Treasure Hunting Hazards!
Trespassers will be shot on sight. Then we prosecute!
“Not very friendly are they?” my brother, Dan, nodded at the sign hanging on the gate.
“Maybe they have reason not to be,” Paul answered as a blue pickup barreled down the dusty drive toward us. “When we spoke on the phone he said he was having serious problems with treasure hunters.” I chimed in.
Rex slammed on the breaks and stepped out of the cab with his hand extended over the top of the fence. He looked like Santa Claus with his white beard and pink cheeks, all smiles and welcoming us. “Come on up to the house and set a spell,” he said as he unlocked the gate and opened it.
A tall glass of sweet tea in hand, we settled in to listen to Rex’s story.
“I run a cow calf operation here. Have since my dad died and left the place to me years ago,” Rex said. “In all that time I’ve never had any trouble with trespassers. Never really cared if the occasional cowboy or neighbor took a short cut across the place. About a year ago, that changed. Suddenly, I was run over with treasure hunters carrying shovels and metal detectors looking for buried treasure. I don’t much care if they want to walk around in the heat and dig holes in this hard dirt. Mostly, they get tired quick and leave. But those mama cows care. A lot. Last week I had to rescue some fella clinging to a tree while one of those mamas stood under him shaking her horns. He was skinned from top to bottom and white as a sheet.” Rex chuckled.
“Then I got to thinkin’, what if someone got hurt out there. Never mind puttin’ up Keep Out signs, I’d be fighting a law suit ‘till I died.
“What do you suppose caused this interest? Did you plow up gold bars in the south forty?” I asked.
“Nothing that good,” Rex shook his head. “It was Uncle Willard.”
“Uncle Willard dug up gold bars?” Dan asked. We were both puzzled.
“No. This goes back to when Dad and Willard were kids. They had gone to town with grandpa. While he was in the bank doing some business, they got into his jug which was under the seat. They’d been talking about treasure hunting, pirates and robbers. After a few swigs, they got pretty bold and decided they’d go rob the drug store. Willard grabbed an old pistol they found hidden with the jug and stuck it in his pocket…just in case.”
“The boys slipped into the drug store and grabbed a grand total of $3.67 out of the cash box. Most of it was silver coins which Willard dumped into the pocket holding the pistol. Unfortunately, they weren’t the only boys who’d tried that trick over the years. Old Man Harper who owned the store kept a close eye on things. As soon as they started for the door he was hot on their heels. The local deputy just happened to be strolling down the street from the other direction and Dad and Willard were caught in the middle.”
“The deputy saw the pistol handle hanging out of Willard’s pocket and told him to take it out with two fingers and put it on the ground. Scared Willard so bad he turned the pocket full of change out. It went rolling down the plank sidewalk and most of it disappeared in the cracks. Willard was shaking so hard, he managed to pull the trigger and shot off half of dad’s big toe before he wet his pants.”
“Your dad wet his pants?” Paul asked.
“No, Willard wet his pants. Dad fainted.”
By this time we three brothers were laughing so hard tears were running down our faces.
“Granddad whipped both boys and made ‘em work for Old Man Harper all summer for free. They learned their lesson ‘cause neither one of ‘em ever got in trouble again. When we were kids, dad would take off his boots and socks, point at that half toe and say, ‘crime don’t pay, son.”
“Years later, Uncle Willard bought that drug store. Ran it ‘till he died,” Rex said.
“What did he do, bury his money out here?” Dan asked.
“Not exactly,” Rex said. “He made a small fortune with that drug store. Never married or had kids which made it easier. He put every cent in the bank, we think…”
“Willard missed his calling. He was a great story teller. For forty years he told every kid who sat down at his soda counter about the time he robbed his own store. With each telling that $3.67 grew. Last I heard, it was about $3 million. And he’d draw treasure maps. Waybills he called ‘em. He drew hundreds of those things. Unless he needed a hole dug somewhere in his yard, the maps were pretty vague. I have a dozen of ‘em in a desk drawer.”
“So treasure hunters are using Willard’s old maps to dig on your land? That right?” Paul asked.
“Not exactly. The digging started because of Maize Rainfeather,” Rex said. “That’s not her real name. She was born Mable Waters. She made up Maize Rainfeather. Thought it sounded Indian or mystical or something. She’s a little peculiar. Anyway, Maize writes a column in the weekly newspaper. She wrote a series about interesting people, living and dead from around here. Somewhere, she got a hold of one of Willard’s maps. Pointing to outlaw history, Maize eluded to Hell’s Canyon being a stashing place for every owlhoot’s cache that ever slept in the state. Then she conveniently merged stories and wrote how Willard buried over $3 million during the years he ran the drug store and printed that map in the same area which just happens to be in the middle on my property. If you hold the map upside down, Hell’s Canyon sort of looks like the little river and the bluffs in my pasture.”
“Did you ask the paper to print a retraction?” I asked.
“Tried. I said Willard never buried anything and there was no proof he did. They said there was no proof he didn’t either and refused to change Maize’s story,” Rex said with some disgust.
“I can see you have a problem with treasure hunters, but not how we can help. We find lost treasure,” I said. “What is it we can do for you?”
“Well, I want you to do what you do,” Rex said.
“I’m confused,” I said and shook my head.
“Blame Flo,” Rex said.
“Flo’s my wife. Makes good tea, don’t she. Here you want some more?” Rex refilled our glasses and sat down.
“Flo read Maize’s article about Willard and says to me, ‘What if it’s true? What if Willard did bury a bunch of money up here? It would be just like him to do something mean like that!’ Willard cut off one of Flo’s pigtails when we were in school. She’s the kind of woman who knows how to hold a grudge.”
I said, “Flo, you know Willard never did any such thing. For one thing, Willard was allergic to a shovel! She rolled that around in her head for a few days and started again with what if.”
“Finally I asked her what she wanted me to do. “Find the treasure, don’t wait for a treasure hunter to find it!” she said. Never thought Flo would be bit by the gold bug. But bit she is. That’s why I called you fellas.” Rex looked as if that explained everything.
I looked at Dan and Paul. They looked back at me. “Let’s set up our equipment. We can tell you pretty quickly if there’s any lost treasure on the ranch.” I said.
“Mind if I help? Rex asked.
“Depends,” I answered. “Are you allergic to a shovel too?
“Nope, that was just Willard,” Rex laughed. “Come on, I’ll drive.”
Rex’s spread covered two and half sections. Between stopping to show us one sight or another and checking on a couple of cows, it took us the better part of the afternoon to check the entire ranch. We looked for gold, silver, and currency.
We finally ended up where we started, back on Rex’s front porch with more iced tea and a piece of the best chocolate pie I ever ate. If Mama hadn’t taught us better, we would have licked the plates.
“Rex, I don’t know if this is good news or not,” I said. “We didn’t find one trace of hidden treasure on your land. I’m sorry we have to disappoint Flo.”
“Oh, you won’t disappoint her,” Rex said.
“But I thought she wanted to find a pot of gold.”
“That would have been good, I reckon. Once I tell her she was right and I was wrong she’ll be just fine,” Rex said.
“But you weren’t wrong. There was nothing here.”
“Son, there’s two things you got to know. One, you don’t stay married to a woman for 43 years by telling her she’s wrong. And two, you don’t let a woman who can cook like she does go over a little thing like money,” Rex said.
“You’ve got a point there,” I said.
“Tell him the other news,’ Dan said.
“Well, we didn’t find anything on your land. But it looks like there’s something on the other side of the fence on your neighbor’s property.”
“I’ll be,” Rex laughed.
“You going to tell him about it?” Paul asked.
Rex shook his head. “Nope. If he wants to find treasure he can hire you fellas his ownself. Besides, I’ve been thinking about buying a few acres from him. Might want to charge me too much if he thought he had a lost gold mine or something.” Rex winked. “That still leaves me with my original problem. What am I gonna do about the treasure hunters?”
“If you can spare another piece of that pie, I think I may have an idea,” I said.
Later that evening we said our goodbyes to Rex. He was leaning over the gate with its new sign which read: Found it! Dug it!! Spent it!!!
If you are a treasure hunter or would like to find out if the treasure is still on your property, email us or call 480 463 7464.
Click here for another treasure hunt.
cforms contact form by delicious:days
[tag]treasure hunter,treasure hunting,treasure[/tag]