Prehistoric Thoughts…

by forrest fenn

Many of the objects in my collection are significant in a very small depiction of world history. Most are more interesting than they are important. Nevertheless, it is necessary for me to remember that each piece represents who we once were in a time that used to be, and that I will never be anything more than its temporary custodian. 


WW2_Iwo_Jima_flag_raisingTucker Wyche was a veteran of the ground fighting on Iwo Jima during WW-II, and was left with some noticeable physical and mental scars, especially physical. His wife said that his medical needs were abandoned by his country, and I guessed it was true.


“When war is rife, and danger’s nigh,
‘God and the soldier’ ‘s all the cry.
When the war is o’er, and the danger righted,
God is forgotten, and the soldier slighted.” *

 The small Wyche ranch in Northern Arizona was sparse of grass, which interpolated into few cows. So Tucker found comfort in the saddle wandering through the tangled cedar brakes trying to find new-born calves ahead of the mountain lions that were constantly on the hunt.

Once, when I was riding with him, we happened by a small rock shelter that was hidden behind a knot of cottonwoods in a tight canyon. The cave-like dwelling had been inhabited in prehistoric times as was indicated by a few pot sherds and lithics that scattered around the floor.


There also was an old, Copenhagen snuff can from the 20s or 30s, I guessed. It made me wonder if Paleo Man, 10,000 years earlier, also had taken refuge in that little space.

IMG_0708Against the back wall was a stone-outlined hearth. I scraped in the ashes with a stick hoping to find a few recognizable animal bones that would tell me what the ancient dwellers ate. To my delight I uncovered a 5 ½ inch chert knife that was tightly wrapped with a stretch of sinew. It was enough to make several bow strings. The blade had heavy use-damage on both edges. I guessed that it had been stored in the dead ashes to prevent small gnawing animals from chewing on the sinew, which still looked fresh and usable.

A few short months later Tucker passed away, ostensibly from his war-related wounds, and his wife moved far away to be near her children.

A number of widely varied cultures had occupied that small shelter through some hard times, and then disappeared. Makes me wonder if the residents 100 years from now will again need sinew to make bow strings.

*New Colorado and the Santa Fe Trail by Augustus Allen Hayes 1880


71 thoughts on “Prehistoric Thoughts…

  1. I knew we should have climbed that cliff to the flag 🙂 just joking
    But I believe u can get to it from another area and hike a few miles but we did not do it maybe next year the chest will still be Somewhere:)

    • Tucker has quietly overlapped our generation because of your whisper Mr. Fenn. We see and hear your sweet views of the past so vividly, thank you sir for the break in the now we all live. I always appreciate the time trips!

  2. Mr. Fenn,
    Veterans paid the price for the freedom we daily take for granted. You and your friend Tucker deserve our deepest appreciation for your bravery and service. Thank you for the story as well.

  3. Thanks for another inspiring story. This is a fine example about keeping moving and especially keeping your eyes peeled for the next adventure…The other part of the story is a horrible reality that still happens today. Even after massive change and overhauling the system, the VA can not get it right.

  4. Thank you for another interesting but sad story of one of your friends. We need to take better care of our veterans who give so much.

    this story reminds me that I really should have dug around in that fire pit I saw. 🙂

  5. Thank you Mr. Fenn for such an interesting little story…Once again you are reminding us of things and people so easily forgotten in the day to day business that consumes our lives… 🙂

    I too am appalled by the treatment given our brave wounded warriors by those elected or appointed to “supposedly” public servant positions…It is my feeling that if you are not a vet, you have no place in the Veterans Administration at any level… 🙁

    • Hey samsmith
      God Bless our wounded Vets but it’s not just the wounded Vet’s that hurt. For anyone in the service that had to make the choice of kill or be killed and pulled the trigger then watched another human being falling losing their life because of our training. Well I think you understand, at least I hope so …..

  6. I like the way you place each artifact to the memory of a specific person and/or time. Even though only eighty five percent may be true they are great stories. I’ve collected many souvenirs that are stored away in the basement to remove clutter.
    After reading these stories I ‘ve been wanting the clutter back.

    There are two poems that I revisit more than twice a year to retrieve memories stored away in the back of my mind– Decoration Day and The Meeting by Longfellow.
    Decoration Day was written for the Civil War soldiers but I believe the meaning fits all times.

  7. If there was ever an act so atrocious, so vile, that it crossed all boundaries of political party, skin color, gender, religious affiliation, or economic status, it would be now; when the bureaucrats allow our veterans to die so they can get their bonuses.

    We allow the bureaucracy to threaten, silence and destroy those brave whistle blowers who no longer, in good conscience, can take part in such disgusting behavior. We allow the bureaucracy and politicians to sweep it under the political rug.

    Our country has lost its collective soul. It brings a tear to a hardened warrior’s eye to watch our country be destroyed; not from a great battle fought to the death, but from apathy.

  8. There’s a cave like that on the place I grew up but I’ve never been inside. As kids we were terrified of the porcupine that made it’s home there so we never got too close. I’m sure I can find something in that canyon next time I’m there, I just need to be brave.

  9. Ask yourself this question. Why of all the holidays we get off from work, we vets never have the same privilege. We should be allowed to have a day in which to remember those whom we fought with and fell at our sides. Instead we must labor for the good of others. What a shame. And to think no one stepped forward to fight for that one day.

    Granted, there is some ceremonies to honor our fallen comrades, but it saddens me to think that laboring on that day is more important.

    • Oh, a Federal holiday to remember the men and women who died while serving in the country’s armed forces… yeah, Memorial Day. Is that what you’re talking about?

  10. Hi Mr. Fenn,

    Thank you so very much for your stories. I only hope that my innate ability to find golf balls (mostly mine) in the woods “matches” your amazing ability to find hidden treasures. I already tried the “interpolation” technique with GPS coordinates, but it makes my head hurt.

    BTW…my 16 yr old daughter taught me that…BTW…have you followed the find not long ago in Snowmass of a Mastodon and several other mammals dating back 10,000 yrs. I saw this at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science where they have discovered “cutting” marks on the bones that scientists hypothesize may have come from blades just like you have showcased in this story! They have also found round rocks in the reservoir where the mammoth was found that suggest that early peoples may have used the rocks to weigh down the beast under the water as a “cache” to preserve the kill to be used for future needs. Wouldn’t that be amazing to find evidence of early man some 10,000 yrs ago right here in Colorado? What a game changer that would be.

    Now…c’mon Mr. Fenn…did you apply the water preservation trick with the chest or not? I think not, but you have enabled me to prove myself hopelessly wrong 100% of the time so far.

    thank you again for the lessons…

  11. Makes me wonder if the residents 100 years from now will again need sinew to make bow strings.

    Maybe they will beating corn with rocks in downtown Chicago Fenn ?

      • Far right reaction.

        Stay where are live life and help others:)

        Having some preparedness takes you ahead of the curve.

        Empires rise and fall.

        Which time frame are we in with this empire and why?

  12. I wonder, was this someones home? Were they an outcast or refugee? Was it merely a “hunting” lodge where an individual could spend the night or get in out of bad weather. Or maybe it was a safe place to spend the night on the trail as they journeyed to another village. Or maybe they had a herd and this was where they stayed while their herd ate. I wonder.

  13. Maybe he left it there as insurance. If all else failed on his next hunt in that area, he would have what he needed. He never returned. What a great story and find, Forrest.

  14. As I sit in my comfortable little world, It is due to men like Tucker who served their country. I hope Tucker found solace in his life.

  15. I like that man’s name….. It would be nice if private and public hospitals, Doctors and community leaders stood up to the plate and said “Lets get these Vets in the hospital first thing in the morning, since the Federal government CAN NOT be health providers.”

  16. I like it when my clients tip me with $1.00 . But it’s not enough to get me to Britain so I will just have to stay in Texas:)

    • thanks Amy. I don’t search Colorado, but have lived near Denver and ski the summit each year. I know parts of Colorado and like to research. I’ll give you a shout via email.

  17. Today is a search about the brave something that Flutters in the wind. Way up high. This will be interesting today to see what Duane can possibly find:)

  18. On H2 (History channel 2), last night I watched “America Unearthed”, with Scott Wolter, a geologist who seeks to find the true course of Americas history. This particular episode told of the Clovis culture; the Paleo-Indian migration, UNDISCOVERED, and often hidden/”covered up” sites of archeological importance that are not being revealed…
    VERY interesting program!

  19. Here in lies Forrest’s trickery IMO he never put his gold in a place like the one pictured but he’d like you to believe he did. I don’t think he went into a cave or hole with his box rather the “alone in there” refers to the surrounding area “a canyon”

  20. It continues to inspire me that Heinrich managed to discover the lost city of Troy, by believing the utterances in Homers Iliad, and searching BOTG, for suspected ‘hot and cold springs meeting’ along a vast Turkish coastline.

    ..especially considering the ‘wisest’ advisors of his day were so quick to condemn (re: ‘prehistoric thoughts’) his search as a folly, bourne from the mythical writings of a fictional poet.

    “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.” – Buddha

    • I think it’s a mistake to disregard the old stories and writings.
      Other than the theological parts, which were used to make sense of the mysterious and for social reasons, the actual nuts and bolts of such ancient stories were the historical documents of the times. And great care was usually given to accuracy, because it was important to those peoples.
      I also think that mistreating the truth would have been a sin to most ancient peoples.

      • Some ancient peoples very reputation and livelihood depended on accurately recounting history, even as far back as ancient Egypt.

        hence ‘a man is only as good as his word’? – not sure where that saying originated though, but I like it.

        however, it’s a crying shame that modern society seems to so easily discount a great story as a myth, merely because we lack the knowledge, desire or imagination to investigate all it’s possibilities, yet we can readily believe some obvious fantasies as being truths.

        ..Aren’t we strange creatures Bob?

  21. Everyone
    There is a lady in Texas that has the remains of 183 Mexican people that died or where murdered in the desert. She is a bone specialist and tries to figure out who these people are and get them back with their families. She does all of her work with her funds and funds from private investor’s. She started back in 2004 and ask the government for funds to help with the process of completing her task but the government (our government) turned her down simply saying it’s not their cup of tea… Now if our government does care at all about the deceased then it should show you clearly that they don’t give a …… about our service men.This America is slowly becoming a dictatorship.

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