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Thursday, May 21, 2020

Fighting for scraps

I took this photo at one of my favorite heavily hunted beaches because it reminded me of detectorists who flocked to this beach that day, one after another buzzing around trying to get lucky.

The day I took the photo I didn't get lucky but I recovered a nice Spanish treasure coin from the late 1600s, I do not class the recover as lucky because I have previously recovered many similar treasure coins from the exact same area.
The reason I went there was because I have recovered many Spanish treasure coins at this site, not because others have found Spanish treasure coins at this site.
Getting to know a productive site starts with research and putting the hunt in treasure hunt, not waiting around for favorable conditions or hitting a site hoping to get lucky detecting with the beach hunting crowd.
I imagine 90% of detectorists hitting a heavily hunted site are hitting that site because they heard someone got lucky there so they hope to get lucky.  
The other 10% are there because they probably know it is a good site or area from their previous recoveries at that heavily hunted area and they probably do not rely so much on luck.
If you follow "Hearsay" stories the only thing you often end up chasing and finding is your own tail. 
The small percentage of finders find and the majority of hunters keep hunting at sites that see many detectorists.
One way to insure you get on the right side of that treasure hunting equation is to research sites and search a wide variety of sites.
Or you could wait for a blogger or a metal detecting forum member with a lot of posts instead of finds behind their name to tell you when the "Conditions" are favorable to recover what you hope to find. 
Nothing beats knowing why you are searching an area and knowing you are capable of recovering what you are searching for at a wide variety of sites.
This is a much better treasure hunting strategy that will not leave you feeling like you are just searching for left over scraps or hoping to get lucky.
Research, site reading skills and knowing your metal detector manual by heart put you to the front of the pack at heavily hunted sites, especially if you are at those sites as a repeat finder! 
I search some of the most heavily hunted shipwreck and tourist beaches in the world and I try to run a tight ship, pun intended!
I avoid posting or sharing recent finds in all the excitement to avoid giving productive areas away or a repeat of being followed to sites by lazy beach hunters. 
Heavily hunted beaches are some of the least productive beaches in the long run, so I generally avoid searching them unless I have a reason to be there.
Fighting over scraps is not my style, I prefer researching and discovering the next productive site knowing exactly where everyone is going to search given the opportunity to go beach hunting. 
Just like the bees in the photo, you can buzz around with the crowd or you can do your research, become proficient using your metal detector and drink from the well where ever and when ever. 

Friday, May 15, 2020

Ring hunting 101

Rings are by far the easiest items of jewelry for a beach hunter to detect, if you know how and where to find them.
The how is easy, cover the beach sweeping slow and low until you put your metal detector search coil over one.
The where is also easy if you select the right sites to search, its obvious by the bling bling on the cover of my Jewelry hunting book I believe in the famous real estate mantra location, location, location.
I look at rings as easy targets for a beach hunter to detect because they are highly attractive metal objects to a metal detector, objects made of precious metals formed in a circle shape.
It does not get any better than that, the shape of rings and the highly conductive metals they are made of make it more likely a beach hunter is going to detect quite a few rings if they choose the right sites to search.
Coins are another example of easy targets for a metal detector to detect at a beach, flat and round shaped.  
Im my opinion, beach jewelry hunters are their own worst enemies blaming poor beach conditions and even their metal detecting equipment for a lack of ring recoveries.
There is no such thing as poor beach conditions, unfavorable beach conditions are just opportunities for hardcore beach hunters to recover more rings. 
Back in 2007 I recovered 274 gold rings as a weekend warrior only searching beaches for an average of six hours every weekend that year, I recovered 12 gold rings in one morning at one local tourist beach.
The kind of ring recovery success that gets you kicked off metal detecting forums because they believe you own a jewelry store lol  
Searching for rings at tourist beaches, use a good VLF (Very low frequency) metal detector that allows you to use a little discrimination, the old timers "You have to dig it all" in case you miss something of value is bad advice at tourist beaches searching for rings. 
Every rusty fish hook or crusty bottle cap you stop to dig prevents you from returning home with a platinum, gold or silver ring. 
Any experienced beach hunter should know the difference between a fish hook, bottle cap and gold ring right? they probably do but they still stop to dig junk instead of moving on. 
If you are using any one of todays good VLF metal detectors there is no excuse for digging undesirable junk at the beach.  
Will your metal detector misidentify the odd ring on the edge of detection depth, sure but you should never worry about the rings you cannot detect, get busy digging the rings you can detect!
As for location, you have to search where you are likely to detect whatever it is you are searching for.
I love the thrill of recovering expensive pieces of jewelry and I know my wife and daughters are not going to be happy with spring breaker or surfer crowd rings lol so I hit beaches popular with middle aged or older people. 
Do I miss the eye candy sure, but I do not miss the more valuable rings at beaches that attract an older crowd, I should add I am happily married with children so I only ever check out scantly clad ladies at the beach with one eye.
Rings are recovered at the beach when you hit the right areas with the right metal detector searching over the sand slowly, insuring you detect circles of precious metals. 
The slower you search an area the more small gold you will be able to detect, which is important as the most valuable rings often weigh the less with thin platinum or gold bands holding precious stones.
Detect the thin bands and you will have no problem detecting larger or chunkier rings, beach hunters who only find large rings should stop to think why they struggle to find smaller rings.
No doubt the answer is related to location, metal detector or search techniques and all of these things can easily be corrected. 
Remember it is often the precious stones that make an expensive ring expensive, not the precious metals content so it is very important for a beach jewelry hunter to detect what I refer to in my beach hunting guides as small gold.  
Many of my of most valuable Bobby Dazzler rings are just a plain platinum or gold band with prongs holding large diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, rubies, amethysts and other precious gems.
If you need help putting your search coil over rings, I know a guy with a website and a jewelry hunting guide who has recovered thousands of rings at the beach.

                                            available now at 

Monday, May 4, 2020

A side order of gold

Side detection is not something you often see mentioned, but in my opinion it is an important to understand how it can be a big advantage at eroded beaches and in trashy areas.
Several years ago I bought and tried a metal detector I had my eye on for a while, but the lack of side detection caused me to sell the metal detector after only one month.
I recovered 39 pieces of gold jewelry that month using the metal detector, but I still decided to sell the metal detector after I detected a tin can. 
Selling the metal detector came about because the edge of the search coil had to be touching the tin can to detect it, the tin can was detected under the search coil but that should really be a given no matter what.
The tin can experience showed me just how important side detection is and I learned from it.
I always used to think my favorite Minelab metal detectors stunk at pin-pointing targets, until I realized how good the metal detectors are at detecting targets away from the edge of the search coil. 
For example, my CTX 3030 with an 11 inch search coil can detect a small size gold wedding band a good 3 to 4 inches away from the edge of the search coil. 
That translates to a 14 nor 15 inch detection foot print when you sweep an 11 inch search coil across the ground. 
Now you know why it is important to use a small size search coil in trashy areas, because of the amount of targets your Minelab can detect under the search coil and to the side of the search coil. 
Kissing the base of a cut on an eroded beach insures you detect every target along the base of the cut because you have the added advantage of side detection. 
In less trashy wide open areas, a larger search coil helps you to cover the entire area faster, assuming you have the advantage of side detection from your search coil. 
I am a big fan of target testing on search sites to check the capability of metal detectors and search coils I use, better to test than potentially miss what you hope to find at the sites you search.
Lessons learned from target testing can be gold on future hunts, knowing you can detect what you are searching allows you to concentrate on reading the site being searched.
It is the less talked about things like side detection that can make a difference between a successful hunt and unsuccessful hunt. 

available at

Monday, April 27, 2020

Gambling and luck

Two things I rarely do is gamble or rely on luck, which is kind of ironic as some people associate treasure hunting with compulsive gambling.
I watched an Oak island special recently with a human behavior expert who stated how treasure hunters have several things in common with compulsive gamblers.
I am not a compulsive gambler was my first reaction, but then I thought about how many detectorists do resemble compulsive gamblers.
What I mean by that is people who continually search the same site or sites hoping to get lucky one more time.
When I thought about it some more, it dawned on me how much I rely on detectorists rolling the dice on areas known for previously paying out, hoping to get lucky just because other people have in the same areas.
I often say on this blog and in my metal detecting books how I play the percentages hitting a site, but I play the percentages to beat other gamblers and the house. 
There are only so many finds on any given day at a site, the more gamblers showing up at the same site hoping to get lucky the less winning chances they really have.
On the flip side, the less people hitting a site the more your percentages of winning or finding something good increase. 
Of course your odds of a successful hunt only increase if you stop going to the same darn sites as everyone else with a metal detector, kind of similar to obsessively playing the same slot machine every one else plays over and over again.
If I am going to play the percentages I want to be more like the owner of the casino, knowing I stand to gain a certain return percentage every time no matter what.
You can be a lucky so and so without ever having to rely on luck, research and timing are way more important than luck to a detectorist. 
Here is a novel approach to metal detecting that has worked quite well for me over the years, research potential detecting sites, search them and if you do find something good keep that site information in your top pocket until it is time to hit the site again. 
Research and timing baby! but timing also refers to being in the right place at the right time which in my opinion has very little to do with luck.
Put yourself in the right place at the right time by going to places that other detectorists would probably not bother to search.
Let other people gamble on small pay outs at known sites with the metal detecting crowd.  
"Unfavorable conditions for finding treasure" is code for lack of imagination and it is no coincidence unfavorable or sanded-in conditions only happen to the detecting crowd hoping to get lucky at the same sites.
My display case has many "Poor beach conditions ratings" finds that came about because I zigged somewhere different while others zagged at the same old sites. 
Some of my best finds are the prequels to the "I hit the beach two hours before low tide" stories you read on metal detecting forums, snagged while local beach and water hunters gambled on waiting for a low tide to change their fortunes.
It did change their fortunes and I love the stuff I recovered while they waited at home for that magical two hours before low tide time.
The odds of finding something good are always in your favor when you are a positive detectorist with imagination. 
Treasure is where you find it, literally!

available at

Monday, April 20, 2020

De-masking solutions for detectorists

There are several different target masking problems a detectorist has to deal with, but iron masking is the most widely known reason why a potentially good non ferrous target would not be detected laying next to an iron object. 
In my opinion ground noise is just as bad at masking good targets as iron objects, especially if you are a beach hunter.
Saltwater beach hunters have to deal with salt the one mineral that causes many metal detectors to become chattery and potentially hide desirable targets in the chattery feedback. 
Add salt to a mix of other minerals in the ground and you have a potential target masking problem much worse than iron masking.
If lowering your sensitivity will not make a difference over difficult ground you are probably using a search coil that is too big for the search area.
Use a large search coil over difficult ground and you will make the problem even worse as a large search coil reads more ground.
The more difficult ground your search coil reads the more good targets you will miss in the feedback from tough ground.
One way to avoid potential ground masking problems in difficult ground is to use a smaller search coil on your metal detector.
In many difficult ground cases, it is like night and day using a small search coil in the same area a large search coil struggled.
At many of my favorite sites I use small search coils to insure I do not miss any "Finger tip finds" which are easily hidden in mineralized ground using a large search coil. 

Just like the low beams seeing better thru the fog analogy, small search coils see better thru the thick fog of difficult ground. 
Changing your search coil often translates into changing your fortunes for a detectorist searching over difficult ground because you can not dig what you can not hear. 
For more tips on how to find old coins and artifacts in difficult to detect areas check out my website at 

Saturday, April 18, 2020

The shelly winters fan club

I love searching along shell lines in Florida during the winter months, especially after high winds and surf leave thick carpets of shells on the lower beach. 
Although I use a couple of different metal detectors with VDI screens, my twin optical scanners are not often on the screen they are on the sand I am walking over trying to eye ball interesting things. 
Metal detecting over a line of shells is a good way to increase your observational skills at the beach. 
Before I was into metal detecting I loved "Mud hopping" a local shire term to describe searching for bottles and clay pipes along tidal river banks.
I still use many of the things I learned from my old bottle hunting days while searching shell lines today, one of those things is to always be on the look out for anything out of place.
A shape with straight sides or an unusual color that catches your eye, if in doubt always stop and pick anything up that catches your eye as being odd, because not all Bobby Dazzlers are found using a metal detector.
On the Treasure coast of Florida you may have to pick up ninety nine pieces of sea glass before the hundredth one turns out to be a shipwreck emerald.
This large vase full of sea glass represents two shelly winters of sea glass, that is a lot of "Could it be?" moments even for an Oak Island fan.

I do not just see shells on the lower beach, I see opportunities to recover non metal objects that can often be worth more than the metal targets you are searching for using a metal detector.
Many "Eyes only" treasure finds make treasure hunting headlines around the world, from ambergris and precious gems to messages in bottles and fossils. 
Keep your eyes on shell lines and take anything you deem to be unusual home with you, sometimes you do not know what you have until you do some research.
Believe me, there is no better feeling than picking up a fantastic find that was just laying in a shell line waiting for you to come along and pick it up.
I meet many beach combers on my travels and I have heard some amazing stories of top pocket finds and bobby dazzlers being picked up by people searching for nice shells. 
Join the shelly winters fan club, membership is free and the rewards are often fantastic!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Shore things

This is my idea of fun, searching a rocky shoreline at low tide for old coins and artifacts. 

Searching uninhabited islands is always interesting because you know back in the day, there was only two ways to get to an island, either by boat or swimming.
Beaches around islands are great places to recover old coins and artifacts lost by people attempting to get on or off the island.
The rockier the beach the more chance you have of recovering something interesting, I wear my big boots with good grip because of slippery rocks.
I can not imagine trying to get in or out of a boat back in the day, probably having to carry a weapon or two wading over slippery rocks. 
No wonder musket balls are common finds on island beaches, either lost by people wading ashore or lost by people hunting along the shoreline. 
Other common finds on island beaches are buckles, buttons and coins, along with jewelry.
If you slip and fall you are going to use your hand to stop your fall and probably kiss goodbye to your ring if you push your hand into sand. 
Coins roll out of pockets as people pull themselves into boats or jump out of boats into the water. 
Once you are ashore, buttons and buckles snag, pop or snap off jackets & pants, as you brush past branches or bushes on the edge of the island.
Eventually a regular crossing or landing site may be established, perhaps a wharf or dock is built and camps are made for extended stays on an island.
Unusually high numbers of old coins or artifacts in one area are perhaps a sign of an old crossing point, landing site or inland camp. 
All of these things make island beaches an excellent record of visitors to the island over the years.
Whenever you see an offshore island you can be sure someone back in the day took the time to check the island out, it is just human nature to see what is out there.
Not all artifacts you find on island beaches were taken and lost there, a lot of really cool old objects are put there by Mother Nature during storms.
One of my favorite things to search for is old glass bottles and you will find plenty of old glass around islands, including old glass fishing floats from far away.
Ironically, unless there is a causeway to an island you are going to have to do the same thing they did back in the day to get there, swim or take a boat.
Although jet skis and kayaks make scouting trips to offshore islands fun, just make sure you are not trespassing and following local laws. 
It is island o'clock somewhere if you want to check some place different to search.