2012, Looking Back…

Was thinking back over the past year and tried to put it in perspective, but it was not easy this time around. It was not a good year, not a bad year…simply an  okay year. I also know that given what so many other friends and relatives of mine have gone through, I should not complain! I didn’t get out detecting much,  and didn’t add much to the treasure coffers, but I still have the bug, still have this website and blog, and hopefully I will get off my butt in the coming year to  change all that.

Joe and his buddy Boo...

Joe and his buddy Boo…

Joe Cook, an old and very good friend and treasure hunter, passed away in June, and I will never forget his friendship, and his contributions to the pastime. I  still think of him often, and remember the good ole days of the 80’s and 90’s. On the positive side I reconnected with old friends like John Repa, Richard Ray,  Larry (Packrat) Bateham, Paul Tainter, Scott Mitchen, Bruce Hazelman, Ron Womer and others.

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The past year also saw my battle with Paul Barford heat up, and I plan this year to soften my rhetoric, and hope that he in turn, does the same. It’s no secret  that I have no fondness for the archaeological community, and Mr. Barford does absolutely nothing to change my mind, but I have decided to respond in a more conciliatory way,  and hope that perhaps he does the same. Time will tell….

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2012 saw the first “National Metal Detecting Day” sponsored by Minelab. I hope the this event not only continues, but that ALL the manufacturers will be invited to  participate, and that it becomes a very special day for all of the many clubs throughout the country, the world, and for all those involved in this very special pastime.

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My wife Fay finally retired in February, and being a Critical Care Nurse for 45 years, I am very proud of her. Over the years she has received many awards for her  skills, as well as glowing compliments from all who came in contact with her during that period, both doctors, nurses and patients. She has now “plunged” into her photography, and is having  way, way too much fun, as in The Crazy Women’s Photography Club. You can also see many of her photos   here.

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This year I offered up the idea of a joint coming together, and a true “national” representative organization. That was abruptly dismissed after suggesting it on  many of the major metal detecting forums. No one responded, and those that did wanted no part of it. Bottom line? Detectorists are selfish, cheap and only care when the  opposition hits them square in the head!

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2012 also brought on one of the most embarrassing TV shows about our hobby….”American Diggers”. I waded through three episodes of this stupid “unreality” show,  and passed up on all the rest. I understand the need to entertain and amuse, but this was by far the worst representation of our pastime ever. If the finds on that  show were worth what they reported, I could have retired years ago. Unfortunately it’s on the schedule again this year, which means we have a lot of unknowing, brainwashed  fans of the pastime out there. God help us!

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Another disappointment of the past year? The disappearance of the Task Force for Metal Detecting Rights, and the Federation of Metal Detecting and Archaeological Clubs.  WWATS too was also stagnant in that nothing new appeared on their website for some time. As of this moment I understand the FMDAC is reorganizing, WWATS is having a  get together in February, and the Task Force is still in hibernation. I will be chastised for saying this, but “is this the best we can do?”

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We claimed one victory in the past year, the reversal of the metal detecting ban in Carthage, Missouri. On the other hand we were dealt a blow in Kentucky, and a draw  in Alabama. John Howland said it best recently when he said it would take a total ban on detecting in a couple of states for us to wake up. Is that really the solution? Are  we just treading water, waiting for the other shoe to drop, or are we going to do something to cement our acceptance among the masses? The answer of course is up to all of you.  I have fought the battle way too many times, and where it goes from here is dependent on your actions and yes,  your contribution, both in time and money.

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I want to finish this look back with an article from the John Winter blog, and a letter written by   Bob Sickler to the state legislators in Kentucky. I featured both of these over the past year, and they are worth  reading again….

For the John Winter article click here.

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BOB SICKLER’S LETTER

Metal Detecting — More Than Just a Recreation

I’ve taken to writing in defense of having a recreation which is greatly misunderstood by many and unfairly threatened and discriminated against by most of  the archeological community world-wide. More specifically I write about a recreation called metal detecting.

Bob Sickler

Bob Sickler

So what is the recreation of metal detecting all about? To me it has been more than just a simple outdoor activity, it’s a 44 year continuing journey  to satisfy an intense desire to know first-hand my country’s history, more importantly the people (our ancestors) who lived it and created it. It’s the excitement  of recovering something lost in the ground for centuries and knowing you are first person since the last to touch it again… My link to the past and the education  it provides. We all inherited our past and no one person or group has the right to keep anyone from discovering it in a responsible manner and learning from it.

Many in the misinformed general public unfortunately tend to view we Detectorists as “scavengers”, “looters”, “grubbers”, “pot hunters”, “thieves”, and greedy  “treasure hunters”. Fact is a lot of people are jealous of the recreation simply because they can’t stand to see anyone profit from anything, even if it’s one penny  at a time. Many of us are just simply finding and collecting lost coins. In the many years I’ve enjoyed researching huntsites and operating a metal detector, the  worth of anything found collectively would never equal the expense of owning the equipment necessary to do so. It’s never been about profit for me in my pursuit of  history. It’s been about the rewards of educating myself and others about the items found and giving myself some quality time outdoors. It’s also about rescuing these  pieces of history from the ravages of time and acid rain destruction. In the years I’ve enjoyed my recreation, I’ve actually witnessed an accelerated degradation to metal  finds. It’s about time spent sharing friendship and comradery with people of similar ideals. It’s honor and respect and returning a precious lost heirloom to someone  who asked for your help and you never ask for anything in return. It’s about volunteering our time to help law enforcement at crime scenes or to help anyone in need  of our skills.

The only monetary profit I ever gained from my recreation was to write a book to help others enjoy the same recreation. The profits went directly into providing a  living for my family when employment was just not enough. The true profit and satisfaction was knowing I taught others to use their equipment well and promote responsible  use of a metal detector. Undoubtably, there are some of us who would conceal a significant find from the rightful owner or do something illegal as a means to their end…  But this is unfortunately human nature and this behavior is not exclusive to any recreation or our critics.

On a more personal level, the rewards of strenuous exercise and fresh air provided by this recreation far exceed the benefits of any pharmaceutical. Since childhood,  I’ve had trouble controlling blood glucose levels. I have an occupation that confines me to a drawing board and in later years, a computer. Any weekend spent walking miles  in the sunshine outdoors, bending over, kneeling, retrieving targets and standing back up again to do it all again countless times has a significant effect on glucose levels  no pill or injection can compete with. My recreation is probably the reason why I’m still here to write this.

For years, our detractors have continuously fought to restrict our rights and want eventually to make our recreation become illegal and give themselves exclusive  rights to dig and touch OUR history. During this time, the majority of the archeological community has consumed precious public resources trying to eliminate our recreation  and influence lawmakers. Many legislators are finally realizing we Detectorists are not the monster threat they were lead to believe. Currently a few lawmakers are seeing  this “inquisition” as a self-preservation tactic to insure a livelihood. If our critics were to succeed, not only will they deny people a healthy lifestyle, they will destroy  American metal detector manufacturers and the employment they provide.

Without metal detectors, the archeological community would not have the major discoveries made recently in Great Britain such as the largest cache of Saxon gold  artifacts in modern time. Even before this grand discovery, the English government adeptly recognized the significance of the metal detectorist as an important resource…  The British government has intelligently resorted to rewarding their responsible detectorists rather than prosecute them. They financially compensate the landowner and  detectorist for the value of the find so it can be preserved for public view for ALL to appreciate and learn from. If the item has been found not to be a major significance,  they allow the finder to simply keep what they found. A fair system we should adopt in the USA to get significant finds into daylight more quickly. Without this cooperation  we shorten precious time in which great discoveries can be made. Conventional archeology in the U.S. today cannot compete with powerful swift commercial land development.   Wait long enough and nature has a way of reclaiming historical artifacts permanently. Punishing a people’s recreation is not the means to making great strides in  archeology.

However, not all archeologists are our detractors, at least not the progressive few. Significant history changing data was gathered at the battle site of Little  Big Horn because a few forward thinking archeologists realized they could work with detectorists and harness our skill for the good of all. In effect, they made their  own occupation easier, faster, and promoted good will instead of destroying it. The volunteer detectorists I’m sure made the project significantly less costly as well.  Many of us, myself included, would be honored to serve on any project like that. This was a small step in the right direction, why is there not more of this  happening today?

In summation, I hope these words help to convince everyone we need to work together and not waste time rescuing our history. When I became sixteen years old,  I started in metal detecting because I knew my family’s financial resources would never support the extended education necessary for my life’s desire of becoming an  Archeologist… Now you know why our “recreation” is so important to everyone.

— Robert H. Sickler Author,

“DETECTORIST, A How-To Guide to Better Metal Detecting

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COMING SOON ON PBS…

Last October Scott Mitchen had the pleasure to preview Bob Kreipke’s film called “America’s Ancient Industry,” at the Ancient America conference in Marquette, MI.  This film tells the story of the millions of tons of the purest copper on earth mined possibly even up to 10,000 years ago. Fifteen years earlier, Bob Kreipke also did  a film on Scott retrieving logs that ended up being the focus on the Ford Motor Company’s Board Room.

Scott Mitchen Diver for Superior Lumber Company

Scott Mitchen

Kreipke’s film produced with Janine McFadden will start on PBS January 3rd at 8:00 p.m. and on January 4th at 12:00 p.m.(this is the Marquette, MI market).  Check the PBS website for listings in your local area. This tells a great story and parallels some of what Scott Mitchen has actually been finding for some 15 years in  the Lake Superior region. In the next few year’s I.E.’s discoveries will be featured on major networks around the globe.

Again, check your local PBS listings for Bob Kreipke’s film and stay tuned for upcoming shows about  International Exploration’s discoveries and articles…

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