Go ask any geocaching hobbyist out there about what he or she doesn’t like the most while looking for geocaches! 99% of them will tell you (almost without any hesitation) “Hmmm, don’t like the muggles around …!”
I am sure you’ve heard this term multiple times before and you’ve might wondering what it actually means.
In this short article I explain exactly that and also provide you with everything you need to know about dealing with muggles properly!
What are muggles in geocaching?
Muggles are those not in the know. They are the ones you are trying to hide from. These people are the everyday people that walk past geocaches never knowing hidden treasure is around them all the time.
Muggles are people that you are trying to avoid.
Easier said than done since more times than not the people you encounter out on a hunt is a muggle. Geocaching is popular, but still not well known enough for everyone to know about it.
Those who get into the hobby are in the know. It’s up to you if you want others to know about your new hobby. Keep in mind, the more people that know about the hobby definitely helps.
On the other hand, being part of an exclusive club has its perks. It holds a sense of community and secrecy. You are no longer a muggle.
In simple terms, muggles are the everyday people that are unaware of geocaching. They don’t know caches are hidden everywhere and they pass by them all the time.
They are the people watching you digging in bushes looking for a cache. They are the people that give you odd looks while you walk aimlessly around the neighborhood with your phone in your hand.
These people sometimes don’t even notice you are there – if you are sneaky enough.
Muggles are part of geocaching. How you interact with these people is up to you.
Can muggles spoil the hobby?
Muggles can easily spoil the hobby in many ways. For one, disturbing a cache.
1. Disturbing a cache
Sometimes a muggle will find a cache. What they do with it can be any possibility. If we are lucky, they’ll put it back where they found it.
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Some caches are large enough to have an additional piece of paper that states the item is part of the game. However, most caches are only large enough to hold the log. In this instance, people wouldn’t know what they were holding.
And when that happens, muggles tend to take the cache.
2. Muggles taking a cache
Here’s the problem with this, for one you won’t be able to find the cache. And secondly, the owner of the cache wouldn’t be able to find the cache either.
If the owner cannot find the cache they hid, they are unable to maintain and track it as well. This is why it is highly important to always put back a cache where you found it. If not, no one may ever be able to find the cache again!
Not only do muggles make finding a cache difficult, but so do others who don’t place them back where they go.
Another way muggles spoil the hobby is by simply being around a cache. The whole idea behind geocaching is simple and hide and seek.
Not much hiding is being done when muggles are out and about. It can be even worse in high traffic areas like parks.
You want to play in secrecy. Kind of hard to do with everyone watching you. Best advice is to look like you belong where you are at. Easier said than done.
By appearing as casual as possible you lessen the risk of being noticeable!
3. They call the cops
In an extreme case of muggles interfering with geocaching, they might call the cops. You might not think the police would ever be involved in one of your hunts, but it is a possibility.
Imagine you are walking around a park. Then, you hear that addictive ring come from your phone as you approach a cache hidden inside a nearby bush. You spend a few minutes digging in this bush to retrieve a pill bottle wrapped in camouflage duct tape.
You take what’s inside, put the bottle back where you found it, then hurry back to your car.
Sounds innocent from your point of view, doesn’t it?
Well, from an outsider’s perspective they might as well have seen a drug deal happen!
You wandered to a random bush, pulled out a pill bottle, then took the contents back to your car.
In those terms it appears extremely odd. Definitely out of the ordinary. You could see why someone might call the cops on someone being weird in a bush.
Or, you could be looking around a shopping center checking every light post trying to find a hidden cache.
Be mindful of your surroundings because you look far more suspicious than you think you do. Being out in the open does not help your case when you are looking for a cache.
In an ideal world, muggles would not interfere in geocaching. Unfortunately, they are part of the experience. Getting past them unnoticed adds to the challenge.
As far as them coming across a cache, it’s up to fate what happens when they do find one.
How to deal with muggles properly?
What can you do with muggles? Unfortunately, you are limited in power over these people. Education is all that you have on your side. Other than avoiding them at all costs, of course.
Most people are understanding and will get the idea of what it is your doing. As long as you are not trespassing or damaging property while looking for a geocache you’ll be fine while encountering muggles.
You can easily explain to them that you are looking for a cache, and most importantly your phone with the geocache app open will help you out the most while encountering muggles.
The last thing you want to do is get defensive. Be confident and explain yourself in simple terms.
Take the time to educate them about the hobby. As with any other hobby, it takes the participants to educate others about it in order to keep it alive and thriving.
At the least, these people will know to leave a cache alone if they ever come across another.
Be honest with what you are doing.
You may even need to ask for permission to be in a certain area. Typically, caches are hidden in public areas. However, some people might hide caches in hard to reach places that require permission to be on the premises – that’s if there’s someone to ask for said permission.
A store parking lot is a prime example of somewhere you might need permission. Especially when a manager comes out asking questions. In these scenarios you can easily explain why exactly you are searching light posts in their parking lot.
Explain yourself in simple terms and be honest. To be quick, unseen, and secretive should always be your goal. Well, being safe is always the main goal. But, there will be times when muggles will be in the way.
You should be prepared to confront them confidently.
What if the cache is found by a muggle?
Let’s say you are out hunting and a muggle tags along because they began asking one too many questions. Before you know it, they are helping hunt down your treasure – whether or not you asked them too.
What should you do if they find it before you? Ultimately, it’s up to you. Personally, count it. Consider them a part of your party. Sign the log and add in “with party” as part of your signature.
Mark it down as a find. If it was not for you the muggle would have never been in the situation in order to find the cache. Enjoy the hunt with your new found friend.
Yes, finding a geocache on your own is exhilarating. Finding it with others can be as exciting if you are willing to guide the hunt. Consider yourself the captain in charge of a crew.
Who knows, maybe you just created a new hobbyist and this cache find was their crash course into the hobby.
All thanks to you.
In other cases, when a muggle finds a cache any possibility could happen. If you are lucky, they’ll leave it alone.
Tips to hide a geocache to not be found by muggles …
Think outside the box. Be creative with what you put your log in. it could be tiny or large. First, you’ll want to find a spot, then decide what you can fit.
Camouflage duct tape is your friend. Believe or not, this stuff works well at concealing caches. It makes blending into natural surroundings, such as trees, easy.
Also. don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path. Try to find locations people more than likely won’t be. Heavy foliage is a great place to start.
Final Thoughts: Why not trying to turn a muggle into a geocacher?
Educate as much as possible. The idea of geocaching sells itself. It’s equivalent to a modern day treasure hunt. It is a fun way to get outdoors and explore the city in a way a person would not do otherwise.
Really pitch the idea of being part of a secret group of people that know something the general public does not. This exclusivity is another big draw.
When your enthusiasm for the hobby is not enough consider taking the muggle on a hunt with you. Maybe go after a cache you have logged before. You’ll be able to guide the muggle near the cache and have them find the treasure. They’ll be hooked once they find the cache.