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Fenn Treasure-Always Assume The Worst

Forrest Fenn

Fenn Treasure-Always Assume The Worst

Fenn Treasure-Always Assume The Worst

As of late, Forrest Fenn has been asked if he could go back in time, would he hide the treasure again?  His response is a quick NO.  When asked why he simply says because of the deaths.


Since the release of the treasure hunt in 2010, there have been searchers who died due to falling, drowning, and freezing to name a few.  However, there have not been any reported searcher deaths from bear attacks or rattlesnake bites.  Things that might be considered a pure accident or unavoidable to some degree.



Each year there seems to be another casualty of the treasure hunt.  This led me to look else where to see if this is typical for these type of things.


France has a treasure hunt that began in 1993 and is still going today.  This hunt has a million dollar prize and a search area that includes the Swiss Alps.  Reported deaths to date….0.  Fandango, a much smaller treasure hunt also has 0 reported deaths.


So it begs the question, what is the reason for so many deaths in the Forrest Fenn Treasure Hunt?  Granted, there are over 5 times the searchers versus the runner up but it has gone on for half the time.  In short, the answer to the question seems to be the allure of simplicity in the clues.



Fenn Treasure-Always Assume The Worst map

Fenn Treasure-Always Assume The Worst


Year after year there are several people who learned of the hunt and feel they have solved it in just a few weeks.  This creates a situation where a person without any experience is now braving the wild for the first time.  To make matters worse, they are fueled by gold driven adrenaline which causes them to attempt to push through obstacles that were never considered.


Here you have a man who designed what I consider to be the best Treasure Hunt to date.  A game that fills our time with entertainment, knowledge, and adventure.  Yet he regrets his creation due to our inability to make good decisions while searching.


After countless BOTG trips through various treasure quests, I would like to share a few preparation tips that I do not hear often that will keep people safe.


• The Forrest Fenn Treasure Hunt is a marathon not a sprint.

The finder of this treasure will not touch bronze with in a month from learning about it. 100%

• Always check the weather

Never go in the mountains in snow or bad weather.  Rain in the summer can give someone hypothermia.

• Always be prepared for an over night stay

Check the temperature lows for the night you are going and pack clothing accordingly.  You may not wear it but its in your bag if something goes wrong.

• Be prepared to leave and regroup

Most plan their route before they have ever seen it in person.  When you arrive, if you encounter fast moving water higher than your knee or a precipice you need to climb, you are wrong.  The     treasure may be where you think it is but you have chosen the wrong way to get there.  Leave, replan, regroup, and resupply then return.

• Always assume the worst

I can jump from one rock to another 5′ apart in my back yard all day long but if there is a 30′ drop off between them in the mountains, it should not be attempted even once.  Falling 30′ will almost always leave one paralyzed and often results in death.  It is not worth the risk but more importantly, it tells you, you are not on the correct route.


Ironically, the question I get the most is the one that poses the least amount of danger, bears.  While bears are dangerous, they pose very little danger if you follow a few rules.


Fenn Treasure-Always Assume The Worst bear


• Bear Spray

Bear spray should be out of the holster with the safety removed when you can not see 50′ in front of you.

• Always talk

Never move silently through the woods.  A bear follows its mother the first couple of years of its life.  When she hears or sees a human, she does not engage and slowly moves away.  The cub follows and learns from her.  He will do the same as an adult.

• No Guns

Never shoot at a bear.  Not only is it illegal but almost always, escalates the situation.  Most people feel empowered when holding a gun but do not realize how accurate they must be even with a .44M.  If you shoot at a bear 50′ away and hit him in the shoulder, he will likely feel as though he most fight for his life and charge you.  Bear spray is much more effective.

• Overall understanding

Any wild animal knows they can not go to the hospital if injured, so to speak.  The slightest injury can cause them to starve or not have the ability to defend themselves properly.  There for they avoid serious conflict unless deemed necessary, especially with humans.  The truths is, they simply do not care about you if they know you are there.


Fenn Treasure-Always Assume The Worst


Responsible Search Season 

(COVID-19 aside)


The search season gets shorter for areas that are further north.  Any searching being conducted a month before or after the areas season is not advised.  No amount or preparation or advise will create a safe environment.  The odds of two people figuring out a 10 year old treasure hunt at the same time is near 0.  Just wait.


New Mexico- April-Oct 15

Colorado- April 15- Oct 1

Wyoming- May 1- September 15

Montana- May 15- Aug 31


Whether you believe the treasure is hidden under a trash can in a parking lot or 10′ from the peak of a mountain, your preparation should always be the same to be successful and safe.  There have been several times I have arrived at something as simple as the trash can all to see something that sends me a few hundred feet away.  Before you know it, you are 2 miles in the woods.


It seems everywhere we look, we see the media dub the Fenn Treasure as “The Deadly Treasure.” Yet every searcher death was due to poor judgement, planning, or preparation.  While sad and tragic, these deaths could have easily been avoided by following a few precautions.  Most of all, they could not have been something the creator could have foreseen given the history of previous treasure hunts.


Lets all do our part this year and conduct our searches responsibly.  There should be no rush.  If you have figured out where the treasure is, it will be there waiting for you so be smart and take your time.  While deaths weigh heavily on the hunts creator, it is detrimental to family.


“The keyword is contentment“(Patience)  


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