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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My beach and water hunting new years resolution

I always have the same outlook when the new year arrives, I am going to move forward and see what else I can cross off my treasure hunting bucket list. 
This year was not too bad for jewelry hunting at the beach, as I found over a pound of gold and spent waaay less time than last year metal detecting. 
Beach and water treasure hunting is my hobby, but I am just as lucky away from the beach having a thriving business, a super wife and two beautiful young daughters to keep me busy. 
I take my beach and water hunting time when I can get it, which is why my new years treasure hunting resolution is always the same. 
Find a way to recover more jewelry and coins in less time, which usually involves changing tactics in the new year and trying new equipment and techniques. 
I make it my new years mission to mix things up and be more creative as a beach and water hunter. 
Striving to find more valuable targets in less time also involves mastering site selection, knowing where and just as importantly when to hunt.
The when to hunt is easy, anytime you feel like going to the beach is the best time to find jewelry or coins.
A wide variety of beach and water hunting sites is a must, if you want to find valuable targets on a regular basis in a shorter amount of time.
There is no site selection without a selection of sites to go metal detecting.
The full timers who have to spend all day at the beach to find something good, probably have to put long hours in because they search the same site or sites all the time.
Little things often make a huge difference when beach or water hunting, especially as you are sweeping a round coil with an average size of 10 inches over a large beach or in a wide open stretch of water.  
Targets could be big or small, shallow or deep, or not there at all no matter how many hours you spend searching. 
So why would you not want to mix things up, try searching a little differently or expand your search horizons. 
In the new year I am looking forward to testing and using different equipment and trying some different search techniques I have been working on. 
Yes this old dog does learn new tricks and hopefully they will help me to find more valuable targets in my allotted beach and water hunting time.  
Heres my favorite save from the summer of 2015, a $13.000.00 1.9 carat diamond ring. 


Saturday, December 26, 2015

The real deal and double checking at the beach

Yesterdays gold foil covered chocolate coins under the christmas tree reminded me of the last time I saw something similar. 
I had hammered an eroded section of beach for several evenings after work,  just finding old military buttons and musket balls.
A small area with mixed target signals produced three crusty modern bottle caps, but the forth and final target out of the hole I presumed was a foil covered chocolate coin. 
It had to be in my mind because when I saw this gold coin laying on the sand it looked in mint condition ( no pun intended) 

Reaching down for what I expected to be a piece of chocolate, I remember feeling disappointed until I picked it up and could feel the weight of the gold coin. 
This has happened to me on many previous occasions, things are not always what they first appear to be when beach or water hunting.
I presumed three of my favorite finds were all other things before picking them up off the sand, my emerald treasure ring a gold colored wire bale off a champagne bottle, my diamond Scottish masonic ring a gold ball and this gold coin a candy coin. 
I often wonder how many beach and water hunters presume they know what a target is, make a mistake identifying them and not bother to pick them up.
An easy way to never leave a find of a lifetime behind at the beach, is to be a clean beach or water hunter.
Pick up everything you detect and stop to dig up, take everything you dig up and will fit in your finds pouch home because it often pays to be a clean treasure hunter.
You may have a valuable object in your finds pouch and not know it until you inspect your "Trash" finds at home. 
I go one step further, by stopping and investigating obvious areas disturbed by other beach or water hunters.
Every year I find several pieces of gold jewelry or old coins left behind by sloppy beach or water hunters.
Remember my old gold coin story the next time you dig up a crusty bottle cap at the beach, you never know what valuable piece of jewelry or coin is being masked by  one or several trash targets.
Double check your holes and double check any uncovered holes left behind by sloppy beach or water hunters.
Never assume anything at the beach, sometimes objects are not always what they appear until you pick them up, and just because you see signs of digging it does not mean the previous digger recovered everything. 


Monday, December 21, 2015

Less chatter, more gold.

I am always asked what level of sensitivity I run my metal detectors at on the beach and in the water, "Running smooth" is usually my response. 
My smooth metal detector sensitivity control setting is always a reaction to the beach or water hunting conditions present as I start searching, I never not set my metal detector sensitivity control.
The only exception to this is when I use a screened metal detector with preset sensitivity levels that automatically compensate for changing ground conditions. 
Im my opinion, it is always better to set your metal detector sensitivity level when you get to the beach, it should not be a set and forget metal detector control setting. 
Many beach and water hunters are not aware that salinity levels can change dramatically at saltwater beaches.
If you are not aware of this, you may blame a chattery metal detector on offshore shipping or a beachside construction crane. 
Setting your metal detector sensitivity to suit the beach conditions present is easy, and it should be the first thing you do as you start metal detecting. 
Cover a little area in front of you, readjust your sensitivity control and repeat until you are confident you have your metal detector running smoothly. 
You are just fine tuning your metal detector to handle the saltwater beach, finding the highest setting that causes chatter and backing it off until your metal detector runs smoothly with the lowest amount of false signals.
When you set your metal detector sensitivity manually, strive to have your metal detector running smooth, not hot. 
There are now far too many other people using metal detectors at the beach, to run a chattery metal detector.
At heavily hunted beaches a smooth threshold may well be your best shot at detecting that find of a lifetime you are searching for.
An expensive solitaire diamond ring can easily be ignored as just a blip or chirp from water rushing over your search coil, or a soaked area of sand on the lower beach that a wave just washed over.
Under setting, or over compensating for the ground being covered can be just as bad as running your metal detector too hot.
That is why if you are not a "Tweaker" and do not tweak your metal detector sensitivity control to suit the conditions, you run the risk of missing valuable targets.
Running a metal detector with too low of a sensitivity level will cause you to miss deep targets or targets on the edge of detection range. 
I regularly use a Minelab Excalibur for beach and water hunting, the majority of Excalibur users I have ever met and talked to always have a preset sensitivity level, maybe that is why I like following other Excalibur users on the beaches I search at. 
When my wife says Im a sensitive guy, I look at some of the diamond rings she like to wear and reply, yes I am! 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Bad luck, bad search technique or bad settings ?

I was chatting to a detecting friend a few days ago about heavily hunted beaches and how some people struggle to detect gold rings at the beach.
My friend pointed out that a couple of retired guys hit the same popular beach every day and how he was unlikely to find anything because the beach was heavily hunted.
I pointed out that several of the guys who hit that beach on a daily basis post on detecting forums. 
Photos of the beach and photos of junk and silver jewelry, but hardly any gold which raises a red flag to me.
Having seen the junk and silver jewelry posted, I told my friend that it is quite obvious why they are not finding gold and it is not bad luck.
If you are regularly searching a tourist beach and only finding silver or junk jewelry, you need to look at your search technique and metal detector settings. 
Anyone can detect silver or junk jewelry, but not everyone can detect gold jewelry.
You have to use the correct search techniques and tune your metal detector to give yourself a chance of detecting gold jewelry. 
Walk too quickly and you walk straight over gold, sweep too fast or too high and you miss gold.
Have your metal detector sensitivity level set too high and you fail to hear gold jewelry between the false signals, too high a discrimination setting and you notch out gold jewelry.
I dare say there is gold on any tourist beach in the world, and no matter how heavily hunted the beach is the majority of searchers are using bad search techniques or they have their metal detector controls incorrectly set up. 
That gives you a very good chance of detecting gold, if you spend time improving your search technique and set your metal detector controls up correctly.
I rarely rely on luck, I would rather rely on my search techniques and trusting the metal detector I use.
Good search techniques and a fine tuned metal detector are a killer beach or water hunting combination.
Let the average beach hunters clean the beach of junk and silver jewelry,  go for the often smaller more valuable jewelry with sparkly diamonds by working on search technique and actually testing to see what responses you get from gold jewelry test targets at the beach. 
Heres what Im talking about,  a bobby dazzler diamond engagement ring found last year before sunrise at a heavily hunted south Florida beach.  

With good search techniques and a hot metal detector you can make your own luck. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Battery tips

Nothing puts a damper on a beach or water hunt than not keeping tabs on your metal detector batteries. 
If you have been beach or water hunting a long time, you should know how important it is to have your metal detector batteries charged.  Nothing is worse than arriving at a beach to see excellent beach or water hunting conditions, but you cannot take advantage of them because you neglected to make sure you have enough juice for your metal detector. 
Traveling long distances to detect and having battery problems is the ultimate downer. 
Nine times out of ten, if your main battery pack is not charged your back up battery pack is going to be in just the same state. 
You should always make sure your main and spare battery packs are charged and ready to go, especially if you seldom use the spare battery pack. 
I make a point of alternating battery packs so I can guarantee my spare battery pack is good to go if my main battery pack is drained.
Any battery pack I use is charged after every beach or water hunt, I use Nimh battery packs that have very little charge memory. 
Although I have only ever had one battery problem spoil a metal detecting trip many years ago, I vowed it will never happen again and it has not.
Two rechargable battery packs, an alkaline pack and spare batteries for the alkaline pack, all leave the house with me when I go to the beach to metal detect.  
My thermo nuclear option detecting battery kit, insure that if I need to stay and take advantage of excellent conditions I can. 
The back up battery pack to me is the important thing to remember, especially if you do not use it very often.
People have a bad habit of keeping the back up battery pack in their vehicle for many weeks or months, sometimes in very hot vehicles which can damage the batteries or battery pack. 
Damaged terminals can render the battery pack useless, but unfortunately you do not find that out until you really need and want to use it. 
I do not recommend you leave AA batteries in your spare alkaline battery pack for long periods, just in case they do corrode and ruin the battery pack. 
When I do put batteries in a pack, I write the date the batteries were installed on a piece of blue painters tape.
I do the same thing on my rechargable packs if recharging after a hunt is not possible, so I can keep track of the hours I have used the pack.
As a rule I like to use fresh batteries, more juice equals more detection depth and better target IDs on many metal detectors.
Battery packs and batteries may seem like a boring subject, until you are are faced with excellent treasure hunting conditions and have to leave the beach because your metal detector will not power on. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Discrimination or all metal, which search mode is better at the beach?

Nothing gets more people panties in a wad on a detecting forum than the question, is it better to dig all metal targets at the beach or use discrimination? 
Heres my two pennies worth, you have to use both search modes to help you find what you are looking for.
Anyone who tells you that you should only use one search mode all the time just in case you miss one valuable target is living in the past. 
Just like times change, metal detecting equipment changes and you have to change with the times or get left behind.
In the old days you probably needed a pulse induction metal detector to get exceptional target depth, now you can put a large search coil on your VLF metal detector and detect deep targets, but leave deep trash targets behind.
You can now use VLF metal detectors with target discrimination features to search for valuable targets at trashy beach sites and leave non valuable targets behind. 
Nothing wastes more time in excellent beach or water hunting conditions, than being stubborn or too set in your ways.
In my opinion, using the same search mode at every beach is just as out dated as showing up at the beach two hours before low tide. 
A couple of my favorite metal detectors are modified allowing me to switch between search modes, another one of my favorite metal detectors I can just press a button to change between search modes. 
I often start out using an all-metal search mode at the beach and change to a discrimination search mode, or vice versa.
Beach and water hunting comes down to making the most of your allotted metal detecting time. 
If you dig all metal targets on a trashy beach you are basically going to dig a pouch full of trash before you find something of value, unless you get tired or run out of metal detecting time. 
If you reject unwanted trash targets by using discrimination, you have a better chance of recovering something good before your arm drops off or you run out of metal detecting time. 
Alternatively, if you use discrimination on a beach with few metal targets, you may miss valuable targets that are rejected because they cannot be identified on the edge of detection range. 
It is absolute beach or water hunting madness to strictly stick to using only one type of search mode. 
Avoid being a beach or water hunter who does the same thing at the same place at the same time. 
Recover more valuable targets, by adapting to beach sites and using the search mode that best suits the site during the conditions you encounter after you arrive to metal detect. 
I cannot remember what type of search mode I was using when I recovered these pieces of jewelry, I used the search mode that gave me the best chance of recovering them on the day.

Monday, December 7, 2015

More on keeping a level search coil

A correctly adjusted metal detector shaft will help you to keep your search coil level during the sweeping action.
It will also save you from back, shoulder and arm aches, allowing you to stay at the beach metal detecting longer.
I adjust my metal detector shaft differently for shallow water hunting than beach hunting.
In the water I prefer to have my metal detector shaft a little shorter, because I often use a snorkel and mask in water with good visibility.  
A shorter metal detector shaft balances out the natural bending and moving forward action of having your head in the water to see. 
You also get on better sweeping and scooping targets just in front of your feet in the water.
I actually search much slower in the water than on the beach, everything about my sweeping technique in the water is more condensed. 
On the beach I prefer to have my search coil a little further in front of me, using a wider sweeping arc.
As I am more likely to use a large search coil on the beach than in the water, the metal detector shaft is adjusted longer to help balance out the weight of a larger search coil and help me to cover a wider area. 
No matter if you are searching on the beach or in the water, a correctly adjusted metal detector shaft helps your sweeping technique and ultimately helps you to keep your search coil level through-out each sweep.
When I see "Golf swingers" at the beach, a metal detector shaft that is too short is usually the main reason for their search coil being six inches above the sand.
Little things often make a big difference in beach and water hunting, searching with your metal detector shaft set to a comfortable length is one of those little things.
If you are not comfortable, drill another hole in your metal detector shaft for your lower rod to fit into, or buy a "Tall man" lower rod. 
Another part of keeping a level search coil is having your search coil fastened to the lower rod tightly. 
Make sure the nylon bolt and nut is nice and tight, maybe its time to replace it if you have a floppy search coil.
From experience I can tell you that level search coils hugging the sand lead to great finds at the beach. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

A common beach hunting fail

Search coil control is often overlooked by beach hunters, but it should not be because keeping a level search coil helps with both target detection and target depth. 
In my opinion, the popularity of large search coils has increased the number of people I see raising search coils at the end of their sweeps. 
So too has certain heavy metal detectors, users struggling to sweep their search coils because of metal detector weight issues.
A well balanced metal detector is a must for anyone thinking of spending the day beach hunting. 
If you insist of swinging a heavy metal detector or search coil, try mounting the control box on a balanced straight shaft, hip / chest mounting the control box, or using a detecting harness. 
The metal detectors I prefer to use at the beach are all well balanced or can be mounted differently to make them well balanced. 
Raising your search coil at the end of each sweep may cause you to miss finds like this piece of 22K gold found on a Treasure Coast beach a couple of years ago. 

The ornate piece of jewelry came off a beach where two 1700s ships are known to have wrecked.
I detected the gold at the very end of a sweep, just as I have detected many other treasure coins and artifacts on Treasure Coast beaches. 
A few of the non equipment related flaws that lead to raised search coils, are detecting pace and how high your search coil is swept over the sand.
The faster your metal detecting pace, the more inclined you are to swing your metal detector shaft like a gold club. 
The closer to the sand you keep your search coil, the more difficult it is to raise your search coil at the end of each sweep.
Put the two together by reducing your detecting pace and keeping your search coil on the sand, the more treasure you will put in your finds pouch. 
Another important thing is making sure your search coil is level to start with, especially if you use a metal detector that has the search coil attached to the shaft at the rear of the search coil.
A tilted and raised search coil at the end of each sweep is double trouble to a beach hunter.
Learn to control the level of your search coil, it will help you to detect targets deeper and more importantly detect targets!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The giant sandy conveyor belt

Here are a few lines from my "Jewelry Hunting " book that may help improve your jewelry hunting chances at the beach.

Many beach hunters wrongly assume that all jewelry is lost in the water, but I strongly disagree having found thousands of pieces of jewelry on the beach. 
My theory is the lower beach is like a giant sandy conveyor belt, with tides moving jewelry up and down the beach like a push penny arcade game. 
I believe, jewelry lost in the water will eventually be thrown up onto the beach and jewelry lost on the beach will eventually be pulled down into the water. 
The sandy conveyor belt is the reason why I find Spanish treasure coins on the beach opposite Spanish shipwrecks on the Treasure Coast of Florida. 
Treasure coins scattered on the reefs, get pushed up onto the beaches during high surf. 
Treasure coins also get pulled out of the dunes and washed down into the water. 
The same thing happens to modern jewelry and coins lost in the water at the beach. 
I am certain you can find jewelry almost anywhere at the beach, from inside the water to the top of the beach. 
The next time you go to the beach, look for signs of previous high tide lines on the beach.
Previous high tide lines can be identified by lines of seaweed or shells running paralel to the shoreline. 
Any  previous high tide line may contain jewelry, just waiting for you to detect and scoop up. 
Once you start believing that it is possible to find jewelry anywhere on the beach, you will be less inclined to be a one-dimensional beach hunter. 
I class the beach as three separate but connected areas, the water, lower beach and upper beach. 

When you understand the connection between all three beach areas, you will understand why you can find almost anything anywhere at the beach.  

One of my best finds of 2015 is this two carat "Bobby Dazzler" detected in a previous high tide line.
You just never what may be waiting for you at the end of the sandy conveyor belt. 
My "Jewelry hunting" book is available on my website at amazon and metal detector stores.