Joe Medallion's Treasure Hunting Tips -- 2014 edition

I supposed that with the hunt starting in under a week that its time, once again, to put together a list of treasure hunting tips. I've done this for the past couple of years now, and stopping just wouldn't be right. Compared to those two years, I'm a little late, but what the heck, right?

Buttons. Buy a button and get it registered. They've been available for over a month now, and have to be registered by January 17 at midnight in order to qualify you for the extra $5000 in cash if you find the puck. Who wants to throw away 5 grand? Not me. Don't count on your hunting buddies to have one, because once again there will be only one finder and one check. If your group's finder (probably the person with the lowest tax bracket) doesn't have a registered button, you're out 5 grand. No questions asked. I know I sound like a broken record, including this tip every year, but its sad to see the number of winners who just didn't do it and missed out on a bigger prize. The hunt that inspired the "only one finder rule" in 2012 was the most recent encounter. Already have a button? Well, if you're reading this, you've got an internet connection so go find the card and follow the web site link. There are no excuses.

Be prepared. This can be taken many ways. One of them is right above this paragraph. Others include keeping your hunting gear in your vehicle. Whether this is your boots, ski pants, shovel, rake, maps, guide books, hat, scarf, etc. Keep it with you. I always look like a dork when I'm out in a park in two feet of snow wearing nothing but my tennis shoes, and so does everyone else who does the same thing. Not only does it look bad but tennis shoes make for lousy traction in the snow bank, which creates a dangerous situation. "I don't go out digging during the day so I keep that stuff in my 'hunting car'" you might say. So does everyone else, but I tell ya, when that light bulb comes on, and you get the urge to go hunt, you will go hunt and nothing's going to stop it.

Get out and hunt. Yes, I say this one almost every year too but its true. There are a lot of armchair hunters out there who live vicariously through the online message boards. Many of those people don't actually expect to find the medallion, or are physically unable to search, and being online is their "fix", and that's OK. But if you really really want to find the puck bring home the glory, you're going to have to go out and look. When I was a kid, my parents figured out the torpedo clue in the 1990 hunt at Como. We even got in the car to drive by the place. No one actually thought to get out of the car and go searching for the $4,000 that was laying in a clump of grass and clay in that snowbank. That was a Tuesday evening in a time when the hunt ran from Sunday to the following Saturday with two clues per day. Had we looked, we could have found ourselves among the list of quickest finds ever. Alas we didn't and even though I didn't have a say in the matter, I do have myself on the wall of shame for that one.

Follow your heart (and your brain). This is related to the last one. If you have a brilliant explanation for a clue, don't cast it aside. Investigate everything. You might not be right. But then again, you might. Knowing that in the end, there can be only one, there is some pride in being able to say afterwards that you correctly figured out a clue. At the same time, follow your brain too. If your idea for a single clue pinpoints one park and you can't make any of the others fit there, chances are you're not at the right park. Look at the 2003 hunt in Como, for instance. Even though many many hunters felt a pull to Harriet Island, there were certain things you just couldn't match up there no matter how hard you tried, such as "wide as triple e". Perhaps that's part of the reason the hunt lasted as long as it did. Everyone was in the wrong park.

Mingle.  Every year the Cooler Crew organizes a Pre-Dig Gig and a Rehash Bash. The Pre-Dig is always the Saturday night before the hunt starts. This year its at Joseph's on Wabasha Street. It's an open event and provides a great way to meet fellow hunters. The Rehash is a potluck picnic usually (but not always) held the Sunday after the Winter Carnival is over (yes, it is also almost always on Super Bowl Sunday), so you need to pay attention to this site to know when that happens. But there's more than just those two events. One, there's always mingling in the parks. Two, there's usually a gathering of hunters every night before the clue comes out. We're expecting that to be at Gabe's once again, but who knows. 

Once again, there can be only one finder. And hunting alone is no fun anyway. A good many hunters will tell you that despite not having found the puck, the friendships they've formed over the years are of far greater value than finding the medallion. WCCO-TV even did a story about it with the Cooler Crew a couple of years ago.

Have fun. 'Nuff said.