While trying to gain permission to metal detect a site, it is always a letdown when you get turned down. Unfortunately, it will happen from time to time, and it can’t be avoided. However, what is very frustrating is not getting permission due to someone else’s lack of respect.
Years ago, I had just finished researching and overlaying a township in the county I lived in at the time. As I started reaching out to the property owners, I was getting turned down left and right, and worse yet, I was hearing the same story over and over. The biggest culprit was Indian artifact hunters although I suspect it was just one.
Although all the property owners were very nice to and appreciated me taking the time to ask permission the answers were still “no.” It was more than frustrating, it was infuriating! It is usually a fairly simple process to track down the land owners and in many if not most cases you will get permission, this is especially true of farm land. Unless they have had problems with people on their land without permission, rarely will I get turned down! There is NO excuse for not getting permission! If you get caught you will surely be ran off at the very least and you probably ruined it for everyone, it’s a selfish, rude act!
While doing some research a number of years back I came across a church that was gone before the 1872 map of the area. I received permission to detect it late fall and before I could find where it actually was in the field the weather turned cold, the ground froze and I had to put it off until spring. Warmer weather finally rolled around I was excited to get back out there, I reached out to the farmer and to my shock no one was welcome on the property any longer! Apparently over the winter he had part of his field tore up, he suspected kids partying, his barn was broke into and several things stolen including one of his trucks! I guess if there was a bright side he appreciated me asking permission again and not just going out there, he thanked me and I told him I understood and was sorry to hear he was having trouble. That’s all that could be done, there’s no sense in trying to gain permission after something like that has happened, it’s a lost cause.
I was recently talking to my good friend Donnie Lang, a fellow detectorists and he recently ran into a few issues. Donnie has been an Indian artifact hunter since he was a child, he has had permission for a piece of land for close to 40 years. With the crops coming off the fields in Ohio he recently stopped by to make sure it was ok to metal detect some of their property and was turned down. In shock he asked why. The owner went on to explain that while he was away a guy asked permission to metal detect the property. His elderly mother gave him permission and thought nothing of it. Later she looked out the window and there was a large group of guys metal detecting. They were hunting up against her house, going in the barn and made her uncomfortable. She called her son and he came home and had to make them leave!
After that incident another guy came to their farm and asked permission to arrow head hunt, believe it or not, even after that incident he was given permission to look for artifacts. He was asked, just like Donnie had always been asked to park in an exact location. When the owner found he had parked somewhere else he walked out into the field and asked him to leave, the man refused and told him he wasn’t done hunting! As you can imagine it will probably be a long time before anyone is ever allowed back there and unfortunately it’s happening more and more!
One of the worst incidents that happened to me was I tracked a landowner all the way to Florida. Amongst his many acres in Ohio were several house sites that were gone prior to 1900 meaning little to no modern trash, my favorite sites! He was amazed I tracked him all the way to Florida and was impressed I went through all the work to ask permission. He gave me permission but asked me to run it by the farmer first and make sure he was ok with it. Excitedly I called the farmer thinking it was a guarantee I would be metal detecting the site soon. Was I shocked when I got a hold of the farmer! He yelled at me “I kicked all you guys off the property last week, no you can’t metal detect here, you should have got permission in the first place!” boy was he mad and although I understood his anger I could not convince him that it wasn’t me. I had never stepped foot on that property! I had heard rumors of a group of guys in that area doing that, going out and just metal detecting wherever they felt like without any regard for others property, it was confirmed that day.
If you are one of these people I have no respect for you, I will never detect with you and its best to change your ways because eventually it will catch up to you but in the meantime you’re doing damage for many others who enjoy metal detecting and other hobbies that rely on the use of private land.
It is our duty to stop people in this hobby who are making us look bad. Although I would never condone stopping and asking people if they have permission, many of us have ran across bad detectorists on public land such as parks. I’m not saying you should be rude but often times when fellow detectorists come across these people digging holes and not filling them in well or not at all they will complain on social media or forums but rarely will they confront them. If you run across someone like this you don’t have to be rude. In most cases they are new to the hobby and need guidance. We owe the hobby this, we all need to work together to ensure that we don’t give people a reason to grant us access to public and private lands!