By: Garry Clark Brendle
Last year's treasure hunting got off to a late start for me. I had some things going on that kept me from getting out in April, so it was the Friday before Memorial Day before I finally decided to slap some new batteries in my Stingray and head to the lake.
I started the year off with a small gold ring, two gold earrings, and a thin gold chain- nothing great but a good beginning anyway. I had extra time to hunt that summer and spent a lot of time at the lake. The finds kept coming, but never anything spectacular. By mid July the best thing I had found was a heavy 22K charm bracelet. The charms were jungle animals and had gemstones for eyes. Then a little girl came up to me and described it, so of course I gave it back. I usually hit a few heavy wedding bands and a class ring or two each summer, but by August I had found just the average, run-of-the-mill gold.
I had been hunting in previous years with a friend who first got me interested in water hunting. He had recently married, however, and I hadn't seen him much lately. I was pretty much going to the lake to hunt alone. While going, I kept seeing another man water hunting, and over the summer we got to be friends. By August, we were good enough friends to show each other what we'd found, and would stop to chat awhile if things were slow. This made for more enjoyable hunts, and I would sometimes be disappointed if he wasn't there hunting when I arrived.
August rolled around, and I passed the 100 gold item mark for the first time! Yes, that's 100 gold rings, chains, earrings, pendants, or bracelets. Remember, I did not start until almost June, so this was 100 items in about 70 days! Even though I had found nothing big, at least I could feel good about the quantity of my recoveries.
The first week in August found my detector acting up shortly after I had pulled up a nice 14K chain. Incredibly, I had not only worn a hole in my coil cover, but right on through to the coil! Oops! I sent it in for repair but decided in the meantime to buy a new Tigershark. I quickly assembled it, set the discrimination, and raced down to the lake. The new unit was falsing like crazy, but I did find two gold rings. Later, when I got home and read the manual, I decided that I'd better ground balance it next time! It has worked like a champ since.
Now into the middle of August, the finds were slowing down. I had been noticing my newfound friend hunting out of the roped-off area, over to where all the boats pull up. In fact, I had observed him doing this all summer and asked him is he had found anything. He said he had found a few gold rings over there, one of which was a nice 14K man's ring. I kept telling myself that I was going to hunt over there, but never really did.
August 19th arrived, and I had set my alarm to go hunting that Monday morning. I lay in bed debating whether or not to get up and go, eventually admitting that I wasn't going to find anything if I stayed there. So, I made my way to the donut shop and then on to the lake.
I arrived and found my friend there, and realized I had made the right decision. If nothing else, I could talk to my new friend Bob. As I made a pass through one of the "hot" areas of the beach, I saw Bob once again out of the swimming area, working where the boats pull up. I told myself that this time I would hunt my way over to him and see what he had been up to.
Just after I left the swimming area, I started to get a few signals- first a pulltab, then a piece of brass, and then some coins. It was a little trashy, but I was still determined to hunt over to Bob. I was well out of the swimming area now, and was getting a few more pulltabs. Another signal broke the silence as I was daydreaming about what a nice day it was. I bent to pull up another pulltab but opened my hand and saw a big, clear stone staring back at me!
Of course, I thought it was a "faker," as the ring was gray. When I looked closer at the stone, though, it was curiously clear. Then I saw a weird-looking checkerboard cut, and out of the clear stone, colors were flying everywhere. At this point I knew I had found my first diamond solitaire ring! There was no doubt at all about the stone's being genuine. I looked over my left shoulder, then the right, then at Bob, and then behind me. I did this a few times, as I didn't know what to do. Bob somehow could feel the "vibe," and knew I had something. Tired of standing there looking silly, I finally raised the ring in the air like King Arthur and Excalibur and yelled, "BOB!"
I never realized how heavy water is until I tried to wade through it to get somewhere in a hurry. I finally reached Bob and showed him my ring. He said it was definitely a diamond, probably 2.5 carats. Then I read the stamp inside the ring: 10% IRID PLAT. I'd found my first platinum ring, too! Now there was no doubt at all that it was real, just about its size.
Bob took me to breakfast that morning, and we examined the ring some more. He concluded that it was about three carats. Well, Bob my friend, you were right! The appraisal says, "3 Ct. solitaire with two ..07 baguettes on each side." The checkerboard cut, it seems, is a European cut, and I was told that they quit cutting this way in the 1940s. That's odd, as the manmade lake I found it in was opened in 1990. Evidently, someone lost an heirloom.
After 11 years of water hunting, I finally hit the big one! Keep hunting, folks, 'cause you just never know when it will be your turn!