03/22/2016 13:43 EDT | Updated 03/23/2017 01:12 EDT

New Brunswick man searching for coins finds live WWII-era explosives instead

ST. GEORGE, N.B. — A New Brunswick man who dug up a pair of live Second World War-era mortar shells says he'll be a bit more careful the next time he goes treasure hunting with his metal detector.

Hollis Justason, from St. George, has quite a story to tell, but knows it could have had a tragic ending.

Justason and a friend found the mortars last Thursday while cutting through a blueberry field in Charlotte County.

He says they assumed that the shells must have been duds and took them home to clean them up and do some research on them.

Justason says his father-in-law — who had been in the military — advised him to call the RCMP, who in turn called the bomb squad at C.F.B. Gagetown.

He says the bomb experts determined the explosives were still live, and took them away to be detonated.

Justason says he's surprised the mortars — that were only a few centimetres below the surface — had survived so long, especially since blueberry fields are burned every few years.

The Canadian Press