Metal detecting was an enormous fad during the 1980s, but treasure hunters all over the world are still aware of just how popular the hobby can truly be. Simply buying a shiny new metal detector may not turn you into a treasure hunter overnight, but learning to use these precision devices is relatively easy. If you take the time to select the right metal detector, learn how to set it properly, and find some prime hunting locations, you'll be digging up treasure in no time.
Choosing the Right Metal Detector
There are two main types of metal detectors, and you should select one based on what you want to hunt for. Pulse induction metal detectors are excellent at finding items that are buried underground, so they're great if you're searching areas that have already been picked clean. Very low frequency (VLF) models aren't as good at penetrating underground, but they can discriminate between minerals, trash, and valuables. If you want to go coin shooting, meteor hunting, or search for any other specific item, then a VLF detector is the right choice.
Metal detectors are also built for specific purposes. If you want to go beach combing, you need to find a waterproof unit. You can also find metal detectors that are designed specifically for coin shooting, prospecting, and meteor hunting. If you want to engage in all of those activities, you should consider buying more than one metal detector. Multipurpose detectors do exist, but they typically aren't as effective as dedicated units.
Preparing For the Hunt
Before you head out with your new metal detector, you should make sure that you're equipped with all the right gear. If you're heading out to the beach, then you need to pack a sand scoop. You should also have a shovel or collapsible spade if you're hunting anywhere else. It's also a good idea to bring along a pinpointer, which is a device that can help you find the precise location of small items. Extra batteries are another essential item because nothing cuts a trip short like dead batteries.
It's vital to familiarize yourself with the laws in your area before you start coin shooting or prospecting. It's often perfectly legal to use a metal detector on public property, but the activity is prohibited in some places. In Scotland, you're required to turn over any item that can't be traced to the rightful owner. If you keep an item that has any historical significance, you can even be found guilty of a criminal offense.
If you want to use your metal detector on private property, you need to obtain permission from the property owner. You should never assume that a tract of land is uninhabited or abandoned, or you may face costly legal consequences. Some property owners will be happy to let you remove metal from their land, but others will send you away.
Selecting a Target
Beaches and parks are some of the most popular places to go treasure hunting. These areas are usually convenient, and a lot of people visit them on a regular basis. If you don't live near a beach or park, then you should look for other areas that attract large crowds of people.
If you don't have any luck at the obvious places, other people have probably beaten you to them. In that case, you need to be crafty. You may have luck by searching deeper or looking in hidden locations. If you're having no luck at the beach, you might want to search the space between the beach and the parking area. This is a high traffic area that many beachcombers ignore, and you just might get lucky.
The same tactic can be used anywhere. If you're unable to find anything good at your local park, keep in mind that the manicured areas have probably been searched hundreds of times. If you run your metal detector through the trash, underneath brush, or out in the woods, you stand a better chance of uncovering hidden items.
Successful treasure hunters also think outside the box. Instead of heading to the same old locations, you might want to do some research. Areas that are popular gathering spots today might not have been around a century ago, which means the best treasure may be elsewhere. If you can locate areas that were popular a long time ago, you can find some incredibly valuable treasures.
Metal Detecting Secrets
After you have the basics down, there are a few secrets that can help you really clean up.
Stray from the beaten path
It's human nature to take the path of least resistance, and a lot of coin shooters, prospectors, and treasure hunters stick to the same old areas. If you want to make some truly awesome finds, you need to stay away from the easy areas and move on the places that are tougher to reach.
Look for evidence
The key to finding hidden items is to look for evidence that people have been in the area at some point. Evidence can be trash, but it can also consist of broken plates, cups, and other signs of human habitation. If you find the remains of a house foundation out in the woods, that's a prime example of evidence.
Don't be picky
If you're not finding anything, you might want to turn your sensitivity up. Modern metal detectors are great at discriminating out minerals, trash, and other items, but that sensitivity has a downside. Every time your metal detector rules out a piece of trash, it takes a moment to start detecting again. If you pass over a valuable item in that split second, you'll miss out.
In the world of metal detecting, slow and steady truly does win the race. If you swing your paddle too quickly, you'll miss out on a lot of potential hits. Slow and low is the golden rule of metal detecting.
Don't get discouraged if you're unable to find a chunk of gold or a meteorite on your first trip. Take a break, look around yourself, and enjoy the outdoors. There's treasure all around us, but you'll never find it if you lose your patience and give up.
Alex Levin is a writer for The DuMouchelle Silver & Gold Exchange, experts in jewelry appraisals and auctions for over 80 years.