No good deed goes unpunished.
In the case of some magnet fishers who cleared 86 rockets, a tank tracer round, and .50 caliber ammo belts from a river on Fort Stewart, the toll was a number of fines by Fort Stewart Conservation Law Enforcement.
The group, led by treasure hunter Bryce Nachtwey, called the bomb squad after their magnet fishing dredged up the ammunition and 86 rockets in a Delta Airlines duffel bag, saying they were just trying to do the right thing.
The exchange played out on Nachtwey’s YouTube channel: Outdoors Weekly.
A Fort Stewart Military Police officer called to the scene noted that he had never seen something like this, and needed to check in with his command to see what next steps to take. However, upon arrival, the federal game warden with Fort Stewart Conservation Law Enforcement ticketed them for magnet fishing off the Fort Stewart bridge.
“I didn’t see any signs,” said one of Nachwey’s teammates.
“You’re all gettin’ tickets, you can come to court and talk to a judge, okay?” the warden said. “The reason magnet fishing is not allowed is because of exactly what y’all got right there. You don’t know what’s going to blow up and not blow up.”
The alternative to tickets would be to go to jail, he added.
Nachtwey said that he and his team had called the DNR ahead of time, which purportedly said magnet fishing is legal as long as it’s in a “green zone.”
However, the warden stated that red (off-limit) and green (acceptable) zones don’t apply in this scenario because the group was on Fort Stewart property. Because the base is owned by the Federal Government, the Department of Natural Resources has no authority to issue such permission.
The warden issued three tickets each to Nachwey and his two compatriots — two $130 tickets and one $80 ticket — for magnet fishing at Fort Stewart, entering a closed area and not having Fort Stewart permits.
The trio’s federal court date is Sept. 9, 2022.
(Correction: An earlier version of this story listed the game warden’s employer as the Georgia Department of Natural Resources)
Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digital Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.