year.
Rich Creason is an award-winning outdoor and travel writer whose work has appeared in local, regional, national and international publications for 40 years. Born in Anderson, he is a graduate of Markleville High School. He lives in South Madison County with his wife, Susie. He can be contacted at [email protected]