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Fact or Fiction: Forrest Fenn and his Treasure

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For those unfamiliar with the story, an eccentric octogenarian man living in New Mexico by the name of Forrest Fenn has hidden a chest filled with "millions of dollars" worth of treasure in the hopes of encouraging people to go outside and explore nature. He wrote a memoir entitled "Thrill of the Chase" and included with it a poem which gives clues to the location of the treasure and the right to take possession of it to anyone that can find it. The chest was supposedly hidden in 2010 and people have been searching for it ever since. In early 2013 it received increased publicity and Forrest even appeared on the Today show promoting the search and giving out additional clues. The chest has not been found, nor will it ever be found, for the following reasons.

The supposed actual chest and actual contents.

The supposed actual chest and actual contents.

Too Many Contradictions by Forrest Himself

Forrest Fenn has come out and said that although he has not revisited the spot where he placed it 3 years ago he is certain that people have searched within 500 feet of it based on emails he has received. He also says that people have figured out the first two clues and went right past the treasure and didn't know it. What?!?! A football field is 300 feet. He's basically saying that people have been a little over a football field away from it and/or walked right past it and didn't find it. How is that even possible? Anyone that is that accurate in deciphering the clues would probably do more diligence in the area than to walk right by it or not investigate the area. These people are there specifically to find the treasure. Random hikers in the middle of nowhere find dead bodies all the time. You're telling me all these treasure hunters are wandering almost within a football field of the treasure and can't find it? Please.

Then to add insult to injury, he goes on to say that he wants to be remembered in a 100 or even 1,000 years when the treasure is found, so he left his 20,000 word autobiography in the chest (point of interest: this article is 3,000 words which means he summed up his entire life with stunning efficiency). Does he even comprehend how long 100 years is, let alone 1,000? A thousand years ago we were still 500 years away from realizing the Earth wasn't flat and that the earth revolved around the sun! This man honestly believes that in a world populated by 6,000,000,000 people, some of whom have apparently been 500 feet away from his treasure, it is going to take 100 or even 1,000 years to find this thing? It's only been buried or hidden for 3 years! The learning curve of "closeness" has whittled the location down to within 500 feet in only 3 years. The square footage of the Earth itself is 5,502,532,127,000,000 feet and we have narrowed it down by 99.99999999999999%. Man, that last quadrillion of a percent sure must be a doozy. The contradictory statements he is making suggests either it will be found soon, if it exists, or he is making it all up.

It should also be pointed out, for the record, that he has fantasized about having his bones buried near or put into the chest after his demise. Let's just forget for the time being that he is going to have to tell someone where to a.) carry a bag of human remains, b.) bury it alongside priceless valuables, and c.) not take the treasure themselves. We apparently are now living in a world where we are reverse grave robbing, i.e. adding bones to priceless valuables rather than taking priceless valuables from bones. He also expressed dismay that a Google search for his father only resulted in a single entry. This guy really really really wants to be remembered. Let's keep that in mind throughout the rest of this article.

So I'm supposed to add his remains, not take this big ass chest of gold right?

So I'm supposed to add his remains, not take this big ass chest of gold right?

But wait, we can't quite leave the contradictory department just yet. As you will see in the next section the poem and clues are extremely vague in the sense that they can apparently get you almost within a football field but no closer. He has said the clues are difficult enough that it won't get found right away but easy enough so that it is not impossible. So somehow he has crafted a riddle so ingenious that people are walking by it but not finding it and it could remain there for 100's or even 1,000's of years. By that time no one will remember anything about the poem and the person who finds it will have had to stumble upon it because I can guarantee you no one is going to be trying to decipher his poem, let alone even know about its existence, 100 years from now. So that basically means either someone will find it before everyone has forgotten about Forrest Fenn or it will never be found. There is no in-between. I reference the previous point that random hikers find criminal evidence and dead bodies all the time in some of the most remote places on Earth. The planet has become a lot smaller in the past few decades.

Maybe the Earth is flat and the treasure fell off the side.

Maybe the Earth is flat and the treasure fell off the side.

The Clues are Ridiculously Vague

For those of you unfamiliar with the poem and clues here you go:

As I have gone alone in there
And with my treasures bold,
I can keep my secret where,
And hint of riches new and old.

Begin it where warm waters halt
And take it in the canyon down,
Not far, but too far to walk.
Put in below the home of Brown.

From there it's no place for the meek,
The end is ever drawing nigh;
There'll be no paddle up your creek,
Just heavy loads and water high.

If you've been wise and found the blaze,
Look quickly down, your quest to cease,
But tarry scant with marvel gaze,
Just take the chest and go in peace.

So why is it that I must go
And leave my trove for all to seek?
The answer I already know,
I've done it tired, and now I'm weak.

So hear me all and listen good,
Your effort will be worth the cold.
If you are brave and in the wood
I give you title to the gold.

He has since given additional clues, including, the treasure is North of Santa Fe in the Rocky Mountains, it is not in Nevada, it is at least 300 miles west of Toledo, it is above 5,000 feet, and it is not associated with any structure.

Forrest has repeatedly said that you do not need a copy of his memoir to decipher the poem and that you merely need the poem itself. Assuming his statements to be true, let's just put aside the fact that some of the brightest minds on the planet work tirelessly to solve mathematical proofs, codes, and historical mysteries for fun. If they could do it and be rewarded with free money in the neighborhood of millions of dollars they would all be switching careers until the money was found. But we are going to ignore that for now and focus on the clues.

The poem is 24 lines long and Forrest has said that it contains 9 clues, although he has not specifically stated which parts are clues and which aren't. In addition he has said that you do not need a map to solve it and that the clues need to be followed in order, which I found particularly hilarious. So basically you don't need a map, the answer is contained in the 24 lines, they need to be followed in order but no one has found it in 3 years. When you examine the poem it is easy to figure out why.

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Although people have analyzed the hell out of this thing the first stanza, IN MY OPINION (please do not comment at the bottom that you have it figured out and I am wrong. If I am so wrong just go get the treasure so we can all praise your genius and get on with our lives), is a throw away stanza. It does not offer any serious concrete clues on where to start although it could affirm your starting location, as we will see shortly. The first real clue, then, is the line "Begin it where warm waters halt." Wow, that's not vague or anything. People have had guesses on this anywhere from the confluence of waters at the continental divide to a toilet. Seriously, a toilet! Because, you know, that warm urine certainly halts when it hits the cool calm waters of your commode. So, basically we have narrowed it down to every toilet, river, glacier, ice pack, tributary, creek, brook, warehouse, farmhouse, outhouse, henhouse, and doghouse (I got that last part from The Fugutive) above 5,000 feet, north of Santa Fe in the Rocky Mountains and not in Nevada. The implications are comical. You might as well say you hid your treasure that is comprised of a needle in a stack of needles the size of China, not including Mongolia.

I think its that one.

I think its that one.

But let's have some fun with this shall we? Before I realized this was all a hoax I actually racked my brain trying to come up with the answer. Being a highly intelligent individual I was sure I could figure out what the rest of the people couldn't. All I needed to do was use my wits and soon I would be swimming in free gold. So I read a bunch of theories and came up with my own and here it is...

There were a million interpretations for the phrase "home of Brown," including, you guessed it, a toilet! It seems that no matter how civilized our species gets poop will always be on our minds. One interpretation intrigued me and that was Brown trout. Forrest Fenn is a huge fan of the wilderness and a case could be made that he was referring to fish rather than a specific person or family. So I read some articles about Brown trout fishing in New Mexico and I learned that there is a river called Rio Vallecitos which has a bunch of Brown trout in it. It is fed by a creek called Placer Creek, which dries up during the summer near its northern most point. This happens above Hopewell Lake, which is dammed. And oh my God, did you know that Brown University was inspired by a school called Hopewell Academy?!?!

Placer Creek flows into and out of Hopewell Lake.

Placer Creek flows into and out of Hopewell Lake.

I'm so close to the treasure already I can feel it. What do we have so far? We have a place where warm waters halt, which is the northern part of Placer Creek which dries up in the summer, e.g. halts. Did you also know that placer is a term used to describe gold deposits and that in the 1880's Placer Creek got its name from the 10,000 ounces of placer gold that were found there? That must certainly be referring to "riches new and old." Placer Creek continues past the dam in Hopewell Lake through a canyon, just like the poem: "take it in the canyon down." And this is where the Brown trout are which obviously is the home of Brown! I ignored the part where it said "too far to walk" because to me walking across my living room sometimes is too far. So I threw that line out because obviously it didn't fit into my interpretation.

So where do we go from here? I'm glad you asked. Placer Creek flows South and although it is not filled with rapids or anything crazy it has small waterfalls and drop-offs which obviously make it impossible to canoe or kayak back up, which aligns with the phrase "there'll be no paddle up your creek." And the fact that I'm talking about Placer CREEK, not a river, seems to fit perfectly. So about 2 miles south of Hopewell Lake, Placer Creek merges with Rio Vallecitos and then heads East. I conveniently ignored the next line about heavy loads and water high because you know, this location is almost at 10,000 feet above sea level so the altitude alone satisfies the elevation part. And with respect to the heavy loads I'm sure it just has something to do with poop again. So I'm on to the next line.

That's Placer Creek flowing south of Hopewell Lake.

That's Placer Creek flowing south of Hopewell Lake.

It says "If you've been wise and found the blaze." Well, we already know I'm wise because I've made it this for but how do I find a blaze? Typically a blaze is a notch, or series of notches, in trees in order to show a direction or path to follow. And I don't have to use a map according to Forrest so I somehow need to find what he is talking about without using a map. Too bad, I'm using one anyway. I stare at my map and well, what do you know? Look at what I found less than a mile East of my current location...

What is that peak over there to the East?

What is that peak over there to the East?

Burned Mountain!

Burned Mountain!

OMG! It's Burned Mountain. A blaze can be anything and in my mind a blaze is a mountain freaking named after one! So I just need to go to the top of Burned Mountain because the next line is "Look quickly down, your quest to cease." This is where I have to stop obviously. But I know all I need to do is get to the top of Burned Mountain and look down and all my money problems are solved. Let's ignore the fact that there is a very small lake called Turkey Lake near the summit. Surely this couldn't be a joke. I ain't no turkey! I just need to get in my car and drive on over there. But alas, I won't, and here is why...

This is just ONE interpretation. The mental gymnastics I have to use to make this location fit into the poem is absurd. And for every location such as this one there are a million other possibilities that also "fit" the poem. You can interpret it to mean it is near Hebgen Lake near Yellowstone because Forrest spent a ton of time there and loved that place. It could be Two Ocean Pass where Atlantic Creek and Pacific Creek converge. The "warm waters" of the Pacific halt where it meets the cool waters of the Atlantic. It could be near the Molly Brown Museum in Colorado. The home of Brown could just be plain old Colorado because it has the word "color" in the name of the state. Look people, this poem is purposefully vague for the exact reason it exists...

The Treasure's Existence Defeats Its Purpose

The poem exists for two very distinct and specific reasons. The first is that Forrest wants to encourage people to get out of their houses and explore nature, especially children. This is a noble cause and one which I would support and encourage if not for the fact that it is used as a subterfuge for reason number two: Forrest Fenn desperately wants notoriety, recognition, and fame. Think about it rationally (this means all you mindless believers can skip to the comment section now). If his goal is to encourage people to explore and experience nature then the actual existence of the treasure defeats the purpose. How is his goal furthered once it is found? Is he going to bury another treasure and give a new poem? The simple answer is no.

Think about it even further. Are we really to believe that some random guy from New Mexico came up with the most ingenious poem ever conceived that is going to encourage people to explore and hunt for some random treasure for hundreds of years? It is so ingenious in it's composition that it can get people within 500 feet but no further and this will remain the status quo for eons? Really? What is the more plausible answer? The plausible answer is that regardless of whether or not he wants people to explore the great outdoors he wants recognition. Why give out extra clues on national television if, as he has stated, you only need the poem to find it? Why include your autobiography with your treasure if your intentions are truly altruistic. Why say you want your bones buried with it? Why mention you were dismayed that your father only had one Google entry? Who cares?! I'll tell you who cares, Forrest Fenn cares. If this man was truly driven by the desire to encourage people to get out of the house he would write an epic poem describing the locations of thousands of small treasure that actually existed, not make up a story about a huge one whose actual existence negates his entire premise.

Someone has already come up with an altruistic way to encourage people to get outdoors, it's called geocaching and you can even do it on your phone.

And the extra clues are just ridiculous. Saying it does not involve a structure. That absolutely goes along with the "get out of the house" reasoning. Worrying about man-made structures is exactly what he doesn't want people to do. And just one more point. He says that it is at least 300 miles West of Toledo but that it is also in the Rocky Mountains. Whah? If he's talking about Toledo, Washington or Toledo, Oregon then it is either in the Pacific Ocean or in the Cascade Mountains, not the Rockies. If he is talking about Toledo, Ohio why even bother with that clue? The closest mountain in the Rockies is over 1,000 miles West of Toledo. And saying North of Santa Fe when the Rockies do not even extend that far South? The stuff he is coming up with is just nonsense that is used to keep his story current, which all ties into his desire for notoriety.

In conclusion, does the treasure exist? Yes. Is it anywhere that the poem will lead you to? Possibly if it points to his house, a bank, a safe deposit box, or possibly his toilet. Is it out there in the wilderness just waiting for someone to crack the most ingenious poem in the history of mankind? No.

P.S. I am well aware that there are people that are in communication with Forrest via email or know him personally. I know there are plenty of people that believe the treasure is out there somewhere. You are free to believe whatever you want. I have simply given my personal opinion and interpretation. I could absolutely be mistaken and if I am I would be happy to admit it at such time that the treasure is found. I am not suggesting that you or anyone else should believe anything I have discussed, so please avoid the flames in the comment section about how you know it exists or how I am wrong or whatever. Happy hunting... suckers.

Update: 10/14/2013

A treasure hunter named Paul Norman believed he had solved it and embarked on an epic quest. He wrote his experience down in a poem of his own. It is fun light reading with pictures about his journey. Unfortunately, he did not find the treasure but his story is quite interesting. And the physical challenges he endured for his age are inspiring. You can find his poem here:


John doe on June 10, 2020:

Hey bud enjoyed your thoughts on this but the poem led me to it and I have announced it to Forrest and the fb groups were also notfied that the chest was found I will tell the solve shortly...haha jk... Lol well some of that was true maybe but probably not except I did not find it and because like you said I have up when I realized that there is no way in hell we can find a location from the vague and non-Directional information in the poem do I believe it was a hoax well I am sure it was but I also think it's possible. I think even at some point inside Forrest Fenns head he truly believed that it could be found using his poem but again I doubt it. He makes sure to mention that it was found usi g his poem he knows he broke so. E laws and that's the reason he had a lawyer from day i e to make sure he did it by the book inside if the loopholes ... No he hid it in his spot but he retrieved it long ago. He did it for game and he did it for money. He said you only need the poem not my book.... But yet says he put hints and / or clues in the book so oh okay of course the book will sell. He scanned everyone and I hope if he slips up he gets caught inoray he does actually. Because of what people lost including lives.

So who found the chest

Can't say because legal matters

Lawyer told him to do it that way

So where was it found again can't say lawyeytild him to do that as well

Isn't it just funny how there is no proof at all none what so ever but yet we are assholes if we call bullshit...

PS I spent on and off three years studying this chase trying to figure it out

Kyle on May 17, 2019:

I loved your article and laughed all the way through it. It's the first one I've read that's not some form of nauseating flattery for Mr. Fenn and is more appropriate today then it was when you wrote it. Nevertheless, I shall foolishly carry on the quest. Thank you.

Andy on February 09, 2018:

And now its reported Fenn is having sex with his searchers. Shoot, forget online dating, I'm starting a treasure hunt.

Kitty Kat girl on October 01, 2017:

A while back I e-mailed Forrest about a video I saw where a Pastor claimed that he figured out the poem, but went to the spot, and it was gone. I asked if it was true. Then, 5 minutes later, I e-mailed Dal to ask if he thought it was true. He said "You've already asked Forrest that, why ask me." So I know that Dal monitors Forrest's e-mail account. What a snotty answer! I believe that there has to be more to this than meets the eye. Something else is going on, even a narcicisst like Forrest probably would not dare try to pull off such a big scam. On the website someone mentioned that the tv show Longmeir had a parody of the chase, and they said that it was designed to kill people. I also wonder if the FBI really found something on Fenn, but gave him a choice to do this scam, or be charged with a crime. For what reason, I would not know, but it is possible.

Kitty Kat girl on April 27, 2017:

Maybe the people of Santa Fe can petition Forrest to call it off, and raffle the treasure chest, with the proceeds to go to his cancer charity. And Forrest gets a big tax write-off. So no one else dies, or gets injured. That is if it exists. Forrest seems like a very nice man. If this is a hoax, then he might be a sociopath. A really really shitty, crappy thing to do. The longer this goes on, the more I wonder. It does not seem possible that so many people have been looking, and he says no one has found it.

PoemTreasure-com on March 22, 2017:

It could be a hoax but even if it's not one still may not be able to keep it legally. I've come up with some other business opportunities, if I find the treasure chest, but can't keep it. I may give away $10,000.00 to nine people who love the thrill of the chase and have faith that I can find it.

The poem and a good map indicates to me, two different hiding areas depending on my two different interpretations of Home of Brown. The first or easier solve that I found is much more apparent than the second solve, but still ambiguous as to the exact location, but much easier to figure out than the second solve, using just the poem and a map. However, when I used the book TTOTC, poem and map then the second solve is spot on and the only obvious solution because it fits all the clues like a glove.

"The person who finds the treasure will have studied the poem over and over, and thought, and analyzed and moved with confidence. Nothing about it will be accidental". My solve gives that confidence.

Gilbert Arevalo from Hacienda Heights, California on March 01, 2017:

I think it is a very amusing story.

Suzie from Carson City on February 14, 2017:

scottie ole may want to switch your brand of booze or favorite drug. The one you're taking is making mush of your brain and a total fool of you........Yeah, "blaze, forge, 32 bears, library & an owl".........friggan amazing. Oh, you sure do think like a kid. a dumb one.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on September 06, 2016:

Hey Brett, I see your article continues to attract attention after 3 years. Well done! Supposedly the chest has been found over a hundred times since you wrote this, that's the amount of times I heard about...I cannot imagine what others have heard. Keep up the good work, as will I.

brettmw (author) from Dallas, TX on September 06, 2016:

Whodat, Dismayed, and Huh... You're the same person, obviously, since the IP addresses are all the same. Why you felt the need to criticize me with 3 different accounts is beyond me. I guess you wanted it to look like more people or something, which is sort of sad. Either way, thank you for your comments.

Huh? on September 05, 2016:

What is your premise? It sounds like you're saying: a) there is no chest; but b) if there is, the poem is impossible to solve; and c) since the poem has taken people so close to the chest that it's ridiculous to think it would remain hidden for a hundred or more years. Yeah, that covers all bases. You should run for office.

dismayed on September 05, 2016:

No, you're not supposed to add his remains and leave the chest. His father died of suicide rather than languishing through a miserable inevitable ending. Forrest thought he had months to live when he moved ahead on the chase and anticipated committing suicide. Did you even read and comprehend anything about this epic search before you started writing?

whodat00 on September 05, 2016:

Yes, you're a cynical, resentful, histrionic wannabe who has not .00000000000001% of Forrest Fenn's accomplishments in life. You have not spent the time to understand the meaning Mr. Fenn attaches to everything he does. Your remark about the implausibility of missing the chest (which might well be buried) from 200 feet in mountain wilderness shows your naivete. You mockingly scoff at that reality. The poem is metaphoric, and while there are hundreds of interpretation, there are finite possibilities. Try using your own brand of confirmational bias to fit every clue/word into a viable solution that meets all of the rules. Searchers are compelled to learn enormous lessons about geography, history, archeology, art, aviation, geology, religion, literature, and more. This chest will probably be found in your lifetime, but when it does you will not speak with embarrassment about your maligning this war hero's good name and altruistic act to inspire people all over the world to pursue lofty goals for the thrill of the chase. What a waste of your intelligence to draft this contemptuous piece.

Wanderer on July 29, 2016:

Very interesting, and somber, reading the comments knowing what about Randy's death. Many people had roles in this tragedy, this result is the fault of no single person.

jen on July 28, 2016:

Randy Bilyeu's remains were found. RIP

Marie222 on June 04, 2016:

There is a lot of vitriol on this web site. I understand it manifests from personal loss and pain, or empathizing with someone else's. Having a villain and scapegoat to direct all that emotion may help bandage some pain in the short term, but I think this is short sighted. I can understand skepticism, but until you have evidence of a hoax, Mr. Fenn is innocent until proven guilty. Maligning him is just poor form. There are numerous accounts of individuals who said they had seen the treasure in his safe and it is no longer there. So it did exist at one point. As much as it hurts to hear this, Mr. Fenn is not the one to blame for Mr. Bilyeu's actions. Mr. Fenn made it more than clear that his box was not in an unsafe place and it would be where an 80 year old can go. This would not include rappelling down a cliff or going into any river in a small inflatable boat. He specifically said he walked to the place he left it. A simple google search would have made available numerous sites with this information. It is obvious, Mr. Fenn’s social experiment is not all perfect and peaches because of the varied human reaction to it. I think he entered into this endeavor with a naïve and generous idea, that he sincerely felt would do some good. There are many people enjoying the hunt and doing it in a healthy balanced way, we just don’t hear about them and they are not on the blog sites. Mr. Bilyeu was human, with human frailties and made some poor judgments that were his, and his alone. He is the one who is responsible for what happened in the end. In life, there are many people who will get misdirected or be tempted to take things to extremes. But they are non-the-less adults who have a free will to make those choices. We can't protect people from themselves and bubble wrap them. Should we then outlaw mountain climbing, parachuting, skiing, driving, alcohol...? Mr. Fenn and many people in that circle, went out of their way to help initially in this unfortunate event. Why would anyone condemn and criticize this? This unfortunately, is one families cross to bear, not everyone else’s… so be gracious when people try to help, as small as it may seem to you. This whole thing hurts. I get that,…it sucks...but you are mad at the wrong person. Grief counseling may help in coping. I am not sure the blog sites are the best place to find peace. I sincerely hope you get some closure and you find your loved one. I am sorry for this happening to you. You and your family did not ask for this.

Its not a hoax on May 23, 2016:

I don't believe it's a hoax. Yes the poem is very vague, and I think that is intentional. He said he hid the chest in hopes that it would get families into the wilderness. If the poem wasn't vague it would limit the search area to a specific geographical area, but as it is written it can lead you to every waterfall, hot springs, canyon, creek in the Rocky Mountains of New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. ff has spent a lifetime hiking, fishing, and treasure hunting in all of these places, and I can only imagine the beauty he has seen. I live in southwestern Colorado and the beauty is undeniable. If the poem wasn't vague everyone who believes it is in Yellowstone or any number of other beautiful places in the Rocky Mountains would miss out on that wonder if the poem directed you to Mesa verde national park where I live. However vague it may be, the person who figures out the clues will probably tell you it's not vague at all, if you can just figure it out. He said in a interview that the person who finds the treasure will go with confidence, and that it won't be stumbled upon. As the poem is written I have struggled with that because it can lead you to all the places I mentioned before. So I believe the poem has to be reconciled in some fashion. He also said that if the clues were followed exactly it would lead you straight to the chest. I think the clues will lead you their, but I don't believe the clues are as apparent as we all believe. I don't think the people who were within 200 feet of the treasure even knew where they were at and if they did know then they obviously didn't have a clue as to the next seven clues. I mean they probably knew they were at a certain waterfall or whatever, but didn't know what else to look for. In other words they hadn't figured out the poem.The fact that the chest has a key and isn't locked makes no difference. He was looking for the right chest for the job, one made of bronze that would not deteriorate while being subjected to the elements for however long it set there. That is the same reason he made the bells out of bronze. Anyway I don't believe it's a hoax, I don't think that is a legacy he would want for his daughters or grand children to have live with. I believe that I may possibly find the treasure this summer, or I may be wrong about where I think it is again. One things for certain I'm looking forward to sharing the Thrill of The Chase with my stepson again as we saw some beautiful places last year while searching. Those are memories I will cherish for ever.

texasrancher33 on April 07, 2016:

I was very sorry to hear about Randy's disappearance. I only learned of the treasure hunt, FF, the poem, and the rest of it within the last few months. I personally have been affected in a very positive way since learning about it. The idea of going on a treasure hunt makes a hiking trip to the mountains seem much more appealing and exciting. Upon hearing about it all I decided to look at some maps and blogs and such and after seeing scores and scores of beautiful pictures that the searchers had taken I decided to take my family on the first mountain trip we have ever been on. Since then we have been hiking at a local state park several times and my 3 year old son has become quite skilled at finding pieces of flint! In just a short couple of months my family has started going out and enjoying nature almost every weekend which has given my son and I something new to bond over. If something tragic like what happened to Randy ever happened on one of my family's camping trips it would devastate me but I would not blame it on a chest of gold, a poem, or the man who wrote it. Keeping yourself and the ones you love safe is priority number one and I am deeply saddened that such an adventurous man who from his pictures looked like he really enjoyed life has gone missing.

Suzie from Carson City on March 10, 2016:

I applaud Linda and her daughters for their tireless search. More importantly, the "NOISE" needs to continue. FF I'm sure counts on stories like this one to calm down and fade away.

Well, FAT CHANCE. Randy's family and THEIR loyal friends are the wrong group to expect to "give up." That's just not going to happen.

I see many people have had to halt their search and perhaps have had to put aside their interest in the search for Randy. This can be understandable, but as time goes on, Linda & family will continue and be able to draw more & more into this mission. As the weather improves, many will re-examine & begin again!

What some people do not understand is that we do not have to give FF any credit for anything. We don't have to even believe him and certainly are not frightened off by the ignorant comments of his cult-like followers who are blinded into thinking the old man is some kind of a god..... Easy boys...FF is just a clever, elderly scam artist...and you bought it hook, line and sinker.

Dean on March 10, 2016:

Your article was a great read & hits home, in my opinion. This thing blew up on Fenn in a huge way, but as always, the rich & influential are protected. If he has a conscience I hope it eats away at him until his last day. Because of this self serving BS, a nice man is missing & loved ones are anguishing. Awful. Really don't know what more someone like myself could do to help except to say that river currents should be studied, that river should be dragged relentlessly & those people who were apparently involved in a gun pulling situation should come forward or be sought out. Fenn certainly has the $$$$ to make any & all of this happen.

brettmw (author) from Dallas, TX on March 02, 2016:

Hey Sunshine. I wish my article could have deterred Randy from going out on his search.

Dean on February 29, 2016:

Thanks, Sunshine. I never got involved with the treasure hunt itself; I know a lady who lives in NM. She told me about that hunt; I proceeded to write Fenn a very harmless post & I got treated like you know what. That was approx. 2 years ago. He's a nasty man with some kind of axe to grind. If someone saw a gun being pulled on another, that should be reported. It's very important. I'm not involved with Facebook; not my cup of tea. You will be in my thoughts for sure & I hope things get done the right way there. All the best & I'll try to post when I can.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on February 29, 2016:

Hi Dean, It's good you got away when you did. I wish you better health. There sure is something rotten going on.

Hi Brett, I just learned that Randy read this hub on 12-29-15 and he still went ahead with his plan! Manipulation of the Mind!!

By the way...I have a Facebook group called Search for Randy Bilyeu if y'all wanna join!

Dean on February 28, 2016:


My pleasure writing to you, & Thank You for responding. I have a chronic health condition that struck me in the prime of life & I have the proverbial "Good Days, Bad Days" thing & always will. The post that Fenn sent to me reeked of anger & guilt. That's the feeling I got from it. Totally inappropriate. Suggests a rich, "Full Of Himself" kind of person. I think his "Associates" are very shady as well. How "Quaint" that he signs everything with "f." I heard that he was accused of Grave Robbing at certain points & that certainly is an important psychological component. Something is "Rotten In Denmark" here, or, should I say, Santa Fe. Fenn could certainly do a heck of a lot more to help find this poor man. I'll bet he's done virtually nothing since that faux helicopter publicity stunt. Every time I look at that nice dog, I feel so awful. And, I agree with Sunshine that the person who witnessed a gun being pulled on another should communicate. That's very important. You have to wonder how much "Clout" & "Influence" Fenn has with higher ups in Santa Fe, because we all know that can make or break a situation. I think the Feds need to get more deeply involved here. I will help if I can offer any advice, etc, which may be useful. I hope that person contacts Sunshine & others about that gun situation. Federal Officials need to take a closer look at this whole situation. Take Care.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on February 27, 2016:

I would like to hear more of this story ... The day I witnesses a gun being pulled on another searcher and demanded he leave his search area was the day this was all too crazy for me. Plus, I'm still on this is a hoax train.

Email me djjmciv ... please!

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on February 27, 2016:

Manipulation of the mind at it's worst. FF might be worshipped by his following, but the majority of people see right through his scam. Week 7 and Randy is still missing. Shame on FF for not being man enough to come forward and help find him besides hovering in a damn helicopter for a couple of hours for the sake of media attention.

brettmw (author) from Dallas, TX on February 27, 2016:

Thanks so much for your comment Dean. I hope you're doing better. And I totally agree with you. It was funny for a while but it's not funny any longer.

Dean on February 27, 2016:

Brett, I have been hesitant to write anything about this situation because I have way too much going on in my life. A couple of years ago, I sent a very benevolent post to Fenn & I was treated horribly. Nothing I wrote should have triggered that kind of a response. I have serious health issues, & was shocked at the total lack of empathy & understanding that this character exhibited. Very disconcerting & I have a real problem with this guy as I think many others do. I believe he found the perfect money making ruse with this thing & the only real treasure involved is his Bank Account. If he isn't a sociopath and/or a psychopath, his conscience should be eating away at him, something fierce. As someone noted, surveillance should be put upon this guy & his associates. I hope for the sanity & peace of the family & friends connected to Mr. Bilyeu, that this man is found. Just an awful situation. Wish I could help more.

djjmciv on February 09, 2016:

Two years later since you've written this and Forrest still contradicts himself. Some say even more so.

Also, we agree again. This chase needs to end.

Good idea Fenn, didn't work. People got hurt. If it continues more people will get hurt because that's what the idea of money and riches does to people. Blocks their reasoning.

The day I witnesses a gun being pulled on another searcher and demanded he leave his search area was the day this was all too crazy for me. Plus, I'm still on this is a hoax train.

brettmw (author) from Dallas, TX on February 04, 2016:

I am so sorry to hear about your ex-husband Sunshine625. As soon as I saw the headline that a man was missing searching for $2 million in gold I knew exactly what is was going to be about. It's a terrible tragedy and personally I think Forrest should do something about what's been happening. Father's have taken their family's on obsessive searches every weekend for months. People have almost died and one may have. He has not inspired your average person to explore nature. He's created a fanatic cult of obsessed treasure hunters that are destroying their lives, families, and putting themselves at risk.

Years ago when I wrote this the hunt and the story was funny. Now it's no joke and Forrest should put an end to it. He should be ashamed and have so much guilt that Randy is missing because he is directly responsible for his disappearance. He should be ashamed of himself but he's too self-obsessed to do anything. I will pray for Randy and if there's anything I can do please let me know.

Suzie from Carson City on February 04, 2016:

As time ticks by & no closer to having any idea what happened to Randy, this becomes such a sad tale. Linda & his daughters however remain strong and steadfast. They have no intention of stopping until Randy is rescued or recovered.

It is encouraging to know of the huge number of people who have rallied round these ladies with help, support, suggestions & ideas in the search. Just to know how wonderful and compassionate complete strangers can be, brings some light to a grim situation.

Each night I think of Randy and ask God to show the searchers where to find him, I ask too that the family is comforted and I can't help but think of little "Leo," missing his master so much. Bless you all. Peace & Love, Paula

The Logician from then to now on on January 28, 2016:

You know there is a simple way to find this treasure if it does exist and I am baffled that some research journalist with a major media outlet with money to back him hasn't done this, which they would have if they believed it could exist, and wouldn't if they believed your analysis is right.

Just put private surveillance on Fenn then print a story that the treasure has been found by someone who has disappeared (appears someone has) with the treasure and doesn't want to be known until he has converted it secretly into cash (or some sort of believable story). Then watch Fenn, see where he goes, because if it exists he'd have to check, curiosity would kill him. If he does nothing, it doesn't exist.

Case closed. The story would pay for whatever expense incurred to follow Fenn, it would make a great story for so many outlets and if he lead them to the treasure, they could keep it as he has already said whoever finds it can keep it.

Mission impossible? No matter what, if people sit in front of the TV for hours to watch people looking for sounds and smells or hair and footprints of a Sasquatch this show would keep them on the edge of their seat. $$$$ for whoever airs it whether Forrest Fenn dies in his recliner of natural causes or leads them on a wild goose chase...It's TV.

The Logician from then to now on on January 28, 2016:

Why does this make me think of the "legend" of Sasquatch, or big foot as it is popularly called on Nat Geo and any and all of the phony shows contrived to keep the public wondering and watching to see if it might exist? (it doesn't).

Likely the answer is this treasure doesn't exist either. Just Google "Forrest Fenn and his Treasure" and read title after title,

Thrill Of The Chase Searching For Forrest Fenn's Treasure ​

The hunt for Forrest Fenn's treasure CBSNews

Has Forrest Fenn's treasure been found? KSL(dot)com

Is Forrest Fenn's Treasure Hidden in Yellowstone?

The Hunt for the Fenn Treasure - Facebook

A millionaire has hidden a chest full of gold in the Rockies

and so on - sounds just like a search for big foot, FF has created the 21st century Sasquatch and is probably tickled to death knowing that like the "legend of Sasquatch" he has created something that doesn't exist but will live forever.

Enjoyed your sober analysis Brett. Just goes to show ya studying history is important because it does repeat itself, over and over and over.

Suzie from Carson City on January 27, 2016:

brett....I have only recently become aware of this man, Forrest and his famous "Treasure Hunt." Due to the article written by a fellow-writer of mine here on Hubpages. "Sunshine625" (who left you the above comment) has become very entrenched in the unfortunate "missing" situation of her ex-husband and father of her 2 adult daughters.

I have to agree with your take on this entire thing. You make a lot of sense. Mostly, I feel this man is more concerned with a "Legacy" than anything else. Whether or not he started out with something benevolent in mind, it appears there is too much plain old "bunk" coming out of the woodwork now.

People's lives are at stake. I don't see why people are praising FF for helping in the search. That's the very least the old man can do! My gut tells me there's much more to be discovered besides an alleged "treasure.:

Great article. You're a master thinker and a fabulous writer!.....

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on January 27, 2016:

Brilliant theory! Hilarious too! Unfortunately my ex-husband has been missing since Jan 5, 2016 while hunting for the treasure. I really wish he would have read your article before he became obsessed and his mind was manipulated two years ago. Kudos to you for hopefully helping to rescue others!

Billy Forester on August 01, 2015:

brett, shoot me a message at

or find me on Facebook: Billy Forester

trust me.

Tyakoka on May 20, 2015:

It appears to some that TTOTC ship of fools is set to sail over the edge of the earth shortly.

brettmw (author) from Dallas, TX on May 16, 2015:

Mason, that is a great analysis as very interesting. Thanks for sharing. I guess you'll just have to rob him to get the chest. :)

mason on May 16, 2015:


The treasure hasn't been found, and will not be found, because the treasure is in the pond at his home. He controls who comes in and out.

Starting at the southwestern border of Santa Fe, near the Airport (he was a fighter pilot), find Aqua Fria (warm water halts where cold water begins). Follow it up to Government Plaza, where numerous Browns have held the judge's seat. Leave Government Plaza to the southeast, taking Canyon Dr. South. As you near the end of Canyon Dr, you will pass a church (meek). Continue down Canyon, but do NOT follow the Santa Fe River up Upper Canyon Dr. The only thing up there is reservoirs and the only road in the area that allows Semi Trucks (heavy loads). Continue past the schools (wise), to Camino Del Monte Sol (Blaze #1), look down to Santa Fe Trail (trail BLAZE #2). Mr. Fenn's home is right there. If you notice, his home is bordering on a forest. Which is the definition of "a wood." When you see the pond, just go in. Don't knock on his door, don't talk to anyone. Just go in, take the chest and leave.

I went and tried to talk to him. He stood on his front porch and didn't say a word to me while his family tried to shoo me away. I was threatened to have the cops called on me, otherwise I would have stripped down and jumped in.

Most people look at the map and say this is not North of Santa Fe, but it IS. North and True North differ by about 9 degrees, based on Fenn's map. Therefore, shooting an azimuth of 90 degrees + the 9 degree declination, anything ABOVE this line is "North."

Fenn has said the treasure is 66,000 links North of Santa Fe. 66,000 links is a surveyor's measurement, equaling 8.5 miles.

The route above is just above 8.5 miles, and takes you directly to his home.

He said he was taking his treasure with him when he died, and that the treasure is where he wanted to die. He sold his multi-million dollar art gallery in Santa Fe to build a home in... Santa Fe. Why not move? He was 60-70 years old when he sold. When I'm 60-70, I'm moving where I want to die.

Now... when you get there, you have to start at the beginning. Fenn's biggest memory was skinny dipping in the warm springs of Wyoming. Then later, he discusses how his family would never go in with him.

"As I have gone IN there alone." He didn't say he went to A PLACE, he said he went IN somewhere. You can go IN a: cave, lake, stream, pond...

"I've done it tired and now I'm weak." Tired can also be used to say you've done something over and over again and now that he's 80, he doesn't have the strength to jump in a cold pond anymore.

Arslan on May 14, 2015:

Need exact clues find at 1st june 2015 at FB page............ I guarantee

John Falshire on May 09, 2015:

ps. start south of Romeo, Co. *You're welcome. COME AND GET IT. You have some catching up to do. I'll leave a note that "Kilroy was here" if I beat you to it. If not, you'll be holding the treasure or Fenn is a liar (to all of us).

John Falshire on May 09, 2015:

Brett, you're so blinded by your blended-humor vitriol for Forrest Fenn (for whatever reason) - you're actually missing all the fun. On a separate note - WHAT THE **** DOES HE OWE YOU? Seriously, I'd really like to know. (FYI: I believe the treasure exists. I am 100% sure that I am 90% there. *Cause you don't stare at a brave in the wood while a blaze is behind a (very) heavy load quickly having the water (come in) high as you sh*t your pants (no place for the meek)'re almost there.) Remember this sequence so my friend and I can prove we were the ones who found it: BF89GV90KHS

Argus33 on May 09, 2015:

Hunt Over- You really found it?! Would you mind please describing in detail the contents of the chest?

brettmw (author) from Dallas, TX on May 01, 2015:

Thank you for the comment Ron!

ron burgundy13422 on April 29, 2015:


This is amazing work. Thank you for providing some clarity to the aimless masses who will undoubtedly continue to search for this. The greatest insight I gleaned from this was the fact that he was raided by the feds and likely is out for revenge. This couldn't be farther from the truth. What better way to get back at the government but to suggest (though not explicitedly state) that the treasure is hidden on federal land! Now you've got 30,000 people tearing up land for years to come AND technology will only improve, making it easier to find things (something a navy pilot knows all two well). He's persistent and will likely continue to be-he hates the government. Also, most people are looking for $1 million to $2 million (just google sell your soul to the devil and read the comments). Also, if it were really out there, why wouldn't he get someone rich to verify this? They wouldn't's nothing to them! For those that will help Fenn carry out his destructive regime,'re being duped. For those that see the light, bravo.

-Ron B.

brettmw (author) from Dallas, TX on April 08, 2015:

Rotfl. Ift's true I deserve a cut!

Hunt over on April 06, 2015:

I found it in a cave behind a waterfall near burned mountain. I've been trying to get a hold of Forrest since yesterday. Want to talk to him before I go public.

Anonymous on March 08, 2015:

I think you found it!

brettmw (author) from Dallas, TX on March 06, 2015:

How you concluded that I have a "predilection to conservative, myopic tea-party politics" from a satire piece is pretty hilarious. Perhaps you have that opinion because of your predilection to progressive liberal hippie nonsense.

Jesse on March 06, 2015:

Perhaps the poem and the clues in it are not the most ingenious ever conceived. A resurrected Alan Turing could not figure it out because it is rife with vague clues and other spoken inconsistencies. The fact that Fenn is human and this whole five year treasure hunt, as its currently written, is not befitting a tight, well-oiled Hollywood script, says nothing of its plausibility. He's stated that he hopes it is not found in his lifetime, suggesting his "get outdoors" mantra/motive continues, but obviously not in perpetuity (a thousand years). Some people can get pretty worked up over the ramblings of an eccentric eighty four year old man. You surely got much further along with your Brown/Hopewell/Burned Mountain thesis than 98% of the populace that fall well below the self-ascribed "highly intelligent" category. I assume you did a little research to come to that semi-conclusion, and my theory is that you, with your predilection to conservative, myopic tea-party politics, got pretty worked up when you did not reach your goal, while you aught to have (I'm preaching to the choir with my normative suggestions) enjoyed the journey, e.g., process. Stating that the existence of the treasure defeats its purpose is akin to saying that I should not live life to the fullest because it will be wasted on death. If the chest is found in 2015, and one million people invested time and faith in finding the treasure, that equals to millions of years that Fenn's legacy has postively contributed, as opposed to the few dozen comments that you've spent time stoking the fire of your Forrest Fenn resentment over these past few pathetic years. Well, that's my two cents and thirty minutes worth. Happy hunting companero!

The Artist on February 17, 2015:

Brett, there is a good possibility that the treasure hunt Fenn first devised did not go off as he had planned it. Only a creative person knows this fact. No creative person can predict what will happen when they submit their work out into the world for all to criticize. If it is all a hoax, then he has a lot riding on the line, and his family is quite large. This would be tantamount to saying Forrest dislikes his family enough to drag them all through the mud by this dishonorable act. He would indeed need to be a horrific person to do this. I don't know him personally, but he seems proud of, and to love his family very much.

Although, it could be that Fenn is just daring enough that he thinks he could get away with it, and it would never come to a persecution for dishonor. Some of his questionable past could point one to this conclusion as well. It is part of the Fenn mystiqu