2005 Pioneer Press Treasure Hunt clue writer talks red herrings, the holy rule and more — all in verse

Hundreds of treasure hunters dig and sift the snow around a large overturned tree as they search for the Pioneer Press Treasure Hunt medallion at Bald Eagle-Otter Lake Regional Park late Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016. (Pioneer Press: John Autey)

Hundreds of treasure hunters dig and sift the snow around a large overturned tree as they search for the Pioneer Press Treasure Hunt medallion at Bald Eagle-Otter Lake Regional Park late Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016. (Pioneer Press: John Autey)

Editor’s note: This article ran in the Sunday St. Paul Pioneer Press on Jan. 23, 2005. Also: Many hunters asked versions of the same question.

Q: Many people claim that the medallion isn’t hidden until the end of the hunt to make it go to the 12th clue…is this true? If it is indeed a fallacy, when is the medilion hidden, and how often is it actually found much further then the original hiding spot? -Erin Abbott

Q: I’ve been searching for the treasure every year for about 23 years. I’ve always wondered if the medallion is actually “placed/hidden” before the first clue is written. Or, is it placed half way through the length of the hunt? Sometimes, there is no snow on the ground and that’s why I’m wondering. -Pam

Q: I have a general question for you: do you medallion-people actually hide the medallion BEFORE you start the clues or is it possible that you hide it after a few clues are published? Is there any rule requiring you to hide it beforehand? It just seems that in previous years the medallion should have been found long before it was despite hunters turning the exact area upsidedown for days beforehand. -Guy L Deutschman

CLUE WRITER: We plant the puck for all of you
Before we publish the first clue.
While our rhymes may leave you confused, perturbed,
The item, once hid, is never disturbed.

Q: What happened to the green doughnut last year? Did the medallion get moved by a hungry animal?

CLUE WRITER: The donut was real, our scheme incredible
To hide it in an item edible.
We suspect a creature, singular or plural
Snagged it – anybody seen a gooey green squirrel?

Q: Do the rules state that the medallion must be in a park, or can it be under a mailbox, like the old days, or anywhere in St. Paul? -Travis Roste

CLUE WRITER: The rules state, in order to find the bounty
Look on “public land in Ramsey County.”
But NOT on the Capitol Grounds, nor at Como Zoo
Golf courses and construction sites are off-limits too.
One more place where we will NOT bury it
Is the lovely but isolated Island of Harriet.

Q: Dear Clue Masters, I am curious if you all follow the chatter and theorizing of the hunters? I think that it would be a totally awesome experience to write the clues, but I would be just dying to know what people are thinking during the hunt, (i.e. – was that clue too difficult? too easy? laughing at some of the off the wall ideas people pull from the clues, etc.) -Samantha

CLUE WRITER: The chatter gets so loud, Samantha
That we hear it — that’s our final ‘antha.
We hope, once the search is done
That all join in the spirit of fun.

Q: I have been searching for the medallion for over half of my life and I appreciate the opportunity to ask the clue writer(s) a question! Before I do, however, I want to thank the writers, and the Pioneer Press, for such an awesome tradition. I lived in Nashville for two years and flew back every January in order to participate in the hunt. Ultimately, the hunt played a large role in the decision to move back to Minnesota this past summer. Is there any type of “extra” planning that is necessary if you should decide to hide it in a smaller park – given the number of people who search for the medallion? -Chad

CLUE WRITER: A smaller park
Can be a lark
When, after dark
Someone shouts, Hark!

Q: How and why were you chosen to write the clues? Do you plan to see the movie, “No Time For Cold Feet”? — Eric M. Langness

Q: How many years do you get to be a cluewriter? -Rebel

CLUE WRITER: Our newspaper writing grew flat and terse
And went, alas, from bad to verse.
Leave our viewing habits alone, willya?
If we told you that, we’d have to killya.
Into secret territory you have wended,
As to our term, it’s open ended.

Q: Do you ever have multiple locations picked out for the medallion hiding place – one hard, one easy – then depending on how well the clues are being deciphered, decide which location to go with, say after 8 or 9 clues?

CLUE WRITER: Let us say this again, very slowly,
One rule above all is holy.
The puck is hidden before the first clue
And not moved — the rest is up to you.

Q: I have a simple question. I’m a member of the Cooler Crew which you know of I’m sure. It has been long wondered if you ever visit any of our online communities to track our movements or ideas during the hunts. Have you ever visited www.coolertimes.com or the peoples forum and read our postings? We would be interested in knowing if you find humor in some of our ideas and comments during the hunt and if you haven’t visited will you in the future? Thanks for this chance to speak to you one on one. -OTS (Dan Firestone)

CLUE WRITER: A crueler crew we never knew
Suggests we’re familiar with all of you.
We find hunting clans, papa and mom,
On our virtual home, Twincities.com.
Nuance, outrage, timely rumor
We enjoy your off-beat sense of humor.

Q: Is your goal to have the hunt go to 12 clues each year? -Clue Master Brad

CLUE WRITER: As to the number, here’s the news:
We like a long hunt, but don’t count the clues.

Q: My question is regarding the places chosen to hide the medallion, although It remains a mystery to most of us as to whether you are the person to choose the hiding spot; Why in the world would you choose potentially dangerous places to hide the medallion?

I ask because the hunt is a family event for us and I would never have allowed my eight and ten year old boys to search in such places in Como and in Phalen. I would like to see the tradition of this event continue to be open to all ages. -Victoria Taylor (aka Scribe with the Coolercrew)

CLUE WRITER: We want the Taylor lads to search
But leaving Como and Phalen in the lurch
Would detract from our wintry mission.
Please hunt, boys, with proper supervision.

Q: You’ve become somewhat notorious, oh servant of Boreas
For knowing if we hunters are getting colder or hotter.
For some guessing is laborious, but there are so many more of us
Who are just dying to know if you keep watch with a spotter? -David Allison aka Allison Wonderland

CLUE WRITER: Tho’ you think us crazy as a loon
Our only spotter is St. Paul’s winter moon.

Q: This is an honor to be able to write to you. I have looked for the medallion for about the last 25 years. A few times I have walked right over it, and a few times I have dug right by it. To me the medallion is like Santa to a kid; you know that it is real, but never see it. Maybe this year it will be mine. How long before the hunt begins to you research the location and start writing the clues? — Mike Neveu

CLUE WRITER: Hunters and gatherers, those who hike,
We wish y’all could hunt like Mike.
As to when the writers begin to collude,
It all depends on weather and mood.

Q: Are the cluewriter(s) Vikings fans? Will the hunt ever go beyond Saint Paul? -Matt Smith

CLUE WRITER: As easy as they come and go.
The answers are: (when they win) yes, and (usually) no.

Q: How do you feel about how people got so bent out of shape about the hunt of 2003 when everyone thought it was at Harriet Island when in fact it was at Como Park.

CLUE WRITER: Hunters, our friends, we respect your mission,
But false leads are part of the hunting tradition.
Just when you think you’ve got your bearing
What you’re snaring may be a red herring.

Q: Do you think that the clues you write are hard but not too hard that they are impossible to figure out? Last year, i felt that several of them were very very difficult. I know that you have to make them hard but not impossible.

CLUE WRITER: To take a tone ever so breezy
No one said treasure huntin’ was easy.
Like Don Quixote, you’re on a quest
Work hard to find it, then give it a rest.

Q: What types of documents do you read through to get clue ideas?

CLUE WRITER: History, place names, geographic marks
In and around our lovely parks.
When, like the ancients, all else fails
We seek inspiration from squirrel entrails.

Q: Are the explanations that are printed in the paper written by the name people who wrote the clues or by someone else? Are they written at the same time as the clues?

CLUE WRITER: Those self-same clue-writers, who inflict so much pain
Are also called upon at the end to explain.

Q: Is it fun to do the treasure hunt? And do you do all the legwork yourself, like find the park, hide the medallion, and write all the clues? Can you really tell nobody what you are doing? — Morgaine

CLUE WRITER: Yes to questions one through three
The magic of the hunt is a delight to see.

Q: Do the clues sometimes mean more than what’s reflected in the after-hunt summary? There’s often some good stuff in there that doesn’t get pointed out in the “answers”. Maybe I just noodle too much. -Lori Larson

CLUE WRITER: Our rhymes are silly, we cannot lie
There’s less to them than meets the eye.

Q: About how long does the process take to pick a park, hide the medallion, write the clues? And is this in addition to the other things you do at PP, or do they give you the time to do this? -Rebel

CLUE WRITER: It takes so long, for so little praise,
We’re thinking of asking for a big fat raise.

Finally, these two questions show our eternal dilemma.

CLUE WRITER: The mad dash after the final clue has become dangerous and somewhat self-defeating for those who hunt the entire 12 days. Can we expect to see changes in upcoming hunts? -Lisa

Q: I just hope the clues this year are really hard to figure out…It is much more fun for everyone If the treasure is not found until the very last day…everyone gets a chance to participate and makes the carnival even more exciting. -Debbie.

CLUE WRITER: These two queries give us indigestion,
To be easy or hard — that is the question.

Copyright 2005 Pioneer Press.