With a metal detector in one hand, a pinpointer in the other and shovel laying nearby, Sophie McKinney, 10, can spend hours searching for buried treasure — literally.
In a secure, compartmentalized plastic box, McKinney keeps her finds, particularly old coins. And there are a few gifts from the metal detecting group that set her on her quest — like a Civil War bullet.
The group of metal detectors, led by Chris Heimsoth, were invited to scan McKinney's grandmother's yard.
"Sophie followed us around and was very interested and asked good questions; she's definitely a sharp little girl," Heimsoth said.
At the end of the day, the group had found a wheat penny and a mercury dime, both they gave to McKinney.
"She was excited about it," Heimsoth said. His wife, "Becky, gave her a detecting pouch and I gave her a pin pointer. Becky posted about it on Facebook, some of her friends saw her post and decided to donate equipment to Sophie. It was pretty cool."
McKinney was delighted with her own tools to keep searching.
Weeks later, a box arrived on her front porch. When her parents showed her, it had her name on it. She opened it to find a new-in-the-box metal detector.
McKinney said at first she thought it was a prank, someone just reusing an old box. But then, she kept looking in the package to find an in-the-package pin pointer and other tools.
Her mother, Dana, posted the video to Facebook, saying "Thank you so much for helping Sophie get started with metal detecting! She received an amazing package in the mail! She wants to go out right now and get started! I have one excited little girl!"
Since then, McKinney has taken every opportunity to do some detecting on her family farm, local parks or anywhere she can.
"When you find coins, it's so fun; I like hearing the beeps," she said. "It takes a lot of patience; sometimes you don't find anything."
At home, she can be found watching videos online of other metal detectors.
She's matured in her search technique.
"Nails and cans were exciting at first; now she's looking for money and rings," said Grandma Teresa Porter.
And, instead of relying on Mom or Grandma to do the digging, she has taken on that duty, too.
After the detector signals, McKinney takes the shovel to the sod, trying to dig in a respectful manner, so it can be laid back down with little damage, she said.
Once in the dirt, she uses the pinpointer for a more exact location or to sift through a handful of dirt.
When she finds an artifact of interest, she cleans it with water and toothbrush and then packs it safely with her other finds.
McKinney already is looking forward to the family vacation next summer to the beach.
"I hope I find a ring," she said.