This Guy Found What in a Tree?


We have a metal detector that the kids and I like to take outdoors and try to find buried treasure.

Unfortunately, we have yet to recover any “treasure”, and have mostly found discarded junk.

My status with the in-laws is still in recovery mode after I took the detector out for a hike near their house last year.

Following a forgotten path to a copse of trees, the metal detector started beeping like crazy. After a half-hour of digging to remove a couple of feet of earth, I located the hidden metallic objects—-beer cans. Lots of old beer cans.

Yes, I had found a teenage crew’s private beer drinking spot likely from the 1970s.

To add insult to injury, in the old railroad parking area where we had stashed the car, my father-in-law found $1.12 cents in loose change on the ground.

Final score for the outing was: Grandpa’s Wisdom = 1 and Slam’s Metal Detector = 0.

I still have high hopes that someday, we will follow in the footsteps of Maxx Martel:



Maxx Martel, from Glendive, Montana, is known as a man who finds things.

“When I’m out, I look around everywhere. Just yesterday, I found a .45-70 bullet, and an 1857 penny, the kind with an eagle on it.”

Martel’s country is the wide open grasslands and huge cottonwood bottoms of the Yellowstone River. He was born there, a descendant of the Assiniboine and Oglala people that have called it home for centuries. The place is dense with stories of raids and fights, fur trappers and voyagers.

Martel began his life as a finder in 1996, “just trying to find arrowheads,” he said. In 2000, that search led him to discover an entire battle site, the Battle of Whoop-Up Creek, where Sitting Bull and his chiefs led 400 warriors against the 22nd Infantry of Lt. Colonel Elwell C. Otis.

Now recognized by historians, the site near Glendive had been forgotten for over 130 years…

But he had never found anything like what he encountered a couple of weeks ago.

“I was walking in the riverbottom, just looking around,” he said. “I saw part of the butt of the rifle sticking out of a tree, up off the ground.”

Martel had to climb up to where the rifle was hidden, and he found it encased in tightly packed leaves. When he dug it out, he says, it was preserved with what he believes is bear grease. The rifle was in a remarkable state of preservation.

“It really made my day,” Martel said, with his trademark quiet understatement. He took his treasure back to Glendive with him, to the home of Pat Brophy, a gun expert who runs a local rifle and pistol range and is a licensed firearms dealer.

Brophy examined the rifle. “It fits the description of a Springfield Armory rifle, made sometime between 1847 and 1852,” Brophy said.

“The barrel bands and all that are identical to the photos I have in my books.” But the rifle has no maker’s mark at all.

Brophy says that this is not necessarily unusual. “That rifle design was mass produced by just about everybody at the time. It was a very common rifle, the main rifle of the Civil War.”

Asked if he was surprised at Martel’s find, Brophy said, “I’ve hunted artifacts with him before. He is the luckiest person at finding things that I have ever known...”
Any guy that can reach into the hollow of a tree in the middle of nowhere and find an 19th Century musket has my respect.

Now, can he be on call later in the week when I misplace my car keys in the house?

Note: Photo was used from this article in the Billings Gazette.

11 comments:

Ann T. said...

Dear Slamdunk,
I have always wanted one of those detectors. I think it would be great to find pirate's booty and tuna fish cans. It's all about the spirit of adventure. Spending time together. Making stories from old things.

And, for Grandpa, seizing opportunity!

This will be, trust me, a good memory for your kids. Not to mention granddad's triumph. . .

Sincerely,
Ann T.

Erin said...

Wow. I have never been that lucky. Maybe I've just never paid that much attention.

mrs. fuzz said...

Fun read! i'm liking the little personal insights into your home life. :)

Seems this Montana guy is destined to find stuff. I see a lot of metal detector guys at the park I frequent with my kids. I guess I'm generally weirded out by these guys because they end up waving the detector in between the swings WHILE I am swinging the kids and sometimes will start digging even though risking being kicked in the head by a 3 year old. We usually leave or go to a different part of the park. One time one of them approached me and gave my son a toy he had dug up. Thanks?

ooglebloops said...

A metal detector is on my Xmas list - has been for many years!! LOL We could use one to locate the arrow my husband lost while sighting his bow!!! We are in civil War country and I'm sure we would find great stuff- that rifle was amazing!!!

Stephanie Faris said...

A man in Tennessee found an original copy of the Declaration of Independence in a thrift store. He bought it for $2 and some change. He did some research online and found it was one of 200 originals. Sometimes rare treasures can be found, although it's definitely rare.

Ashley said...

Wow that is quite the find! haha
I've always secretly wanted to take a metal detector out for a stroll.

Slamdunk said...

Thanks all.

@ Mrs. F.: Hopefully, I have not revealed too much of my cluelessness.

We try not to be intrusive with our metal finder and have not yet knocked over any kids at the playground for a possible penny. Interestingly, one of our parks put up a sign that forbids 50 different things including metal detecting--maybe they have had complaints there as well.

@Oogle: I'll have to watch your blog then for reports of your big finds.

@Ashley: We see professional looking users walking on the beach alot. I am assuming they find good stuff or they would not go to the effort. There are several local historical areas that I want to explore, but it will have to wait until warmer weather.

Dan said...

The problem with detectors is that there is a lot of clutter in the ground around here - both natural and man-made. But I have always wanted to explore some areas.

Somehow I don't think I'd ever find a musket though. More like old hand forged nails. Sigh.

Holly said...

My hubby talks about getting a metal detector all the time and about how he had one when he was younger. I am sure my son would love it.

torn blazer said...

your blog is looking so good...have a happy christmas vaction

angelcel said...

I'd love to have a go with a metal detector. Considering the ancient Romans settled here and then the Germans occupied the island in WWII there is a chance that I could either find Roman gold or an unexploded bomb. No prizes for guessing which I'd prefer! :D

Love the new look site BTW.