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    May 2007
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    Central Ohio Detectorist in the newspaper!

    It's here! http://www.lancastereaglegazette.com...ID=20104110306

    Lancaster man looking for treasure with metal detector

    LANCASTER -- On any given day, one might spot Lancaster resident Mike Haer in an open area with a metal detector in hand, looking for his next small treasure.

    Sometimes his searches, which have most recently taken place in the back parking area of the Fairfield County Fairgrounds, yield insignificant items, such as pop cans or pennies.

    Other times, he'll come across a unique coin or two that's usually valued at no more than a few dollars.

    His rarest and most exciting find at the fairgrounds so far? A Civil War button he unearthed in the same spot where the soldiers conducted their training, he said.

    For Haer, the search is more about the history than anything else. He knows he'll never get rich off any of his finds -- and that's fine with him.

    "To pull something out of the ground that has been there for 150 to 200 years is just amazing," Haer said. "People think (those who search with metal detectors) make money at this or get rich, but that's not the case."

    Haer now hopes to educate others about his favorite hobby -- and teach them how to properly search for items with a metal detector -- through a new group he helped start up called the Central Ohio Metal Detectors Group.

    Starting this week, the group will meet once a month in Columbus. Haer said he welcomes anyone to join the group, regardless of whether they are new to the hobby or have been using metal detectors for years.

    In addition, he's been busy promoting the hobby through his Web site, an online forum called http://www.buckeyetreasurehunter.com/forum that's attracted the attention of hundreds of metal detector enthusiasts.

    He said his main goal is to educate others about how to properly use a metal detector -- which includes always asking for permission at every site hobbyists search, as well as filling and closing up every hole they dig. Haer said he will not use his metal detector anywhere unless he gets permission; many sites, such as local parks, don't allow metal detecting, he said. Other sites, such as the fairgrounds, allow people to use metal detectors only in certain areas.

    He said he also wants to help banish the stigma some people have of those who use metal detectors.

    "I want to educate them that we're not making money at this -- many of us do it for the thrill and are willing to donate our finds to museums," he said.

    Haer, who's been using a metal detector for eight years, said that's what he hopes to do with some of the objects he's uncovered from various sites throughout Fairfield County.

    He has a number of items he located from one local site -- including a 1795 Spanish Half Reale coin and various old buttons and arrowheads -- that he would like to donate.

    "I can remember going on field trips as a child and seeing the relics," he said. "That's what got me interested in history."

    The only items he plans to keep for himself are the less valuable coins he's uncovered through his searches, all of which are worth only about a couple dollars each.

    Among that collection, he has a couple of unique finds; two of his favorites are an old book clasp with an evil-looking face in the center and Boy Scout coin with a swastika and the words "good luck" on the back.

    "I thought, 'Why on earth would a swastika be on the back of a Boy Scout's coin?' So I did some research and found out that, before Hitler's reign, a swastika was actually considered a good-luck symbol," he said.

    Two other unique finds he plans to hold on to are a turn-of-the-century Wetzel bottle and a bottle with the title "Mrs. Winslow's soothing syrup." The "Mrs. Winslow's" bottle prompted him to do a little more research, which led to a startling discovery.

    "I found the soothing syrup was for babies who were teething, but the syrup had morphine in it and ended up actually killing a lot of babies," Haer said.

    It's history like that, all discovered via his metal detector, that Haer said has made the time he has put into the hobby all that more worth it.

    "I used to hunt and fish, but now I just do metal detecting as much as he can," he said. "I just love the thrill of it."

    Michelle George can be reached at (740) 681-4342 or mgeorge@nncogannett.com.


    The Central Ohio Metal Detectors Group meets once a month in Columbus.

    To attend, contact Mike Haer by phone at (740) 415-6537 or e-mail at buckeyetreasurehunter @yahoo.com.

    To learn more about Mike and metal detecting, visit Mike's forum at www.buckeyetreasurehunter.com/forum.

    Photo caption: "Mike Haer digs a hole to uncover a piece of metal he found with his metal detector at the Fairfield County Fairgrounds. Haer got permission to be at the site and said he always replaces the plugs, or patches of dirt, he digs up. (Lindsay Niegelberg, Eagle-Gazette)"
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