Three of us were asked to go to a large Hohokam Village Site to evaluate some recent disturbances - a site where pothunters are known to frequent. They had vandalized it many times by digging in the trash mounds, around the room walls and had collected surface artifacts.
The lovely site lies to the north of Tucson. This area has very gentle sloping hills that afford good site visibility when looking down hill.
We walked the main area and saw boot prints. There were a few ‘collectors’ piles of sherds. No digging though, just some recent animal disturbances. Javelina (collard peccary) love to dig at cacti roots - their handiwork is very distinctive.
We drove the many dirt roads that surround the site then parked upslope of the site. We decided to sit in the desert and look down on the site for a time. A nice 'munch' break in other words.
We heard a car. And sure enough some people, we thought two, parked and got out. They began to walk the site. We could see them bending over - picking up stuff!
Val got out her binoculars and hid behind a bush. Mike, who is a photo-buff, said he would take zoom pictures of the vehicle and people if he could. I paced and scanned!
The binoculars passed back and forth. We went from bush to bush trying to get a good view.
“Mike?” I called, as suddenly I could not see him. No response. Val called too. No response.
One of us saw a third person at the site, who had something long resting on their shoulder. Oh Dang! They have a gun - not uncommon for pothunters.
We could not high tail it out of there, as Mike, on photo recon, was not responding to our calls.
Val and I darted across the dirt road into the nearby wash and went into hiding. Hunkered down and out of sight we whispered about “what to do next.”
Finally, we heard footsteps and a twig snap. We softly called, “Mike?” He answered. Whew!
“Mike, we need to get out of here. They are now 3 and one is carrying a gun.”
“No, there are only two. I talked with them and told them they can’t pick up stuff. It is a felony,” said Mike.
“Mike, you should not have gone near them - they had a gun.”
“No they didn’t.”
“Well we saw something”
“You saw the big cow bone I carried as a club!”
We really caught the devil from our land manager over this incident. Here is what he told us to impress on us the “do not approach” rule.
One of his rangers saw a man, woman and 2 children on a site. The ranger approached the family to tell them they were trespassing. The man pulled a gun and chased the ranger. “Never, NEVER approach anyone on site” he said. “No matter how nice they may look they mean business and they can BE mean business.”