When I was a young boy, I dreamed of pirates and buried treasure, Spanish Galleons filled with treasure, lost stagecoach strong boxes, and of course prospecting for gold. Saturday afternoons were filled with Roy Rogers, The Lone Ranger, Zorro, Davy Crockett, and several other TV westerns. I loved the thought of an adventure and digging up a long lost treasure. TV back then was not like it is today. No matter what the show was, there was always an altruistic moral message. Do the right thing! The hero might suffer a bit, but good always won in the end. T he good guy would always do the right thing. Those shows taught us moral lessons that kids don’t get today. Don’t lie or cheat, don’t kill anything unless it’s for self-defense or food, and don’t ever steal someone’s cattle (it was called rustling), their horse, their gold, or their woman. The message was pretty clear, “If it’s not yours, don’t touch it.” Always do the right thing. I honestly believed that was how life worked.
My eyes opened.
As I grew up, I discovered people in real life did not always follow that rule. Sometimes (far too often), the bad guy gets away with it all. Not everyone gets the “do the right thing” message growing up. I have seen throughout my adult life, even in the local treasure hunting community, that far too often, people fall into their temptations whenever certain unethical opportunities arise.
I call it the pirate/thief mentality. “Take what you want and never mind how the actual owner or his family will suffer from your actions.” All that matters is that you get the gold or silver, or whatever else you have decided you deserve. If you think this way, and can justify this in your mind, then obviously your moral compass is broken and you’re sailing off the edge of the world and straight into the Abyss. It should be so simple. Do the right thing.
A few examples
I see this mentality with the looting and the riots around the country. I have also have witnessed a local pair of so called “famous treasure hunters” openly claim jump, and steal. One took $75,000 worth of gold from a claim they had no permission to be on, and another jumped a fence and dug up a $20 gold piece on a lot that he had no business to be on. This is out right theft, and grand larceny to boot. Both can get you a felony count against you and some time in jail.
One of the two crooks was dumb enough to actually send me a picture of himself holding up the stolen gold coin. He was a local metal detector dealer who constantly boasts about his finds, and a lot of people looked up to him. If they only knew the truth, they might not think so highly of him. The other was a famous miner who has found pounds and pounds of gold over the years. From what I have seen, there’s a good possibility that it wasn’t all from legitimate places he had permission to hunt on. He openly believes in claim jumping if the claim is not owned by a local person. Both people lost everything in a wildfire here in California, including their animals (talk about bad luck). I won’t embarrass them by naming them, because they both know who they are. The point is, be honest. You will have to answer someday for your actions, and you don’t want to have the bad Ju-Ju that comes with that behavior.
A rose is a rose by any other name
There is no difference between a looter, a robber, a claim jumper, a car jacker, a thief, or a fence hopping treasure hunter.
“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods” (don’t ever steal) is something we should all live by each and every day. It is not that hard to follow that simple rule. You simply choose to do the right thing, without compromise or some twisted self-justification. It’s really a black and white decision. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Would you want your stuff stolen? Or perhaps your claim stripped of the gold because you can’t watch it 24 hours a day? I doubt that you would like that at all. In fact I would wager to say you would be down right ticked off about it.
The point of all this
My purpose in writing this isn’t to pick on anyone in particular (I do know a few who could really use this lesson badly). I want to make you stop and think before you act. It takes nothing to look up who owns the property and ask them permission to hunt on their land. There are even apps for your cellphone to find that information out. Introduce yourself. Tell them who you are and why you would like to have a look in their yard. Quite often they will allow you to detect it without any hesitation. Sometimes you might have to sign a waiver so that you won’t sue them if you slip and fall on their property.
A few more tips
Oh, and for God sake fill in your holes so it doesn’t look like a WW2 battle took place in their yard.
Respect them and their property and you might get a referral to one of their friends or neighbor’s yards. Leave it looking like it’s been attacked by an army of rabid gophers, and none of us will ever be allowed to search the neighborhood again. Your actions affect more than just yourself. Use your head out there and do the right thing.
The art of the deal
By the way, while you are negotiating access, it helps to offer to cut them in on the finds as well. After all it is their property, and you are a guest. I try to make a 50/50 deal with them and I get it in writing before I search, so there is no hard feelings if I do find some nice things. I do the searching, and digging, and then I empty my finds pouch, and we split it up as agreed upon earlier. By the way, if you need a great finds pouch, check out the Garrett All Terrain pouch.
It’s important to remember that they didn’t have to say yes in the first place. Also, they may tell others about you and your opportunities will increase. Sometimes the owner just appreciates your offer, and they don’t want any of it, but they would like to see what you found because you have spiked their curiosity. Don’t go hiding the good stuff in your pocket either. It is their stuff to begin with remember? I’ve seen plenty of guys stuff their pockets with the good gold or coins, while trying to cheat the property owner. You’re the one who has to look in the mirror every day. Who is it that you want to see looking back at you, a hero or a bandit?
The moral of this story: Do the right thing
In the end, it’s clear, honesty really is the best policy. Remember that your actions will either polish or tarnish our hobby’s reputation and your own as well. We are treasure hunters, not thieves or pirates. You do not want the Karma connected to ill gotten gains or the bad reputation. Besides, you’ll not only sleep better at night, but you won’t have to live with all the dark secrets. Do the right thing for all of us, so our hobby will continue to grow.
Speaking of doing the right thing, I always carry some survival gear with me in my pack, just in case I get stuck somewhere overnight. Here is a great survival blanket to carry with you while treasure hunting in the wild.
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Dogtown Trading Company
P.O. Box 413
Magalia, CA 95954
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