It depends on where you are. Under the Archaeological Resource Protection Act (1979), it is illegal to remove, or even disturb, any artifacts from land that is owned by federal, state or local government. If you are hiking on property that is owned by you or someone you know (hence it is not trespassing), then anything you find is yours; the exception to this is if you find something in a riverbed, in which case the property on both sides of the river must be owned by the same person, or if it is not, then the other property owner must consent to the artifact’s removal.
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