How a Metal Detector can help you Uncover the Past & a Small Fortune

ABC News
Beyond The Headline
How a Metal Detector can help you Uncover the Past & a Small Fortune

Armed with metal detectors, a group of “diggers” fan-out across the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania focused on a mission; they are hunting hidden treasure.

For people like Ric Savage, a retired professional wrestler and host of Spike TV’s "Savage Family Diggers,” searching for buried treasure isn’t just a hobby, it’s also an addiction.

When Ric Savage was 9-years-old his parents gave him an old bullet as a gift. “I’ve never lost track of this bullet, my whole life,” says Savage. It was a gift that Savage credits with fueling his obsession with uncovering objects lost to the past.

“Every artifact tells a story, even if it’s something as small as a bullet,” says Savage. And it’s that story which has brought Savage and a group of fellow diggers to the snow covered fields of Gettysburg. They are interested in finding items like belt buckles from the Confederate army, buttons, and bullet shells that were fired during the Civil War.

And while they stress they are hunting because the prospect of touching a piece of history that has been buried close to 150 years excites them, they are also hunting relics and artifacts in order to make a financial profit.

“Confederate stuff is the most valuable,” says Savage, “the confederacy only existed for 4 years and. . . everything they manufactured themselves . . . it’s rare and it’ll never be made again.”

Ric’s wife Rita Savage is the group’s researcher. She pours over historical documents and information looking for a location that offers a promising spot for unearthing historic artifacts. For Rita, hunting buried relics is a lot like going to a casino and playing the slot machines, “It’s like when I pull and it comes up a winner, to me, I’m a winner, I can’t explain that it just feels good.”

Although Rita and Ric only uncovered a bullet on this hunt her passion for digging up the unknown is keeps her coming back. “It was a bullet today, yes, maybe tomorrow will be a bucket of that gold or a bayonet or a buckle.”

For Ric Savage, the joy isn’t really about whether he does or doesn’t find a bullet or a belt buckle, the joy for him is the hunt itself. “It’s the excitement of what may still be out there that nobody’s found yet,” he says, “It’s an addiction, it really is.”