Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 36

RM

| NEIGHBORS

HUNTING
HISTORY
Cassville man finding Civil War relics

always get landowners' permission and don't go
where I'm not supposed to be," he says.
When Dustin finds a site he wants to hunt, he'll
ivil War mess plates. Belt buckles. Railroad
tags. Suspender clips. Keys. You name it try to carve out between 60 to 90 minutes to hunt.
and Dustin Atnip has probably found it How often he gets out varies depending on his work
as an assistant hatchery manager at George's, Inc.,
while hunting around Barry County.
Dustin has been a relic hunter for more than 4 and life at home with his wife and children.
The 38 year old will take his XP Deus metal
years, using a combination of research, technology
and intuition to help him dig up items that paint a detector and find a spot not far from home in
Cassville.
clearer picture of the past.
"I would go hunt other areas, it'd be nice,"
Surveying the outdoors is nothing new for the
lifelong Cassville resident. "I've always been raised says Dustin, who is an administrator on the
in the woods with hunting and fishing in my high Missouri Relic Recovery Facebook page. "But
school years," he says. "If I was with a buddy hunt- it doesn't have the significance of what happened around here. This is where I
ing, we'd end up doing more exploring instead."
Dustin says his dad had a metal detector, but grew up, this is my family's land.
never got into it seriously. But once Dustin started, I'm just interested in what's
it didn't take the Barry Electric Cooperative mem- happened in the area."
Dustin has graduated to
ber long to amp up his interest in the hobby.
"When I started hunting on my own, I was hitting more precise metal detectors since
parks and learning the signals of the detector," he he began relic hunting. He says each machine has
says. "But, when you find your first Civil War bullet its own language with unique beeps, clicks or tones
and you can actually identify it and know what it is; that can help him determine what he may be picking up along with where it is and how deep it is.
then you're hooked."
He says iron is the first thing he looks for as findCassville once served as the capital for Missouri's
exiled southern leaders in the Civil War. So it's not ing it will tell you where there was habitation. "Then
you start picking up better signals, pull them
surprising that most of what Dustin
out," he says. "The more you pull out, the
finds can be dated back to that conflict. Bullets are the most common
more trash layer you can remove and you can
item to find from the time period,
start getting lower. By the time you're done,
although Dustin has found belt buckyou're hitting really small, fine signals."
Once he finds an item, it's back to
les, breast plates and buttons. He can
take the items, such as buttons, and
the research for Dustin. If it's an old
homesite he's hunting, he looks for
research the design to pinpoint not
clues to the dates. Are the nails
only which state the soldier who wore
Cassville
square or round? Is there horse tack
it was from, but also the time period.
or tractor implements? He can cross
Research like that - both before and
after hunts - is one of the most imporreference that information against old
property records to get an even better
tant incentives for Dustin to find and idenidea of the people who once called the place home.
tify worthwhile relics.
"All the really popular places where you know Old military journals and records also are helpful
stuff happened, they're going to be hunted out," he guides to identification, especially on buttons.
The stories behind the items fascinate Dustin.
says. "So you've got to find the places other people
haven't found yet. You've got to be willing to crawl Some of the more unique finds include belt buckles
through brush, in the creeks and find where other or breast plates, but he points to a lead ingot as
one of the most unique personal items. "This was
relic hunters haven't been."
Dustin uses a variety of methods to research carved into a pencil," he says. "Who knows what
where interesting relics may be hidden, starting that would've written? Was it a letter home, orders
with talking to the older generation about the past. to their people or reports back to Springfield?"
Dustin doesn't have interest in selling any of his
"Even if the stories aren't completely true, something started that story in their mind," he says. "I finds. He's in it for the pride of finding new items
had a guy tell me there was a Civil War house in and the historical significance and how it helped
a spot and I hunted and hunted and couldn't find shape the only place he's called home.
"It's good to get outdoors, experience nature and
anything. I moved one hillside over and bam, there
enjoy some down time," he says. "You don't have
it was."
Another strategy employed by Dustin is to use to think about all the problems and stresses of the
Civil War-era maps and overlay them with more world. Just go out and get some exercise, climb a
current maps to see where old roads or sites may few hills and cross a few creeks."
have been.
For more information on relic hunting, you can folDustin's quick to point out relic hunting
shouldn't be mixed up with grave robbing or tres- low Dustin at DustyRelics417 on Instagram or like
passing. "I never metal detect in cemeteries and Missouri Relic Recovery on Facebook.
by Paul Newton | pnewton@ruralmissouri.coop

C

36

RURAL MISSOURI | JANUARY 2019

Dustin Atnip of
Cassville uses his XP Deus metal detector
to find to find pieces of local, Barry County history including,
from top, old coins, Civil War artifacts and bullets under the
ground. The lifelong resident hunts the areas he researches for
about 60 to 90 minutes at a time.



Rural Missouri - January 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - January 2019

Contents
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - Intro
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - Cover1
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Rural Missouri - January 2019 - Contents
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Rural Missouri - January 2019 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - Cover4
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