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Friday, August 28, 2015

Beach hunting after a strong coastal storm

With tropical storm Erika making its way to Florida, my inbox has been full of messages from people asking for post storm beach hunting tips, so heres a few tips. 
When beaches are safe to search with a metal detector after a major storm has eroded beaches, you can find anything almost anywhere on the beach.
You may also find almost anything anywhere on the beach for several days after a major storm has blown through an area. 
Patience can be a virtue if you wait for the wind and waves to erode the beaches, instead of hammering a beach during and straight after a storm.
I remember a few years ago hitting a Treasure Coast beach with a six feet cut running for a couple of miles.
Walking off that shipwreck beach I could not believe I had to go home empty handed, especially as I had the beach all to myself for about four hours.  
I returned to the exact same beach three days later to see if anything had washed back in with the returning sand. 
Three silver Spanish reales were my reward for trying again, this is a prefect example of why you do not always have to be the first person at an eroded beach to recover good stuff.
After patience comes equipment choice,  always use a good metal detector you have experience with and confidence in its abilities to detect what you are looking for. 
Dont bring a gun to a knife fight, on a beach with several feet of sand removed from it, try not to worry about deep targets. 
Im my opinion, a VLF metal detector with a little discrimination is the best tool for searching eroded beaches with plenty of relatively shallow targets. 
Go for the easy targets within reach using a good VLF metal detector as most beaches are very trashy after being eroded by a storm.
A pulse induction metal detector is a better choice of equipment for covering areas that have obviously been heavily hunted by other people metal detecting. 
You have the advantage of target depth, after all the easier to detect targets are recovered on an eroded stretch of beach by people using VLF metal detectors. 
An often over looked factor is fatigue, try to use lightweight or balanced treasure hunting gear, so you can stay out on the beach longer instead of nursing a sore metal detector arm at home. 
Also rely on your own beach hunting intuition or instincts, instead of second hand and dated beach reports, make your own headlines instead of hearing about what other people have found.   
Beach erosion is when your knowledge of local beaches becomes a huge advantage.
You can pick and plan the sites you are going to search after a storm, I often think about places I have found lots of great stuff and the conditions needed to open them up. 
For a beach hunter there is not greater thrill than searching an eroded stretch of beach and filling your finds pouch.
After you have searched an eroded beach, you will be more prepared to know what to do when it happens again. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

An opposite jewelry hunting strategy

Metal detecting in south Florida it is tempting to get in the water every time you go to the beach during the summer months 
From what I have seen on the beach web cams and driving along the beach road, I think everyone has the same idea. 
It is not unusual to see a water hunter every 1/4 mile or less at popular south Florida tourist beaches. 
So what does that mean, more competition, over hunted beaches, less finds, or an opportunity to find something good? 
To a hardcore beach and water hunter like myself, the last part of the question applies, its a great opportunity to find something good.
It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that if everyone is searching inside the water, you have a really good chance of finding something good outside of the water.
My strategy for metal detecting this past weekend was simple, search the place that gave me the best chance of finding something good. 
I set my alarm and hit the beach in the middle of the night,  searching stretches of the beach that I assumed had been ignored by the small army of water hunters at my local beaches. 
A busy beach entrance was my first search area, I chose to search around the entrance and work my way down towards the wet sand.
Mid beach using a modified CTX 3030 Beach Mode I recovered a nice heavy platinum and diamond band, I did not need to turn my flashlight on to know the heavy band in my hand was platinum. 
As people sat on the lower beach to wait for the sunrise, I recovered three pieces of 10K gold jewelry in the wet sand. 
I also saw people entering the water with metal detectors to water hunt at first light, but I never saw another beach hunter before leaving. 
This really is the point of todays blog, setting yourself apart from other people metal detecting at the beach.
What can you do differently to put what ever it is you are searching for in your finds pouch.
At this heavily water hunted place, it was just as simple as searching for and detecting the platinum and gold jewelry that other people assumed was not on the beach. 
I actually went home early, I had planned to water hunt after sunrise but I did not want to make the same mistake as everyone else. 
Doing the opposite to the metal detecting crowd has paid dividends to me through the years. 
Beach hunting outside the box has often put me in position to recover great finds.
When is the last time you did the opposite to everyone else at the beach? 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Disappearing signals

Yesterday I hit a beach for an hour that I had watched all week, from an apartment I was working in that over looked the beach.
I knew I had an opportunity to metal detect on Friday so I took along my Minelab Excalibur.
I figured that if I had seen at least twenty people a day in the water opposite a beach walk over, that added up to a lot of people in one week who could potentially lose jewelry.
An extra bonus was that I never saw anyone metal detecting on the beach or in the water, quite a rare thing for south Florida. 
My second signal after entering the water was a gold ring, unfortunately it was the only piece of gold I found on my lunch break but I am not complaining.


Heres the connection to the title of todays blog, the faint signal from the gold ring completely vanished after the second attempt at scooping it.
I know I heard it, it was there after the first attempt at scooping it , but it was completely gone after the second attempt to scoop it.
From experience I knew the target was probably gold and probably deep, so I took another couple of scoops of sand from the area and the target reappeared loud and clear.
I have been using the Minelab Excalibur for years, along with the Sovereign it is one of my all time favorite metal detectors for beach and water hunting. 
The round gold target was easy to pick out from the Excalibur audio,  and I was not about to give up on a promising sounding target.
There are several things that could cause a beach or water hunter to walk away from a good target, a target on edge, a small target falling through a scoop basket, multiple targets in the same area, or a ferrous object partially masking a non ferrous target.
These examples all plant the dreaded " I'll just walk away and carry on detecting" seed.
Previously good signals can disappear using a little discrimination, but I would rather stop, scoop and put a crusty bottle cap in my finds pouch than walk away from a gold ring.
Never walk away from a target you clearly heard but you cannot detect after disturbing the area with your digging tool, this also applies to land hunting too.
Another thing to take into consideration is the size of your search coil, especially if you have have taken a few scoops of sand out of a target area. 
If a target has sunk or been pushed deeper into the sand, your search coil size may prevent you from detecting the target if you are sweeping your search coil across the area. 
Try moving your search coil inside the depression and around the slope, instead of across the top of the area.
One final thing about disappearing signals, never assume you are trying to detect a single target. 
You may have ferrous and non ferrous targets in the area, causing a smaller but more valuable target to suddenly disappear.
Remove any large ferrous (iron) objects away from an area you believe you heard a good signal.
You may also think you have an elusive target in your hand after a troublesome recovery, but always recheck the hole just in case that coin or fishing weight was masking a piece of gold jewelry. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

An often overlooked accessory for beach and water hunting

I may have not spent a lot of time at the beach recently, but that has not stopped me from getting ready for bigger and better things. 
I use previous finds like these as motivation to keep on keeping on.  Although I have not been able to hit the beach recently, my down time has been spent researching new sites and getting ready to hit them hard.

No sanded in beach reports, or lack of success by full time beach or water hunters would ever put me off going metal detecting. 
The unexpected or great unknown helps to keep me motivated, the news is always full of great treasure hunting surprises, from shipwreck finds to roman hoards. 
One of the things I really like about metal detecting is the fact that you often get rewarded for hard work, the more thought and effort you put into the hobby the more you get rewarded.
Notice how I put thought instead of time in the previous comment, anyone can put the time in.
On heavily hunted tourist beaches, the majority of beach and water hunters are now using the same type of equipment. 
What can set a beach or water apart from the competition is something that cannot be bought at your local metal detector store. 
In my opinion, the most important accessory you take to the beach is your brain.
Relying too heavily on your metal detecting equipment will hold you back, your metal detector should be just that, a metal detector.   
The more you use your brain, the closer you get to putting your hands on what you are searching for.
Think of ways to set your self apart, not to be like everyone else, not to search like the detecting crowd.
The four pieces of jewelry in the photo were recovered by me instead of the competition because I do not conform to any strict beach or water hunting plan. 
If I did I probably would never have found any of the bling in the photo ,  one was a high tide water hunting find, an ankle deep water find, and two remote beach finds. 
I went water hunting at high tide, detecting in ankle deep water and searching beaches that do not have places to park. 
All the things you are not supposed to do, according to the majority of people using a metal detector at the beach.  I always keep my eye on the prize, but I am not bothered where or how I recover it as long as I find it.
Being able to change on the fly is important at the beach, use your "Noggin" by using tactics to suit the conditions at the beach.  If you do the same things over and over again, you will get the same results. 
If you try different things you put yourself in position to enjoy the unexpected and in beach and water hunting that is always a good thing. 
Treasure is often found in unexpected places, by people who rely their treasure hunting instincts more than their treasure hunting equipment. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Target recovery tips for the lower beach

I have heard several stories of beach hunters losing good finds at the waters edge, scooping and dumping higher up on the beach will help avoid seeing a good find get washed back into the water.
When I search in the wet sand and start to recover a target, I dump any sand I scoop a little higher up on the beach.
I never dump the sand close to the hole when I metal detect close to the water.  If the target was dumped along with the sand, there is a good chance an incoming wave will wash over the area and take whatever you just found back into the water.
During times of rough surf, your target recovery skills on the lower beach are very important, so is your choice of search coil and recovery tool.
Smaller search coils are better for pinpointing, stainless steel scoops are better for target recovery.
The quicker you can pinpoint and recover the target on rough lower beach days, the more successful you will be.
I often see people having trouble recovering targets on the lower beach, spending way too much time farting around pinpointing instead of scooping.
You cannot afford to waste valuable metal detecting time walking around a detected target from every angle on a heavily hunted beach, especially if the beach is cut or eroded.
Pinpointing a target is basically X-ing a target to give you a good idea where the target is under your search coil.
In my opinion, coffee can size scoop baskets are a bust on the lower beach, decent sized scoop baskets take a big bite of sand from the dig area.  
The combination of large search coil and small scoop basket should always be avoided if you have difficulty pinpointing targets at the beach. 
If water is moving over the area, avoid shucking sand over the area you are trying to retrieve the target.
Just in case a diamond ear ring or gold chain falls through the holes in your scoop basket.
Remove a scoop full of sand, check the hole quickly and if you do not hear a signal move away and dump your scoop basket higher up on the lower beach.
Quickly sweep over the dumped sand to confirm you successfully removed the target, if you have not there is a good chance the target is still in the hole you dug.
Maybe pushed to the side or deeper into the hole, or even lost on the way to the dump site.
Large scoop baskets leave deep holes in the wet sand,  this helps to capture the target if you miss it on the first or second scooping attempt.
A coin or piece of jewelry, may get washed back into the depression if it slips over the edge of the scoop basket. 
Years ago, I remember walking onto a beach before dawn and digging to Australia for a target. 
The good sounding signal just completely vanished in the wet sand at the waters edge and I made the decision to move on.
At first light I made my way back to the beach entrance and there laying in a large depression in the wet sand was a big gold mans ring. 
I presume the gold ring had slipped over the edge of my scoop basket and dropped into the water, eventually getting left behind in the depression as the tide went out. 
Every year I recover several pieces of gold jewelry next to dug holes on the beach and in the water,  so watch out for near recovery misses on the lower beach and in the surf zone. 
Heres a ring that almost got away,  an18K gold amethyst ladies ring I saw slip over the rim of my scoop basket.  I quickly stepped on the ring with my dive boot to stop it washing back in the water as the surf washed back down a slope on the lower beach. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Keeping it simple

I searched a sandy lot about a block away from the beach this morning and came away with a few old coins for the area. 
Better still I came away with a perfectly good example of why it is good to use a little discrimination. 
I pressed the iron icon on my Minelab GoFind 40 and saved myself from digging junk instead of coins. 
My sensitivity was maxed out on my GoFind 40 and I recovered every coin my search coil passed over within metal detection range for the size search coil on the metal detector.
My detecting time was limited and I was not concerned about missing deep targets or the odd good target being masked by iron.
The easy to use $300.00 metal detector recovered coins at reasonable depths and did not have to be ground balanced or set up in any discrimination pattern. 
As was the case with many of the more shiny finds in my beach and water hunting books, the old coins came up from relatively shallow depths. 
I would even go so far as to say the majority of my better finds have been shallow targets, treasure coins and artifacts on shipwreck beaches, or humdinger diamond rings on tourist beaches. 
All found within the first 6 to 8 inches of sand using a little discrimination, which goes a long way. 
Actually, that little bit of discrimination allows you to get to what you are searching for faster if you are looking for coins or jewelry. 
Now more than ever it is important to dig more good targets than bad targets, especially with the popularity of beach and water hunting. 
In my opinion, far too many beach and water hunters are concerned about what they are missing (deep or masked targets) instead of concentrating on easy to recover shallow targets. 
I have a few big guns in my detecting arsenal, but I chose to keep it simple and pull a fold up metal detector from under my car seat when I got to the site this morning. 
I figured as I had never searched the place, why not keep it simple and see if the site has potential. 
This also ties into my theories of beginners luck,  I wonder how many magnificent diamond rings are found at the beach by newbies using relatively inexpensive metal detectors, found because they cover more ground recovering the easy to detect targets. 
I believe there will always be two vastly different camps in the beach and water hunting community, the dig it alls and the cherry pickers. 
The secret is being able to find the middle ground, using the search mode that best fits into the amount of time you have to metal detect and the sites you search.
The less obvious junk targets you detect, the more chance you have of recovering good stuff, I dare say no matter what beach you search at. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Sometimes less is more when it comes to beach and water hunting.

The metal detectors I prefer to use for beach and water hunting are versatile, my control settings vary depending on the site selected and the search techniques I use depend on what I see when I get to the beach.
I have no complicated search patterns, no cumbersome equipment to lug around and I never search every beach the same way.
My stripped down approach to beach and water hunting has to do with less often meaning more when searching for jewelry at the beach.
Often, the biggest difference makers to a beach or water hunter are the things they do not do.
It is so easy to get set in your ways when beach or water hunting, especially when you have a little success.
You could easily make the mistake of thinking what you are doing is what you should be doing all the time.
I like observing other people metal detecting at the beach, they usually just repeat the same thing over and over again.
Like something may have worked for them or someone they know, so now they are going to do it over and over again,  regardless of the actual beach or water hunting conditions.
In my opinion as a hardcore beach and water hunter,  the worst thing you can possibly do is become one dimensional or a one trick pony. 
If you really think about it, we are searching for randomly lost jewelry and coins at the beach, so you never know what you are going to find and where you are going to find it. 
So why would you expect to improve your chances of recovering jewelry or coins at the beach by doing the same thing or searching the same sites every time you go to the beach.
Tomorrow I am hitting the beach for the first time in nearly two weeks,  you can be sure I am not going to read a tide chart or choose my site based on where everyone else goes metal detecting.
I will randomly select a beach, see what it looks like when I get there and probably find a piece of randomly lost jewelry after I decide what will improve my chances of recovering jewelry instead of junk. 
I know many of the local beach or water hunters in my area know exactly what they are going to do when they get to a beach tomorrow, which is why I have a good chance of recovering jewelry. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Jewelry hunting observations

Last weekend I attended a metal detecting event in Orlando Florida, I had a table set up in one of the air conditioned tents with a couple of displays of Spanish artifacts found along the Treasure coast beaches of Florida. 
I sold my books and met a lot of very enthusiastic beach and water jewelry hunters, as you would expect in central Florida. 
A few things stood out after chatting to a steady stream of people walking past my table, everyone is finding jewelry by the photos people shared with me on their cell phones. 
The majority of  jewelry had been found at two large tourist beaches on the central coast of Florida. 
I will not give away the names of the two beaches everyone had mentioned the most, but as you would expect they are heavily hunted. 
That should tell you that no matter how many people search a beach with a metal detector, you always have a chance of finding jewelry. 
I met several people who told me they search those beaches eight hours a day, seven days a week, dang that sounds too much like a job to me! 
Nows here is the most interesting thing I took away from meeting this large crowd of enthusiastic jewelry hunters. 
All the experienced beach and water hunters complained about competition, but all the people new to jewelry hunting never mentioned other people searching the beaches. 
The majority of those novice beach or water hunters, showed me the best photos of jewelry. 
I heard plenty of stories of first gold ring, first diamond ring and even a few first Spanish treasure coin stories. 
This goes back to what I always say about newbies, they search places other hunters ignore because seasoned beach or water hunters experience tells them not to search those type of places. 
No doubt many of those newbies recovered jewelry at very different times of the day, other than searching two hours before low tide. 
No doubt many newbies recovered jewelry mid or upper beach, not just in the water where every water hunter says the good stuff is. 
Unless your a treasure salvage guy, because after seeing yards of three hundred year old Spanish gold chain and coins on display at the event, I would have to agree that is where the good stuff is on the Treasure Coast.
Another observation I made was that newbies tell you where they find stuff, while seasoned jewelry hunters keep a lid on it.