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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Thinking of getting into the hobby?


Here are three important factors for beginners to take into consideration before jumping in at the deep end, starting with researching sites, choosing the correct metal detector and using that metal detector correctly in a systematic way. 

Research 

In my opinion, research is the key to having success using a metal detector. From choosing suitable equipment to detect what you are searching for in the areas you search, to finding locations that potentially hold what you are searching for. 
If you do not do your research from the very beginning you will stunt your growth as a treasure hunter, it is important to have the right tools for any job and of course know how and where to use them. 
One of the worst mistakes someone new to the hobby can make is to go somewhere because other people search the site without knowing why. The same applies to using a metal detector because they are popular or the latest must have metal detector, research applies to search sites and treasure hunting equipment.
The what and where will help you to hit the ground running and give you time to learn the next basic foundation of metal detecting which is sweep speed and search coil control.

Sweep speed & search coil control

These two basics prevent metal detectorists from using bad habits including covering the ground  too quickly and raising the search coil at the end of each sweep.
The classic "Golf swing" you see so many newbies using, easily prevented by sweeping the search coil slow, low and level in front of you.
You will find yourself not moving forward until the end of each sweep, changing a walk into a step forward. 
A search coil kept level and close to the ground will not swing up at the end of each sweep if you keep it level thru-out the sweeping motion.
Sweep speed and search coil control help you to get the maximum target depth from your metal detector and it also insures you detect targets instead of walking over them.
If you use a metal detector with a VDI screen and potential ferrous and conductive target numbers, those readouts will be more accurate sweeping your search coil slowly over targets. 
Remember, it is not the amount of ground you cover its how you cover the ground!

Search patterns 

Talking of covering the ground, how you search an area is very important no matter what metal detector you use and where you use it.
It is always best to use a search pattern or search grid, sometimes a combination of different search patterns work very well in areas known to have productive sites.
Beaches constantly change so you have to adapt to those changes to be successful, what search techniques may have worked before at the very same site may not work now under different site conditions.
I am prepared to use at least three different search patterns when I walk onto a search site and I only decide how I am going to grid a search site after I see what the search area looks like.
There is no one way to search a site all of the time, especially as there could be a potentially more interesting site within the area you may miss using the same old search pattern.

Take baby steps as you join the best hobby in the world, a hobby that can change your fortunes if you take your time to prepare the right way. For more advice on how to become a Bobby Dazzler hunter check out my treasure hunting guides at www.garydrayton.com 

PS Happy wife happy life!

  






Saturday, September 19, 2020

Location location location

Just like the real estate business if you want to detect and recover good finds you have to go where the good finds are, especially if you search tourist beaches for jewelry.
Notice I didn't add coins as I consider coins to be nuisance targets when I go searching for platinum, gold and silver at popular tourist beaches. 
These two gold Bobby Dazzlers are Bvlgari and Cartier rings, were recovered several years ago close to high end hotels. They are just a couple of the thousands of gold rings I have recovered from tourist beaches around the world. 



I had and still have the same jewelry hunting philosophy, location, location, location and quality over quantity. 
When metal detectorists flock to packed beaches full of spring breakers I do not let the crowds fool me, I head to my favorite bling bling sites in search of a good score not a clad coin count and a toe ring.
Jewelry hunting is similar to artifact hunting, you have to do your research and get to know your sites like the back of your hand, I never just show up hoping to get lucky I stack the odds in my favor. 
Just like treasure coin or artifact hunting you will get skunked more often than you would if you headed to the main busy beach areas, but when you do recover what you are searching for you can be darn sure it will be something special.
Diversions beach hunters spend way too much time fretting over are target depth, crowd size and beach erosion. These all things that matter very little unless you understand where to find stuff and how to do it.
Starting with target depth which is very overrated, if you hope to find jewelry at the beach news flash all popular beaches are now heavily hunted thanks to popularity of treasure hunting shows.
Jewelry hunting refers to searching for lost jewelry, but anything lost on popular and heavily searched beaches does not have the luxury of sinking beyond metal detection range.
Crowded beaches translate to more coins, bottle caps, pull tabs, but not always more quality jewelry.
Beach erosion multiples the above mentioned targets, but very seldom leads to big finds if you are searching the same sites everyone else is searching with a metal detector. 
If you spend the time to research where you are more likely to recover quality finds over a greater quantity of finds you will see less completion for finds and be more successful over the long run.
I rely on a lack of targets at many of my favorite jewelry hunting sites because it puts people off from returning, especially if they go an hour or two between signals and see very few people in the area. 
I try to add to their pain by always making sure I take every last piece of metal I can detect out of a good jewelry site, just in case a coin or a good sounding crusty bottle cap gives someone hope that the site holds something better.
After all these years I still enjoy the thrill of recovering something special at a site or in an area  that other metal detectorists totally misread and disregard.
Hands up how many beach hunters even think about people reading skills or go to the trouble of tracking down romantic beachside getaway places where couples cough cough! jewelry depositors hang out at the beach away from the crowds. 
Back in the day I would often get a call to search for lost engagement rings, designer watches or gold chains, I would find and return valuable jewelry lost well away from the busier sections of beaches.
With millions of visitors to Florida and the Caribbean there was always plenty of un-returnable jewelry in need of a new home.
Jewelry is where you find it, but nine times out of ten it is not waiting around for you very long where everyone else is metal detecting. 
For more Bobby Dazzler hunting tips check out my beach treasure hunting guides on my website at www.garydrayton.com 




Saturday, September 12, 2020

Where the experts find treasure

Every area known for treasure hunting has at least one treasure hunter known for recovering good finds so why not find out where they are hunting right?
Not so fast as I assure you those secret locations are probably right under your nose, yes the very same places you already search with your metal detector.
I am a big fan of site reading skills and research which in my opinion are often the only reasons why some go home with the goods and others fail to recover anything in the very same areas.
For years people used to say I had secret sites I would only search at night to avoid prying eyes. In reality I searched the very same sites everybody else searched, except that I would put in the extra work to make sure I had a successful treasure hunt.
To this day my post treasure hunt time is spent looking back at what worked and what did not go so well during the search, learning so I can evolve and do better if possible.
I always start any treasure hunt off by methodically gridding a search area, sometimes from different directions according to the season, analyzing factors contributing to good finds such as the stratigraphy in dug holes, placement on the beach and the surf conditions before and during the recovery. 
If the find is modern jewelry I want to know why the piece of jewelry ended up where I recovered it, crowd placements even the nearest beach assess came into play.
All of these things I mentioned have to do with research and local knowledge of sites, assuming you would like to be known for finds not blog hits, likes or subscribers.
When I travel I always research the area I am going to be staying, what can I find and where can I find it and I know darn well a certain something has to be present in order for me to have a successful treasure hunt. 
That certain something could be as subtle as the color of sand, firmness under foot or even the organics you see around you depending on what you are searching for. 
What one man can do another man can do is one of my favorite movie lines, when you know where some form of treasure is located it just becomes a matter of duplicating treasure hunting success. 
It is not hard to figure out where local treasures are probably located, you just have to take the time to study what factors have to be present in order to recover it from the site.
Nine times out of ten a local expert recovered a good find at the very same sites you search, but under different circumstances more conductive to recovering treasures. 
Each treasure hunting site is different and what may have worked previously may not now so the way you adapt to changing conditions is an important part of the overall search strategy. 
Treasure is after all where you find it and knowing where it is often found is golden as long as your site reading skills and search techniques are up to scratch.
Luck is very overrated, ask any treasure hunter who is always in the right place at the right time. 
The guys who figured out where, why and what they have have to do be successful in the same areas you search. 
You can be successful too when you get past the idea of just showing up and hoping to get lucky with the treasure hunting crowd, fortune often favors the patient and the persistent along with the bold. 


Treasure hunting guides available at www.garydrayton.com 


 






Friday, September 4, 2020

My second favorite metal detector the Minelab Excalibur

If I am not using a Minelab CTX 3030 you can be sure I have a Minelab Excalibur attached to my arm, in my opinion probably the best waterproof metal detector ever made. Based on the legendary Sovereign series the Excalibur has been very good to me. I have recovered roman coins in English fields using an Excalibur, US civil war relics in the deep South and modern gold jewelry in the Caribbean islands, you name it I have probably recovered it using an Excalibur. As a beach and water hunting enthusiast the Excalibur to this day is still an important part of my beach treasure hunting plans.  One of the main pros of the excalibur is the 200ft waterproof depth rating, making it an obvious choice for scuba divers like myself who like to search beyond the depth rating of the CTX 3030. 


The cons of using an Excalibur have to do with stock metal detector shafts designed for wading or diving, recovery speed and search coil selection, two of these cons can easily be dealt with. There are many after market straight shafts the Excalibur can be mounted on and a very slow sweep speed will help with detecting targets following any initial detected target.
Unfortunately your only option is to use inline connectors to use different size search coils or have a second Excalibur with a different size search coil, I have never been a fan of modifying a hardwired search coil cable. I have found many pounds of gold jewelry using Excalibur's and I have reinvested some of that gold to make sure I have two Excalibur's, with hardwired 10 inch and 8 inch search coils. My 2004 Excalibur still purrs like a kitten in the water when I search for Bobby Dazzlers in Davy Jones locker and it has paid for itself many times over in gold and precious stones. The other Excalibur with the 8 inch search coil is so good in trashy sites and totally counters any target recovery issues associated with using the older BBS technology, the search coil is actually 7 1/4 inches and I see no real loss of target depth using the smaller coil as I can run the sensitivity hotter. At a tourist type beach you are often searching for recently lost jewelry the reason why these type of beaches are heavily hunted, target separation always rules the water hunting day in heavily searched areas. On the beach an Excalibur with an 8 inch search coil is a gold magnet, especially to an experienced Excalibur user who knows how to hunt by ear and knows exactly what gold sounds like. Whats the target numbers, yea right! good luck seeing numbers on a metal detector VDI screen in murky water or a driving rain storm, spend a few years using an Excalibur and you do not need target ID numbers to help you figure out if you should probably dig a target or not. I can identify a penny, dime, quarter, pull tab or bottle cap in two passes of a Excalibur search coil, I hear the unmistakable tone of gold on the first pass. Many beach and water hunters are now infatuated with potential ferrous and conductive target numbers, they are ok for a second opinion but your first opinion of a target should always be what you hear.  If I didn't own a CTX 3030 I would use the Excalibur full time, which is a testament to both of my favorite metal detectors that are passing the test of time. The Excalibur is a formidable beach and water hunting unit, taking only a few minor additions to make it even better, starting with a decent straight shaft and larger easier to turn control knobs.  For more information about my favorite water hunting metal detector check out my Excalibur Pro user guide on my website at www.garydrayton.com 





 

              


Wednesday, September 2, 2020

My favorite metal detector the Minelab CTX 3030

When you have a perfect metal detecting opportunity you always go to your favorite equipment and the Minelab CTX 3030 has been my "Go to" metal detector since its release back in 2012. 
I had the good fortune to be involved in the beach and water hunting testing of the metal detector back in the day, but it took me a while to warm up to the unit as I was a toggles and knobs kind of guy when it came to metal detectors.
During and after testing I quickly learned to customize the CTX 3030 settings to suit my metal detecting needs, a case of learning what bells and whistles helped me to detect what I search for in the areas I search.
Versatility and adaptability are things treasure hunters and metal detecting equipment need to be, it is even more important if you specialize in searching for various treasures in different locations.
I have used many different Minelab metal detectors over the years, but the CTX 3030 has a little of every one of my old favorites in it helping me avoid looking back at my previous favorite metal detectors with rose tinted glasses.
The CTX 3030 has a little of the things I liked about the Sovereign, Excalibur, Explorer and Etrac series all rolled into one metal detector.
I would say the only drawback to the CTX 3030 is the price, but it is worth every darn penny if it is within your budget, a Minelab Equinox would be my second choice after the CTX 3030.
Lighter, less bells and whistles but with a little faster recovery speed in iron infested areas. 
Your favorite metal detector should always be the one you feel comfortable using and just as importantly the one you do not hesitate to take with you when faced with a perfect metal detecting opportunity. 
I have found some pretty amazing things with my CTX 3030, some you will see on upcoming treasure hunting shows, others I will post at a future date to avoid being followed to the productive sites. 
Over the years I put certain customizable aspects of the CTX 3030 to good use to deal with special circumstances, from searching eroded tourist beaches for modern jewelry to searching for artifacts on old sites. 
Back in 2012 I recovered 50 pieces of gold jewelry over a seven day period searching a couple of hours before dawn each day to avoid being seen in the hours of daylight and protect the site.
I relied on audio tones and target ID numbers to hone in on just potential gold targets, ignoring clad coins and other obvious non high value targets, not something I would normally do at every beach site.



On another perfect metal detecting opportunity I spotted on a beach webcam I drove 3 hours to detect 12 pieces of gold jewelry, I regret not staying longer that afternoon as I could have recovered more gold. 
Site reading skills always pay off when you are armed with the "Dirty thirty" to take advantage of them. 
Another thing I like about the CTX 3030 is the range of search coils designed for the metal detector between the Minelab and the Coiltek options, making it easy to go deep, winkle out treasure between the trash or detect in hard to navigate areas. 
All in all the CTX 3030 has aged well since its release, perhaps not the lightest and easiest to travel with metal detector out there but I prefer to recover more in less time!
If you would like to know how more about this incredible metal detector check out my Minelab CTX 3030 guides on my website at www.garydrayton.com
 

Saturday, August 29, 2020

What and where

The first thing I always ask people with metal detector questions is what are you hoping to detect and where do you intend to search. 
The what and where are very important especially for people choosing a metal detector as not all metal detectors are suitable for certain areas and detecting certain metal objects.
In other words what metal detector will work for people in one area may not work so good when used in a completely different area, the reason why research is the key to using the correct metal detector or tool for the job.
I metal detect for a living so it is important for me to use the right tool for the job, before traveling I make sure I know what I am likely to detect in my intended search areas, along with what recovery tool I need to recover targets in the search area.
Knowing what and where helps you to avoid the frustration of using the wrong type of metal detecting equipment, especially in prime metal detecting situations when you have a perfect opportunity to recover something really good.
Target separation and target depth are two important and often overlooked factors connected to the what and where question. 
Some metal detectors are good at being able to detect coins, jewelry or artifacts in trashy areas, other metal detectors stink in trashy areas where target separation is the name of the game.
Pulse induction metal detectors rule over VLF metal detectors when raw target depth is the most important part of the what and where question, especially if it is a dig it all type of situation in less trashy areas.
With so many variables connected to metal detecting it is wise to consider what and where before jumping in with two feet in this age of influencers promoting the latest and greatest metal detector or search coil.
Imitation can still be the sincerest form of flattery if you have a seasoned veteran treasure hunter in your area, you can be darn sure the metal detecting equipment they use works very well in that area.
Researching the same metal detecting equipment will give you the answers to why they are using it, no doubt it will be because it detects the same thing you want to find in the area. 
So the next time you ask for advice from someone you assume knows what they are talking about, make sure you get a what and a where in the response. 

www.garydrayton.com 









Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Small talk

Less really is more when it comes to beach treasure hunting, from using less metal detector discrimination and sensitivity to using average size search coils and covering small areas. I have always gone out of my way to detect and recover small size pieces of metal no matter where I search using my metal detector. Some of the most highly desirable pieces of jewelry you can find at the beach are small bands with prongs holding diamonds or other precious gemstones. Diamond engagement bands are often all diamond and very little platinum or gold band, they are all about the diamonds. 


You are in effect searching for a small platinum or gold band which can easily be missed for a wide variety of reasons, including iron or target masking. This 3 carat diamond Bobby Dazzler was recovered "parachuted" meaning the diamond was on top with the band on edge. Sweep speed, search coil control and a lack of discrimination meant this top pocket find came home with me. I remember digging half a dozen pennies in the same area before pulling the diamond ring out of the sand, no doubt the pennies masked the presence of the Bobby Dazzler. If I had relied on FE & CO numbers and based my digging decisions on numbers like so many newbies do, I could have easily decided the area was full of pennies and walked past the diamond ring.  Average to small size search coils help to cut down on iron and non ferrous objects potentially masking a valuable object. Target separation is the ability to separate and locate what you are searching for, something not possible using large sized search coils that increase the chances of you reading multiple targets under the search coil.


If you struggle to find small gold it probably has more to do with your sweep speed, search coil size or discrimination setting than anything else but there is only one way to find out and that is by testing sample targets in the areas you search. Take a small gold band, ear ring, thin chain or bracelet to the beach and see what you have to do to detect them, but make sure you place each jewelry item in plastic baggies because you will struggle to detect each piece at first. Experiment with your discrimination setting, sweep speed and metal detector sensitivity, try different size search coils if you have them. You will be surprised at just what it takes to detect small gold on a regular basis and more importantly what the signal responses are from small gold. I have no doubt you will look at things very differently after testing small gold samples at the beach. For more tips on finding what you are searching for check out my beach treasure hunting related guides at www.garydrayton.com