This is an attempt to put together a checklist of essential elements that we’ve been told must be in place to successfully solve this hunt. Your solution will almost certainly be wrong if you haven’t ticked off all these factors.
Of course, the 11 clues detail many more elements in addition to these things, but these are 12 things that can be checked objectively.
Don’t despair if you don’t yet have answers to all 12 questions, no one does, or if they did the owl would be found!
1.Have you found uses for Bourges, Roncevaux, Carignan, Golfe Juan and Cherbourg?
These five places aren’t named at random, a correct solution must incorporate each place in some way that leads to the owl. This might either be through drawing lines on the map, or the places might give some other information that advances the game. But each place must have a purpose. Many owlers draw a line from A_Ronceveaux, through Bourges to Carignan. The majority also draw a line from Golfe Juan to Dabo. The use for Cherbourg is much less certain.
So what is the overall purpose of all these lines? And if they lead to the owl’s location how do they do point us to it?
It’s debatable whether the 10 towns listed in clue 580 have a role to play in the solution, they may just provide the answer to clue 600. But we do know that the 5 locations scattered among the 11 clues have a role to play, so what is that role?
2. What is the meaning of ‘a key is hidden on the black perched ship’?
Michel Becker has suggested a place must be identified in clue 600. We have very little information about the purpose of the ‘key’ mentioned here, and what exactly is the black perched ship? Dabo fans will point to Saint Leon church perched high on a hill with its ship-like silhouette at dusk. Dabo sceptics will point out this church is not black at all! Most owlers feel a need to pick a side! One thing is certain, the solution to this clue is important to solving the whole hunt.
3. At 185km from Carignan do you find a ‘spiral with four centres’?
The 500 clue suggests taking a right angle from Carignan where at 185km we find a ‘spiral with four centres.’ Many people note that this description can land on Dabo, where a spiral path leads to the church of Saint Leon. But why does the clue mention ‘four centres’? A spiral with four centres may be a mathematical geometric spiral, or perhaps these ‘centres’ may be symbolic.
Some people have attempted to show the Dabo path fits a mathematical definition of a geometric 4 centred spiral… But this is a treasure hunt from 1993. No one solving this hunt in this era would be able to use Google to obtain a picture of the path, nor could they use a Photoshop overlay to demonstrate this is correct.
4. Where does Apollo’s arrow land at 559km from Golfe Juan?
In the 420 clue we are in Golfe Juan, where Apollo fires an arrow 559km towards a 650m high point. Many people think this is a line drawn to Dabo as the distance is right and the famous Rock of Dabo is around 650 metres above sea level. Drawing this line also fits the Tour de France clues (see below.) But where does your arrow land, and what is the purpose of Apollo’s arrow in your solution?
5. What line have you drawn for the 560 clue?
This clue places us in Cherbourg, ‘with England at our back’. We are instructed to look for ‘the Opening’ that reveals ‘heavenly light,’ as well as a ‘becalmed nave’ and we are asked to ‘draw a line.’
The ‘opening’ is Bourges in an earlier clue, there are also references to light earlier in the game. The clue says ‘Without deviating an inch, draw a line, and you will not regret what you did.’ So where exactly is this line placed, and why do we draw it?
6. How is Neptune helping you twice?
In the 560 clue we ‘get ready to walk on the water’ and the text says, ‘twice, Neptune will come to your rescue and lead you away from the icy North.’
Which element of your solution explains Neptune’s ‘help’ as you walk on water? Most people think this means a line will cross the sea or rivers to explain this description. So what’s your water walking answer?!
7. Do you have a becalmed nave found from a starting point at Cherbourg?
The 560 clue places us in Cherbourg and suggests we take ‘a journey’ before ‘seeing through the opening, the becalmed Nave.’ Is it the line mentioned earlier that helps us find the becalmed nave? The word nave suggests both churches and ships, and an additional clue links the becalmed nave to the ‘black perched ship’ clue; many people assume the solution to this clue is, once again, the Saint Leon church in Dabo. What is your nave?
8. Have you found Sentinels at 8000 measures east and at a 45 degree angle from each other?
The 650 clue describes finding ‘Sentinels’ with our back to the ‘Ponant’ (archaic word for West) at 8000 measures or 2.64km. There are various theories about what the Sentinels are, we know they were called ‘Guardians’ in an earlier version of the clue. They are described in an extra clue as, ‘IMMOBILE AND FAITHFUL, TANGIBLE AND MASSIVE, SIMILAR AND DISSIMILAR’ and it’s highly likely there are three. Max also revealed that once we find the first we will see the other two at 22.5 degrees of a line east from the first. So the formation of the three sentinels is at 45 degrees, similar to the picture on the left. How confident are you of your sentinels, and are they lined up as described?
9. How do you use the numbers 71721075, and does your method work equally well with 75 and 57 as the last two digits?
Michel Becker, the organiser of the hunt since 2021, has revealed a few bits of useful information about the mysterious numbers in the 650 clue. We must ‘use’ them or decrypt them rather than decode them. We know that an earlier version of the clues reversed the last two digits. Becker has stated that the 71721057 version of the number will also work for the solution. The use of these numbers is one of the most debated aspects of this hunt. We know the numbers connect to the mysterious sentinels. A successful solution must know how they are used.
10. Do you have ‘three meetings in the Cantabrian sea’?
Max said this is ‘the most important additional clue.‘ The ‘Cantabrian sea’ is an archaic name for the Atlantic Ocean that borders the northern coast of Spain. We need to decide if the meetings are lines, historical events, or something else?
If you have the correct solution you need to understand what these three meetings in the sea mean.
11. Do your lines on the map fit the Tour de France additional clues?
In 1993 Max revealed some important additional clues that tell us exactly where five lines on the map must be drawn.
The line we draw for Apollo’s arrow crosses between Serre-Chevalier and Isola 2000 in the Alps.
A line we draw on the map crosses between Isola 2000 and Marseille.
A line we draw on the map is placed between Orthez and Bordeaux.
If we consider a virtual line of Tour de France riders travelling between Bordeaux and Brétigny-sur-Orge (just outside Paris) we should find that our solution lines will cross this line twice, and that the cyclists pass between these two lines. So that suggests we will need two of our solution lines running West to East across France. The image on the right demonstrates this concept.
12. Have you found a super solution leading to an exact spot to dig?
One of the mysteries of this game is why Max, the originator of the hunt, and Michel Becker, the man who has read his solution, differ in the way they describe the end game of the hunt. We know there is some kind of a ‘dig x distance from the x landmark’ instruction hidden in the clues. Max said we must look for and ‘assemble’ several ‘remnants’ of things remaining after the decryption of the 11 clues to find this final instruction. Becker said, ‘The remainders don’t exist, what comes back are notions or thoughts that automatically come back when you need them.’ He stresses that the last two clues mostly make up the super solution. In any case both agree that this hidden instruction is accurate to the centimetre and can be discovered before going to the dig site. You need this solution to find the owl.
Here’s a summary of the checklist of ‘must have’ elements for a correct solution:
General: Have you found uses for Bourges, Roncevaux, Carignan, Golfe Juan and Cherbourg?
Clue 600: What is the key hidden on the ‘black perched ship’?
Clue 500: At 185km from Carignan do you find a ‘spiral with four centres’?
Clue 420: Where does Apollo’s arrow land at 559km from Golfe Juan?
Clue 560: What line have you drawn for the 560 clue?
Clue 560: How is Neptune helping you twice?
Clue 560: Do you have a becalmed nave found from a starting point of Cherbourg?
Clue 650: Have you found Sentinels at 8000 measures east and at a 45 degree angle from each other?
Clue 650: How do you use the numbers 71721075, and does your method work equally well with 75 and 57 as the last two digits?
Additional clue: Do you have ‘three meetings in the Cantabrian sea’?
Additional clue: Do your lines on the map fit the Tour de France additional clues?
Clue 520 and others: Have you found a super solution leading to an exact spot to dig?