Is it legal to hunt arrowheads?
Yes it is legal to surface hunt arrowheads on private property in all 50 states.
If you hunt someone else's land, be sure to get permission.
Can I hunt public lands?
No, it's not legal to hunt on government owned land, including state parks, national parks, national monuments, Corp of Engineer reservoirs, National Forests, or Bureau of Land Management land.
It's a misdemeanor ticket for even picking up an arrowhead off the ground in any of these places. The fine is $225 per artifact. Don't hunt artifacts on public land. There are privately owned lakes you can hunt, but be sure to stay off public lakes and reservoirs.
Can I hunt on public waterways?
It depends on what state you live in, and the laws vary widely. For example, here in Missouri, it's legal to hunt public waterways, but in Florida it's illegal to pick up arrowheads on the river. Every state is different.
What about digging?
I don't want you to think like me. I want you to think.
I do not recommend digging for beginners. There are moral, ethical, and legal issues you may not be aware of. Remember that it is illegal to dig burial mounds or anywhere you suspect there are human burials, even on your own private property.
A lot of people dig up archaeological sites for fun, but the truth is it's not necessary to destroy archaeological sites just to get arrowheads.
Hundreds of Indian camps are being dug up during land development and road construction, on a vast scale nationwide. With a little effort it's possible to salvage the artifacts from these sites that are currently undergoing wholesale destruction.
This is covered in detail in my book Arrowhead Adventures.
ARROWHEADS and the LAW
ABOVE: Winter hunting in Missouri after a large flood event. Floods create erosion, and erosion knocks out arrowheads!! In Missouri, it's legal to hunt up to the normal high water mark.
This does not include the 100 year flood plain.
Stay out of people's pasture and crops!
In the photo (above right) you can see where recent flooding has just washed the bank clean. This is CLEARLY the normal high water mark. No person could build a permanent structure where the normal flood plain reaches, this is in fact legally considered a public highway in the state of Missouri.
See Chapter 4: Arrowheads and the Law- The chapter includes detailed information on the legal relationship between citizens, landowners, rocks, and public waterways.
See Chapter 10: Archaeology and Ethics- Learn the facts before you dig. Being ethical is up to you, so I lay out all the information you need to make your own decision.
See Chapter 11: Digging the Past- Information on digging techniques and salvage archaeology.
REMEMBER TO BE FRIENDLY, TALK TO PEOPLE, and ALWAYS ASK PERMISSION.
DO NOT TRESPASS. YOU MIGHT GET SHOT!
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The goal of every arrowhead hunter is to hunt legally, ethically,and with great respect for ancient cultures.
Your best bet for doing this is to surface hunt artifacts on private property with permission of the landowner.