For people that are new at metal detecting, a competitive hunt may have a shroud of mystery. If you haven't been to one, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. These hunts are usually conducted by metal detecting clubs and happen quite regularly across the world. They are a fun way to meet new people interested in the sport, learn to use your detector by honing your skills in a fast paced and competitive environment, and to potentially score some valuables, cash, and/or prizes.
Seeded metal detecting hunts usually take place in a specific location that is cordoned off with boundary markers (flags, ribbons, tape, etc.). For a seeded hunt, the hunt master or coordinator plants coins, tokens, or other metal items in the ground, just beneath the grass, for participants to locate. The coins in these hunts may be modern pennies, dimes, quarters, half dollars, etc. In many of these hunts the hunting ground will be sprinkled with silver coins of the same denomination. Some hunts may feature a very interesting or valuable find like a rare and valuable coin of silver or gold. In some seeded metal detecting hunts, there may be coins marked or tokens that represent a prize. For instance, a token may be donated from a metal detecting supplier and marked with a number, letter, or code. This code may represent a particular prize package. Typical prizes might be a rare coin, metal detector, pinpointer, or other detecting accessory. Sometimes, they are even gift cards or cash.
Hunts may be limited to a certain number of participants to increase the return-on-investment for the detectorist. Some hunts are for specific prizes. There may be several hunts over a several day period for different treasure. For instance, there may be a "Silver Dollar Hunt," a "Silver Dime Hunt" or even a relic hunt. In these hunts there may be only that denomination of coin or it may feature more of those along with clad coins. The goal may be to collect as many coins or tokens as you can during the allotted time frame. Certain hunts may reward the person who collects the most coins, the oldest items, most valuable, or the smallest item (to reward for accuracy and pinpointing). Some hunt masters even throw in some "trash" items such as pull tabs and give rewards for the most trash! There are even some really interesting hunts that are set up like bingo or poker making the hunt even more exciting for participants.
Natural metal detector hunts are extremely fun and exciting. These hunts are typically held on old historic properties that have the potential of yielding valuable and historic items buried beneath the ground. These items may be old coins, caches, or relics. There is a little less competition and more camaraderie.
Natural hunts are "real life" metal detecting. Often the organizer will typically have a large property which they have gained access from the landowner. They may be only open to a handful of people depending on the size of the hunts. The payout has the potential to be rather large if the right buried items are found. Often times the organizer will have an agreement that any finds over a certain dollar amount will have to be split between the landowner and the person who recovers the item with a small percentage of the recovery fee going to the organizer. A small price to pay for access to an awesome property.
Some natural hunts may also be combined with the seeded hunt format. Where the organizer also plants items such as tokens, coins, and relics just to sweeten the pot.
Expect an entry fee for both types of events. For seeded hunts, these will range anywhere from $25-75 or more depending on the prize. These funds typically go to fund the event, purchase prizes and coins, or to benefit the metal detecting club cash needs. Many (but not all) of these events are hosted by not-for-profits and are great ways to help them continue on their mission to spread word about the wonderful world of metal detecting.
Quite often these metal detecting group hunts will also have side competitions like raffles to help fund the event and raise money for the clubs. Items raffled are often metal detectors, accessories, coins, and can even be cash.
The really fun hunts include other entertainment. This is really handy when the person attending is with someone who is not into detecting (think spouse). Rather than having them sit around twiddling their thumbs or standing around watching detectorists franticly swing their detectors while rapidly scouring for buried finds, they can enjoy other activities. These extra curricular activities may include live music, food trucks, BBQ cookouts, and games. Quite often there will be guest appearances from people who are considered rather famous in the detecting world. These may be TV stars, YouTube influencers, or other notable figures in the metal detecting or treasure hunting world.
Many of the group metal detecting hunts have a hunt specially designed for kids. With an age limit, this creates a fairer environment for the kiddos...it also lessens the chance they would get trampled or smacked in the head by a wild eyed adult on a quest for treasure.
I have seen certain hunts that also host special hunts for the disabled or senior citizens. This typically helps slow the pace a little and allows for some assistance by another person to help recover items found by the detectorist.
Below are some links to places where you can see up coming group hunts listed. Feel free to ad your group metal detector hunt to them!