One of the most common questions I get from people who just started or are just now getting into metal detecting is, “Is there anywhere good left to hunt?”
The answer is YES!
There are metallic traces of man scattered all across the globe. Historically trash service was not a common thing…trash cans either for that matter. And the term “green planet” when referring to environmental protection is something developed within the last half century. Before those important developments, man was not so responsible when it came to discarding refuse. Although sad, even to this day, it is not uncommon to find “dumps” along dusty roadsides in rural America. Just about any farm that has been around for any length of time has a dump pile nestled within a culvert out of public view. This being said, the number of buried targets in the world are literally unimaginable.
But I have seen other people metal detecting the site, did they get everything?
No, they did not...or at least in very few cases. The truth of the matter is that even the best detectorists won’t get every target. I have hunted sites that have be hammered by other very experienced detectorists for many years and still emerged with great finds. Additionally, I have seen other people hunt sites I have hunted and emerge victorious. This is not to say they have not “cherry picked” the property. Cherry picking when metal detecting is the act of quickly skimming the property and digging only the really good targets. If a property has been cherry picked by too many detectorists you will have little luck finding silver coins. These are easy targets to determine. Most likely the these easy targets are long gone. But, some of the best targets are those that will confuse the novice. For instance, if you are hunting an old site and not finding any coins, but still finding pull tabs from the 50′s then the site still has some useful life. Since pull tabs will read much like a piece of gold jewelry, the site was likely detected by a novice and/or cherry picked. The more difficult targets will still be present.
Is it a waste of time to metal detect in a park?
No. I find that the park is the ideal place for a newbie to learn how to metal detect. By metal detecting the park you will be exposed to all sorts of items, old and new alike. I contend that a person can make enough money to feed themselves by metal detecting the park and “coinshooting” for modern coins daily. There is no shame in hitting the “tot lot”. Although some people quickly get bored recovering pull tabs and modern clad currency, there is still opportunity to be had. I have been called to several parks to help people recover rings they had lost. There is no telling how many times that happens and the ring is never found or the person forgot where they even lost it. I am not ashamed to admit, if I am short on time and it is nice out, I will still occasionally metal detect our local parks. Typically they are places where people accumulate which means they are constantly being “reseeded”. Obviously, the older the park the better.
Okay, so where is the best place to metal detect?
That depends on the person and what type of treasure interests them. For instance, I like to hunt for relics as much as I do anything else. I love pulling old, interesting items out of the ground. Half the time I don’t have a clue what the items I find are until I have had time to research the item. This research process can be as fun as the metal detecting hunt itself! The good thing about relic hunting is there is always a chance to dig up something of real value too. For this type of metal detecting you are best to detect around old structures. This may include old farmsteads, old urban areas, churches, or even ghost towns.
For the person who is just in it for the loot, I recommend beach hunting. People are always re-seeding beaches with rings, earrings, bracelets, and of course coins. Recovering an item on a nice, soft, sandy beach is extremely easy and quick with the right tools. And the smell of saltwater combined with a cool ocean breeze....I mean, come on. That is pretty hard to beat. In terms of an investment of time, I don’t think much else pays better than beach hunting. You will need the right tools which are: A metal detector that can balance out saltwater mineralization and a sand scoop to recover items quickly and easily.
What are some tips to help me get the most out of a metal detecting site?
Mix it up a little bit. I have hunted the same sites multiple times over the years and continue to get enjoyment from doing so. If the site has not been detected before, I like to start by doing a clean up mission. This is especially true if the site has a lot of trash as in the instance of an old abandoned farm site. Often these building were demolished either by nature or by the cause of man. Neither are very tidy during demolition. This site will be littered with trash. I find that by eliminating as much of the trash as possible, I will open the ground up for more scrutinized metal detecting down the road. The initial clean up mission may be conducted with a smaller coil. This helps me separate metal detecting targets and focus on the good targets. Likewise I will eliminate any shallow targets. The next time I may step up to a larger coil for more depth. The same goes for “hunted out” sites. Most likely previous detectorists are using their stock concentric coil and most likely a cheaper metal detector. Using a larger coil or a more sophisticated detector will help you peel back dirt to reach untouched layers of soil. This being said, always pack out your trash. It will make later hunts much more enjoyable.
What is the one “secret to success” you would tell someone who is just getting into metal detecting?
Get outside and dig! Continually I see the people who get out the most are those with the biggest and best collection of metal detecting trophies. Some people are obsessive with the hobby (ahem, Scrap Iron). They are the die-hards. The first one in the field, the last one out. The guy who digs more wins in this sport. This hobby takes people getting out in order to succeed. You have to get out to metal detect, you have to get out and meet people, and you have to get out to find good sites. That is the one and most-important secret to success in metal detecting: GET OUT!
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