There is an old saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. While that’s true for Chip Kirkpatrick, this Jacksonville man lives by a different motto.
“We’re gonna leave the property in better shape than we find it,” Kirkpatrick said.
Kirkpatrick is a treasure hunter, of sorts. His reputation for finding lost items, free of charge, has spread throughout social media. Kirkpatrick told First Coast News he gets about three requests each month from people who have lost objects in or around their property.
“When you can put something back in their hands that they thought they were never gonna see again, it gets pretty emotional,” Kirkpatrick said.
While Kirkpatrick’s tool of choice now is a metal detector, he has been hunting most of his life. His childhood searches for shark teeth and four-leaf clovers evolved over the decades to a quest for history below the Earth’s surface.
“It disturbs me that so much of our past is in the ground beneath our feet, rusting and rotting away,” Kirkpatrick said.
Inside a display case in Kirkpatrick’s home you can find his own treasures accumulated throughout the years; everything from toys to coins to a button from a Union soldier’s overcoat.
“You can’t help but wonder about the man,” Kirkpatrick said of the button. “Was he young, was he old, did he want to fight, was he forced into it and of course, did he get to go home?”
The most thrilling part for Kirkpatrick is learning about the object and who it once belonged to. But in the past, he has found pieces that need no explanation.
In 1964, Kirkpatrick lost the handkerchief slide from his new Boy Scout uniform.
“Fifty years later I’m driving by the site where we met,” he said. “And on a whim, I pulled in, walked to the spot where I believed I was standing and on the fourth swing, found it. It was about four inches down in black mud.”
Not ever trek produces a treasure, but the lure of what could be hidden just below our feet keeps Kirkpatrick coming back.
“When you find that, you forget about coming home dirty and tired and your back bothering you and all the pull tabs and bottle caps you dig up,” he said. “All you think about is ‘I finally found this thing,’ and there’s no better feeling.”
Anyone interested in having Chip Kirkpatrick explore their property or help find lost objects can call him at 904-868-9168 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.