On any given day, one might find neighbors Ron Swisher and Jim Kenney roaming through Marietta or another local community with metal detectors in their hands and ear phones on their heads, bound and determined to find a treasure buried deep in the soil.
"I got started in this about the late 60s, early 70s when metal detectors first came out," said Swisher, 57, of Marietta. "I started out coin collecting - it's less expensive to find them than it is to buy them."
Swisher and his neighbor, Jim Kenney, 67, hunt for treasure for a few hours just about every day, so long as the weather cooperates.
They do most of their hunting in Marietta but they have ventured to places including Caldwell and Barlow. Some days, they use old maps to determine where might be an interesting place to hunt, and spots where there used to be schools or railroad tracks really spark their interest.
Kenney said it was Swisher who got him started with the hobby about three or four years ago. It seemed to be a good fit with Kenney's other hobbies - silver smithing and coin collecting.
"It's a good way to pass the time, especially when you're retired and you need excuses not to do things," Kenney said. "It's mostly exercise - going out and not hanging around and being a couch potato."
Join a metal detecting or treasure hunting club so you can learn from others.
You will find spots that others have never hit by doing research and studying your local history. The Internet is a useful tool for doing this and documents from the library can also be helpful.
The best place to use your first metal detector is on a beach. Dig everything until you learn the different types of signals.
An area that has been well hunted or over hunted should be detected after a big rain because wet ground has more conductivity and you may find deeper buried objects. Also keep in mind that after a hard winter, the ground shifts after it thaws so it's a good idea to go back and check again.
Be respectful of others by covering holes.
Keep in mind that metal detectorists get a lot of attention. If you don't want to be bothered, start your day early or search when it's raining or at night.
For Swisher, it's the thrill of not knowing what he's going to dig up next that keeps him searching.
"It's not just coins - there's a lot of jewelry and old relics and tokens from years ago," he said. "There's so much in the ground it's never going to be found, so we go out and look for stuff like that and collect it."
Kenney said Swisher is a more organized treasure hunter than he is, which is evidenced by the database Swisher keeps that contains the details of all his findings.
In the past two years alone, Swisher has found 17,442 coins, including 575 silver coins and 3,400 quarters.
Although he's been searching all over with his metal detector for decades, the neatest thing Swisher ever found - a 1915 $5 gold piece - was buried about 50 feet from his house. He dug that up just last fall and he said it's worth between $500 and $600.
"There are guys that have hunted 30 years and never found one," he said.
Early this spring, Swisher found a 1791 pillar dollar in the median strip on Warren Street in Marietta.
"It was a Spanish coin used in the U.S. when the colonies were first started up and it was legal tender until 1912," he said.
Kenney's most prized find, a diamond sapphire ring, turned up in Tupper Park in Marietta last fall.
"I cleaned it up and the wife wears it from time to time," he said.
Another piece of jewelry the pair found, a bracelet, didn't look like much until they did a little research and discovered it contained an ounce-and-a-half of sterling silver.
"We thought it was an old junk bracelet when we dug it up," Swisher said.
The pair primarily find coins in the ground, and according to Swisher, that's really no surprise considering the U.S. Government says there are more coins in the ground than there are in circulation.
Both men keep the valuable items they find - especially the old coins and war relics - unless they're able to return them to their owner.
"Part of what we do is be a friend to the people," Kenney said. "If you find a family heirloom in the yard, you give it back to them."
The pair have also been known to return class rings to whatever school is engraved on them, so they can be returned to their rightful owners.
Both are careful to hunt only where they're allowed to hunt and they are also very careful about replacing the ground they dig up, so no damage is done, they said.
"A lot of people see us in the parks metal detecting and say, 'You should come to my house and check it' but we don't go anywhere we don't have permission to go," Swisher said.
The men say when they take to the streets with their metal detectors, they get a lot of looks and in many cases, end up in lengthy conversations with folks who have just as many stories to tell as they do, but they don't mind at all.
Youngsters, in particular, usually take an interest in the treasure hunters.
"Sometimes you can't get in the hole because a kid has their whole head in seeing what you're doing," Swisher said.