If it's true that four-leaf clovers bring good luck, then Roger Yeager of Cross Lanes may want to take up gambling for his next hobby.
Since April, Yeager has spent a large portion of each day walking the sidewalks along Big Tyler Road, peering intently at the grassy right of way embankments in search of four-leaf clovers.
The search has left him knee deep in clover. So far, he says he's bagged more than 14,000 of the quadruple-leafed legumes on the half-mile stretch between the Interstate 64 exit and the Cross Lanes McDonald's.
"My dad looked for them when I was a child in Logan County, and I've picked a few of them over the past few years," Yeager said. But after finding only two clovers on his second day of hunting this spring, "the numbers I started finding were mind-boggling. I had to keep going."
While Yeager's four-leaf clover count is staggering, it's not close to a record. Clover collector Edward Martin Sr., as of the end of 2008, had gathered more than 160,000 of the greenish good luck symbols in and around his hometown of Coopers Landing, Alaska, after multiple years of hunting.
That count topped the previous record of more than 70,000 gathered by Pennsylvania prison inmate George Kaminski, according to articles in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune.
While on the hunt, Yeager carries a stick to part vegetation that overshadows ground-hugging clover, and to help maintain balance when stalking four-leafs on steeper roadside embankments. He also carries a water bottle and a bag to carry his keepers.
Yeager pursues four-leaf clovers virtually every day. When he's not working the right of way along Big Tyler Road, chances are good he's visiting his sister in Lincoln County, where he continues the hunt.
"I've worn out two or three pairs of gloves and gone through a couple of sticks," he said with a laugh on a recent weekday, as he took a break from scanning an embankment across from a Domino's Pizza store. "It's a focused, persistent thing. If you allow your emotions or your physicality to get in the picture, you tend to go more quickly than you should. It throws you off track."
By mid-afternoon, the Cross Lanes man had bagged 69 of the four-leafers and expected to tally at least 100 by the end of the day.
"You never know how well you will do," he said. "Yesterday, I'd found 331 by the time I stopped at Wendy's. But when I started up the incline past City National and looked in that big mowed area, I kept finding more. I had 410 by the time I was finished.
"The day before that, I only found seven. Habitat, location and fortune all come into play. But the numbers always pick up two or three days after a good rain."
Yeager has no set starting or quitting time for his pursuit, but he definitely puts in the hours.
"I'm obviously a competitive nut," he said. "When I was a 10-year-old kid, I got into a horseshoe tournament and won 44 games in a row before I was eliminated."
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