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Should I dig those metal detector finds?

By Dan Breitenstein

It's simply amazing what lies buried beneath the ground we walk over every day. The lion's share of us seek the elusive silver and thank our lucky stars when we hit the odd gold object. Many detectorists never have the opportunity to see the golden glitter in our hand and never know the pride of such a find. This is sad in a way, because it's not the machine we're using and it's not necessarily our hunting ground, it's more than likely our own fault.

I have received numerous accounts of amazing finds with the simplest machines that I find totally astounding. But upon closer examination, there is a very simple reason for their success. Most of these finds were made by folks that are totally unimpressed by discrimination and tend to dig more targets than others choose to dig while metal detecting.

Discrimination is probably the greatest metal detecting development that has ever hit the market, but many detectorists over use it, myself included. It's a great feature to use if all you want to find are silver and copper coins and for the quick jaunt to the local fairgrounds. But most of us think that if we use it, we should never dig a pull-tab again.

Unfortunately, there isn't a metal detector out on the market today that can conclusively define the difference between a pull-tab and a gold ring with diamonds. This was proven to me recently when one of my customers sent a photo of a 18 carat gold ring with blue topaz stone surrounded by diamonds that his small grandchild found in a park with a simple Tracker ID. The odds are that other detectorists had already been there and had their discrimination turned up high enough that they walked right over that "pull-tab"

I went out metal detecting with my daughter last month and she chose to use the simple Tracker IV as her weapon and her find literally knocked my socks off. She found a Chinese coin that was minted sometime during the C'hing dynasty right in her own backyard. I had walked right over that pull-tab signal and on to what I assumed were better targets. She found the coin simply because she chose to dig a questionable signal. We can only assume that a Chinese railroad worker dropped it there in the 1800's when the line was put through her town. Her success was based on a desire to find anything of value and not by a desire to avoid digging.

I got an email several weeks ago with photo of one of my southern friends holding a beautiful gold ring. He was using a machine that had no target ID what so ever, and following the path of one of his friends that was using his target ID as his guide. His friend had walked right over that pull-tab signal and left the ring to be found by his treasure hunting buddy and his "simple machine".

The problem that we face as detectorists is that we have become spoiled by the features on our machines and complacent enough that we choose not to dig what we believe to be junk. Consequently we are walking right over the treasure that we covet the most. Discrimination is a great tool, but like any wonderful invention, moderation of its use is the key to better targets.

Every machine that Bounty Hunter makes would have found the targets that I've mentioned. Unfortunately, we as detectorists, have to realize that targets require closer examination than the target ID gives us. This is true with any brand or model of machine on the market today. You will see and hear of many amazing finds by while metal detecting that use machines with no target ID at all. You need to be a good enough detectorist to know that target ID and discrimination are tools that need to be used in moderation for you to be as successful as you can be. So, the next time you come upon a pull-tab signal or a s'cap, think twice before you go on your merry way. I would dig a hundred pull-tabs for one gold ring.

Coin Retrieval Techniques In Grass

Grass There are different tools for different jobs. These tools are for grass retrieval . It may not be a complete list of tools, but they are the tools that I have found that work.

Probe, screw driver, ground shark, gator trowel, sun glasses, electronic probe, and handkerchief.

Most coin's can be removed from the grass areas in a lawn area or a athletic field by simply using a screw driver as a probe and once the coin is located with the probe, working it out of the grown with a screw driver. The screw driver doubling as a probe and the screw drive/ removal instrument. One instrument serves two different uses.

Removal for this first technique goes like this: The coin is located using the detector. The pin pointing is done with that detector as per manufactures recommendations. Once the coins approximate location is located, the screw driver is pushed slowly and deliberately into the ground in an effort to find the coin.

You will get better at determining if it is a rock or a coin once you have been at it for a while. Note: notice I said you push the screw driver into the ground slowly . You don't need to be stabbing the ground. You are searching, take it easy. If you don't you will scratch your coin. It could mean the difference in several hundred dollars if you have a rare coin under your coil. Trouble is you never know when this is going to happen. Once you locate the coin, gently enlarge the hole around the coin so as to work it out of the ground.

How to enlarge hole: Withdraw your probe/screw drive, and gently insert it into the ground about a half inch away from the coins location and make a circular motion with your screw driver, after you have it berried to the handle. If this is done several times around the coin it will provide you with enough room to work the coin to the surface without damaging it.

After the coin is removed, another nice trick is to re-insert the screw drive into the ground and push the hole openings closed from the outside, this can be done to some extent to give the lawn back it's original appearance. You always want to close any holes that you make.

I mentioned sun glasses, I like to wear a pair when I'm using a screw driver to retrieve coins. It seems, it's always my luck to be prying up on a coin that gives way and I accidentally throws dirt in my eyes. That can ruin your day.

One other item that I think every single coin shooter ought to have is a lock jaw shot from the doctor of your choice. I didn't mention that you will run up in broken glass, rusty metals of all types and have the opportunity to cut your self to hell and back, so wear gloves when you play in the dirt. I keep a pair handy but I don't like to wear them a bunch because they get in the way, but if I'm working in the area the there is a lot of broken glass, and rusty metal, I don't mind putting up with the minor inconvenience.

The only other item I have yet to mention is knee pads. They are a must. Please pick yourself up a pair. They are to cheap not to have them and use them. I use mine in the parks as well as any where else. If you have ever had a hurt knee, you won't even question this logic. A hurt knee will put you on the bench for a whole summer or longer.

Now, let's cover the Plug Method:. I like to use several instruments for plugging, it all depends where I am at, and how careful I must be.

I use the Bowie Knife, it's a good take off of the bowie knife, it has hack saw like teeth up close to the handle and the knife part looks life a knife , but with closer inspection you can see it is a spade shaped like a knife.

I also like to use a Ground Shark. It's a cup shovel that has a handle that is about 18 inches long . It also has the saw tooth construction on one side if the shovel blade. It is made out of steel, and has a life time warranty .

There are also times when I just use a gator trowel . Most folks just use the gator trowel when they are working grass areas. This looks a lot like a regular garden trowel but is quite a bit beefier that the common garden trowel and once again this trowel has the saw tooth construction on the side if the trowel for cutting tree roots, if needed.

It depends a lot on the ground condition for me as to which one of these tools I will use. The plug method is used on coins that are deep. What is deep? I would say anything over 7 inches.

A lot depends on your skill at using your screw driver. Some wouldn't use a plug in the grass for any coin unless that coin was over 10 and deeper.

Anyway, having said that, here is how this method is done. Locate the coin with the detector as per manufactures recommendations. Once you have the coin pin pointed using the detector, set your screw driver at that point by gently inserting it into the ground. Then you can use the bowie knife, ground shark, gator trowel, or what ever your tool of choice may be. Just simply make a plug keeping your screw driver in the center of the plug.

I like to use a drop cloth or a handkerchief to put the plug on. I lay the drop out next to the pug and simply left the plug from the hole and lay it on the drop.

I like to use my bowie knife to cut open the bottom of the plug to find my coin. If I can't find the coin I use my electronic probe to locate the coin. There are times when you will find that the coin had turned the same color as the soil, and it's hard to see. You may even need to search the hole to find the coin, it may not be in the plug.

Once you locate your coin, left the plug from the drop and place the dirt from the drop in the hole and place the plug back in the hole. Making sure that you match the plug to the exact way it came out . Always recheck your hole with your detector after retrieval . There may be more than one coin.

There are two things that you can do to insure the next guy will not get ran off for your behavior . Please take all the trash you dig with you, and cover your holes.

Places to go Metal Detecting

Some ideas...

  • Schools
  • Parks
  • Churches
  • Old Home Sites
  • Swimming Holes
  • Beaches
  • Ghost Towns
  • Battlefields
  • Picnic Groves
  • College Campuses
  • Gold Nugget Producing Areas
  • Ore Shafts And Cuts
  • Old Camp meeting Grounds
  • Cellar Holes
  • Scout Camps
  • Fairgrounds
  • Old Ball fields
  • Sledding Areas
  • Dance Areas
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