By Rich Creason | For The Times-Post
Several years ago, a friend of mine — who, like me, was a member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers group — called me.
I hoped he was calling about taking me fishing because he runs a charter fishing outfit up north.
But, it was about something totally different.
At the time, he also worked for Traditions Media, which handles media relations and publicity for mostly outdoor businesses.
Josh asked me how I was doing and we continued small talk for a few minutes. Then, he informed me that Traditions had just signed a contract with Minelab Metal Detectors to handle publicity for them.
“You’re the only guy I know who is a good writer and knows anything about metal detecting,” he said. “Would you be interested in writing stories for us?”
Writing stories is one of the things I do well, and it is very unusual for publications to contact the writer about working for them, so I hesitated.
I asked Josh what this would entail.
He told me Minelab would send me names and contact information about people who used their metal detectors and had made some type of interesting or valuable finds with their machines.
I would then interview the person and write a story about their adventures.
Since I have been writing since 1980 and detecting since 1974, I thought I could do this.
Since I own a Minelab Vanquish 540 which is a detector suitable for an experienced detectorist while still being simple enough for a beginner to the hobby, an Equinox 600, which is a step up from the 540, and a CTX 3030, which is the top of the line Minelab machine, I should be able to ask intelligent questions of most of the people I interview.
I told Josh I was definitely interested.
We discussed the pertinent details, and he said he would get me some names to get me started.
The first two contacts made me a little nervous.
The first was a man who lived in England and was the biggest Minelab dealer in Europe.
And I did the interview over the phone.
I figured the 30-minute talk was going to cost a fortune, but Minelab told me to just add it to my bill and they would handle it.
Turned out it cost only about $6.
Since I don’t take notes when I interview, I asked him if I could tape our conversation.
Good thing I did.
While he spoke English, it didn’t sound a lot like the English we speak here! And some of the words he used I had never heard either.
Susie and I both listened to the tape numerous times and finally got most of his answers deciphered.
I wrote the story, turned it in to my Minelab editor, and they thought it was great.
I was happy.
The next story was almost a carbon copy of the first, except it was with a guy from Portugal. He had found about 1,500 15th and 16th century coins in old buried pots in a farm field.
We could almost understand this fellow without rewinding the tape more than a couple times.
I sent the story in, and Minelab said it was outstanding.
While waiting on Josh to get me some more names to contact, I found one on my own.
He lived in West Virginia and had amassed a vast collection of Civil War relics he had found detecting the mountains of his home county.
I started talking to Minelab users at the various metal detector hunts, which Susie and I attended. I talked to a couple guys from Arkansas who also had found numerous relics and coins from the Civil War era in that state.
Minelab came through with some more names for me, and I started more interviews.
One was a young lady who lived in Connecticut and detected old American and Colonial coins and relics from the far eastern states.
Then, to the other side of the country, I did a story on a guy who lives in Idaho.
Back to the East coast another story about a guy who searched for gold in his area in the warm months, then traveled to California in the winter to detect gold nuggets there.
Shaun Rauch detects the west coast of Florida and has found, and returned, thousands of dollars’ worth of lost jewelry to their owners.
I had names for two guys in Iowa who used their Minelab detectors to find all kinds of relics and artifacts from the Midwest.
Which brings me to “the Ring King.”
Mark Gibson lives in Minnesota in the summer and spends six months in southern Texas in the winter. He arrived in Texas last fall on Oct. 7 and just returned to Minnesota in late April of this year. During that period, he swung his Minelab detector for eight to 12 hours on most days, weather permitting, along the Texas beaches.
Not bad for a guy 67 years old.
When I wrote his story early this year, he had found 86 rings in the sand since he had arrived down south. He continued searching after his story came out, and when he headed back north recently, he had a total of 126 rings to his total.
He is now only four rings shy of 500 for his detecting career.
Mark has written a book about his detecting hobby, not only in Texas, but also of his finds in Minnesota and other places.
The book is 460 pages long and is titled, “Timeless Treasures.”
This past week, I got to meet Mark at a metal detector hunt in Illinois. He brought me an autographed copy of his book to add to my collection. At this hunt was one of the organizers of the hunt who I have already written a story about, and another of the organizers who I am currently doing his story.
Many of these people I had never met. Some I had met and gathered the information from them to do their stories, while at least four, I met this week at the hunt in Illinois. It was interesting to talk about their old and new finds while searching for lost treasure.
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].