Over the past many months, a lot of folks have been getting bored sitting at home, watching TV, or reading a book, because the dreaded virus has us avoiding other people. An advantage of watching television is that there are a lot of treasure hunting shows now. The Curse of Oak Island (one of my favorites!) is very popular. Also, any show depicting searching for sunken Spanish galleons off the coast of Florida attracts a lot of viewers. There have even been some episodes showing sunken Civil War gold in Lake Michigan, strongboxes full of loot buried by Butch Cassidy, and many more interesting shows.
Maybe those are the reason many people received a new metal detector for Christmas, or perhaps dragged an old detector out of the closet, put in fresh batteries, and headed for the back yard. Whatever caused the recent interest in the hobby is welcome. Unfortunately, many of the new converts have little idea what to do with their new pastime. Perhaps, since my wife and I have been detecting for over 40 years, I can help with some tips for those who need some advice.
First, you need a detector which fits your needs. Frankly, most new (or fairly new) machines will do almost anything a beginner needs. If you already have a detector, study the owner’s manual and begin to learn how to operate it. If you need a machine, I recommend going to a dealer. He can show you, various models, give you instruction on how to use it, let you practice with it, and answer all of your questions, both now and later. If you purchase your first detector from a catalog, online, or in a discount store, the only question they can usually answer is the price.
After acquiring your machine, you will need a few more items. Some sort of digging tool is needed. This can be as simple as a flat bladed screwdriver or a garden trowel, but a long-bladed hunting knife or a digger designed specifically for treasure hunting is best.
Another necessary item is something in which to put all of your found treasures. A simple nail apron, often free from your local hardware store will work, or a new pouch from your dealer which fits on your belt and has pockets (usually one zippered) to keep your good finds separate from the trash you uncover.
Another item, which is probably optional, although most people who use a detector find necessary, is a good pair of earphones. These can be plugged in directly to your machine, or in better models, can be wireless. If you are detecting in areas of woods or brush, I would go with the wireless to keep from hanging on branches, trees, etc. Earphones also reduce outside noise such as cars, wind, or kids asking you what you are doing.
The last item, again optional, is a pin pointer. For my first 25 or so years of detecting, we didn’t have them. When they appeared on the market, they cost around $150 and I said I would never own one. Then, I won one in a seeded hunt and tried it out. The next day, I bought my wife one! A year or two later, they came out with a waterproof one, more expensive of course. I bought two. Then another for our grandson. Now, the price has reduced somewhat.
Once you have all of your new equipment, you need a place to hunt. Your own yard is probably the best. If your house is over 25 years old, coins, keys, toys, or something similar has probably been lost. Practice retrieving your target and soon you will be able to move on. Next, ask your friends, neighbors, or relatives if you can search their yards. ALWAYS get permission before detecting any property which isn’t your own. Then, you can move on to beaches, playgrounds, schoolyards, campgrounds, etc. Remember to ask first.
Your age shouldn’t matter. We started both our daughter and our grandson detecting when they were four. We have several friends who are in their nineties who still hunt on a regular basis. Like me, they are just slower now than they were 20 years ago.
Fishing, hunting, golfing, bowling, and other hobbies require spending money to start, and then, more money every time you enjoy them. Metal detecting is the only hobby I know where once you purchase your beginning equipment, you actually make money almost every time you go out. A handful of clad coins dug out of the ground will buy enough batteries to last a year. A nice ring, a special coin, or an unusual relic can actually pay for your detector with one dig!
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