One of the most important considerations to the average arrowhead hunter is time. There is precious little of it that most of us can spend walking the fields.

To be successful at finding arrowheads, you also must be ready to go when the conditions are right, for to go an hour too soon or a week too late often means that the points were exposed but are now covered up. This is especially true when you are hunting in plowed fields.

The following are some good general rules:

1) Learn to read and then use topographic maps . The maps commonly called "quad" maps are available for most of the United States, and show nearly every hill and dale, including permanent and intermittent streams, fields, forest, lakes, irregularities of the land surface and about a hundred other things that will help in your search. Many a pleasant hour can be spent at the kitchen table making journeys using these maps. Now Google Earth and Microsoft Terraserver both offer impressive opportunities to see landforms from the convenience of your home.

2) Use anything else at your disposal to put you in the right spot. Talk to family, friends, farmers, loggers and whoever you can to help you find arrowheads and to get the permission you need to be out there.

Be friendly! There is not enough money in this hobby to justify being selfish, sneaky or nasty in order to get some points. If you are out front about your intentions you can quickly either get permission or move on.

3) Do not waste your time by checking poor exposures or landforms when you could just as easily be hunting better exposures or prime territory. Use your map and your discussions to determine the places that look best before you burn the gas and time to check them out.

Even though you should listen carefully, you cannot believe everyone's story about where the arrowheads are and how the Indians made them. In fact, you will soon hear absolutely ridiculous stories about history and prehistory when you start talking to the average Joe about Indian lore. Take it all in stride, and don't insult anyone with a know-it-all attitude. If you insult a landowner you will not only waste time, but likely an opportunity as well.

4) Be methodical when you are out looking. Start in one spot and move to another in a regular and sweeping motion. Walk back and forth, with narrow sweeps when you are seeing sign and with wide sweeps when you are seeing nothing.

If you have to, drop a handkerchief or something as a landmark to help in your sweeps if you are losing track of where you have looked. You can get pretty bleary-eyed in a plowed field after a couple of hours, and sometimes everything looks the same.

5) Get out there early in the day. Light on the ground surface plays an important part in the finding of arrowheads. Morning light is excellent, afternoon light is okay, noonday light is fine, but it can literally kill you from sunstroke or dehydration. Sunstroke or heat exhaustion is a serious medical problem that does not go away quickly.