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Grim's Tales: Try treasure hunting this spring, but bring gloves

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I am a treasure hunter. At least that’s how I see it.

I snorkel for lost lures, I explore abandoned houses and I metal detect. That is why I am getting impatient for the spring thaw.

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Metal detecting begins with planning. You should focus on places that have, at one time, had a lot of foot traffic, and if they are private property you better get permission first. Also beware that the state of Minnesota strictly regulates removal of many things from public property, so check the laws.

Beaches are a popular metal detecting location, but all I ever found on a beach were nails, soda tabs, railroad spikes and, oddly, a home radiator.

However, my greatest success so far was on an old sledding hill near Walker.

My father had suggested the place because things have been falling out of pockets there since he was a kid. About three inches down I managed to find an Imperial pocketknife. Imperial is a company that hasn’t existed since 1988.

One side was covered in peeling faux mother of pearl, but the other had long ago flaked off. The blades opened smoothly after cleaning and were barely rusty at all. My friend, who we called Jersey, found two more pocket knives within six feet of that one, though these were on the surface and one of them was actually brand new.

In addition, plan for the season. Winter is good for research and parking lot snowplow piles. In early spring, fields and hills that are normally too thick with grass can be accessed easily. Certain agricultural fields can also be good locations during spring or fall, either before planting or after harvest. Soft, plowed dirt is a bonus. Summer is good for forested abandoned homesteads or work camps. The shade keeps undergrowth somewhat thin and also keeps your head cool on a sunny day.

Another aspect to consider is proper gear. There is a lot of kneeling and digging in metal detecting, so be sure to bring a shovel. I use a World War II entrenchment shovel. A pocketed apron for taking out trash and treasure is standard gear. Kneepads will also protect your knees and pants, but I cannot stress enough that you must wear gloves.

That little pocket knife was not the only thing I took home from the sledding hill. The morning after the hunt my entire right hand was covered in dermatitis blisters, especially between my fingers. I should have expected this.

My trip to the sledding hill was made during the early spring; specifically, it is covered in knee-high grass and poison ivy during the summer. In the early spring there are only twigs and crushed grass so I guess poison ivy roots were the last thing on my mind.

Now they are the second, next to treasure.

I can’t wait to metal detect, and if you know of any place that might hold hidden “treasures,” or if you once lost a ring or other piece of jewelry that you would like back, I would gladly go on the hunt. If you want to come along, the more the merrier.

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