Snotgold had to upgrade his nickname at the first annual trout camp treasure hunters competition and jamboree at an unknown campground last week. Typically metal detector treasure hunters bring in a haul of bottle caps, spent cartridges, sinkers, a few pennies and maybe a nickel or quarter if the hunting is good. The competition had few rules other than each team had to have a top grade detector and a shovel, they had to refill any dug holes so they were not noticeable, and they had one hour to bring back the most valuable haul. Not since the Monitor and Merrimack have two teams sought metal with such passion.
I teamed with Snotgold and right off it looked bad for us while we watched Ironclad and Natch dig up a quarter in the first five minutes. Snotgold was nonplussed and just dialed his detector down to “don’t ding unless it really might be something good.” High tech metal detectors have a variety of settings like that whereby the sonar can detect a shape and save the hunter countless hours. For instance, if he needs a ¼-20 hex head bolt to put a muffler back on his monster truck – there is no need to go to the hardware store, just fire up the detector.
The clock was winding down for us and we could see Ironclad and Natch working over a remote campsite used by backpackers. With their 25 cent jump on us it was getting a bit tense as Snotgold brainstormed some general thoughts on where real treasure might be dropped – mainly where is the heavy foot traffic and how might someone drop something of value. He keyed in on an old well and finally on a billboard that showed the latest DNR messages about the new campsite fee for state forest campgrounds. With the fee now reduced to $13 a night it made sense that people would be digging for pocket change trying to come up with that odd thirteenth dollar. After a couple adjustments to the detector he made a quick sweep and we heard the telltale ding. Snotgold reached down and grabbed something lying on the ground. He held out his hand and opened his fist to reveal a flattened gold ring with tiny diamonds. At first I was concerned it was costume jewelry but he assured me: Tisgold.