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Crow's Nest relic hunt halted Activists angry land disturbed
Relic hunters descend on Crow's Nest; landowner says they didn't have permission to be there

 Stafford Sheriff Charles Jett (far left) and some deputies talk with attorney Clark Leming (man without a hat), who represents Crow's Nest's owner, and some relic hunters who believed they had permission to look for artifacts on the property.
Photos by SKY GILBAR/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 10/28/2006

By MEGHANN COTTER

Crow's Nest was the X on the treasure map for up to 175 relic hunters yesterday.

But unbeknownst to them, they didn't have the landowner's permission to use the property, police said.

Stafford Sheriff Charles Jett and several deputies met with some of the participants, who "thought they were here legitimately," Jett said.

Apparently, he said, a previous Crow's Nest caretaker gave them permission to be there. The man still has a key to the property's gate.

The group even paid him and signed a contract, said attorney Clark Leming, who represents K&M Properties, the developer that wants to build homes on the environmentally sensitive peninsula.

He called the relic hunters "innocent, third parties." Leming shook hands with some of the men after talking with them yesterday evening as a cold rain fell.

Cecelia Kirkman, founder of the Save Crow's Nest preservation group, said she won't believe yesterday's chain of events until K&M properties sues the former caretaker for fraud.

Leming, who reported the trespassers to the Sheriff's Office, said he plans to find out why the former caretaker thought he had the authority to make such a deal. He said he will change the gate's lock by Monday.

Other than a hunting group, he said his client prohibits anyone from using the land.

Activists trying to preserve the 4,000-acre tract's historic artifacts said someone tipped them off to the event.

Kirkman said they woke up early to check things out and saw more than 40 trucks enter the Crow's Nest gate off Raven Road.

The group set up tents and portable toilets on the property, Jett said. Leming said he would let them haul away their belongings this morning.

Participants from as far away as Canada, Alabama and Illinois paid $200 a piece for the three-day competition. Seven teams of 16 people each search for artifacts to win trophies based on how much and what they find, according to the group's Web site

"From my digging buddy Greg," wrote Dan in Eastern NC. "He dug a gorgeous cast officer sword belt plate!!! Other than that just hearing the usual bullets and buttons."

Similar digs have been held around the country for the last nine years. Larry Cisna, listed as a founder and committee chairman of the organization, could not be reached for comment yesterday.


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