|08-25-03: He's on the hunt in Coldwater
|By SHELLEY GRIESHOP
COLDWATER - Ray Eyanson adjusted his headset then slowly swung the long
arm of his metal detector back and forth as a screeching noise broke the silence.
Then he got that look in his eye.
He laid the aging equipment - a 16-year-old Garrett AT3 - on the
ground, slowly bent down with trowel in hand and began to dig a small hole in the soft mud
of Coldwater Memorial Park.
"Ahh, it's just a penny," said the 65-year-old Ohio City
resident as he dropped the coin next to others inside the blue- and white-striped apron
tied around his waist.
Pocket change, rings, watches, that's what he and his wife have
collected for more than 20 years while scanning God's green (and sometimes muddy) earth in
Mercer, Auglaize and Van Wert counties following festivals and fairs.
On Thursday, he patiently scanned the park where hundreds of people
gathered in ankle-deep mud just three weeks ago for the community picnic.
"We were here the last day of the festival and there was so much
mud we knew we'd have to wait for it to dry," he said. "Plenty of people have
been out here before us now."
Eyanson, a retired U.S. Army career man, and his wife of Korean
descent, Bun Sun, are part of a league of treasure hunters that swarm to parks, football
fields and county fairs - anywhere large crowds of people gather and unknowingly leave
bits of themselves behind.
Finding a cache, a term used by treasure hunters for any type of
concealed treasure, makes hours worth of searching worthwhile, Eyanson said. And when he's
hunting more than coins, he gets out his newer model, a GTI2500. It's a graphic imager
that can identify the nature of the find and indicate how far down it's buried, he said.
Within two hours of his arrival at the park, he had confiscated more
than $10 worth of coins, he said. He never makes more than a small divot in the ground, he
said, and always refills his holes to appease.
He claims he's never found anything more exciting than a silver dollar
and has no idea how much change he's pocketed over the decades.
"Once I found an old silver cigarette case but it was mashed up
and not really worth anything," he added.
Eyanson said he frequently runs into other "bounty hunters"
who, like him, enjoy the hunt as a hobby. Most are pleasant and helpful but some can be
competitive, he said.
"Sometimes others will point you in a direction where they
previously had luck. Or that's what they say at least," he chuckled. "You can't
be possessive when you're doing this. It's not like we own the ground we're standing
Eyanson said he routinely asks property owners, whether it's private
property or publicly-owned, for permission before strapping on his bulky arm mount and
gloves. Sometimes he's refused entry, and he takes it in stride.
"We usually hit the fairs but they've been skimpier lately. People
who work the grounds clean up their own areas and some of them have metal detectors,
too," he explained. "But it's still good hunting around the rides."
Eyanson wears a green knee pad on one leg to avoid injury when he must
stoop down on the hard ground.
"Those pennies ... ," he said, cursing their frequent
appearance. "They give you plenty of exercise."
He and his wife like to take their time and look around, he said, his
blue cap shielding his face from the hot sun.
"It's the thrill that keeps me doing this," he said.
"I'm sort of a keeper, not a collector, and someday the stuff I find will end up with
my grandchildren or a nice garage sale."
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