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2017-07-20

Digging a passion for arrowhead hunting, collecting

By Raymond V. Carter, Jr. BCHC Research Historian ©2017

Anyone who has the passion or is interested in arrowheads or artifacts knows the thrill of finding a great artifact. Some who have the deep-rooted drive are collectors — amateur or professional — and we share a love for this sport. The true die-hards can remember when and where they found their first arrowhead, no matter how long ago it has been. Some remember details about every finding every point. You can get hooked, and it can become an obsession. Some people hunt artifacts for profit, and some just to hoard or collect their finds— never to sell. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more arrowhead hunters in Bandera County than there are people who live in the town of Bandera itself.
As for me, I can tell you when and where I found my first arrowhead. It was 1965 on Smith Creek in DeWitt County, Texas. And yes, you might call me a collector, never wanting to sell. Now, I have been known to give arrowheads away to friends and family. I’m not much on buying them, but I have. I would rather collect the points that I find.
I have been to a few pay and private digs in Texas and New Mexico. (I spent 21 days at one site.) My family owns land in New Mexico and we did do some diggging in the late 1960s, along with surface hunting.
The first time I went surface hunting was with my stepfather, Joe Dee Cornish Jr., in 1959. We went to the old wooden bridge on the San Antonio River in Goliad County. This camp was in a cornfield and we would go after a fresh plowing, which seemed to sometimes turn one up. The owner of the land did some extensive hand digging along the river, but I never went to where he dug.
Now that I am a lot older and have "some" experience and knowledge, I have the opportunity to participate in private hunts. Over the past several years, I have spent in excess of $10,000 on day digs in Central Texas, not only to find artifacts, but also to experience and learn how these Indian camps and middens first developed. I must say, I have learned a great deal from two lifelong and very well experienced commercial diggers.
I must also say that I am a collector of early Texas history books and in my collection are a few early archaeological books. These old books are referenced a great deal in the newer reprints/books on points found in and around Texas and the USA. These old books are invaluable to me. I have learned a great deal from them, the authors and archaeologists, their writings and findings. But, hands-on and dirty hands have been the best training for me.
My collection, which I keep locked in a vault, includes a nice knife collection. It’s nothing great, but it’s real nice. I have an assortment of points in my collection, too, from West, Central and South Texas, and New Mexico. My collection also includes bone and bone needles, stone and turquoise beads, pendants and drills, and clay pots.
I have been shown some huge and awesome collections with fantastic artifacts; gorgeous works of art that are thousands of years old; collections that are the results of a lifetimes of searching. These collections succeed in making me drool.
Artifact hunting is an educational hobby or profession, and I think it’s a good pastime for a family. Arrowhead hunting is like buying a box of Cracker Jacks: You never know what prize you will find inside. I say good luck and great finds!