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Saturday, April 30, 2016

A game of inches

One of the easiest ways of increasing the depth your metal detector can detect targets at the beach, is to think about how big your search coil is and how far above the sand you are sweeping your search coil. Notice how I refer to a sweeping action, not a swing like using a golf club. 
If you are using a 10 inch search coil on say a Minelab Excalibur,  you should be able to detect any of the platinum and gold bands in this photo at a depth of 10 inches. 

If you walk along the beach sweeping your search coil two or three inches above the sand, you are going to lose 2 or 3 inches of depth and miss valuable targets.
Swing your search coil like its a golf club, with luck you may hit targets 7 inches deep along the center of the line you are walking along. 
Not having your search coil level and as close to the sand as possible, means you are not taking advantage of the size of your search coil.
A good DD search coil should be able to detect targets down to the same depth as the width of the search coil. 
A good mono search coil should be able to detect targets deeper than the width of the search coil.
Every inch you hold your search coil above the sand is an inch less you are going to detect a target under the sand.
In a game of inches, why would you not want to use the full detection range of your metal detector search coil.
Your beach hunting technique automatically improves when you concentrate on keeping your search coil just skimming the sand.
It slows your walk (detecting pace), slows your sweep speed, which in turn puts more platinum, gold and silver in your finds pouch. 
Adjusting the length of your metal detector shaft and making sure your search coil is level by keeping the bolt tight will also help with target depth.
Search coil control is not mentioned very often, but it can be a difference maker to a beach hunter. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Prepare for good beach hunting times

I got asked a good question over the weekend, it was what do you do when your favorite beaches are sanded in. My favorite beaches are the sites I recover older coins, jewelry or artifacts at, especially shipwreck related material.
The answer to my friends question was simple, I prepare, watch and wait for when those beaches are not sanded in.
From experience I have found preparation is one of the most important keys to recovering old coins and artifacts at the beach. 
If you recover old finds at a beach, there is a really good chance you can recover more of the same type of finds at the same location in the future when the beaches are open.
My beach hunting prep includes research, making sure I know what combination of wind and waves is required in order for me to have a chance of recovering more old finds. 
I never rely on other peoples beach reports or just show up at a beach and hope I stumble across good beach conditions. 
Being one step ahead and staying one step ahead of the beach hunting competition are the rewards of being prepared. 
There is a very good reason I often appear to be in the right place at the right time, I work on it!  
The window of opportunity to recover old coins and artifacts during good beach hunting conditions is is often the same as it is to recover modern jewelry and coins, far too short!
The question I was asked over the weekend and this photo remind me why I love beach hunting, watching, waiting and finding cool old finds. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The importance of target separation at crowded beaches

Popular or crowded beaches are often littered with bottle caps, can slaw, fishing junk and all sorts of other metal objects being effected by contact with saltwater and sand.
George in Texas asks why not always use a large search coil and go for ground coverage and depth, the answer is because of all the unwanted targets I listed above. 
I prefer to use small search coils at trashy beaches, opting for target separation over ground coverage or target depth. 
Many of my favorite platinum and gold rings have been detected because I chose to cover an area instead of covering more ground at tourist beaches.
It often comes down to if you cannot hear a good target, you are not going to detect or scoop up a good target at crowded beaches.
It is amazing what you can detect around a busy beach entrance using a search coil only a couple of inches smaller than the competition.
For example, this heavy platinum, gold and diamond scoop rattler was recovered because I was able to detect a low target tone as I slowly swept a small search coil over an iron infested beach entrance. 

The diamond ring would probably not have been detected if I used a larger search coil, with multiple iron objects being detected under and close to a larger search coil helping mask good targets. 
Two different beach hunters walked over this area before me, I met one of them afterwards in the parking lot who told me my 8 inch coil was too small and the reason I never moved very far. I thanked the stranger for his advice and drove away with a smile on my face. 
In my opinion, the hardest targets to detect are good shallow targets at beaches that see a lot of sunbathers and swimmers.
Fresh dropped jewelry left behind with trash at the beach, can be detected when you put a small search coil over or close to it. 
When have you ever heard another beach or water hunter saying they needed a smaller search coil?
My guess is probably the same amount of times you hear beach and water hunters saying they need to slow down and cover less of a crowded beach. 
Small search coils and slow sweep speeds help combat both iron and target masking at trashy beach sites, where so often target separation is the name of the jewelry hunting game. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Three golden rules of beach erosion hunting

Tim on the Treasure Coast of Florida asked me how best to search a cut beach, so here are my three golden rules of searching eroded (Cut) beaches.

1. Search the jewelry and coin trap first.

If you see an obvious cut running along the beach, always search along the base of the cut first giving yourself a chance to detect the easy to recover targets.

The base of a cut beach helps to trap jewelry and coins in place, especially if the water is going out after the previous high tide.
Coins, bottle caps or pull tabs laying on top of the sand close to the base of the cut is an excellent sign on eroded tourist beaches.  The first few yards closet to the cut is often the most productive area, as objects hit the back of the wall of sand.

2. Take your time

In heavily hunted areas, searching a cut should not become a foot race to see who can cover the area the fastest. Targets are often shallow and easy to detect, so you do not want to walk over easy to detect targets using hasty and sloppy search techniques.

Some targets may be deeper, taking your time will insure you have a chance of detecting both shallow and deep targets when searching a cut beach.
I recommend using a medium size search coil on eroded beaches, giving you the best combination of sensitivity to small shallow targets and large deeper targets.

3. Know your window of opportunity

When a beach is eroded you often only have a short window of opportunity before the following high tides bring sand back in over the area.  I try to stay searching an eroded stretch of beach for as long as I possibly can,  just in case that is my best shot at detecting jewelry or coins in the area.

During perfect beach hunting situations is not the time to find out you are not prepared, spare charged batteries and a change of search coil should be readied as soon as you know your local beaches may be impacted by a coastal storm or unusually high winds or surf.

This diamond chain and cross is the type of easy to detect shallow target you can detect after high surf strips sand off a beach popular with sunbathers and swimmers.

The gold cross and chain was all balled up when first found, I could have easily missed this fine piece of bling rushing to try and cover the cut as other local beach hunters were in the area.
The slower and more methodical you cover a cut, the more chances you have of making the most of one of mother natures best beaching hunting opportunities.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Edge hunting

After posting more gold finds yesterday, several people asked me how I got so many pieces of gold from one area of a tourist beach.
The answer is "Edge hunting" or searching areas that are often overlooked by other beach hunters.
I often refer to box hunters in my beach and water hunting books, people who search the same sites the same way all the time.
Edge hunting is going beyond where the majority of beach or water hunters search, especially just past obvious turn around points. 
Fishing piers, lifeguard stands and beach entrances are all markers used by local beach or water hunters as turn around points. 
Detecting forums are full of posts by box hunters who did their usual search down to the pier and back but did not find anything good. 
My Facebook posts are full of gold found by going the extra yards past points I probably know are used as markers by other beach or water hunters. 
Yesterdays gold rings are a perfect example of edge hunting, at a tourist beach I know is heavily hunted but usually only between two points. 
Not all jewelry is lost between two life guard huts, fishing piers, parking lots or beach entrances. 
The edges and beyond around these type of beach markers can hold pretty good finds if you willing to go the extra yards. 
Sometimes it is very surprising how much jewelry and coins you can find at beaches with obvious places to use a metal detector. 
Not in those obvious places, but in the obvious over looked areas.
These gold and diamond bobby dazzlers were found a few yards past areas that see a lot of people metal detecting. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Real shallow water hunting

Carl in south Africa asks if it is worth jewelry hunting in really shallow water, from knee to ankle deep. 
This superb two tone 18K gold Mariners cross with diamonds should answer that question.

The heavy gold pendant was found in shin deep water at a tourist beach, I kind of figured the full time water hunters would not detect the very shallow water. 
It was recovered during the intense Florida summer, when many water hunters into the navy seal look have to stay out in deep water or burn up. 
Another case of using the correct equipment which turned out to be T shirt, swim shorts and a damn good discriminating VLF metal detector.
If I chose to wear a full wet suit with a weight belt and snorkel and mask, I would probably not have waded into the area. 
Sometimes very shallow water can be very productive, because it is often overlooked at low tide when most water hunters go metal detecting. 
Just like beach hunting, I never give a monkeys uncle what the tide times are. Instead I go to the beach and search whatever is put in front of me. 
The out dated method of going to the beach two hours before low tide and working the low tide out, may have been a good idea before beach and water hunting became popular, but not now. 
Some of my best water hunting finds have been recovered because I was in the right place at the right time, and because I never have to search in a certain depth of water.
At heavily hunted beaches, you want to be the person doing things differently to the detecting crowd.
If that means wading in less searched knee to ankle deep water, go for it! 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Tuning your metal detector to detect gold rings

Heres a little tip to help beach and water hunters make sure they have their metal detector set up to detect gold rings.
I was asked by Tim in Virginia Beach, if I use the same settings at every beach I search and the answer is no.
Even beaches you search on a regular basis can change dramatically from one day to the next, erosion on the lower beach may expose black sand or the salinity of the ocean can vary widely. 
I perform a simple test to make sure my metal detector has a good combination of depth and sensitivity towards detecting gold rings.
I carry a thin 14K gold wedding band attached to a length of string, the string has small knots every two inches. 
After digging a hole approximately 10 to 12 inches deep, I place the ring in the bottom of the hole and push the sand back in. 
I then see if I can detect the thin gold ring, tweaking my metal detector controls to help detect the gold ring or improve the response from the gold ring. 
If I cannot detect the ring, I pull the string out of the sand to the next knot, until I detect the gold ring.
You can learn a lot about your metal detector at the beach by seeing what it is really capable of for yourself.
Thin gold rings always make the best type of test target, because if you can detect small or thin gold rings you can easily detect larger deeper gold rings.
My "Ring on a string" test can help you if you struggle to detect diamond engagement style rings at the beach, which usually have nice size diamonds set in prongs on thin gold bands. 
This photo has the type of gold jewelry you should not have a problem detecting, when you have your metal detector tuned correctly to detect thin gold rings. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

50 / 50 beach and water hunting

Kate in Denver asks what percentage of time I spend searching on the beach and searching inside the water.
Thanks for the question Kate, and the short answer is I try to divide my metal detecting equally, between searching on the beach and searching inside the water, the long answer is the following.
The many emails I receive every week from frustrated jewelry hunters who are on extended streaks of not finding gold, are perfect examples of why it is important to be both a good beach hunter and a good water hunter.
Many people new to the hobby, think they have to be water hunters because "It is all in the water."
Once they start water hunting they are more likely not to bother beach hunting, as if somehow it is not worth it.
I see that a lot down here in Florida, and I love !! or more to the point my wife loves it when I continue to bring home diamond rings out the wazoo.
In my Hardcore Beach hunting book, you will see written "Good beach hunters make great water hunters, but the same cannot be said about water hunters"  and there are really good reasons for my statement.
Sound jewelry and coin hunting techniques are learned on the beach, and those sound jewelry and coin hunting techniques can easily be transferred and used to great success in the water.
Do you really think inside the water is the best place to learn all the nuances of your metal detector and jewelry hunting?
If you class yourself as a water hunter and you are on 20 hunt streak without finding gold, you need to get out of the water and try searching the beach.
The platinum and gold jewelry you see draped over my book cover, was found on the beach and inside the water.

My 50-50 approach to jewelry hunting,  insures I have a really good chance of detecting jewelry, because I have not boxed myself in doing just one type of jewelry hunting at the beach.
I refer to myself as a hardcore beach and water hunter, because I am not really bothered where I find what I am searching for at the beach, as long as I find it!
Fifty percent of the time I find what I am searching for on the beach, in my opinion its all on the beach and in the water.
To many water hunters, the only reason it is all in the water is because the water is the only place they search.
Think of beach and water hunting as having twice as much jewelry and coin searching ground to cover.
Now tell me again, why its a good idea to ignore the place where everyone spends the majority of their time at the beach?
The next time you get asked to find a piece of jewelry lost at the beach, the odds are probably 10-1 the jewelry was lost on the beach.

Friday, April 1, 2016

How to increase Minelab Excalibur recovery speed

Rafa in Spain asks how to increase the recovery speed of his Minelab Excalibur, a question and answer that I hope is of use to all Excalibur users. 
Metal detector recovery speed is the time it takes your metal detector to detect another target after your search coil passes over a metal object.
The Minelab Excalibur has a slow recovery speed, but there are ways to combat a slow recovery speed and find treasure amongst trash. 
Another way of explaining recovery speed, is the time it takes your threshold ( Background noise) to return after detecting a target.
The Excalibur also has a built in iron mask feature when used in the Discrimination search mode and set in zero discrimination. 
That is important to know if you are an Excalibur user, especially if you are searching a tourist beach with a lot of corroding iron objects.
An ultra slow sweep speed will help increase the Excalibur recovery speed, or its ability to detect the following target.     
You are not actually detecting anything until you hear your threshold noise coming through your headphones.
The slower you sweep your search coil, the more often you will hear the threshold and the more targets you will detect. 
Using a small search coil will increase the Excalibur recovery speed even more, theres a very good reason why I love small search coils for jewelry hunting at trashy tourist beaches.
10 and 8 inch search coils swept really slowly, are just the ticket for jewelry and coin hunters at tourist beaches. 
Any larger search coil and you may miss even surface gold, being masked by other ferrous and non ferrous targets in close proximity to the gold.
I made my bones with the Excalibur at the beach, detecting jewelry missed by speedy beach and water hunters, using an ultra slow sweep speed and the right size search coil for the site being searched.
Give your Excalibur time to detect a target, time to recover and time to detect the following target. 
Once you hear enough gold tones like these immediately after detecting other targets, you know why increasing the Excalibur recovery speed is so important to having success as a jewelry hunter.