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Treasure Hunt: Millionaire Hides Bounty Worth Millions To Encourage Americans To Spend Time Outdoors

By Staff Writer | March 01, 2013 11:52 AM EST

Three years ago, American millionaire Forrest Fenn buried a treasure chest in hopes that Americans would get off the couch and out into the great outdoors on a nation-wide treasure hunt. The chest is reportedly filled with gold coins, diamonds, emeralds, and other precious gems and is worth millions.

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The treasure hunt is meant to encourage people to explore the scenic trails and beautiful landscapes of America instead of staring at their TV or computer screens. "Get your kids out in the countryside, take them fishing and get them away from their little hand-held machines," Fenn told the "TODAY Show" on Wednesday.

Fenn has spent over seven decades searching for rare objects and hopes other Americans will partake in the treasure hunt and be inspired and encouraged by "the thrill of the chase."

Fittingly enough, his self-published autobiography is also titled "The Thrill of the Chase." In it, treasure seekers can find a rather unusual treasure map, a poem containing nine clues that lead to the 40-pound trove.

Since his appearance on the NBC morning show, Fenn, now 82, has developed an international following. His website crashed Wednesday morning from the overabundance of intrigued treasure hunters.

He has received thousands of emails from interested parties. Some asking for advice, while other simply thanking him for the inspiration to get out and experience the world.

Fenn says his passion for a good treasure hunt started at age 9 when he discovered a Native American arrowhead near his home in Temple, Texas. A fighter pilot during the Vietnam War, treasure enthusiast spent time in between missions searching for rare objects.

He later turned his love of artifacts into a lucrative business, opening a gallery and becoming a successful art dealer. Over the years his fortune and treasure hunting passion grew.

He worked on the poem for years and when he felt he had built an adequate chest of treasures, he finally buried it.

"After I hid the treasure I walked back to my car feeling very proud of myself and laughing out loud," he said. "I asked, 'Forrest, did you really do that?' There have never been any regrets. Now it is for the ages and a big part of me in that treasure chest. I felt it go in as I closed the lid for the last time."

For those interested in the treasure hunt, you can read Fenn's poem below.

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 drawing ever 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 answers 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.

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