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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

You never know unless you go

I love the title of this blog, it reminds me exactly what I was thinking back in 2005 when I took the long drive up to the Treasure Coast of Florida in search of Spanish treasure.
Boy did I find it that morning, the 1694 silver reale I put in my finds pouch 20 minutes earlier was just an after thought when I picked this beautiful Spanish gold treasure ring out of a hole I had just dug on the beach.

The "Precious" is 22.5 carat inca gold with 9 flawless Colombian emeralds, who's your daddy!
I know many beach hunters get depressed during lean beach hunting times, but some of my  best finds were recovered when I least expected to find anything at all.
This keeps me grounded, knowing that it does not matter what time you get to the beach to search, what metal detector you choose to use, you never know unless you go.
My favorite finds stories are the totally unexpected ones, and the first thoughts that always cross my mind are wow what are the odds of that and imagine if they never went out that day.
In my opinion, you only need one reason to go beach hunting and that is just in case you find something.
High tide, sanded in conditions, heat, cold, competition, difficulty parking, there are plenty of reasons not to go to the beach, but one really good reason to go try your luck.

To this day I avoid tide tables and second hand beach reports, I go beach hunting whenever I get the opportunity and regardless of the beach conditions.
You never know unless you go, also applies to trying new search areas which can often lead to more finds if you search beaches or areas at the beach less frequently searched by other beach hunters.
To me, finding the unexpected is what is so fascinating about beach and water hunting.
Even a lowly crusty copper penny is a good sign when you have a positive outlook and decide to go beach hunting. 
You never know what you will find next, unless of course you wait for so called better conditions or more favorable tides. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Pinpointing and recovering targets

Kevin from Toronto asked me how I pinpoint targets accurately and how much time it takes me to recover a target at the beach. 
My short answer is knowing the sweet spot under my search coils and under a minute if possible. 
You can learn a lot by watching other beach hunters in action, especially at heavily hunted beaches.
One thing I notice other beach hunters doing is spending way too much time recovering detected targets. 
The more time you spend farting around X-ing the spot before scooping. the less jewelry and coins you will take home from the beach.
The "Sweet spot" under your search coil where the target is probably centered, should be one of the first things you learn about your metal detector.
Mainly because it saves you so much time and in my opinion, time equals finds in beach or water hunting.
If I have a pinpoint button or switch on my metal detector, it is hardly ever used when beach or water hunting. 
Two or three short sweeps across a target and I already know where a target is centered under my search coil.
The lip of my scoop basket enters the sand at a sharp angle behind the eyeballed target area, and the object is usually scooped up in one or two attempts depending on the depth of the target.
One of the reasons I cannot watch youtube beach or water hunting videos, is the first two or three minutes of constant sweeping over the target area and umpteen scooping attempts.
I prefer to spend more time putting jewelry or coins in my finds pouch, than wiggling my coil over targets from all directions and taking blind stabs at scooping targets. 
Pinpointing and target recovery skills are best learned early on and should become instinctive. 
Using a good long handled beach scoop with a decent size basket will help you to recover targets at the beach faster, it will also cut down on damage to finds.
After your metal detector, your choice of beach recovery tool is probably the most important decision to consider. 
A deep seeking metal detector and a coffee can size scoop basket is a bad combination, so too is an extra large search coil and not knowing how to pinpoint a target under it.
When you tighten up your target pinpointing and recovery time, you put yourself closer to what you are really searching for.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The beach hunting comfort zone

Everyone wants to use the best metal detector or search coil for beach hunting, but a basic fact of beach hunting life is it is hard to beat equipment you have already become comfortable using. 
Occasionally, I will pony up some hard earned wonga for a metal detector or search coil I believe will give me an edge at the beach, although it rarely works out. 
There is something to be said about using equipment you trust and enjoy using, over new equipment you hope lives up to the hype. 
This year I bought and tried a metal detector that came with a lot of hype, but it just did not impress me and was not an upgrade over anything I already use.
It was a good beach hunting equipment lesson learned, nice to compare and try different things and comforting to know I am not missing out on anything.
I will not get into brand specifics or negatives, as the metal detector I tried may be fantastic for something other than beach hunting.  
In my opinion, experience and comfort using a metal detector you really like is the key to beach or water hunting success.
An experienced beach hunter in the comfort zone, can and should kick butt no matter what equipment they use, but especially if they have been using the same equipment a long time.
Todays blog is a reaction to questions I received last week from two experienced detectorists taking new equipment on detecting vacations.
My response was don't do it, take equipment you are comfortable using because a potentially good metal detecting situation is not the time to take chances with equipment you are unfamiliar with. 
My wife always comes out with the best response to new detecting equipment I mull over buying, reeling off a long list of trophy finds and "What were you using when you found it." 
Of course my answer to everything on the list is always the same, a metal detector with a regular size search coil that I know like the back of my hand.
There really is a lot to be said about being in the comfort zone with your favorite beach hunting equipment. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

High end sites question

I get asked where I hunt on a weekly basis, by people who mistakenly believe I hang outside high end hotels waiting for people to lose jewelry at the beach. 
Nothing could be further from the truth, because high end beach sites are the most heavily hunted places in Florida.
I am not into traveling to heavily hunted sites duking it out with people who have a lot more time to go metal detecting than I do. 
In my opinion you have just as much chance of finding a piece of valuable jewelry at a beach opposite a budget hotel as you do outside a Hilton hotel. 
Sometimes a fancy swimming pool with bar and restaurant will lure people away before they even have a chance to lose jewelry at the beach.
I have found beaches with a fancy hotel and large swimming pool to be less productive jewelry hunting ground than a beach opposite a public parking lot. 
When the weekend rolls around and I head out the door with my detector, I go to a site that gives me the best chance of recovering jewelry, preferably platinum or gold. 
If I find expensive jewelry its a bonus, but I just want to find gold jewelry no matter what the price tag.
I saw a post on a detecting forum that inspired todays blog topic, a Florida water hunter saying how he went to the beach at 7 am on Memorial day and saw ten other people already metal detecting opposite a high end hotel.
You could probably say that about any day opposite a high end hotel on a Florida beach, which leads me to the point of this blog.
If you already know you have a slim chance of finding anything opposite a heavily hunted site, why join the detecting crowd?
Surely it is better to search the opposite type of place and probably find more gold and occasionally a very expensive piece of jewelry.
You get better odds of finding jewelry when you are not one of at least ten searchers at the site every day.
This strategy has helped me to find gold jewelry on a regular basis, less hunters more gold! 
I never worry about what I could be possibly missing out on, as many high end site searchers do.
I worry how I am going to find the time to visit all my favorite lesser hunted sites, places that often hold just as much high end jewelry. 


Saturday, May 28, 2016

Chasing other beach hunters

A couple of blog comments I received this week are related to chasing down other beach hunters and here are my thoughts on trying to track down the competition. 
It may surprise you to know that I never waste any time chasing other people down, as many beach or water hunters do in heavily hunted areas.
In my opinion, the less you know about who is finding what and where the better.
I am fond of saying everyone knows everyone in beach hunting, as news of good beach finds travels far and fast on the internet.
If you heard that I found jewelry or coins at a certain area, you can bet your last dollar that information is bogus as I never tell anyone where I find the good stuff.
Second hand information about beach finds is almost as useless as second hand beach reports.
In both cases, if you base your beach hunting plans on them you are already playing catch up searching for sloppy seconds.
Nothing beats going out and finding your own sites, learning how to read those sites and reaping the rewards of leading from the front. 
When a beach hunter removes a good find from a site, its gone and it is highly doubtful you will detect anything as good as that initial find in the same area for a while.
I wish I had a dollar for every time I met a person metal detecting who told they were only searching an area because they heard a person had found something good there.
The stranger usually tells me what was found, when it was found and the person who found it. 
I would be even more rolling in cash if I had a dollar for every email I receive from generous strangers showing me photos of jewelry they heard was found at this or that place.
There is absolutely no chance I am going to waste my precious beach hunting time chasing other people at the beach.
I believe you will find more gold following other people metal detecting at the beach, than chasing other people metal detecting at the beach.
If you heard about the location of a good find, you can be sure every other beach hunter in your area has heard about the same find. 
Do you want to chase with the pack, or be the lead dog at the beach? 

Monday, May 23, 2016

High and dry gold

I have been doing a lot of water hunting recently, but that does not mean I completely ignore the beach.
Roger a water hunter from Quebec sent me an email asking me if the dry sand was worth searching, and this 18K white gold ring with three really nice diamonds I recovered from the dry sand a couple of years ago should more than answer the question.

The morning I found this $5000.00 diamond engagement ring, I had intended to search inside the water. 
Arriving at the beach, I figured why not take myself off the food chain and wait until it was light before getting in the water.
After pottering around in the dry sand for an hour opposite a beach entrance, I entered the water with a gold ring in my finds pouch.
I have recovered far too many expensive rings on the beach to ever ignore the beach opposite places I intend to water hunt.
If I choose a site to water hunt at, I know theres a real good chance I can detect gold in the dry sand opposite. 
Many water hunters totally ignore the beach opposite water hunting sites, but I would never class myself as a water hunter. 
I class myself as a beach hunter, and the water just another area at the beach that includes the wet and dry sand. 
Searching the dry sand is easy, especially at tourist beaches when you pick a site within a site, instead of trying to cover too much of the beach. 
I prefer to use a little discrimination and my ears to find gold jewelry, relying on knowing gold is probably in the area and knowing the response to gold from my metal detector.
Sometimes I intend to water hunt but I never make it as far as the water, that is a testament to how productive the dry and wet sand can be.
Leaving a hot area is never a good idea, if your finding jewelry keep plugging away slowly.  
The morning I found the diamond ring in the photo, I ended up getting out of the water and expanding my search area in the dry sand. 
Not long after another beach hunter arrived and started to search in the area I recovered the expensive ring. 
I would say the dry sand is just as good as any area to recover gold at the beach, if you bother to search it. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Sweep speed with the Minelab CTX 3030

Rex asks what I consider to be the best sweep speed for the Minelab CTX 3030.
Being a beach and water hunter, my two favorite metal detectors for the job are the Minelab CTX 3030 and Minelab Excalibur, and no I do not work for Minelab they work for me lol!
The CTX 3030 can be swept a lot faster than than the Excalibur, but I would never recommend doing it as I still prefer to sweep the CTX 3030 search coil slowly, especially if I am using discrimination.
The reason why I recommend a slow sweep speed with the CTX 3030 is because it helps target ID, target recovery speed and target depth.
Sure you could whip the CTX 3030 search coil around really fast and still hit on large coins or rings, but you will probably miss small targets at depth or targets on the edge of detection range.
There are a lot of target ID bells and whistles on the CTX 3030, even the target depth indicator can be an advantage if you are looking for older targets.
A slow sweep speed gives your CTX 3030 time to interpret target information, relay and put that target information on your screen more accurately than it would swiftly sweeping your coil over an area.
You can cover more ground sweeping faster, but in my opinion beach and water hunting is not about covering an area quickly, its about covering an area well.
There are far more positives to sweeping a VLF metal detector search coil slowly, than whipping it around fast, especially a metal detector with multiple target ID features.
It makes sense to sweep your CTX 3030 as slowly as possible to get the very most out of those audio and visual target IDs.
I use a three second sweep speed with my CTX 3030, meaning the average time it takes for my search coil to travel from left to right, or right to left in front of me is three seconds.
Slow sweep speeds help slow down your detecting pace, which in turn automatically increases the amount of targets it is possible to detect.
Check out your foot prints in the sand, the closer your steps are, the more ground you are actually detecting over instead of walking over.
You can tell a lot about the beach hunting competition by their footprints, long strides usually mean fast sweep speeds and sloppy search techniques.
Sweep speed and ground coverage are closely linked, which is why I prefer to use a slow sweep speed with the CTX 3030.
Just in case there is another platinum and diamond ring like this one waiting on the edge of detection range.