Monday, June 1, 2015

6/1/15 Report - Found Old Lead Buck Shot. Hunting Lost Items And Dealing With Dishonest People.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Not The Man In The Moon.
A Small Old Lead Buck Shot Found
I was recently in West Virginia for a couple of days and had the opportunity to hunt the woods where the brother of one of my ancestors, well-known Indian scout Louis Wetzel, roamed during the 18th Century.  I have a couple of interesting books about Lewis and hunting that area makes it very interesting for me because I'm always thinking that Lewis or his brother (my ancestor) could have been at that very spot centuries ago.  I know from the books that he was indeed in that area. from various places and landmarks that are described in the books.

I like hunting the woods and listening to the birds and watching the squirrels and chipmunks and always having a chance at sighting an arrowhead or something (I'll post some arrowheads and things like that from the region some other day).  No people, just the sights and sounds of nature.

It sure is a change from the beach.  The hills are so steep I can hardly hang on them at times.  And the mud, clay and rocks makes it really different too.

You might remember me showing the 1829 Large Cent that I found up there in the woods.  I checked that area a little while again and then moved over a hundred yards or so and was hanging on the side of a very steep hill when I found on old axe head.  That was the first sign of some older things that day.  Then a few feet from there I dug an old lead buck shot.  That was one of my favorite finds of the trip even if it isn't worth anything.

Picture Of Musket Ball Found On Line
For Comparison With The Recently Dug Item.
Buck and ball were used from around the Revolutionary War to the time of the Civil War.

It was very difficult to find that little ball after it was dug.  It was covered with mud and looked just like a small pebble.  I probably touched it several times before identifying it.  It is very small and has a heavy patina.  (I'll get pictures with objects for size comparison.)  The above photo shows the dug buck shot under magnification.

They were made of lead or pewter.  I think this is lead, but not absolutely sure yet.

In the picture of the musket ball that I found online, you can see where the sprue was.  A sprue is the hole where the molten metal is poured into a mold.  When the ball or buck was removed from the mold, material that was in the passage (sprue) to the mold would be cut off.  In the picture of the recently dug buck you can clearly see where and how that metal was cut.  A pinching device, maybe something like a scissor was used.

On the ball shown immediately above you can not see how the cut was made, but you can see where the sprue was, and you can see the seams of the mold.

On the one I dug you can see the seams, but not in the picture.  The one I dug was not as round.  It was a little flattened.  Maybe it was made in a more primitive mold or maybe flattened later.

Buck And Ball Dug At Various Other Times and Places.
Here you can see both a musket ball and buck that I found at other times.  Notice the patina on the musket ball,  The buck in this picture, though, look like they could be modern reproductions.  People are still making their own buck and ball.

The patina and location where the recently dug buck was found convinces me that it is old.

I'll have more on my woods hunting in the near future and some other finds when I get the photos ready.

Robert H. brought up an interesting topic.  Here is what he said.

Was wondering if you could shine some light on this experience or if others have encountered the same. I'm pretty sure you've covered having business cards or a contract with you but I'm not sure you've mentioned when a person looses an item in particular a wedding ring. Knowing when they are lying or when they are serious. I've only been able to do a handful of recoveries for people. I run into it very often when someone tells me they lost a ring but then I come up empty handed. I hear them laugh or look at them seeing them smiling or they say it's only worth so much and I'm convinced they didn't loose anything. Lately I've told them $20 just to look for the item but then they some how convince me to look for the item saying they will give a reward if found. It's left a bad taste in my mouth and I really don't take it too seriously or I will do a quick 5 or 10 minutes search or three or four quick lines of 25 feet length just doing a quick check.   

I'll make a few comments and then let everyone else weigh in. 

There are people who will lie about losing things.  That is always an unfortunate possibility.  There are also,people who will try to claim found items that they did not lose.  I've talked about that in some detail back a few years ago.

Here are some things that will work in some situations.

Before hunting for a particular item, get a good specific description including specific identifying marks such as inscribed names, dates etc.  That is very important.

Don't let anyone see finds unless you have a detailed specific description from them first.  

There are a number of techniques for keeping finds concealed.  One of my favorites when water hunting, is shaking the scoop vigorously while the scoop is still in the water and then while there is near zero visibility, with one motion quickly move the item from the scoop to your pocket without it ever being visible.  Develop the skills of an amateur magician.  You can tell what the item is by feel, and you can inspect it later when you are away from people.

I don't put much stock in contracts.  The main thing they are good for is making clear what the conditions and expectations are.  Don't expect to enforce a contract.  It depends upon the good will of both parties.

Get a defined area where the item is thought to have been lost.  Draw lines in the sand or use other markers.

All observers should stay out of the defined search area while you hunt so that you can run a grid and work the area properly without people getting in the way.  Explain that you can not work an area unless they stay out of the search area.

These days I seldom hunt around people, which solves a lot of problems.

Reading people is an important skill.  Sometimes if you press for a detailed description, dishonest people will stumble around as they attempt to make up answers.  Ask questions that will reveal dishonesty.   Is the ring 24K gold?  A yes answer indicates a probable liar, for example.  Be prepared with trick questions.

How much does it weigh?  Few people will know that.  A too quick, precise or unrealistic answer can be a tip off.

Learn to be a bit of a detective.  Ask a second party and see if you get the same or a completely different answer.

I know that most of us want to believe that people are honest and we want to help people, so we go out of your way to help, but you need to realize that not everyone is honest and you should be prepared one way or another to deal with that.

I don't have any set policy.  I try to evaluate each individual situation and the people involved.  I don't see any problem with asking for $20 out front.  I've known people that do that and stick to it.  If you do that, stick to it. I've never done that myself, but I have no problem with that.  It might be seen as greedy, but it can also save you from a wild goose chase.

It is too bad there are dishonest people, but that is a reality that you have to deal with in your own way.  Be kind and helpful, but don't let people take advantage of you.

Don't expect a reward, promised or not.  Most people don't give a reward, sometimes even if they promised one.  I don't really understand that.  I'd think if someone found something and returned it, it would be natural to offer some sort of reward, but it seldom actually happens.

As far as coming up empty when looking for an item for someone.  It happens.  People often don't know when or where they lost the item.  That is one benefit of drawing a boundary.  You get a good idea if they actually know where they lost the item, and it confines the search to something less than the entire beach.

I often find something good other than the item I was looking for when I hunt for a lost item.  That brings in many of the points I mentioned above.  You need a good description to identify the targeted object.  You are better off not showing or even giving a hint that there were finds.  Keep people away from you and skillfully keep finds hidden.

Those are a few of my first thoughts on the subject.  Please sent your own thoughts and experiences to add to this discussion.


On the Treasure Coast we have a small surf again.  This week we'll have something like one or two feet.  There is a small negative tide again.

Happy hunting,