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Friday, May 31, 2013

Not all cuts are created equal

One of the best beach hunting situations is an eroded "cut" beach, although just because the beach is cut does not mean you are going to find anything. 
It is always best to get cut savvy, understanding how your local beach has to be cut in order for you to take advantage of it. 
A beach that has cut at the front of the beach close to the water is not going to be as productive as a cut at the back of the beach. 
The back of the beach always has the best metal detecting finds when cut,  it is the place you are going to find old coins and old gold or silver jewelry. 
The front of the beach is only good for fresh dropped jewelry or coins that wash in and get trapped at the base of the cut.
Knowing how both cuts effect your finds will give you a good idea of what to look for after beach erosion has taken place, especially if you have to travel to other beaches because there are no old finds in your area.  
Use beach webcams if your local beaches have them, keep an eye on beach erosion but most importantly look to see where on the beach any erosion has taken place.  
That is why a 2 foot cut at the back of the beach can be so much better than a 5 foot cut at the front of the beach.
On beaches that get replenished with sand every few years, cuts close to the water barely improve beach hunting conditions, like this 5 to 6 foot cut I searched earlier in the year. 

The cut was on a prime Spanish treasure hunting beach in Florida but getting a signal on this replenished beach was almost impossible, even in all metal mode. 
This $3500.00 diamond ring is one of several gold rings found a few years back on a local beach with only a small 2 foot cut, the cut was located towards the back of the beach and the amount of targets was incredible.

When a storm hits your local beaches, stay away from any replenished beaches with cuts at the front, no matter how big the cut is.
Head towards where you are going to be able to search the closest to the back of the beach, even if it means choosing to metal detect a smaller cut on a narrow beach. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The wiggle and enhancing iffy signals

Minelab Sovereign and Excalibur users will know exactly what I am referring to when I mention the "wiggle"
This method of wiggling your search coil over an iffy target to enhance the signal is a trick used to coax small conductive targets out of trashy sites.
Slow, short, pinpointing style sweeps of the search coil over the target help to improve the signal response from potentially valuable targets. 
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my CTX 3030 can do the same exact thing in trashy areas, even with the larger search coil. 
Many beach and shallow water hunters mistakenly believe that a good target has to be a two way repeatable signal, no matter which metal detector they use.
Some of my best finds came from iffy, let me recheck signals. 
Those loud headphone blasting signals rarely turn out to be the find of your dreams. 
Although not as grand as some of the rings I have found, this 1932 masonic ring with a 3/4 carat diamond is one of my favorite metal detecting finds. 

It was just one of those interesting little broken iffy signals that perked my interest on a water hunt several years ago.
I was using my Excalibur and coaxed the signal out a little clearer using the wiggle technique over the target. 
A round encrusted golf ball size piece of coral lay in the bottom of my scoop and the only visible was the sparkling diamond. 
After a day soaking in lemon juice the coral began to crumble, revealing the old gold ring.  
I did not want to risk ruining the find and left a little coral on for character. 
You never know what condition old jewelry and coins will come out of the water in, sometimes they do not even look like they are made of gold or silver.
Investigate those strange broken signals in the water and on the lower beach, probably corroding bottle caps but once in a while you get rewarded for stopping to wiggle. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Mixed signals

When beach or shallow water hunting and you think you hear two different tones, always stop and recheck the area after digging the first target.  
I make a habit of always rechecking my holes on the beach, even holes dug by other beach hunters! 
When you think you heard a slight low tone on the initial sweep that picked up a high tone target, you probably did. 
That is exactly what happened when I found my 1836 gold half eagle towards the end of 2011.

The beach that I found this superb gold coin and other US relics was completely littered with ferrous trash targets after large ocean swells had hit the back of the beach.
Crusty bottle caps and corroding nails being the main two nuisance targets. 
This beach was probably not considered a good place to metal detect by local beach hunters, especially with so many busy tourist beaches in South Florida. 
I believe the high amount of trash and lack of "tourist droppings" in the area actually protected the beach from being appealing to other beach hunters, even though the beach had been torn apart. 
It was about a week into a three week period of searching this beach after work every evening before I discovered this old gold coin. 
Every night I would return home with a finds pouch full of ferrous trash, as well as some pretty cool finds left over from the 1830s Florida Seminole indian wars.

Using a small search coil enabled me to pick out good targets between the junk, in an area that my larger stock search coil struggled to recover from the constant nulling of iron. 
I remember receiving mixed broken signals as I slowly swept my search coil over a very trashy spot,  it sounded like a bottle cap but too good to ignore because of a faint low tone. 
After digging the bottle cap, I recovered another bottle cap from the hole. 
Now that is usually the time when most beach hunters would have probably moved on, but because of my prior finds I remembered the faint low tone and swept over the hole again.
I dug another scoop of sand and swept my search coil over what I believed to be a foil candy coin wrapper, partially visible in the glare of my headlamp in the sand pile.
Picking up and holding that 177 year old gold coin was a memory that will stay with me for a long time. 
I hope after reading my gold coin story you will see the value of taking the time to recheck holes and not assuming that corroding bottle cap or penny was the real culprit of that mixed signal you heard. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The gold tone

One of the advantages of using my favorite Minelab metal detectors is being able to know the moment your search coil passes over gold jewelry.  That distinctive low tone that has you wondering what type of gold jewelry you will be seeing in your scoop when you lift it out of the water. 
I sometimes scoop a hundred targets but I only really remember the one tone that I knew just had to be gold.  
When you have been beach and water hunting a long time, you can start to tell the difference between high grade gold, a nickel, pull tabs and can slaw.  
I still get excited when I hear my search coil pass over a nickel, pull tab or can slaw, but I usually know the subtle differences between these targets and gold. 
So why not "cherry pick" for gold all the time and ignore all the high tone silver and clad coins?
Because of finds like these old 10K class rings, found after beach erosion in areas known for old gold class rings and silver coins. 

10K gold class rings have a lot of different alloys in the mix and often produce high tones, especially when they are encrusted in sand or coral. 
One large class ring may weight as much as several high karat gold wedding bands, they are certainly not the kind of targets you want to risk losing by cherry picking gold. 
I only cherry pick for gold in a couple of beach and water hunting situations, when pushed for time on short hunts or when dealing with multiple hunters on the same tourist beach. 
Cherry picking for the high probability gold targets leaves many attractive targets still in the area to distract the competition. 
I call these high tones "anchor finds" because they slow down the competition and allow me more time to search for gold. 
I used this tactic over the Memorial day weekend last year on a local tourist beach using my Minelab CTX 3030, I recovered these gold finds with five other water hunters closing in on a local hot spot.  

I remember the look on another water hunters face as they started digging my anchor finds,  no doubt they thought I was just another bad water hunter missing targets.
Cherry picking for gold can be an effective beach and water hunting technique in certain situations. 
You just have to know when to use it and more importantly when NOT to use it. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

The best settings for beach and shallow water hunting

A major part of beach and shallow water hunting is learning how to set your metal detector up to find a wide range of desirable targets. 
Despite what you read on internet metal detecting forums, there are no generic or one size fits all metal detector settings. 
There are suggested starter settings in most metal detector manuals and that is exactly what they are, suggested!
If you use the same metal detector settings on every beach you search, you are holding yourself back and leaving gold and silver behind in areas where other people use the same metal detector. 
I rarely use any set and forget metal detector settings, even on my Minelab CTX 3030.
The preset Beach Mode is my starting point but I tweak it to suit the conditions present on the beach that day. 
I also take into consideration whether I will be searching in the water, the wet sand or the dry sand. 
Using other peoples suggested settings for weeks, months or even years without knowing why you are using them is a bad idea. 
Manually set your metal detector up after you get to the beach, using your known starting reference points. 
Gradually tweak the controls during the first part of your hunt and get a feel for when you are running your metal detector slightly hot.
Back off from the hot setting a little, make sure your metal detector is running smoothly with very few false signals before getting settled into the hunt. 
No matter what your favorite metal detector is, average finds come from average settings.
When searching heavily hunted beaches with many people using the same kind of metal detector, the person with the best tuned machine has the best chance of finding gold.
Sometimes those personal metal detector settings can be just as important at beating the competition to the gold as any secret hot spot. 
I always make a point of shielding my settings whenever I meet another beach or water hunter. 
Being a hardcore beach and shallow water hunter, I am always checking out other peoples settings!
Maybe that would explain why I am not afraid to follow behind other beach and shallow water hunters in search of gold.
This $3600.00 18K gold ring with 80 diamonds is a testament to that. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Beach tests follow up

I received quite a few messages about my previous blog regarding metal detector test settings out on the beach.  
As a hardcore beach and water hunter, it is encouraging to see that other beach and water hunters are looking for an edge over the competition.
If you are a gold jewelry hunter, some of the items you should take down to the beach for testing are thin gold chains, with and without pendants,  gold hoop style earrings with the closing bar open and thin gold ladies rings. 
Notice the gold jewelry hunting pattern here, SMALL thin pieces of gold jewelry, odd shapes too.
If you are searching for old treasure coins on shipwreck beaches, worn thin silver dimes or tiny flat silver pendants work just as well. 
Forget about testing for depth, there are just too many variables in true depth testing, such as the way the test object is buried in the sand.
Surface testing is the way to go, you have to be sure you can pick up the test object on top of the sand first. 
It may surprise you how the signal response from a closed gold hoop earring to an open gold hoop earring differs, the same applies to gold rings that have a section of the band missing.  
Try the test gold chain bunched up and rolled out, do not be surprised if you cannot detect the gold chain without the pendant. 
We invest a lot of money in our metal detectors and spend countless hours on the beach and in the water,  it makes perfect treasure hunting sense to see what we can and cannot detect. 
Testing during sanded in conditions will earn you more money in the long run than metal detecting during the sanded in conditions. 
Whenever you try a new search coil it is a good idea to test it on the beach first, before using it in a real good beach hunting situation like a cut beach. 
You can also test on the go and I often do out on the beach and in the shallow water.
If I am searching a cut and I find a nice gold ring or an old coin, I place the find back on the sand and sweep my search coil over it to listen to the target response again. 
I raise my search coil to test how deep I could have found it and I also test the responses from various sweep speeds. 
Of course you can only do that when no other beach hunters are around, remember my golden rule of never telling anyone where you found anything. 
If I am shallow water hunting, I only drop the the find back into the water in calm surf conditions when I know I can safely recover it. 
You can learn a lot about the depth and sensitivity capabilities of your metal detector out on the beach and inside the water.
I must admit I get a kick out of reliving the moment after the recovery, especially when it is something like this recently found heavy 18K ladies ring laying next to the hole under the water. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Balanced finds

I believe that you can tell a lot about a beach or shallow water hunter by their metal detecting finds. 
Have you ever noticed how some beach or water hunters find a lot of gold bands, while other beach hunters find more clad coins or silver jewelry. 
Once you really know your metal detector, hone your beach and shallow water hunting techniques toward finding small finds.
Yes that is not a typo, concentrate on trying to recover small finds at the beach.
Gold chains and thin ladies gold rings are some of the most difficult finds to recover on the beach and in the water. 
These difficult to detect pieces of gold jewelry are often the most valuable and sought after kind of metal detecting finds. 
Small finds like this high karat gold ring with a table cut sapphire found on a Treasure Coast Spanish 1715 fleet wreck site beach in Florida.

Once you start to find the hard stuff, the big fish will jump into your scoop basket. 
I never go to the beach searching for big gold, I look for small gold knowing the big gold will be found if it is there.
A good balance of beach and water hunting finds is a good sign, it means that when beach erosion occurs you have a better chance of being successful. 
You will have a better chance of recovering gold jewelry on a cut tourist beach, a better chance of recovering treasure coins and artifacts on a cut shipwreck beach.  
The advantages of being able to find a variety of finds and not just one type of find become clear when Davy Jones locker opens up.
One of the major reasons for an imbalance of beach hunting finds is incorrect metal detector sensitivity and discrimination settings. 
A simple sensitivity and discrimination test with your metal detector on the beach with objects that you have difficulty finding will give you the answers to why you struggle to find them. 
When is the last time you went to the beach just to test your metal detector settings? 
My guess is hardly ever. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Jewelry hunting by the numbers

Many beach and shallow water hunters overlook the importance of jewelry hunting by numbers. 
When you first start out beach and shallow water hunting, it is easy to get caught up in the hype. 
So and so found a gold ring there and I am going to keep hammering away at the same site until I find a gold ring there. 
Unfortunately every other beach hunter has the same idea as you, quite often those known sites are very heavily hunted.
I am talking about the main heavily hunted stretch of beach where the regular beach and shallow water hunters can be seen gathering just about every day of the week. 
Many of the regular beach hunters are easy to spot, mainly because they search the same beach all the time. 
Try playing the numbers game, hitting smaller beaches where your chances of finding gold actually increase because the small sites are less hunted. 
You may be pleasantly surprised at the amount of jewelry finds you are able to recover at these less glamorous beaches. 
I found this beautiful 18K gold ladies Amethyst ring at one of those unsexy beaches last year, one of 50 pieces of gold I found over a three week period.

People still lose plenty of gold and silver jewelry on beaches that are not opposite large hotels or parking lots, these kind of sites are often smaller and easier to search. 
You could try placing your jewelry hunting bets on hitting several sites using hit and run tactics.
Once you have found something good at the lesser hunted site, you should have the place all to yourself.
That is providing that you stick to the Gary Drayton number one rule of beach and water hunting, never tell anyone where you find anything. 
It generally costs more money to live by the beach, that also includes living across the road from the beach. 
This superb 18K gold opal and diamond ladies ring is another jewelry find from last year using my hit and run approach to searching less hunted sites. 

Shared access points from beachside communities are gold mines waiting to be mined by a a beach hunter prepared to search away from the metal detecting crowds. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Box hunting

I have found far too many valuable pieces of gold and platinum jewelry in all three areas of the beach to only bother searching one area of the beach.  
Many beach hunters are "box hunters" meaning they prefer to only metal detect in the water, the wet sand or only in the dry sand. 
A treasure hunter will leave many valuable targets behind for other beach and shallow water hunters by not searching all three areas on the beach, the shallow water, wet sand and dry sand. 
Strive to be a good all around beach hunter capable of searching and finding treasure where ever that treasure may be on the beach. 
Here are photos of over $12.000.00 worth of diamond rings found on three different areas of the beach, I wager you cannot tell which diamond ring came from the water, the wet sand or the dry sand. 

Now you can see why I like to read the beach and search the most promising looking area after arriving to treasure hunt, not the area I predetermined was the best area before leaving the house. 
Next time you hear people saying that it is all in the water, try to remember the diamonds rings in these photographs. 
Think how many less treasure hunters will be on the beach during a storm,  when most water hunters would rather stay home than search on the beach. 
At high tide, the majority of wet sanders stay at home waiting around until two hours before the low tide before going wet sanding.
Full time dry sanders often use metal detectors that cannot handle the salt water on the lower beach, leaving the wet sand and shallow water undetected.
Avoid "box hunting"and become a master of the whole of the beach, not just one or two parts of it. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Easy gold finds

Yes there really is such a thing as "easy" gold finds on every beach. 
Many beach and shallow water hunters are obsessed with deep out of range gold. 
 Looking for the deepest metal detector, the largest search coil, even the headphones that will help to find that elusive deep gold. 
I can say that the majority of of my best gold finds have been shallow targets, easily found within the first two to ten inches of sand. 
Target separation is much more important than depth for a beach hunter 90% of the time.
For instance, when a beach is cut or eroded after a storm.  
Do you really need more depth searching a beach that has several feet of sand already removed? 
In my opinion, recovering the easy gold within reach is far more important than any gold that may or may not be on the edge of detection range.  
Recovery speed and target separation are a gold jewelry hunters best friends. 
These two key gold jewelry hunting elements can be enhanced by using a slow sweep speed and search coil skimming the surface of the sand to recover easy gold. 
Finds like these gold chains and bracelets, which are some of the hardest finds to recover on the beach for the average beach hunter.

Would your rather dig deep holes or go home with easy gold? 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Sniping for silver coins and jewelry

If you want to get serious about coin and jewelry hunting on the beach and in the shallow water, it is time to put away that extra large search coil.
I have used small 6 to 8 inch search coils on trashy beach sites and recovered some pretty incredible finds that were just simply not detected by people using stock and larger size search coils. 
On one site last year, I was able to "snipe" many older US silver coins and pieces of gold and silver jewelry on an eroded section of beach over several days. 

The vast majority of the other hunters searching the eroded beach were using stock 10 inch search coils and I believe the larger stock coil was the major reason why I found so many good finds behind the other beach hunters.  I tried using my 10 inch search coil on this beach and it was almost unusable, one big nulled threshold from all the ferrous trash scattered on the beach.
After switching back to a small search coil, the beach came alive with signals. 
The competition that searched over the area kept walking because the good targets were being masked.  When I saw other beach hunters coming towards me I stopped digging so as not to attract unwanted attention. 
This photo shows some of the jewelry finds I was able to recover while slowly sniping the area.
 My advise is to go small and find big! 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Outside the box

I cannot imagine anything worse than being known as that guy who is always at the same beach at a certain day and time.  One of the best ways of improving your finds and adding some variety to them is to hunt outside the box.   Just because you live somewhere with tourist beaches full of modern hotels and condos does not mean there was not some history connected to the place in the past. 
If you research your local beaches and more importantly the out of the way places no other beach hunters can be bothered to search,  you may one day be rewarded. 
I spend many hours searching remote areas for old finds and coming home empty handed, but once in a while I get lucky and get to touch some history.  
The finds in this photo represent a lot of patience, waiting to act on remote and less hunted sites that were just as ready for picking as any well known site that attracts crowds of other beach hunters after any form of beach erosion.  
From 1830s Seminole indian war gold to early 1700s Spanish silver, treasure await the enterprising beach hunter that does not follow the crowd.  Think outside the box! 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Hot spots

Once you start to get a good feel for your local beaches, try to find the hot spots. 
I refer to areas on a beach where you are more likely to find something good as "hot spots". 
Whether you are searching for gold jewelry, coins or shipwreck artifacts, once you start to locate finds on a beach you are discovering potential hot spots.
Many of my hot spots on my local beaches from several years ago are still producing good metal detecting finds to this day.  There is a big difference between a random metal detecting find site and a hot spot. 
You will see that for yourself the next time you find something good in an area that has produced in the past.  Keep quiet about the hot spot and you have an endless source of future finds.
Many beach and water hunters are just passing through and oblivious to a potential hot spot.
Hot spots are the local beach hunters biggest advantage over the competition during times of beach erosion. 
This 14K ladies eternity band set with 2.5 carats of diamonds was found at one of my hot spots.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Local beach hunting

I am always asked how I manage to find gold on my relatively short two to three hour beach or shallow water hunts.  The answer is simple, it is because I choose to search beaches that are either local or short driving distances away from home.
If you have a limited amount of metal detecting time, why waste that precious time with your hands on the steering wheel.
An hour or two spent searching on the beach instead of driving is a no brainer.
It is always better to play the percentages and go for the local gold, before trying to do battle with the competition on a beach you have to travel to.
When you take the time to study what conditions effect your local beaches, you become the local hunter with the inside track on metal detecting finds.
If you are not the master of your own local beaches, you cannot expect to travel to metal detect and have success elsewhere. 
If you are like me and have to juggle work, family time and treasure hunting, you have to use your metal detecting time wisely. 
Site selection and beach reading skills can put gold in your finds pouch without having to stay out on the beach all day, like the full timers.
These two keys to treasure hunting success can help to level the playing field when you do have to travel to metal detect. 
The gold ring below is one of my favorite local water hunting finds from a few years ago,  a heavy 18K gold coin ring with diamonds.  More than enough gold and ice not to bother traveling to the big name beaches. 
Sometimes you have what you are looking for, you just have to search a little closer to home.