A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how you could make some extra money by picking up things that people had dropped. If you want to take this a step further, you can take up treasure hunting. Metal detecting, amateur archaeology, and finding other lost treasures can net you anything from a few dollars to millions (although I wouldn’t quit your day job until you actually find something).
Metal detecting is the most common and accessible form of treasure hunting. A decent metal detector can be had for $100. With a metal detector you can hunt for everything from lost jewelry to buried treasure. You can keep your finds or sell them to collectors or museums. You can sell less valuable items privately. Most of what you’ll find will be trash, but you could get lucky like the guy in England who discovered 52,000 Roman coins. That find was worth about one million dollars. Beaches, private land, battlefields, and parks are good places to start.
If you’d rather dig through the dirt than scan above it, you can take up amateur archaeology. You might find the remains of an old village, or even a dinosaur. Your odds are better if you live in an area that has a history of other civilizations or dinosaur activity. For example, if you live in an area first inhabited by Indians, you might have a good chance of uncovering arrowheads or other valuable objects. You might be paid by a museum or government for your find, or you might get something named after you. While most major settlements have been discovered, there are still plenty of smaller finds out there. Private land, rock quarries, and areas near known major archaeological sites (that have not yet been claimed) are good places to treasure hunt.
You can also hunt for natural resources. In the 1800’s it was the gold rush. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, it was the oil rush. Over the years, people have hunted for all sorts of valuable natural commodities. If you own a lot of land or can get access and permission to hunt on private land, you can look for everything from gold to oil to natural gas. If you find a good source, you can sell the land rights to a company that can extract the resources. You can also hunt for gemstones in many areas. Learn which ones are native to your area and how to recognize them in their pure form for the best chance.
If you’re a scuba diver, you can try your hand at locating shipwrecks. While many shipwrecks have been found and claimed by governments and private salvage companies (meaning they are off limits), there are still many out there that haven’t been claimed or discovered. If you find a wreck that has historic value, you might be paid for your find. If you find some treasure, you might get a cut of that, too. Often it’s not the ship itself you’re looking for at first. The ship itself might be buried in sand. At first, you’ll be looking for things like anchors, plates, fittings, or cannonballs. Once you find those, then you have to trace them back to the ship.
Treasure hunting isn’t easy and you need to have a passion for it. It’s generally a lot of sweaty (or wet) labor that yields very little return. However, one big find could set you up for life. Just be certain that you have permission/rights to hunt in certain areas and that you take proper safety precautions. The find of a lifetime isn’t worth it if you get sued for being on someone else’s land or you die at the bottom of the ocean.