September 13, 2012

Meet the Diggers

Get to Know KG and Ringy

Metal-detecting buffs Tim “Ringy” Saylor and “King” George Wyant are homespun historians who are fascinated with ferreting out interesting fragments of the past—and who like to have a little fun in the process.

As a profile in the Cedar Rapids Gazette once noted, Saylor “is not above licking a clump of dirt if he loses a bet over finding a silver dollar, but he prefers when his buddy loses and has to wear a prom dress while riding his bike off the dock into the icy Montana waters.”

“We have always had the mindset that the appreciation of history and a sense of humor are not mutually exclusive,” Saylor explains.

Saylor, a native of Iowa who earns a living writing software for insurance companies, says that even as a child he was intrigued with old coins and other remnants of days gone by. He bought his first metal detector back in the 1980s, but didn’t use it much until he moved to Montana a decade ago. “I found my old detector during the move, and decided to try it on my new backyard,” he recalls. “I found three silver coins, and I was hooked.”

Around that time, Saylor met Wyant, a copper miner who also sells seamless rain gutters on the side. “George found out that I had the detector, and because he always wanted one, called me to talk about it,” Saylor recalls. “He did that, even though we had only met a few times and really wanted nothing to do with each other.”

He’s kidding, of course. Saylor and Wyant soon began going out on metal-detecting searches together. “I first got excited when I saw that we actually could find coins—a lot of them,” Wyant recalls. One of his first finds was a 1909 Barber dime. “I was hooked for good,” Wyant recalls. Saylor similarly got the fever when they were exploring an old church and he found a silver Franklin half dollar, a silver quarter, and a 1933 World’s Fair token. Since then, they’ve found everything from buffalo nickels to 19th Century saloon tokens.

The pair eventually formed their own company, Anaconda Treasure, and launched a website that markets books on treasure hunting, “Team ATC” hats, clothing and gear, and the Extreme Metal Detecting DVD series, which captures the pair’s adventures. “We were watching DVDs that we bought on eBay, and they seemed incredibly boring and staged,” Saylor explains. “We began carrying cameras with us on all our hunts, and filmed all the greatest finds, showing our real reactions. We mixed in some ridiculous stunts as well.”

While the pair call themselves treasure hunters, it’s in a tongue-in-cheek way, since most of the bits of the past they’ve found—old coins, guns, rings, jewelry and tools—turn out to have relatively little monetary value. “It’s the thrill of the hunt,” Saylor cheerfully admits. “We don't make money detecting, but rather lose it. By the time you pay for gas, food, batteries, and gear for the hunt, you almost always lose money that day.  If you are in it for the cash, then you should find another hobby or else you are bound to be disappointed. The old silver coins we find are usually worth only $5 or $10 each, so if it were about investing and money, we would be much better off going to the coin store and just buying the coins.”

Nevertheless, they are relentless searchers, spending long days in the field and digging countless holes to find a few humble treasures, while dreaming of the rare gold coins they someday hope to stumble upon. “KG and I are like the honey badgers of metal detecting,” Saylor says. “We have never met anyone who can keep up. It’s always great when you find something valuable or interesting, but we always have fun wherever we go. Like the cliché, it’s not the destination, but the journey. Or however that goes.”

George Wyant aka "KG"

George is a graduate of Anaconda high school. He thought about going to college but figured that a hammer and a shovel fit better in his hand than a pencil. After digging ditches for four months for a local plumber, he thought maybe it was time to try college. Knowing that would entail the reading of many books, he instead went to work at a foundry and ran electric furnaces. After seven years of that, he thought about college once again. Remembering that college would require him to think really hard, he opted to work at a copper mine in Butte Montana where he remains employed today. George is an expert fisherman and hunter.  In 2009, he was featured in the Anaconda Leader newspaper after being attacked by a large black bear 5 miles deep in the forest while bow hunting. (He lived.) An accomplished treasure hunter, George has appeared on ABC's Good Morning America, co-produced and co-starred in Anaconda Treasure's Extreme Metal Detecting DVD series, and is currently working with a world renowned television production company on a show for a major cable network. George and his wife Lori live in Anaconda, Montana, and are the proud parents of two girls, Emily, 14, and Morgan, 11.

Tim Saylor aka “Ringy”

Tim Saylor is a two-time graduate of the University of Iowa, holding degrees from that institution in both German and Psychology, has completed studies abroad at the University of Vienna, and is a certified computer programmer and web designer. The Iowa Writers Workshop is world renowned, and, as an undergraduate, Tim wrote and studied fiction at the university under Bob Shacochis (Easy in the Islands) and David Morrell (First Blood, Rambo). Tim received the German Book Prize from the University of Iowa's German Department in 1995 and the Class Third Prize for the Wiener Internationale Hochschulkurse at the University of Vienna in 1994, and he was inducted into the University of Iowa's Psi-Chi Honor Society. In 1990, Tim recorded tracks on the not-so-critically acclaimed rock band No Spokes' debut album Way Big. An accomplished treasure hunter, Tim has appeared on ABC's Good Morning America, co-produced and co-starred in Anaconda Treasure's Extreme Metal Detecting DVD series, wrote the book Treasure Hunting with Team ATC, and is currently working with a world-renowned television production company on a show for a major cable network. In spite of these achievements, he remains poor and unsuccessful, living isolated in a miner's shack in the mountains of Montana with his son Ian and his Boston terrier "Brick", where they spend their days avoiding bear attacks and searching for that elusive jar of gold and silver coins.

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