Saturday, December 31, 2011

Oh no... the Po-Po!

Today's hunt ended badly, but with valuable lessons learned and Cheryl and I shall sally forth with renewed vigor and, perhaps, a bit more understanding of the word “trespassing.”

My holiday break was drawing to a close, as is this spell of mild and sunny weather, so it seemed prudent to heed the call of the wild and get out there for some last-day-of-2011 metal detecting.

Met up with Cheryl at a church in a town that, for reasons that will soon become clear, I decline to name. She had hunted there briefly yesterday with a couple of veteran digging buddies who insisted it was perfectly fine to park in the church parking lot and wander around in the woods behind. They found good stuff there – bullets, a couple of rings, an 1884 Indian head penny (go Cheryl! I am ever so jealous) so we decided to go there first.

Dived into woods. It was another splendid day, on a cliff high above a river. Who could possibly “own” land high up above a river? Isn't that considered “shoreline”?

Dug a little trash, then hit a good signal and pulled out a mystery item. Any ideas?
I have no idea.

 Looks like some kind of iron mini-chastity belt with garter attachments. I was pretty excited. But a truck pulled up to the back of the church and a man said a wedding was going to start in about two hours. He didn't mind our being there, but we left anyway.

Went back to a farm we had permission to hunt, but it was so huge, and we were so few and so small and so ineffectual and there were giant, shiny cow turds everywhere so we left.

Don't worry. This is going to get better soon. Something will actually happen.

Drove down the road to a house Cheryl knew backed up to a small river we will call “Whit's Branch” for want of a more accurate name. Word on the street was that the Great Flood of '09 had churned up the creek and revealed bucketloads of bullets and other goodies. We pulled in the driveway and, as usual, tried to get up the nerve to ask permission. What always gets us over that particular hump is this pithy saying: “If you don't ask, the answer is always no.”

Which is sort of true. And sort of not, as you will soon see.

We gulped and drove up to the house where we were met by two big, black dogs. A woman came out and was exceedingly friendly. Sure, she said. Four other groups had been down there recently and hadn't found a thing, but we were welcome to try. We set off toward Whit's Branch.

How beautiful. A sweet little wading stream, surrounded by tall, tall trees, including one that must have been around 150 years. A real queen of a tree. On the other bank was a steep hill up to some train tracks. The stream flowed through a giant tunnel we could have walked through, but we didn't.

Oh Lordy, did we dig a lot of trash. After pulling out a large, corroded can of scary mystery liquid which I couldn't just leave there, it was time to pack it in, despite all of nature's beauty.

We chatted with the friendly lady (who said we could come back anytime) and went to McDonald's where I had one of my twice-yearly fish sandwiches and Cheryl and I talked about cultural divides and also about how quickly fries become uninteresting.

Refreshed, we headed back to the church to see if the blasted wedding was finally OVER. (No really, folks, I hope you are very happy together.) But there were still cars in the driveway. WHAT TO DO?

We decided to drive further down the road and see if we could park somewhere, then hike backwards through the woods to that particular area.

About ¼ mile down the road was a house. A vacant house. The conversation went something like this:

Cheryl: This is perfect. Let's park here and walk back.
Whit: I don't know. This is clearly somebody's house, even if it is empty.
Cheryl: Well, there's no No Trespassing sign. The worst that can happen is we'll be asked to leave.
Whit: Well, when I'm being gang-raped in the women's prison, I will hold you accountable.

We parked, grabbed our machines, walked behind the house, forded a tiny stream, then climbed up onto the high ridge that led back to the church.

It was just so beautiful in there. Quiet and perfect. My fears dissolved into excitement as my Tesoro Cibola metal detector blasted my ears with solid signals. I pulled out three CW bullets in 10 minutes. About 50 feet away, Cheryl was having similar little victories. This was a camp. And one that had not been hunted out. Oh, the possibilities.

Oh, the Po-Po.

No, gentle reader, it was not to be. I looked up to see an officer trudging through the woods towards me. Poor guy. And he thought he was going to have a nice, quiet, New Years Eve afternoon.

At this point, I will admit that every part of me, down to my core, wants to describe this Po in sarcastic terms. My fingers tremble with the desire to use my words in unkind ways, to paint his (short) appearance, his (self-important) demeanor, his (snippy) behavior in an effort to make my guilty self feel better. But the truth is, we were trespassing, even if we were just middle aged ladies with metal detectors.

Pushing back images of being gang-raped by check forgers, I bumbled something about how I just thought this was “state land” which made the Po laugh out loud. No, we were trespassing on land that belonged to the “Smiths” – who basically owned the whole town. They lived across the street from the vacant house (their vacant house) and had seen the car and they were piiiiiiissed....

We smiled and apologized profusely and hiked back to the car. We saw the Po drive up to the “Smith” house so Cheryl followed him up there. The lady of the manor stormed back into her house and slammed the door so we apologized to the lord of the manor who yelled at us a little bit then accepted our apology but threw in a “And don't come back” which I didn't think was very Christian of him.

Officer Po provided a thoughtful escort as we drove back to the highway. Bless his heart.

The bullets of shame.


  1. Quite an adventure! You can sure ay 2011 ended not with a whimper, but a bang.

  2. Hi Whit

    I spoke with Cheryl and am hoping that she will share pictures of her finds with me. I see the middle bullet you have is a nice .58 Cal Williams Cleaner Type II. I am not able to zoom in on the other two bullets but guessing by the size that they are .58 cal Mini-balls (three ringers?) Glad you were able to recover those finds and hope you do a better job of researching your next site before you start digging. Winter time is always a good time to do research and drive around and get permission to search when Spring arrives.
    I do wish you and Cheryl all the best of luck and hope that you both will visit for a Treasure Hunt sometime in the Spring.