Shaped in Stone

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Published on: Oct. 2, 1999

Last revision: Nov. 3, 2010

hundreds or even thousands of years evokes mystery and wonder. They try to imagine the creator of the piece, envisioning him or her fashioning the point around a campfire in preparation for the next day's hunt. They feel reverence for the skill involved.

No matter where in the state you live, there were likely Native Americans nearby at some point in the past, but with a little study prior to your first expedition, you can often find out specifically where they lived and worked, improving your odds of successful hunting. Information should be available through your local library, historical society or through the University of Missouri.

Also helpful are soil maps. These are available free from Farm Service Agency offices located in nearly every county. In addition to showing roads, rivers and towns, the maps identify soil types (like sandy loam) that are often an indication of higher ground--ridges and natural levees in formerly swampy areas--used for encampments.

Pay special attention to locations near existing or former lakes and rivers. Once you've noted a likely area, a plat book available from your county's recorder of deeds will allow you to identify landowners to contact to obtain permission to hunt the ground.

Most arrowhead hunters like to take their trips from late fall to early spring. Frequent rain during those months often washes up arrowheads. Also, the ground is usually cleared of crops and has been turned over at that time, making it easier to spot points or the rock chips or flakes that indicate a good area. Fewer weeds, snakes and biting insects at that time of year also makes the experience more pleasant.

Although all you need to hunt artifacts is your eyes and your feet, you may want to bring along a broomstick with a nail driven in one end. You can use it to flip rocks and turn over anything that looks smooth or edgy. After a long day of walking fields and poking at rocks, your lower back will thank you for bringing this handy tool.

Some Ethical Issues

The courtesies involved in looking for arrowheads and other artifacts include the same ones hunters follow. For instance, the first rule of thumb is to always obtain permission from a landowner before entering private property. Landowners are understandably wary of trespassers, in part because of the actions of a few careless people in the past. Fortunately, in many cases, landowners will be happy to

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