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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Trying new beaches

Hands up how many beach and especially water hunter's never try different beaches, you can all put your hands down now.
Although I have not been detecting very much this month, I am quite sure I could go to any local beach and see the same faces searching the same areas they always do.
Do not get me wrong, Im not complaining as it is useful knowing where and how the local beach and water hunters search all the time. 
I search many different beaches, so many different beaches that I gave up trying to rotate the sites. 
Increased competition for metal detecting finds does not effect me as much as the average local beach hunter, who searches the same beach like its Groundhog day. 
This is one of the reasons why I am not known to many local beach hunters,  its difficult to identify someone if they do not search the same beach every time they go metal detecting. 
Some of my favorite productive sites are at certain beaches, but I only search them when I know they are ripe for jewelry hunting.
If you are tired of seeing the same faces searching the same sites, now would be a good time to break the cycle of searching for scraps left behind by full time beach and water hunters. 
Trying new beaches is a great way to put yourself in position to recover more jewelry and coins. 
Leave over hunted beaches to groundhog hunters, who are usually too afraid to search different beaches in case they miss anything. 
You would be surprised how monkey see, monkey do, beach and water hunting has become. 
From metal detecting equipment, to settings and clothes, everyone wants to use the same stuff and search the same places the same way.
In my opinion, it is much better to try something different, think outside the box by using different equipment and search different places. 
You have everything to gain and nothing to lose, simply by exploring and trying new things.
I would much rather search a beach I have never detected and strike out, than join the competition on a heavily hunted beach.
Scroll down my Facebook wall and look at the platinum, gold and silver rewards from thinking outside the box as a beach and water hunter. 
Here is a shot of over four ounces of gold jewelry found earlier in the year,  five total beach and water hunting hours over two different hunts.


There was not another beach or water hunter in sight,  which is probably the reason I find gold at these unsexy beaches that other people rarely bother to search. 


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Old and modern productive sites

These 18th century Spanish military buckles are two of my favorite beach hunting finds, they were found a month apart at the same Treasure Coast beach.


Check out the hand file marks on the buckle on the left, the encrusted sand was knocked off by my scoop as I dug the buckle out of the hard packed shell line on the lower beach.
A month later on the next full moon low tide, I recovered the second buckle.
I have no doubt there are more artifacts or treasure coins waiting to be recovered at the same site. 
The old Spanish shipwreck beaches that I like to metal detect at, always produce old artifacts and coins. 
Sometimes these sites are heavily sanded in for months, or a year or two, but when the sand levels fall again they become productive. 
Unlike searching for fresh jewelry drops on modern tourist beaches, you have to be more patient when stalking old finds. 
I regularly check out sand levels on my favorite older productive sites, using nearby beach webcams to decide if it is time to drop modern bling hunting to go in search of older finds. 
Even though I find mega bling in south Florida,  I would rather find an old Spanish shipwreck artifact than a modern diamond ring, any day of the week and twice on Sundays.
Through the years I have noticed that my favorite treasure hunting sites for old and modern finds, remain equally productive.  
I just have to wait a bit longer for Spanish shipwreck sites to open up, unlike tourist beaches where finds tend to be shallower. 
Metal detector depth is very important when searching for old artifacts and treasure coins,  target separation is more important when searching for shallower modern jewelry. 
Large targets like these old Spanish buckles, are less likely to be found washed up after rough surf than the cut Spanish silver reale I found a couple of weeks ago on a Treasure Coast beach using my CTX 3030.
You need a VLF metal detector with a large search coil, or a pulse induction metal detector to punch deep into the sand to detect deeply buried targets. 
I hardly ever use any discrimination when searching my favorite shipwreck beaches, to avoid missing a potentially valuable target. 
On the other hand, when I search my favorite productive modern sites, I avoid digging any potential junk target to increase my chances of recovering valuable targets.
Two different approaches to two different kinds of productive site, I never search every beach the same way using the same equipment. 







Thursday, September 11, 2014

A metal detector must read

Your metal detector manual is the most important accessory that comes with your metal detector, you will learn more about your metal detector in the manual than anything you learn off any internet metal detecting forum. 
Many beach and water hunters ignore the metal detector manual, they go straight to the metal detecting forums for opinions from other people using the same metal detector.
No doubt, using generic control settings given by people who use the same metal detector in different parts of the world.
Cutting corners and trying to fast track the learning curve on an unfamiliar metal detector, has the same effect as people new to beach hunting told to go straight into the water to search for jewelry. 
Everything you need to know about how to use your metal detector is in the manual, everything else you need to know about your metal detector is discovered by experimenting with different settings.  
I have found that I get better performance out of some metal detectors by doing the opposite of advice recommended in the manual.
You can only discover what works best for you, by reading the manual many times and first using the basic recommended settings. 
When you know how your metal detector performs, you can fine tune it to get maximum depth and sensitivity to all targets on the beaches that you search on.
Nothing will set you back more as a beach or water hunter, than not knowing why you have your metal detector controls set the way they are.
Blindly following other peoples metal detector settings is lazy, just as lazy as chasing other peoples detecting spots, instead of finding your own.
I always feel awkward when other beach and water hunters ask me for my metal detector settings,  especially when they metal detect hundreds of miles away from me.
It is highly unlikely my fine tuned metal detector settings will give the same results on a beach hundreds of miles away, in who knows what kind of conditions.
Basic recommended settings can be found in any metal detector manual,  read your manual and experiment from there. 
When I go to the beach, the first thing I do after turning on my metal detector and walking a few yards, is adjust my metal detector threshold and sensitivity. 
I want to know that my metal detector is handling the ground and not behaving erratically, then I make any adjustments to other settings after I know my metal detector is running smooth. 
I tweak my settings, so I can operate my metal detector a tad hot but at a sensitivity range where I can clearly distinguish the occasional false signal from a real target. 
If you set and forget your metal detector controls, you are not getting the best out of your metal detector, especially using the same metal detector settings on every beach you search.



Monday, September 8, 2014

Finding gold without getting your feet wet.

I have been a "Weekend warrior" for  large chunks of the summer time,  metal detecting for two or three hours on either a Saturday or Sunday.
Not seeing the beach very often, makes it tough to get a good idea of the conditions to expect when you arrive at the beach to detect.
Using beach web cams help, but you cannot beat an up close look and walk on the beach you intend to search.
I use versatile Minelab metal detectors, so changing beach hunting plans including search coils is not a problem for me.
It also helps that many full time beach and water hunters in Florida, are very one dimensional hunters. 
They either predominantly water hunt, wet sand, or dry sand. 
Very few people I see regularly hunting the same places, search different parts of the beach, they either do one thing or the other. 
Early on Sunday morning when I found this 14K gold band, I knew there was little chance of seeing the local full time hunters.


High tide was the simple reason for the lack of regular hunters, and the full timers wonder why I beat them to the gold? 
Water hunters and wet sanders make the same mistake of not bothering to go metal detecting when the tide is high. 
Leaving the beach to enterprising dry sanders, who can vouch that all gold and silver jewelry is not lost in the water. 
Because I search all the beach,  I rarely have any metal detecting down time due to sanded in conditions or high tides and I continue to find gold on a regular basis.
I also never just browse the beach web cams with an eye towards people using the lower beach and water, as you can see by the gold I recovered on Sunday.
On Sunday I went to the beach hoping to find gold jewelry, not to water hunt, wet sand, or dry sand. 
It just so happened that the dry sand was the best option,  on with the smaller search coil and home with a piece of gold. 
Maybe if I went to the beach to water hunt, or search the wet sand using the same equipment every time, the full moon high tide would have forced me to return home.
I do not box hunt, so I will never know what it feels like to return home empty handed because it was sanded in, or high tide. 







Saturday, September 6, 2014

Traveling to detect

One of the things I look for in a metal detector is versatility, does it break down easily and can it be used in a variety of beach and water hunting situations. 
My Sovereign and Excalibur were good traveling detectors, and I took them with me on many trips to England. 
The CTX 3030 is an excellent metal detector to take on detecting trips, and the SDC 2300 is crazy compact,  like the swiss army knife of metal detectors.  
Here is a photo of my CTX 3030, an aluminum travel scoop, a towel, snorkel, mask and my Union Jack Speedos in a back pack on a beach in the Dutch West Indies. 


I walked off the cruise ship with everything I needed to go beach and water hunting in a back pack. 
On my next vacation I can travel even lighter, if I decide to take my SDC 2300. 
Another advantage to versatile and compact metal detectors, is security if you want to take two different metal detectors to the beach. 
You can break your metal detector down and hide it in a vehicle much better,  you can hide a SDC 2300 under your front seat! 
I often take two metal detectors to the beach, my metal detectors are easy to cover and keep in a shaded part of the vehicle. 
A metal detector mounted on a long straight shaft is more difficult to cover and hide from sight.
Metal detectors have increased in price, and obviously more expensive to replace if you get your vehicle broken into.
I do not always have to take two metal detectors to local beaches, sometimes I just take a couple of different size search coils. 
My CTX 3030 is also good for traveling to detect, because I can swap search coils within minutes.
A spare search coil can be carried with you in a back pack, this is great for people who detect long distances from where they park their vehicle at the beach. 
I sometimes carry a spare CTX 3030 mounted on a lower rod in my back pack like an arrow in an archers quiver. 
The more mobile you can be with your metal detector, the more places you can get to search, the more jewelry and coins you have a chance of recovering.
Versatile treasure hunting equipment allows you to maximize your treasure hunting time, and be ready for any expected changes to your treasure hunting plans.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A way to search the fluffy stuff

I learned how to use a metal detector in England, shortly after finding a 1790 gold coin while digging for old bottles and clay pipes.
The sight of that gold coin against the black Lincolnshire mud was more than enough to make me change hobbies.
After using my Minelab Sovereign over plowed and dragged fields, I learned how important it was to follow the contours of the land with a search coil.
Many metal detectors do not do very well over fluffy airy surfaces, my Sovereign was no exception. 
Changing to a smaller search coil made life easier, especially as many of the targets I detected were relatively shallow targets trapped in the folds of earth left behind by the tractor. 
Instead of using a large search coil and moving across the top of the worked land hoping for the best, I was able to hug the dips and folds in the land using a smaller search coil and detect more targets.
I added this method of covering worked land to my beach and water hunting techniques,  searching on the beach and in the water close to shore in sanded in areas. 
Beach and water hunters who only use the same size large search coil are at a disadvantage over fluffy or mushy sand, if the area is hilly or deeply rippled.
Moving a 10, 11, 12 inch or bigger search coil over the top of fluffy hilly sand only puts your search coil further away from targets.
Going with a smaller search coil will give you a chance of locking onto shallow targets on the bottom and sides of slopes in sanded in areas.
I have been having a lot of success jewelry hunting lately in sanded in conditions, using a smaller CTX 3030 search coil and the SDC 2300 with an 8 inch search coil.
Some of the platinum, gold and silver jewelry I found in August were deep targets, others were just difficult to detect because of the hilly sanded in terrain. 
Like I have said before, when you are faced with sanded in conditions, you still have a chance of finding something if you change your metal detecting equipment,  beach and water hunting tactics, or both.


If you look closely you can see the hilly surface inside the shallow water, my SDC 2300 8 inch coil was able to hug the bottom of the valleys and score several pieces of gold jewelry. 
Gold that may have been missed if I had used a larger search coil over the top of the heavily rippled sand. 


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Ears first, eyes second.

I always trust my ears when treasure hunting, even though one of my favorite metal detectors has a screen that allows me to get visual target IDs. 
Some of my recent jewelry has been recovered from decent depths,  and more than a few pieces of gold and platinum jewelry recovered last month were pleasant surprises in my scoop.
Heavy gold bands, like this pair recovered over the weekend are not surface finds! 



That is the problem with searching for dense heavy metals like platinum and gold, they normally sink deeper and respond with broken signals. 
The reason for this is simple, target IDS when using a  discrimination search mode are only good to a certain depth.
When a discriminating VLF metal detector gets to the point where it cannot correctly identify a target, it often classifies the target as trash and rejects it. 
Once you have spent some time with your metal detector, you will learn how deep targets sound, and be less inclined to automatically reject "Iffy"sounding signals when searching in a discrimination mode. 
Targets on the edge of detection range respond with soft whisper signals, sometimes broken signals. 
If you have a screen, use your depth indicator to help you figure out if it is a trash target close to the surface being correctly rejected, or a deep target your metal detector cannot correctly identify.
All targets giving mixed signals with maxed out depth indicator readings should be further investigated.
When you start to scoop what you suspect to be a deep target, never walk away if the signal disappears. 
You may have pushed the target on edge or pushed the target deeper into the sand. 
A few scoops of sand removed from the area, will often cause the target signal to increase in volume.
I have spent so much time using my Minelab CTX 3030 that I can tell the difference between a quarter, a penny and a dime, searching in the Beach Mode when they are too deep to correctly identify on my screen.
I can now tell a pull tab from a gold ring on my CTX 3030 audio,  just like I could using a Minelab Excalibur. 
The point of todays blog is to get beach and water hunters to understand how discrimination only works up to a certain depth. 
I know some of the gold and platinum bands I found last month here on heavily hunted south Florida beaches, were probably left behind by people covering the beach, instead of covering the ground. 
Every inch your search coil is swept above the sand, every step you walk faster, increases your chances of not going home with gold or platinum. 
A double whammy, you cannot hear whisper signals, or see suspected deep targets if you use a screen, when your beach or water hunting technique is flawed.