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Jedi Cacher

Benchmark Hunter or

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I am fairly new to benchmarking and am enjoying every minute of it. It is a great change of pace from geocaching. I signed up for the Benchmark poker run and have discovered in the past couple days that it is a little hard to be discreet while hunting for BM's. Today I found 5 BM's after work but had several people stop and ask what I was doing. I guess it could seem a little wierd that some guy with a backpack and a handheld electronic device wandering the roadside would look suspicious. I had one guy in particular pull up next to me and asked if I needed any help, I then told him "I was in search of BM's and record them, photograph them and report the find", he then responded" why in the world would anybody want to do that". :sad:

 

Is there a trick to the trade to blend in to the surroundings better or is this just the nature of the beast? I thought about wearing a neon vest and carry a clipboard around. And maybe even a cool made up laminated identification clipped on a lanyard for added touch. Except that might be hard to explain if your ever stopped by the cops. :)

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I have only had to explain myself a couple times - as most of the marks I have looked for have been in rural areas. The few times I explained - the folks seemed alittle interested and that was it. Just happened to me today while I was hunting my first usgs mark. see current thread later tonight for the story.

 

If anyone asks - you can tell them you are volunteering for the gov't - which you are.

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Is there a trick to the trade to blend in to the surroundings better or is this just the nature of the beast? I thought about wearing a neon vest and carry a clipboard around.

I do exactly that - it works pretty well. I sometimes get complaints as "why hasn't the city fixed the street". My stock answer "Don't ask me, I just work here."

 

Except that might be hard to explain if your ever stopped by the cops.

I live in New York City. Cops have seen everything. They would probably not even notice is you were naked with a clip board. Now in West Virginia --- maybe they would notice.

 

Seriously - I am proactive. If I see a cop I ask for directions, something like "You wouldn't happen to know how to get to Whatsis Street? I'm supposed to find this survey marker there"

 

Once I was looking for a mark in a Police Training area on their back step. Signs "Keep Out, Authorized personnel only" all over the place. Voice from 2nd story window "Hey wadaya doin"; "I'm looking for a survey marker - supossed to be on the step here"; "What agency you with"; "I'm doing volunteer work for the National Geodetic Survey"; "National -- OK fine"

Edited by Papa-Bear-NYC

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I've never been asked what I'm doing when I'm benchmark hunting wearing my highway worker safety vest, hardhat & dark sunglasses.

 

I've been asked several times when I've been in mufti - but I've learned my lesson - I almost always wear the safety gear now. Makes sense for the ones located near roadways anyhow. Man how I hate to explain what I'm doing. The only LEO interaction I've ever had has been to make sure my car's not broke down, south of St George UT. I was happy to say hi to that fellow!

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When someone stops and ask if you need help, just give them a simple "No" or "No thanks, I'm fine" and don't offer any extra info. Most people will drop it at that and move on. When they do ask for more info, a simple 'I'm looking for a "Survey" marker' will satisfy most.

 

If you keep your answers short, then most people will react as though you know what you're doing and that you belong there. They will also get the impression that you don't appreciate the interruptions to your "work" and move on.

 

Now if someone comes up to you and is just curious about what you're looking for, that is a different matter and it pays to take the time to answer their questions as they may be willing to offer insight as to where the benchmark is located and you could end up making some new friends.

 

The attitude of the questioner determines how verbose my answers are and my tone of voice in those answers.

 

Why? Because I enjoy doing this.

 

John

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Ah. Um. Been questioned by the police twice. Had several people ask me if that land is being sold. One gentleman asked what I was looking for. "I own the land here." "Looking for a benchmark disk, do you mind if I look?" "Go right ahead. I think it's there..." Never did find that one.

But the best was the lady who walked down the street. "I saw you pacing off distances. Are you looking for that disk? I put a rock over it to protect it from the grass mowers. What is it?" She showed me where it was, and I did my best to explain benchmarks to her.

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...I do exactly that - it works pretty well. I sometimes get complaints as "why hasn't the city fixed the street". My stock answer "Don't ask me, I just work here."...

 

That helps with the city's reputation.

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Is there a trick to the trade to blend in to the surroundings better or is this just the nature of the beast? I thought about wearing a neon vest and carry a clipboard around. And maybe even a cool made up laminated identification clipped on a lanyard for added touch. Except that might be hard to explain if your ever stopped by the cops. :)

 

As per previous threads on this subject, dressing the part can be important (a tank-top, cut-off jeans and sandals do not convey an aura of professionalism!).

A safety vest is most advisable, and probably the most effective in projecting the 'worker' image...hardhat, not a bad idea, but I usually wear an Army/Marines camo boonie hat... a PDA, GPS, and camera...I never use a clipboard, but if you have printouts it would be good..

 

Probably the most important and effective (see Papa Bear's post above) is your attitude. You are on an assignment to re-locate and verify the continued existence and condition of an official government survey monument. You know why you are there, and you know what you are doing.

 

Naturally, if a LEO tells you to move out, you do just that!

In my encounters, they just wanted to make sure I didn't need any help.

 

In my encounters with property owners, I have been showed where the mark is, or the owner grabbed a shovel and helped me dig for it!

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Good advice in previous posts.

 

>a cool made up laminated identification

 

This is probably not a good idea. If anyone gets serious about checking you out a homemade "sort of official looking" ID that wasn't issued by any authority is going to make you look more suspicious to the police.

 

A printout of an official NGS data sheet on a clipboard carries an air of legitimacy that supports your truthful explanation.

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only been asked a few times what I was doing - a few others I offered in an attemp to get some help. Happened just today (see nsgs thread). I like to tell people that i am volunteering for the gov't - looking for those "survey disk things" People kinda know what i am talking about - and that is that.

 

Having the data sheets with you seals the deal! Why else would you be carrying a paper that tells you a disk is in the abutment of an old RR trestle written back in the 30's or 40's?!

Edited by frex3wv

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A couple of years ago in South Jersey I was nosing around a small concrete bridge when an elderly couple in an enormous Buick pulled over to question what I was doing. We had a nice chat. They were worried about terrorists, they said. And I appreciate their vigilance: al Qaeda is certainly no match for an octogenarian couple!

 

The one contact I had with law enforcement that I recall was in Northern Virginia, where I was looking for a mark in the wide, grassy highway median. I told the officer what I was up to, showed him my (official NGS) datasheet, even volunteered the images on my digital camera. Didn't want to take any chances. He was a CIA cop, although I'm not exactly sure what his jurisdiction was about a quarter-mile from the gate. Anyway, he was satisfied with my explanation, which is why I am writing this from the comfort of my computer rather than assuming a "stress position" in Guantanamo.

 

-ArtMan-

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In almost 2,000 searches I have only had accommodating folks, and that includes the one LEO called by two ladies at an airport parking lot who were nervous at being alone on a Sunday evening. Nobody has denied me access and few have even shown any interest in what I was up to.

 

When folks ask if I need help (I admit I look a bit lost at times while I am searching for a mark) I simply say "no thanks". Or, if they are locals I may ask them what has changed about the area. I have gotten some good help that way.

 

Many benchmarks are on public right of way along roads, and you have the right to be there. I go about my business as if I belonged there, and as much as any other pedestrian, I usually DO belong there. I never skulk about or act as if I am doing something wrong. Nothing gets you noticed more than looking suspicious.

 

I don't wear a reflective vest (although at times that would be a good idea), I don't tell anyone that I am working for the government, and I don't try to look like anything but a regular ol' guy looking for benchmarks. When asked why I do this, and I do get asked that quite a bit, I tell them it is just my hobby--it gets me outside, lets me meet nice people, see the towns and cities in my area, and it is a challenge. I compare it to fishing and many seem to understand.

 

I am not sure what I would do if someone started grilling me about what I was doing in such a situation. I am sure I would start nice but if they got pushy I would most likely suggest they call the police and have them sort it out.

 

My suggestion to anyone worried about this is to simply act natural, be yourself, and enjoy!

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I had one guy in particular pull up next to me and asked if I needed any help, I then told him "I was in search of BM's and record them, photograph them and report the find", he then responded" why in the world would anybody want to do that". :)

 

 

I hope you didn't state it exactly like that. The guy probably was wondering why anybody would search for a "bowel movement", record it, photograph it, and report the find.

 

 

:sad:

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I tend to dress like a phone company worker and I act like I belong where I am when I search for marks. I've had several encounters with LEOs with zero problems (though I was asked to vacate the premises on two occasions: one was posted public property (former prison) in Lorton, VA, and the other was a manned drawbridge in NJ). I've had many interactions with property owners and local passers-by; again, zero problems. I'm just a retired hobbyist working as a volunteer for the NGS.

 

The dozen-or-so property owners that I've dealt with during my hunts for old Mason-Dixon stones (and the like) have been uniformly excellent social experiences. The owners usually seem pleased that someone is dropping by to take a look at their piece of history. I've done quite a bit of reasearch on the MASDIX stones, and I usually know more than the landowner. If they are at all inquisitive, I offer to write a letter detailing all the history that I know about their stone. Several have taken me up on the offer.

 

Two (of the several) rules I follow are:

One, don't go near schools when school is in session (unless accompanied by the very charming and totally unthreatening-looking Mrs. Seventhings), and,

Two, don't step on private residential property without knocking on the door and getting the resident's OK.

 

Will

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Two, don't step on private residential property without knocking on the door and getting the resident's OK.
Technically.. that's kinda hard now, ain't it? :D

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Two, don't step on private residential property without knocking on the door and getting the resident's OK.
Technically.. that's kinda hard now, ain't it? :D

 

All you need is a whole pile of chopsticks to tape together to push the doorbell from the sidewalk.

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Two, don't step on private residential property without knocking on the door and getting the resident's OK.
Technically.. that's kinda hard now, ain't it? :lol:

 

All you need is a whole pile of chopsticks to tape together to push the doorbell from the sidewalk.

 

Should I cancel my "rock through the window" idea?

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Two, don't step on private residential property without knocking on the door and getting the resident's OK.
Technically.. that's kinda hard now, ain't it? :lol:

 

All you need is a whole pile of chopsticks to tape together to push the doorbell from the sidewalk.

 

Should I cancel my "rock through the window" idea?

 

Depends on how good your aim is.

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I have not been bothered much but then I live in a rural area so no one often pays attention. When someone questions me I just say I am a volunteer doing reconnaissance to locate the mark and update the records.

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Sounds like a hard hat and safety vest is needed. No one bothers folks working, too afraid of being asked to help.

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Two, don't step on private residential property without knocking on the door and getting the resident's OK.
Technically.. that's kinda hard now, ain't it? :)

 

All you need is a whole pile of chopsticks to tape together to push the doorbell from the sidewalk.

 

Should I cancel my "rock through the window" idea?

 

Depends on how good your aim is.

 

When you get old, you sit in your vehicle at 5 A.M. and toot the horn till the people come to the door....they will let do anything just so they can go back to bed! :(

 

Shirley~

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When you get old, you sit in your vehicle at 5 A.M. and toot the horn till the people come to the door....they will let do anything just so they can go back to bed! :(

 

Shirley~

 

Depending on the neighborhood around here, that could get you shot. (Ugh, I've got a couple of neighbors that have people that drop by that feel that's an acceptable way of getting their attention, regardless of what time it is.)

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Best source/price I have found for the Safety Vest ($18.05)and Hard Hat ($9.55) is Costco.

 

726535b.jpg726529b.jpg

 

I get mine from along side the highway where they have blown out of construction vehicles...seriously! :P

The grime and scratches lend an air of authenticity. B)

Hey don't laugh we picked up a hard hat just last week that way.

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Best source/price I have found for the Safety Vest ($18.05)and Hard Hat ($9.55) is Costco.

 

726535b.jpg726529b.jpg

 

I get mine from along side the highway where they have blown out of construction vehicles...seriously! B)

The grime and scratches lend an air of authenticity. :P

 

True, but the worn, dirty apparel says this guy is a worker and should be holding a shovel. The clean but sun faded along with the clipboard says this guy is a supervisor or engineer type. The second type gets fewer questions about what they are doing there.

 

Either one is better than not wearing any safety gear while along a busy road.

Edited by 68-eldo

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True, but the worn, dirty apparel says this guy is a worker and should be holding a shovel. The clean but sun faded along with the clipboard says this guy is a supervisor or engineer type. The second type gets fewer questions about what they are doing there.

 

Either one is better than not wearing any safety gear while along a busy road.

 

This is all good information for the beginner benchmark hunter like myself. Hopefully others can benefit from this info too. I picked up my safety vest last week before hitting a stretch of highway in the country. Even though the road is not that busy, it can be at certain times of the day and as 68Eldo stated it's better to wear one than nothing at all. Besides the safety factor, I also found this added a sense of professionalism and purpose to the benchmarking mission. I got a few looks but nobody stopped this time to ask any questions, I even had a sheriff drive by me and wave. On one occasion a rancher let me park in his driveway and led me to the marker. It doesn't get any better than that. ;) This was a complete opposite experience from my previous outing 2 weeks ago. Could it be the vest, who knows. I also decided to use a different attitude as the 2OldFarts suggested instead of trying to be in stealth mode. Act like you belong there and you know what you are doing, and that you have a job to do. That was also good advice.

 

Also for my neck of the woods I would recommend the Neon chartreuse reflective vest verses the orange. Hunting season started here about 3 weeks ago and if a nearby farmer or rancher spotted you nosing around in an orange vest, you could get into a little bit of trouble with all of the no hunting signs posted all over. On the flip side though other hunters might not mistake you for a deer or antelope. :blink:

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