A very muddy treasure hunt to finish the season

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Yesterday found Susie and me heading for a one-day metal detector hunt just an hour from home. We had never been to this one before, but several friends told us we needed to try it. An entry fee is paid to enter these hunts, and the group putting on the event buries old coins and tokens for prizes in the fields to be found by the entrants. We followed the directions on the hunt flyer and soon arrived at a sign pointing through a small opening in a tree line along the road.
I turned in and immediately began sliding down a muddy drive (trail? lane? whatever.) When we cleared the trees, it opened into a grassy area covered with mud, tire tracks, and ruts. Apparently, the week of rain had left this field in poor condition. I had to drive across the flat area on top, then, down a fairly steep hill, and across another flat, lowland, where two trucks and a trailer were already stuck. I grabbed the shift lever and shifted into four-wheel drive and started down the hill. I had to reach the far side of the field to the designated parking area.
I hit several large ruts which bounced the truck from side to side, reached the far side of the field, and without stopping, quickly spun around in a U-turn so I would be headed out when we needed to leave later in the day. When we stopped and looked around, I discovered we had just driven across one of the hunt fields where a large amount of silver dimes, quarters, and halves had already been buried. We had arrived early and many more vehicles would also come down the hill and across the hunt field in the next hour. Many ruts were already filling with water.
As I sat observing this scene, I figured with my four-wheel drive, I could get a running start and make it up the hill later in the day. I wondered how the cars and numerous trailers which made it down would get back up to the main road. But, we had treasure to find before worrying about that.
We started exploring the tents which were set up with various displays and vendors selling assorted items, and came upon the breakfast tent. Biscuits and gravy, bacon and eggs, and, oh my, boxes of mixed donuts! It had been so long since I had a maple glazed long john with filling and nuts on top. I had to have one, even though I knew when I checked my blood sugar at lunchtime, I would have an extremely high reading. Susie tried to help my by taking two or three bites off of my breakfast.
We finished looking and headed back to the truck to get our metal detectors ready for the first hunt. Large areas of the morning hunt field were covered with standing water. The rest didn’t look that wet until you stepped on the grass and sunk. When the detector indicated a buried target, the lucky participant finding it used his knife, shovel, or other assorted digging utensil to uncover the buried coin. Most were buried about six inches deep in water and very sticky mud. When the small pinpointers used by most detectorists indicated their target was in a small clump of mud, it still took time to find the coin hiding in the gob of soil. Then, when trying to drop the find into the pouch for holding the prize, it often stuck to your fingers and was dropped on the ground to be found again.
Susie and I continued hunting for about 90 minutes of the two hour hunt before quitting. My lower back and the back of my legs hurt so bad I had to stop several times while walking back to the truck. My pants, vest, jacket, (It was cold, damp, and windy.) hands, pinpointer, metal detector, digging tool, and boots were all caked with dirt. We emptied our finds on the tailgate of the truck and tried to separate coins from mud. I had 39 coins and Susie had 63. I washed my hands with the gallon jug of water we carry for this purpose. Then, I popped four ibuprofen in my mouth to slow the pain in my back.
We relaxed in our lawn chairs for a while, ate a sandwich, and then got ready for the second hunt of the day. It was in the rutted field in front of our truck and contained only silver coins. I quickly found out it also contained a lot of junk. As I bent over to dig the targets in this field, the back of both legs started to cramp. I never had these problems 20 years ago!
Once again, we finished early and began loading the truck for our attempt to break out of this mud hole. We said goodbye to a dozen or so friends who were at the hunt. We probably wouldn’t see them again until next summer. We had one more two day hunt coming the following weekend, but it was in Arkansas and few of our friends would be going that far.
Between my cardiac therapy and our return to the gym this winter, my back and legs should be in better shape by next year’s hunts.
Rich Creason is an award-winning outdoors 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 may be contacted at [email protected]