Everybody has their own story on how they got started in hunting Indian artifacts, and I am no different. I lived for a number of years outside the city limits of St. Louis Missouri in a few small towns in the foothills which surrounds the city. I grew up in what was the country of Indiana, so I like the country life in the small towns, enjoying the people and wildlife.
I was interested in photography at the time, and took a lot of photo's of just about anything. One of my favorite things to do was to go out into the woods and take photo's of the wildlife I would see. Since when I first moved to the area I didn't know many people, this seemed to me to be a good way to spend time, get to know the countryside and just get out. So I'd drive around enjoying the views, and soon found an ideal location for hiking and photo's.
I hiked around the woods, finding plenty of signs of animals. After a while I found a place where I knew I would find some deer, as they had been eating crops in the area. Early the next morning I got my gear and set out for the woods. It was just about sunup when I arrived, so I hiked quickly to the site I had previously scouted coming up down wind of it. When I arrived I saw two young deer busy eating the sorghum. I crouched out of sight and watched them. Every now and then one, or both would raise its head, and look around. Confident that they were safe, they would then drop their head for another bite.
After a few minutes of watching them, I decided to get closer if I could for a better picture. Slowly I straightened up and moved up to the last bit of cover. When both of their heads were bent down, I slowly stepped out from the cover into their full view, and stood stone still. The next time they lifted their heads, they saw me and were probably totally confused. They stared at me for about five minutes without moving; it was the classic stare off. Neither of us moved. The only part of me that was moving at all were my eyes, and they were not moving much.
After about five minutes they grew confident that I was no risk to them and started to eat again, but kept an eye on me. They checked me out every time they raised their head now. They were pretty young and I doubt that if they were older that they would have stayed put for so long. I don't think that I would have the patience now to hold still for so long, but at the time, I was watching the deer intently.
Now every time they both had their heads down at the same time, I inched my way forward, taking baby steps. I started off about fifteen feet from them, and over the course of the next few hours, I inched closer and closer. Finally, I was about eight feet away and decided that I probably would not get much closer, so I took some photo's of the deer without aiming. (Which unfortunately did not turn out.) As I looked at the deer and view, I also looked at the ground by my feet. All through my slow movement I had to watch my step so that I did not make any unnecessary noise or fall down. While looking at the ground once, I spied what looked like a white piece of shiny plastic, in a strange shape, like a broken knife.
After observing the deer for a few more hours up close, I decided to break it off. The deer by now had moved around a bit, but had grown completely accustomed to my presence. Suddenly I just raised my arms, waved at them and said thanks. The deer immediately jumped and ran. I turned around and picked up the white object which I discovered was a broken arrowhead.
Being the first arrowhead that I had found, I did not know anything about their classification or what type of material it was. I looked around the area but did not find any more that day.
That find was the start of my searching for Indian artifacts and the end of my searching for wildlife pictures as my main hobby. I still photograph wildlife when the opportunity arises, but I do not go out hiking now with the sole interest of taking pictures of wild animals. I have seen many different types of wildlife throughout the years I have hunted artifacts, but that's another story.
I became more, and more interested in all aspects of relics and Indians. I started obtaining reference material, researching in libraries and talking to others who have been in the collecting field for years. My own reference library has grown and has an intrinsic value in itself.
I eventually searched the area surrounding that location, and over the next five years found many fine relics both on the hill tops and along the river bottoms. The white broken point turned out to be made of very glossy white crescent chert. Crescent is not too far from that field, and I have many friends who live in Crescent. The point was an Agate Basin, very thin and broken off at about half way.
By Jeff Anderson
© 1996 Jeff Anderson
November 6 2001