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Friday, November 28, 2014

Gold traps

I will start todays blog with a question, and give you the answer at the end of the blog. 
What is the best clue to the area shown in this photo being a gold trap ?

Hard packed sand on the lower beach, helps to trap gold in place for beach hunters. 
I saw two gold traps on a local thanksgiving day beach hunt,  an eroded section of upper beach with a three foot cut and a hard packed shell area close to the waters edge. 
I knew from experience that my best chance of finding gold was using an east west directional search pattern, from the base of the cut down to the hard packed sand next to the water. 
The cut appeared to be a couple of days old and was not very productive, but the hard pack sand towards the waters edge held many deep targets. 
Lead fishing weights were a good sign, and so were the encrusted "Greenies" in the area.  
Green encrusted coins and lead, are often the best indicators to a beach hunter that gold is also trapped in place. 
It was not long before an 18K gold bracelet came out of the area, followed by a 14K ear ring. 
Luckily for me, there are more water hunters than beach hunters at a majority of the local beaches I like to search. 
I class myself as a water hunter too, but I would never ignore gold traps on the lower beach caused by rough surf, the same rough surf that has caused water hunters to stay away from the beach. 
I could not imagine ignoring the lower and upper beach, especially gold traps like the ones I saw on thanksgiving morning. 
Hard packed sand and shells on the lower beach,  are often the strata where heavy objects settle or get trapped after sinking past mushy sand during sanded in conditions. 
When one area closes ( the water and water hunting) another area of the beach opens up, if you know what to look for and when to take advantage of it. 

The answer to my question at the beginning of todays blog is my size 10 dive boot print.  
Anytime you walk on a hard packed section of a recently "Sanded in" tourist beach and you barely leave a boot print, get ready to recover gold. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The CTX wiggle

I love searching trashy beach sites, where patience, persistence and perseverance are the keys to finding gold jewelry. 
If I have a hunch gold is the area, I will resort to wiggling gold,  standing still and slowly wiggling my search coil in short sweeps in a full circle around the area I am standing. 
I listen patiently for low tones, while ignoring high tone coin signals and the obvious blanking of ferrous targets using the CTX 3030 in my modified preset Beach Mode. 
The secret to using this search technique is to keep your search coil moving slowly but not to step away from the search area until you have detected in a full circle around the area you are standing. 
It is very rare to see a beach or water hunter not moving, the majority of beach and water hunters keep moving, especially when they run across an area stacked with pennies and bottle caps. 
When you know what gold sounds like, and you know there is a good chance gold is in the area, why move away? 
I wiggle in a circle,  step away and wiggle in a circle again, only stopping to scoop low tones using my CTX 3030. 
The majority of low tones using the CTX are either aluminum pull tabs, can slaw, nickels or hopefully gold. 
My slow wiggle search technique helps me to avoid target masking at trashy beach sites,  gold being masked by both iron and larger non ferrous targets. 
The short slow wiggle aids recovery speed,  your recovery speed is the time it takes your metal detector to detect another target after the last target was detected. 
The day I found this 22K raw emerald pendant while water hunting with my CTX 3030,  I could have easily walked away because of the high volume of targets in the area. 

Instead, I decided to spend a full two hours wiggling around for gold close to the very trashy beach entrance.
Notice how my CTX was able to detect the thin gold wire holding the raw emerald. 
When you go to the beach to metal detect, there are no written rules to beach and water hunting. 
As Jack Sparrows mate would say "More like a set of guidelines!" 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Beach jewelry hunting by subtraction.

I often use my Minelab CTX 3030 when I am instructing people on how to use the Minelab Excalibur.
It is just easier to detect and identify a coin on the beach using the CTX 3030, then afterwards have the person I am teaching listen to the tone of the coin with the Excalibur.
This is a neat trick you can do with the CTX 3030, because of the FE /CO number read out on the display screen. 
I tell the person I am training, exactly what type of coin is buried under the sand, before asking them to scoop it up to confirm the coin denomination.
On an Excalibur training session yesterday, I told the guy to ignore the pennies I marked with an X in the sand and keep moving. 
He scooped several pennies up, before trusting my 12-36 and 12-37 penny IDs on the CTX 3030 screen.
The Excalibur instruction took place on a popular SW Florida tourist beach, a place where the CTX 3030 really makes life easy for a beach hunter. 
I consider clad coins on a tourist beach nuisance targets, as finding platinum and gold jewelry is my main objective. 
Although I prefer to hunt by ear, yesterday was the perfect scenario for hunting by numbers because of the high amount of clad coins on the beach. 
Ignoring high amounts of easy to identify clad coins, will allow a beach hunter to concentrate on searching for lost jewelry. 
I would rather return home and spend my time counting and cleaning jewelry, than wasting electricity tumbling coins and keeping a clad coin count. 
There is a reason why my bank safety deposit box is full of beach found jewelry, I am pretty fussy about what I allow to distract me from searching for jewelry on tourist beaches. 
Every clad coin a jewelry hunter stops to dig on a tourist beach, is one distraction further away from reaching their real goal of finding jewelry at the beach. 
Heres a couple of 18K diamond door knockers recovered over the last 18 months at one of my favorite beaches. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Lower beach target recovery tips

Yesterday morning I took a client out for a Minelab Excalibur beach training session,  the surf was really rough and the guy wanted to know how to search the wet sand. 
This was perfect timing for learning how to recover targets in the wet sand with rough surf rushing in over the area. 
We hit the beach about an hour after high tide and I showed the guy how to search the ebbing tide with his Excalibur II.
Here are three points I shared about recovering targets in the wet sand close to the waters edge. 

1. Choice of recovery tool

The guys long handled aluminum scoop had a small coffee can size scoop basket with a wire mesh bottom,  making recovering targets difficult. 
Heavier stainless steel scoops with a good size basket, are much better for recovering targets on the lower beach. 
They do not move around when hit by waves, and they are less likely to get damaged by coral or rocks on the lower beach. 
There is also less chance of damaging a valuable object, if you use a long handled scoop with a large scoop basket. 

2. Know the pinpointing sweet spot.  

Every metal detector has a sweet spot, an area under the search coil where a target has the strongest audio response when pinpointing a target. 
Under most Double D search coils, the sweet spot is under the center of the search coil, on Mono search coils it can be slightly off center. 
The more time you spend on the upper beach learning how to pinpointing targets, the better you will be at recovering targets in the wet sand close to the water. 
If your metal detector has a built in pinpoint option, use it! 

3.  Scoop and dump

Shucking sand over the area you are scooping while standing on the lower beach, is a bad idea if waves are washing in over the wet sand.
A gold chain may slip through the holes in your scoop basket, or a gold ring may bounce out of your scoop  basket, fall into the water and get washed away while scooping.  
The best way of recovering targets in the wet sand with waves rushing over the area, is to scoop and dump sand away from the target area. 
Scoop, recheck the hole and surrounding area, if you hear no signal from the target, it is probably in the scoop basket full of sand. 
Walk a little higher up on the beach, away from the waves and dump the sand, so you can safely recover the metal object. 
Never scoop shuck or dump targets behind or to the side of the hole with waves washing over the area. 

These tips will help make sure you do not lose small shallow targets on the lower beach to the waves, like these Spanish 1715 fleet silver reales.

The 299 year old silver treasure coins were found a few years ago in stormy beach hunting conditions, using my Minelab Excalibur on the Treasure Coast of Florida. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Metal detecting over rocks on Oak Island

I had plenty of experience searching rocky beaches before I went to Oak Island to help Rick and Marty Lagina in their quest to find treasure.
I put that experience to good use by going against conventional wisdom and installing a large 17 X 13 inch search coil on my CTX 3030, instead of using a smaller search coil.
Both large and small search coils are excellent for searching over rocky beaches, although most beach hunters would assume a smaller search coil would be a better choice.  
I know I lose depth having to sweep my search coil over the top of rocks, but a very large search coil can still detect targets much deeper than an average size search coil over rocks.
This 1700s flat button was one of several buttons I found on Oak Island during filming of the show. 

When searching for old coins and artifacts in rocky areas, I often go for target depth over target separation. 
Many of my best Spanish treasure finds in Florida, have come from using large search coils on the beach. 
The perfect solution to metal detecting over rocks on a beach, is to own small and large search coils. 
Use a small search coil when searching on rocky tourist beaches, where target separation is important because of the high number of likely trash targets. 
Rocky beaches are always less hunted than sandy beaches, I often see beach and water hunters ignoring rocky areas. 
In my opinion, the reason why rocky areas are ignored, is because the majority of beach and water hunters rely on one size search coil. 
It also takes a special set of recovery skills to recover targets in rocky areas, and a few different recovery tools.
I wore  a modified tool belt, with needle nose pliers, flat head screwdriver and a pin pointer to help me locate and recover targets on rocky Oak Island beaches. 
It was also impossible to use a long handled beach or water hunting scoop, a big spade was the recovery tool of choice. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Rough water hunting tips

My Sunday morning water hunt was out of necessity, I needed a gold fix and both the wet and dry sand did not look very promising.
I know the local beaches I hunt, my best chance of finding gold was fighting the 2-3ft swells and relying on the same swells to find gold.
The previous evening the wind picked up, I hoped any jewelry lost on the sand bar over the last week would have been pushed over the slope of the sand bar by the building surf.
The next low tide, made the water previously only accessible to swimmers open to jewelry hunting.
I took my Excalibur II and scooped up a large amount of clad coins between the sand bar and the wet sand.
Although I only found one 18K gold ring and a small silver  and malachite cross,  I was happy with the outcome of my 2.5 hour water hunt, especially considering the water conditions.

Never get discouraged by rough water hunting conditions, you often have the water to yourself during times of rough surf. 
Although competition from other water hunters has increased at many popular beaches, new water hunters do not yet have the skills necessary to metal detect effectively in rough surf.
When you are trying to metal detect in a strong current or getting pushed around by heavy surf, there are a few things you can do to help you locate and recover targets.

1. Heads up

Always keep your head on a swivel when you are trying to detect and recover targets in rough surf.
This is where your time spent pinpointing targets on the beach before beginning water hunting comes in handy.
Once you think you have pinpointed the target under water, turn side on to the waves and wait until the next wave has passed before attempting to scoop the target, try not to get hit mid scoop standing face on to a wave.
The average amount of time I spent scooping each target yesterday morning was two scoops, not bad at all for rough surf.

2. Search paralel to the beach

It is better to detect paralel to the shoreline, you can stop and turn to pinpoint and scoop, but avoid standing with your back to the incoming waves.
Trying to use an east / west search pattern, makes you vunerable to being knocked over in the surf on your return search line back towards the beach, it also makes recovering targets more difficult.

3. Use the correct equipment

Heavier open basket style stainless steel scoops are perfect for recovering targets in rough surf.
Pouches with zippers are better for rough surf hunters, you can open and close zippered pockets faster after a successful target recovery, than messing around with velcro fasteners. 
Your gold and silver is securely contained in the zippered pocket, if you lose your footing and get rolled over in the surf.

Little things make a difference in rough surf,  the name of the game is pinpointing and recovering targets in a timely manner.
Use the surf to open up Davy Jones Locker and the pinpointing and target recovery skills you learned on the beach to recover gold.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Stop and find gold jewelry on tourist beaches

Earlier in the year, on easter sunday to be exact, I ran across a familiar tourist beach water hunting situation.  
Another chunk of gold jewelry with diamonds recovered because I read the signs, maybe a sign from the big fellow on easter sunday of all days lol! 

I could have easily missed the gold ring if I was a walker, instead of a gold stalker. 
I am not interested in walking long distances when beach or shallow water hunting, I would rather stop and pound an area for gold jewelry when I run across a good sign that gold may be hiding not far away.  
More than a single piece of silver or junk jewelry is a good sign, and a reason for any beach or shallow water hunter to stay in place until they find gold. 
I never go to a tourist beach to cover as much ground as possible, I go to pound potentially good area on the beach until I discover where gold jewelry is hidden. 
Gold jewelry can often be found in an area containing silver and junk jewelry, when you find more than one piece of junk jewelry you have a reason to stop and pound the heck out of an area like I do. 
If you follow this blog or my Facebook page, you will see a lot of silver and junk jewelry mentioned in my posts, but I rarely post photos of silver or junk jewelry. 
One of the reasons why I do not post junk jewelry is because I search on heavily hunted beaches.  
I do not want to give the area I found gold away, by posting anything the competition has thrown back down.
If you are lucky enough to run across an area with a lot of silver and junk jewelry, gold jewelry can be recovered if you stop and pound the area. 

From experience, I can tell you that it is better to stop and search an area with junk jewelry, than move along the beach hoping to find gold first. 
If a high number of silver and junk jewelry was lost in the area, so was gold jewelry, you just have to stay in place until you find it. 
Less walking and more scooping is always the best gold jewelry hunting strategy on tourist beaches. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Be prepared for ever changing lower beaches.

I use two very different search modes when using my CTX 3030 and I often use different size search coils, depending on what I am searching for.
A modified preset beach mode for gold jewelry hunting, or pattern 2 of the same preset beach mode when searching for old shipwreck coins and artifacts.
I compliment the search mode being used, by installing the size search coil that best suits the conditions I am presented with when I am actually standing on the beach.
In other words, I never limit myself by turning up at the beach without options. 
The key word when discussing the CTX 3030 is versatility, which is one of reasons why it is such a great metal detector for beach and shallow water hunting.
I get a kick out of seeing beach and water hunters on the US detecting forums, now using the CTX 3030 to discriminate junk and clad coins to get to gold jewelry faster on tourist beaches.
How do I put this nicely, I told you so and you are welcome!
My gold and silver jewelry finds from yesterday, show exactly what you can do on heavily hunted tourist beaches when you own a CTX 3030.
I emptied out my canvas finds pouch this morning,  it was full of nickels, pull tabs, lead fishing weights and a few foreign coins that I could not clearly identify so I fanned them out the rocks, just in case.
Silver rings were recovered because I modified the audio tones in the area on my detect screen where silver falls to a higher pitch.
I could just have easily decided not to recover silver, but on tourist beaches some design name silver jewelry can be worth more than gold jewelry.
Using the CTX 3030 to hone in on likely gold or platinum jewelry targets, requires having trust in your metal detector.
The opinion of many beach and shallow water hunters is predictable, you may miss a piece of gold that closely resembles a rejected trash target. 
I include clad coins as trash targets when searching for gold and platinum jewelry.
My answer to this fear of missing gold jewelry containing a heavy mix of alloys,  do not worry about the gold jewelry you may not detect, recover the gold jewelry you can and should recover.
A positive beach and water hunting strategy is much better than a negative beach and water hunting strategy.
I am reminded of the saying, move with the times or get left behind when I think about old school beach and water hunting ways.
Yesterday when I left my home, my CTX 3030 had the 17 x 13 inch search coil installed in preparation for metal detecting "Sanded in" beach conditions.
After sunrise, I spotted a rocky area in the shallow water, swapped out my search coil within minutes and jumped in the water with my CTX 3030.
You have such a big advantage over the competition, when you are ready for any beach or shallow water hunting opportunity.
Another factor that helped to make yesterdays jewelry hunt a golden success, was timing. 
I simply read the weather forecast before the busy weekend,  heavy rain with lightning was forecast for Sunday, which translates into tourist beach empty of jewelry depositors. 
There were three things that enabled me to have a successful jewelry hunt this weekend.
Owning a waterproof metal detector with the capacity to change search coils,  knowing where the rocks are at a sanded in beach, and knowing how to time my jewelry hunt.  

  18K yellow gold ring with 5 opals, heavy 18K white gold band. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Target recovery tips

I love searching for old Spanish treasure coins and artifacts on the beaches of the Treasure Coast of Florida.
Just as I do when searching for modern jewelry on tourist beaches, I really take my time when attempting to recover a target on the beach. 
I converted from using a closed basket style scoop, to an open scoop basket, so I stand less chance of breaking anything of value while trying to recover targets. 
Old shipwreck artifacts like these Spanish military buckles from the 1700s, are some of the things I typically hope to recover, in one piece if possible. 

You can still see the file marks on the left hand side buckle, the buckle on the right still has the pin attached. 
Both buckles were found at the same Spanish 1715 fleet shipwreck site, deep targets trapped in a layer of hard packed shelly sand on the lower beach.
When I try to recover targets that have a high probability of being old, I press the tip of my scoop basket at least 10 inches behind where I believe the center of the target is located. 
Pinpointing skills are easy when you really know your metal detector, but I still leave plenty of room to avoid hitting the target with the scoop basket.
I always take my time recovering targets, unless water is rushing in over the lower beach. 
When I use a digging tool or spade when searching inland, my preferred method of target recovery is to cut a plug.  
I cut a wide square shaped plug of soil using my digging tool or spade.
It is basically the same safe method of recovering targets on land, as I use on the beach. 
Luckily I have never broken anything old, or dinged a nice piece of modern jewelry. 
Recently I have started using a pin pointer more frequently on the beach, especially when searching rocky lower beaches. 
My pin pointer helps me to recover targets faster,  and again it can save you from scratching a potentially good target, instead of poking around in the rocks with a flat head screwdriver. 
Whenever I go beach hunting to a new site, I never assume there is nothing old to be found. 
I still try to scoop around targets, I learned the need to be careful when recovering targets many years ago while bottle digging in England. 
There is no worse feeling than seeing a fork tine sticking through the middle of a beautiful old bottle.  


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A high tide beach hunt

Sunday night I had a productive jewelry hunt,  waiting until the very end of the weekend to search for lost jewelry. 
I was rewarded for my patience with a 14K gold chain with 18K 1/2 carat diamond pendant and 14K gold ring.

I missed the high tide by about an hour, but still had the beach all to myself as other beach hunters in my area rarely show up to metal detect at high tide.
When you detect a high tide line,  depth or coil size is not that important, but sensitivity to small gold is. 
This is exactly why I took my Minelab SDC 2300 along, a metal detector that is sensitive to small gold. 
You often hear people saying "its all in the water", but the high tide line is an excellent place to find gold chains.
I know from experience that you have more chance of recovering a gold chain on the beach, than inside the water. 
If you are really lucky, on tourist beaches you may see a gold chain washed up along the high tide line. 
This has happened to me on at least six different occasions, following the high tide line and spotting a gold chain washed up or tangled in seaweed. 
During "Sanded in" conditions on tourist beaches, I like to plod along the high tide line very slowly using an all metals search mode.
I investigate all metal targets, to insure I do not miss anything of value being masked by bottle caps. 
It is really easy to skip digging bottle caps when you use a discriminating VLF metal detector, but bottle caps have a similar target signature as gold chains. 
A small broken tone from a gold chain can resemble a corroding bottle cap. 
Seaweed washed up along the high tide line, often puts people off searching a high tide line with seaweed, as not all metal detectors can deal with saturated seaweed. 
A false signal on every sweep over seaweed is no fun, and another reason why I use Minelab metal detectors for beach hunting. 
I guess todays blog shows you can find gold jewelry when you are not restricted to just metal detecting at low tide. 
The more unconventional a beach and water you are, the more jewelry you will find. 
Many long standing beach hunting principles are outdated, its time to think outside the beach hunting box!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Minelab Excalibur II beach and water hunting tips

Here are a few tips for Minelab Excalibur users. 

1.  Use the search mode that best suits the beaches you metal detect. 

This means hunting in Discrimination on trashy tourist beaches and Pinpoint (All metal mode) on less trashy beaches. 
There really is not that much of a depth advantage between the Discrimination and Pinpoint search modes on the Excalibur II to warrant digging all metal targets on tourist beaches. Unless you think all gold is magically trapped in the 10 to 12 inch depth range.   
You run the risk of getting bogged down digging junk targets in your search for deep gold, instead of eventually finding easier to recover shallow gold targets covering more ground. 
Know your beaches and use your knowledge of the local beaches and conditions to influence your choice of search mode.
Use the Pinpoint (all metal) search mode, or reverse hunting technique on less trashy beaches, especially on beaches known for old finds.
Old coins and artifacts are often encrusted in sand and coral, or attached to iron, the extra digging associated with using the Pinpoint search mode is worth the peace of mind knowing you are leaving anything good behind. 

2. Use it like you stole it! 

Get out of Auto Sensitivity as soon as you are comfortable using the Excalibur II, you get much better depth under normal beach and water hunting circumstances using manual sensitivity settings. 
After you turn your Excalibur II on, turn the Sensitivity control in small increments until it is a little chattery, back the sensitivity setting down to a point where you only get the occasional false signal when sweeping the search coil. 
You should be riding your sensitivity as hot as possible, and be prepared to tweak the sensitivity control over the course of a beach or water hunt. 
Adjust your sensitivity at least every half hour when covering large areas, or when you go from the water or wet sand to the dry. 
If you run across black sand, do not be afraid to try Auto sensitivity, it is better to sacrifice depth and find shallow targets, than find no targets at all by running at too high a sensitivity level.  
The car low beams being better in fog is a good way of explaining the problems of using too much power in black sand. 

3. Silence is not golden

When searching in trashy areas, you need to kill your sweep speed, or risk missing valuable targets.
Once your threshold (back ground noise) drops out when using the Discrimination mode, you are not detecting anything except iron! 
The time it takes for your threshold (back ground noise) to return, is commonly referred to as your metal detector recovery speed.
A slow recovery speed can make you miss gold, even if your search coil passes directly over a piece of gold. 
The bigger the iron object, the more chance you have of missing gold in trashy areas.
You can improve your recovery speed by sweeping your search coil very slowly in trashy areas, ultra slow sweep speeds on trashy sites increase the chances of picking up a partial or full gold signal response.
If you are not hearing a threshold, you are not actually detecting anything until the threshold returns. 

The Minelab Excalibur II has a great reputation and loyal following amongst beach and water hunters, when you use one you will know why. 

All of these tips and many more can be found in my Minelab Excalibur Pro User Guide, available on my website book page at or all good metal detecting stores.