The man behind the Outdoors Weekly channel on YouTube has quite a following. What he pulled from a Fort Stewart river two months ago now has the attention of authorities.
Bryce Nachtwey said he and his crew didn’t know they were on a military installation as they pulled bullets and rockets out of the water.
“We didn’t realize it was on the base,” Nachtwey said. “We were just looking for some bridges in the area. We stumbled across all the stuff.”
“I didn’t know what we pulled up,” added Matt Jackson, “and Bryce started screaming.”
Nachtwey had to tell his friend Jackson what they had pulled up from the water with their magnet, since Jackson is blind.
The YouTube video of their late June fishing expedition shows the three men pulling up belts of machine gun ammunition and an old Delta Airlines bag full of small rockets, among other items.
Jackson once worked in the airlines industry and knew the type of bag it was.
“You could tell from the bag it was older,” Nachtwey said. “It was older rockets, and the Delta logo on the bag was older, too.”
Nachtwey said they decided they needed to hand this material over to the authorities, and they called a friend in the Explosives Ordnance Detachment.
“We obviously didn’t want to be in possession of rockets and bombs from the military,” Nacthwey said. “That comes with a pretty hefty punishment. When we pulled up the bag with 86 rockets, we were, ‘Yeah, we’re definitely going to turn this in.’” Military police officers who approached them thanked the magnet fishermen for uncovering the ammunition and gear.
“The MPs were amazing,” Nachtwey said.
The MPs told him, “‘I can’t believe y’all found this. Thanks for turning it in,’” Nachtwey said.
However, other post law enforcement officers issued citations, and Nachtwey and his crew now face a September court date.
The three men each were issued three citations, according to Fort Stewart officials. They were cited for recreating without a permit, entering a restricted area, and unauthorized magnet detecting. Fort Stewart regulations ban the use of magnet detecting on recreational areas of the post.
“Because Fort Stewart- Hunter Army Airfield is an active training installation, ammunition of various sizes is fired here on a regular basis,” said Fort Stewart public affairs officer Kevin Larson. “There is always a potential unexploded ordnance can end up in the environment, to include rivers. The risk of unexploded ordnance being present throughout the training area, regardless of how it got there, is one reason why activities like magnet detecting is not allowed. The other reason is culture resources protection.”
Nachtwey said they were fishing for about an hour and a half before they were approached.
He also pointed out the ammunition and other material they found can be traced to whom it was issued originally.
“Whoever it was issued to is probably in a lot of trouble,” he said.
Units that train on Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield must adhere to ammunition handling and turn-in polices, Larson added.
“Dumping ammunition anywhere on the installation instead of following proper turn-in procedures is prohibited,” he said. “Units are trained on the ammunition policies.”
The specifics of this incident are under investigation, according to Larson.
Meanwhile, the Outdoors Weekly crew will continue to explore the area for the next few weeks, Nachtwey said. Their stay in the Coastal Empire has yielded old cannon balls and mortar shells from their other magnet fishing spots.
“We found quite a bit of explosives,” Nacthwey said.
“One of our good friends lives down here,” Jackson said, “and we came here to have fun and play on the water, and we just happened to stumble upon that.”
The video of their Fort Stewart expedition has gotten more than 3.6 million views in a month. The following they have gained since starting their YouTube channel has floored Nachtwey.
“What I am doing now is living my dream,” he said. “I am extremely grateful and blessed.”
The Outdoors Weekly crew faces a Sept. 22 federal court date in Statesboro.
“We’re hoping all the charges get dropped and we don’t have to pay anything,” Nachtwey said.