🍀Find a penny, pick it up, and all day long you’ll have good luck. Cool. 

💰If you find an arrowhead and keep it, Idaho law enforcement will slap you with a $225 fine and a misdemeanor. Not so cool.

the FIND, the CRIME

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, any artifact discovered on public land is federally protected. So, not only is it unethical to keep an arrowhead, it’s also illegal. Other federally protected artifacts include pottery, basketry, rock art, medallions, and metals.

the WHY

On the rhyme and reason behind public policy, a flippant "because I said so" from Uncle Sam never wins us over. Why aren't finders keepers when they discover one of the coolest artifacts around? The answer can be summed up in two words: archaeological record.

Collecting artifacts disrupts the archaeological record. What is MOST significant about an artifact is its placement or the structure and composition of a site. Once an artifact is moved, that information is lost forever. You may sketch or photograph artifacts, but never dig in an archaeological site or collect artifacts from the ground surface. -USDA



Likewise, it’s also a federal faux pas to hunt on government-owned land. This includes:

  • State land
  • National parks
  • National monuments
  • U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers reservoirs
  • National forests
  • Bureau of Land Management land


iFish.net is a forum for the angler community. Given the time they spend in Idaho lakes, rivers, and streams, Gem State anglers regularly encounter Native American arrowheads. With respect for the law’s conservationist nature, the angler community understands the policy, but some would prefer a compromise.

Personally, I think it would be good for all if there [were] some sort of a compromise with respect to a person who stumbles [onto] an arrowhead on public land. There are places where a person who finds one is required to report the find to the DNR within a [certain] time period, fill out a form, and let the artifact be photographed and recorded. This way, the DNR, or whoever gets the information about the artifacts, and the public isn’t just an adversary, but an active helper in gathering information about our blurry past. -iFish User: ID.Painter


Theoretically speaking, the idea of a compromise strikes our fancy. Who wouldn't pursue the excitement and adventure of an arrowhead treasure hunt in the Gem State? But again, that's in theory. In practice, we admit it sounds like a logistical nightmare for the USDA and archeologists alike!


If you find a Native American arrowhead on Idaho public lands, your civic duty requires the following:

  • Admire it where it lays
  • Record/mark the artifact's location on a map
  • Notify the local Forest Service Office

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