How to Dig a Proper Divot

Before we begin, you see how the title has the word divot instead of hole or plug? This was a valuable piece of advice I received from Mr. Keith Wills, a long-time detectorist. By using the word divot instead of hole or plug when speaking to someone about metal detecting their yard, it makes them think of a small hole. Whereas if you say hole or even plug, often times their mental image ranges from a hole big enough to hide a body all the way to heavy equipment working in their yard. I will say in the past while trying to obtain permission I could see I lost any chance when mentioning I would be digging holes no matter how much I tried to convince them I would leave no evidence I was ever digging in their yard.

I wish I could remember who taught me my technique but it was so many years ago I don’t recall who it was. Back 20 plus years ago I was taught by the dealer I bought my first metal detector from to dig a plug, literally a plug that I completely removed. Most people I hunted with did that as well. We were also taught to dig the smallest plug we could which would often lead to a not so pretty conclusion if your pinpointing was off even slightly.

I was metal detecting one day with someone and I noticed them digging big horseshoe-shaped flaps, pulling back the sod, and recovering the target. At first, I was almost embarrassed to be metal detecting with this person. These things were massive compared to what I was taught to do! What I started to notice though, was when they were done there was no evidence they had ever dug. More embarrassing was the fact that some of mine didn’t go back together so well and although not easily visible, you could find them if you know what you’re looking for.

From that day on, I started using this method, the first place I tested it out at was my own yard. One of the great things about grass is even if you kill it, eventually, it will come back but when you’re digging on someone else’s property you don’t want to kill it! In the middle of a dry summer, I hunted my backyard. I would dig a plug on one target, then the next I would dig using the new method. After a few hours and many holes later, I waited to see the outcome.

Daily, I would check the progress and what I quickly noticed was the bigger holes with the flap all recovered instantly. The plugs though, every one of them looked rough and some even completely died off for weeks. I believe by keeping the back attached and flipping it over lets the grass recover much quicker and I’ve now used this technique for many years successfully.

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