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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

After hours jewelry hunting

Many beaches have areas that are off limits to swimmers or sun bathers during normal beach hours, but just because areas are not busy during the day they can still be little gold mines if you take the time to search them. 
Far too many beach or water hunters hone in on crowded areas of the beach and ignore lesser used areas at the same beach. 
I always check out areas of the beach that are less likely to be attractive to other beach or water hunters. 
Areas on the edge of heavily hunted places,  or areas that are off limits to swimmers and sun bathers during normal beach hours. 
I do a lot of my beach and water hunting after normal beach hours and I search a lot of different beaches. 
Early in the morning or late at night, it is sometimes impossible to tell where the busiest section of a beach is. 
I kind of like not knowing where I should search,  as it often puts me over a jewelry hunting spot I would probably not have discovered if I had seen a crowded section and been lured by the appeal of more people equals more lost jewelry. 
These gold finds were recovered last year before the lifeguards arrived at the beach to put the warning cones out saying no swimming in the area. 


A you can see by the jewelry I found in knee to waist deep water close to the pier,  people swim, play and lose jewelry after normal beach hours. 
Even though I know this beach is hit hard by other beach or water hunters, the pier is just looked at as a turn around point.
Just like the last line of sun beds on a crowded beach, the last lifeguard tower at the end of the beach, or the last beach entrance at the beach.
Take advantage of the competition, by searching areas at the beach ignored by people using metal detectors. 
Nine times out of ten, you will recover more targets in those areas than the heavily hunted areas everyone with a metal detector is lured to.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Knowing when to move on to the next site

This weekend was a good weekend for jewelry hunting, I had a three hour water hunt on Saturday before dawn and a two hour afternoon low tide wet sand hunt on Sunday.
My total jewelry finds were one platinum & 18K gold ring with a 3/4 carat diamond, one silver and gold ring, one 18K wedding band and 6 silver rings, I lost track of the junk jewelry.
Even though I only went metal detecting a total of five hours I kicked jewelry hunting butt, although knowledge of my local beaches had a lot to do with my success this weekend.
I recovered the heavy 0.7 ounce platinum and gold ring at a site I recovered a heavy platinum band a short while ago,  I recovered the other two gold rings at a different local beach.

The high end jewelry was found at a beach with a high end hotel, the other gold rings were found in the wet sand opposite a beachside condo.
This is the reason why I like to search a high number of beaches, and the reason why beach or water hunters I do know and meet say "Hey I have not seen you for ages"
I like that kind of greeting and could not imagine being known as the guy who always hunts that spot.
When you move around hitting different beach sites, you always find a wide variety of jewelry.
Walking off the beach on Saturday morning, I checked out a small site on the way home that I knew I was going to be at on Sunday afternoon. 
It looked good and I returned Sunday afternoon and found gold, as I have on many previous occasions.
Many beach or water hunters would have returned to the same site they found a platinum & 18K band, but thats just not me.
I hit that site hard and it was time to move onto the next jewelry hunting site, you have to have confidence in your coverage skill's.
In my opinion, the worst mistake a jewelry hunter can make is looking at sites through rose tinted glasses.
Just because you found something nice, does not mean you can go back straight away and have success again.
Try moving on to a different beach, get busy scooping targets instead of covering ground you have already recently searched. 



Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Walking or scooping?

I metal detect at some of the most heavily hunted beaches in the world, the tourist beaches of Florida.
The beach and water at many tourist beaches in Florida are searched night and day by a small army of full time treasure hunters.
On Sunday morning I arrived at a tourist beach with six other people already metal detecting at the beach.
Two water hunters, one wet sander and three dry sanders, the water looked the most promising area so I decided to follow the water hunters.
One guy was searching in chest deep water, the other was wading along a straight line in the shallows.
I chose to follow the guy in the deeper water, who was searching along a straight line on the edge of the sand bar.
An east west direction search pattern allowed me to cover more of the slope on the sand bar, than the straight line water hunter I was following.
I was surprised by the amount of targets I was recovering, many targets were higher up on the slope of the sand bar.
Not surprisingly the other water hunters faded into the distance as I got stuck into scooping and recovering targets.
These five pieces of gold made their way into my finds pouch, recovered from the spot the competition could not wait to get away from.


I guess you can get lucky on a tourist beach searching long distances in one straight line, but I would rather put all my efforts into a more concentrated search.
The longer I have been beach and water hunting, the less I travel around at the beach.  
I look at my short concentrated power hunting style as making the most of my beach or water hunting time.
A bit like traveling long distances to detect, why spend hours behind the wheel traveling to a beach many miles away, when you can spend all your time metal detecting at a local beach.
Far too many beach and water hunters look like they are in a hurry to head somewhere else.
Some of my local beaches resemble a scene from the Benny Hill show, as several beach or water hunters race around trying to cover the best areas before the competition.
Anytime you start scooping targets, the last thing you want to do is walk away from a target rich spot at a tourist beach.
Expand the search area and pound the heck out of the site,  every scoop you make is one step closer to recovering gold.
You will find more gold with your scoop than your boots!












Thursday, March 12, 2015

Large search coils and site selection

I have used several large search coils for beach and water hunting, on both quiet and trashy beaches.
When you decide to use a large search coil at the beach, it is always best to know why you are using it.
That means knowing what you are hoping to find and picking a search area the big search coil will shine in. 
If I install a large search coil on my metal detector, I always hope to find Spanish shipwreck artifacts and big mama jammer pieces of gold or platinum jewelry.
My two favorite areas to use large search coils, are shipwreck beaches and out in deeper water away from shore at tourist beaches.
A big search search can detect the type of targets I hope to find in less trashy areas, a quick look at my finds page on my website at www.garydrayton.com will confirm that last statement.
The majority of the competition for finds at many beaches use 10 or 11 inch search coils, a 17 inch search coil on my CTX 3030 opens up a whole new level of sand.
Using a large search coil and no discrimination only increases that advantage in depth, assuming you use a large search coil in the correct area.
Dont get me wrong I love small search coils too, but just like using a large search coil a small search coil is best used in areas that allow the small coil to shine.
Last year I had a really good run of finding big gold and platinum bands, many were recovered at heavily hunted beaches in areas that allowed me to get the maximum depth advantage from using an extra large search coil.
I search over many beaches with large rocks, my big 17 inch search coil is still able to detect targets at decent depths when swept over the top of rocks.
A metal detecting harness will help balance out the weight of a big search coil,  especially when you are using a large search coil to cover ground. 
The use of a large search coil is not all about depth, you can cover a large amount of ground using a big search coil. 
I prefer to cover more ground on quiet beaches and less ground on trashy beaches, again it comes back to search coil size and site selection.
This rocky beach close to the Oak Island swamp was the perfect place to use a large search coil.
I recovered several english copper coins from the 1600s & 1700s on the lower beach, along with several Canadian early silver coins from the early 1800s on the upper beach. 


Going around these type of rocks with a small search coil was not possible, going over the top of them with the big 17 inch CTX 3030 coil was the best option. 





Saturday, March 7, 2015

Bulldozer platinum

Yesterday I decided to hit a beach I had passed earlier in the week on my way to work. 
I had seen a bulldozer moving sand from the mid beach to the lower beach, cleaning up after the city had moved a lifeguard tower. 
I only had a two hour window before work to search the area, but I made the most of my time. 
I searched the dry sand using a moderate amount of discrimination for an hour, recovering a 10K gold ring with diamonds and a silver ring. 
My last hour was spent inside the water, to see if anything of value had made its way into the water from the bulldozed sand. 
I recovered several quarters, dimes and pennies, before finding another silver ring, cell phone and platinum band with diamonds. 


This beach is heavily sanded in, Im quite confident everything I recovered was found because the bulldozer moved the sand around. 
Anytime you see heavy equipment working on the beach, you have a great opportunity to find jewelry or coins. 
This is the second time in the last year I have recovered gold and platinum on a tourist beach thanks to bulldozers moving sand around on the beach.
The other side to this story is being willing and able to search different areas at a beach. 
Although the more expensive find came out of the water, it was more than likely pushed there from up in the dry sand. 
Heavy gold and platinum rings sink very fast up in the dry sand, especially in areas where large numbers of sun beds are put out in lines, or areas on the beach that many people walk over. 
You only have a short window of opportunity to recover this type of jewelry lost in the dry sand, before it is lost until beach erosion or heavy equipment gives you another shot at recovering it. 
Beach cleaning tractor turn around points, are another place where jewelry can be moved by heavy equipment from one area of the beach to another. 
The shallow water opposite many of these turn around points are often hot little jewelry hunting sites, especially when these areas are cut or eroded. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Can slaw and foil signals in the water

This photo of half a pound of gold chains is the reason why you never give up on any signal you think may be a piece of aluminum when water hunting. 



Chains can sometimes mimic can slaw during the recover process, by moving around from the first place they were detected. 
When you try to scoop a piece of "Can slaw" in the water, it often flutters to a different location close by, if you do not get it in your scoop basket on the first or second attempt. 
I believe every semi-experienced water hunter has dealt with the frustration of trying to recover a pesky pull tab or piece of foil.
You should never give up on any good sounding target in the water or on the beach. 
Chains sound really good when you are lucky enough to put your search coil over them.
Unfortunately, chains have a bad habit of falling through your scoop basket holes and can make you believe you are chasing can slaw or foil. 
Sometimes, you get lucky and see a chain draped over the edge of your scoop basket, or the chain is balled up in the bottom of your scoop basket. 
Last year I found several large gold chains with pendants that were easy to recover, but quite a few smaller gold chains and bracelets without pendants in the water that took a lot of attempts to successfully recover. 
I am like a dog on a meat wagon when I hear the gold tone with my Minelab CTX 3030 and Excalibur. 
No matter how close another person is standing next to me in the water, or how the rough the surf is I am searching in. 
I am not going to walk away from that signal until I see the target in my hand, because I know how can slaw or pull tabs mimic gold. 
I also never walk away until I am absolutely sure the target in my hand was the only good sounding target, just in case a second target is in the area. 
Never assume you are walking away from a trash target in the water, because the target has moved around since the first time you detected it. 
That target may be a chain or an ear ring that keeps falling through your scoop basket. 
When I run across obvious signs of digging activity in the water at heavily hunted beaches, I even check other peoples holes in the water.
I have found several really nice pieces of gold close to open holes, on the beach and in the water. 



Monday, March 2, 2015

Sometimes, treasure is where you know it is.

After a hectic work week and an even busier family weekend,  I needed a metal detecting fix last night. 
I decided to follow up on a ring I knew was lost about a year ago after a party in the front yard of a house down the street. 
I had offered to recover the lost ring back when it was first lost, but I was told to get lost in no uncertain terms, thats putting it mildly. 
The house has been empty a couple of weeks, so I took our pit bull for a walk and took a metal detector with me. 
I remembered several people looking for the ring close to a cactus bush in the yard, and that is where I started my search. 
It is not very often you get a gold ring on your first signal, but that is exactly what happened last night. 
I used my Lesche tool to cut a plug in the grass and a gold sapphire and diamond band rolled out onto my lesche tool blade, it does not get any easier than that.


This story is a good example of how you can often find gold by just following up on stories of lost jewelry. 
I kind of use the same approach to Spanish treasure hunting, by following up on leads I hear about old coins or artifacts found or rumored to be found. 
The 1836 gold coin on my website was found after seeing a post on a detecting forum, and the Spanish silver religious artifact was found after reading about a rumored wreck site on the Treasure Coast. 
I have a few more leads I intend to follow up on soon, a 2 carat diamond ring lost in an overgrown parking lot and a mason jar of silver dollars buried by a friends grandparents back in the 1950s. 
The same guys grandparents remember picking up round black discs on the beach after a storm in the same area. 
I know many readers of this blog must have been told similar stories, when people find out you are into metal detecting.