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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Chasing other beach hunters

A couple of blog comments I received this week are related to chasing down other beach hunters and here are my thoughts on trying to track down the competition. 
It may surprise you to know that I never waste any time chasing other people down, as many beach or water hunters do in heavily hunted areas.
In my opinion, the less you know about who is finding what and where the better.
I am fond of saying everyone knows everyone in beach hunting, as news of good beach finds travels far and fast on the internet.
If you heard that I found jewelry or coins at a certain area, you can bet your last dollar that information is bogus as I never tell anyone where I find the good stuff.
Second hand information about beach finds is almost as useless as second hand beach reports.
In both cases, if you base your beach hunting plans on them you are already playing catch up searching for sloppy seconds.
Nothing beats going out and finding your own sites, learning how to read those sites and reaping the rewards of leading from the front. 
When a beach hunter removes a good find from a site, its gone and it is highly doubtful you will detect anything as good as that initial find in the same area for a while.
I wish I had a dollar for every time I met a person metal detecting who told they were only searching an area because they heard a person had found something good there.
The stranger usually tells me what was found, when it was found and the person who found it. 
I would be even more rolling in cash if I had a dollar for every email I receive from generous strangers showing me photos of jewelry they heard was found at this or that place.
There is absolutely no chance I am going to waste my precious beach hunting time chasing other people at the beach.
I believe you will find more gold following other people metal detecting at the beach, than chasing other people metal detecting at the beach.
If you heard about the location of a good find, you can be sure every other beach hunter in your area has heard about the same find. 
Do you want to chase with the pack, or be the lead dog at the beach? 

Monday, May 23, 2016

High and dry gold

I have been doing a lot of water hunting recently, but that does not mean I completely ignore the beach.
Roger a water hunter from Quebec sent me an email asking me if the dry sand was worth searching, and this 18K white gold ring with three really nice diamonds I recovered from the dry sand a couple of years ago should more than answer the question.

The morning I found this $5000.00 diamond engagement ring, I had intended to search inside the water. 
Arriving at the beach, I figured why not take myself off the food chain and wait until it was light before getting in the water.
After pottering around in the dry sand for an hour opposite a beach entrance, I entered the water with a gold ring in my finds pouch.
I have recovered far too many expensive rings on the beach to ever ignore the beach opposite places I intend to water hunt.
If I choose a site to water hunt at, I know theres a real good chance I can detect gold in the dry sand opposite. 
Many water hunters totally ignore the beach opposite water hunting sites, but I would never class myself as a water hunter. 
I class myself as a beach hunter, and the water just another area at the beach that includes the wet and dry sand. 
Searching the dry sand is easy, especially at tourist beaches when you pick a site within a site, instead of trying to cover too much of the beach. 
I prefer to use a little discrimination and my ears to find gold jewelry, relying on knowing gold is probably in the area and knowing the response to gold from my metal detector.
Sometimes I intend to water hunt but I never make it as far as the water, that is a testament to how productive the dry and wet sand can be.
Leaving a hot area is never a good idea, if your finding jewelry keep plugging away slowly.  
The morning I found the diamond ring in the photo, I ended up getting out of the water and expanding my search area in the dry sand. 
Not long after another beach hunter arrived and started to search in the area I recovered the expensive ring. 
I would say the dry sand is just as good as any area to recover gold at the beach, if you bother to search it. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Sweep speed with the Minelab CTX 3030

Rex asks what I consider to be the best sweep speed for the Minelab CTX 3030.
Being a beach and water hunter, my two favorite metal detectors for the job are the Minelab CTX 3030 and Minelab Excalibur, and no I do not work for Minelab they work for me lol!
The CTX 3030 can be swept a lot faster than than the Excalibur, but I would never recommend doing it as I still prefer to sweep the CTX 3030 search coil slowly, especially if I am using discrimination.
The reason why I recommend a slow sweep speed with the CTX 3030 is because it helps target ID, target recovery speed and target depth.
Sure you could whip the CTX 3030 search coil around really fast and still hit on large coins or rings, but you will probably miss small targets at depth or targets on the edge of detection range.
There are a lot of target ID bells and whistles on the CTX 3030, even the target depth indicator can be an advantage if you are looking for older targets.
A slow sweep speed gives your CTX 3030 time to interpret target information, relay and put that target information on your screen more accurately than it would swiftly sweeping your coil over an area.
You can cover more ground sweeping faster, but in my opinion beach and water hunting is not about covering an area quickly, its about covering an area well.
There are far more positives to sweeping a VLF metal detector search coil slowly, than whipping it around fast, especially a metal detector with multiple target ID features.
It makes sense to sweep your CTX 3030 as slowly as possible to get the very most out of those audio and visual target IDs.
I use a three second sweep speed with my CTX 3030, meaning the average time it takes for my search coil to travel from left to right, or right to left in front of me is three seconds.
Slow sweep speeds help slow down your detecting pace, which in turn automatically increases the amount of targets it is possible to detect.
Check out your foot prints in the sand, the closer your steps are, the more ground you are actually detecting over instead of walking over.
You can tell a lot about the beach hunting competition by their footprints, long strides usually mean fast sweep speeds and sloppy search techniques.
Sweep speed and ground coverage are closely linked, which is why I prefer to use a slow sweep speed with the CTX 3030.
Just in case there is another platinum and diamond ring like this one waiting on the edge of detection range.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

What are you not showing?

Good question from Dale in California, who wants to know why I never show all the stuff I find during a beach or water hunt.
The main reason why I never post the junk (Including clad coins) is because I do not want to give the site away.
Certain finds are often found at the same site, making the site easily recognizable to full time beach or water hunters in an area.
Posting stuff that gives the site away would be like posting a smart phone photo of a beach with the location attached" Gary at West Palm Beach.
Another reason I only post my gold or interesting finds is because I figure who wants to see loads of crusty coins, keys, lead fishing weights or bottle caps.
The answer to that question is savvy beach or water hunters who recognize the condition and type of finds posted.
I know its a little hardcore, but there is a small army of people hunting my area beaches day and night and the ranks continue to swell.
You can be sure many of those people check out Facebook detecting groups and detecting forums for leads, I know because I do the same exact thing from time to time lol! 
This superb 1836 gold $5.00 coin and US military buttons, were recovered a few years back after I saw a post on a detecting forum with the name of the beach showing beach erosion and junk objects from the same time frame.

Recognizing the objects posted on the forum and the history of the beach, the information and opportunity was too good to pass up
I finished dinner grabbed my detector and headed out the door and the rest is history.
Although the original posters comment of "Nothing good at this beach" was completely incorrect as the next unusually high tide cut the dunes even further back.
The finds in the photo represent a very small part of the treasure trove of seminole indian wars era finds I recovered the following weeks at the eroded beach.
Alone and without posting of course, as I did not want to make the same mistake the original poster made.
On a funny side note, I saw a post by the same person saying it was not possible to recover these type of finds at the beach. 
If you do not want to end up on the wrong side of one of these stories, it is wise to make sure you never give too much away when posting your metal detecting finds.
One persons junk, can be another persons map to finding treasure if you know how to read the clues. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Where and how questions

After recovering the diamond encrusted monster Versace pendant this weekend, my inbox was full of "Where and how did you find it" questions.
I will answer a couple of important "How" questions, but obviously not the exact location as the place has been very good to me over the years.
There are two very good reasons why this diamond encrusted 1.7 ounce designer platinum and 18K gold pendant ended up in my scoop basket, recon and site selection.  Oh and there are two pieces of gold in this photo, but I can see why the 10K ladies ring may be overlooked. 

I refer to this area as a "Condo canyon" a mile stretch of beach road with nothing but condos and no public beach parking for perhaps a mile more in each direction.
This stretch of beach is seldom searched by others, it has probably been 5 years since I have seen anyone with a metal detector in the area.
Compare that to the 22 people I saw the previous week searching along a 1.5 mile stretch of tourist beach on a Monday morning!
Simple jewelry hunting math formula of less beach and water hunters, more platinum, gold and silver jewelry for you.
Another reason I recovered this chunk of good stuff is I scouted out the location during the week while working in the area.
I also did not wait until two hours before low tide to do my beach recon, the magical jewelry hunting time passed around by experts on beach and water hunting forums. 
I was more interested where people hung out in small groups inside the water and on the beach at high tide.
Heres why, if you go to the beach at low tide there is a good chance you will not search the busiest areas of the beach.
Instead, you will probably search areas at low tide where no people have been standing or sitting in groups.
Common jewelry hunting sense, learn how to read the people using the beach and where they are more likely to lose jewelry.
Location, location, location, does not always mean searching the beach opposite high end hotels, you can recover expensive bling in the most unexpected areas.
Some of my beach jewelry finds have come from areas I rarely see other beach hunters, at beaches I bothered to go check out.
It is so easy to fall into the beach  hunting trap of only going to the most popular and crowded beach, but unfortunately everyone else has the same idea and you may find yourself going home empty handed.
I look at beaches opposite large condominiums or gated communities as reliable sources of jewelry.
Other beach hunters probably pass these type of areas without batting an eyelid, in their haste to get to the sexy place everyone else hunts.
In my opinion, jewelry hunting fortune favors the person who is willing to go against the grain at the beach. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Go with the beach hunting flow

Eddie in Belgium asks what is the best time to go to the beach, two hours before low tide or at low tide.
My answer to Eddie was to go beach hunting regardless of the tide times, or as I like to say go with the beach hunting flow.
I have no clue what the tide times were when I recovered many of my favorite beach hunting finds, including this $14K diamond ring found last May. 

Going with the flow, often puts you in position to recover something you probably would not have detected if you were a slave to the low tide.
There are now too many people at the beach with metal detectors to dilly dally around waiting until two hours before low tide to go metal detecting at the beach.
I wear a nice Rolex watch because I did not wait until two hours before low tide to go water hunting.  Some things stick in your mind, that day I knew it was just after high tide but I went water hunting regardless. 
Two hours before low tide a couple of guys with metal detectors walked into the water in the area I recovered my Rolex, but the watch was in my finds pouch not theirs because my metal detecting time does not revolve around the tide times. 
In my opinion, you snooze you lose when it comes to beach or water hunting.
The more rules you stick to, the less you find so it is always better to go with the flow at the beach.
Being in the right place at the right time, may just be as simple as deleting your tide apps on your computer or cell phone and going to the beach. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Hard packed layers on the lower beach

One of my favorite lower beach hunting situations is running across hard packed sand, especially on beaches known to produce older finds, like these Spanish military buckles from the 1700s.

These buckles were recovered on a Treasure Coast several years ago, a month apart at the same site. 
On both occasions it was during a full moon low tide that exposed a hard packed lower beach with a mix of sand and shell. 
My guess is the buckles were trapped in that hard packed layer for a long time, over time the top layer of loose sand was washed away from the area and I happened to be in the right place at the right time. 
Although I knew the area could hold something good, it took a pulse induction metal detector with a large search coil to get to the first buckle. 
Check out the file marks on the hand made buckle and the intact closing pin on the encrusted buckle. 
I recovered the second buckle on the next full moon using a VLF metal detector with a large search coil.
The day I found the first buckle I was using a VLF metal detector with a 10 inch search coil, but after not detecting any targets I grabbed my PI metal detector. 
I could have easily moved on using the VLF, but luckily I took along my PI which is exactly why I always like to own a pulse, even though it spends a lot of time in the closet. 
If you are like me and love searching for old coins and artifacts at the beach, you need to invest in either a large search coil for your VLF or add a pulse induction metal detector to your beach hunting arsenal.
You may have heard beach hunters referring to low spots on the beach, and how they are often the best areas to search.
Combine low areas on the beach and hard packed sand and it is double the fun, as long as you have the equipment to detect deep targets. 
Also make sure you have a good strong long handled scoop capable of digging targets out of dense layers of mud, clay, shell or sand.
No sense in detecting deep targets and wasting your time wigging a coffee can size aluminum scoop from side to side trying to dig targets out. 
When a great hard packed lower beach hunting situation comes along, make the most of the treasure hunting window. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Weekend beach hunting tip

So far this year I have spent the majority of my beach hunting time searching over the weekend, that happens when you run a small business, and have a wife and two ankle snappers.
I am not complaining, far from it and the amount of gold I have found is actually higher than this time last year. 
This week I have seen photos of some really nice finds recovered by people lucky enough to hammer beaches through the week.
Its not like I need any incentive to get myself to the beach this weekend, but driving home from work today I thought about how beaches in my area are heavily hunted every day and how I will approach going for sloppy seconds. 
My main weekend warrior strategy this year has been to go for target depth, as I know the full time beach and water hunters in my area have probably skimmed the easy to detect shallow finds.
A lack of shallow targets should not represent a problem to a capable beach or water hunter using sound search techniques and a good metal detector.
If you are in the same boat as me, go for target depth over the weekend as the majority of full time beach hunters are used to covering large swathes of the beach everyday.
You can make your weekend metal detecting time count, by searching known jewelry producing sites slowly using a large search coil on a VLF metal detector or use a pulse induction metal detector.
The lack of easy to detect shallow targets may actually do you a favor over the weekend on heavily hunted beaches. 
Never look at a lack of targets as a bad sign at a busy beach,  use your beach smarts to try winkle out the harder to detect deep targets. 
Large search coils on VLF metal detectors and pulse induction metal detectors shine in these type of areas.
There is always a way to find gold, even at the most heavily hunted beach and it often involves doing the exact opposite to the majority of beach or water hunters.
The 4 plus ounces of gold in this photo was found over three weekend beach and water hunts, consisting of a total of eight hours metal detecting at two very heavily hunted beaches. 

Big gold not caught by midweek skimmers, sinks deeper every tide cycle, but it can be detected if you gear up towards target depth. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Jewelry hunting tips

Robin from south Africa asked for my three favorite beach jewelry hunting tips, so here they are.

Beach knowledge

The more time you put into learning the dynamics of your local beach or beaches, the more jewelry you will detect.  A local beach hunter should have a big advantage over other people searching a beach for the first time, especially after high surf or a coastal storm has rearranged the beach. This is one of the reasons I rarely travel to detect, I know my local beaches like the back of my hand. I know what to look for and where to look for it in order for me to detect jewelry. If one beach looks iffy I can move to another and on to another if I need to. 
If you don't know why you cannot detect jewelry at your local beaches, you don't know your local beaches. 


In my opinion, the less ground you cover the better. Divide beaches into sections and remember its not how much ground you cover, its how you cover the ground.
Step forward, slowly sweep your search coil and do not take another step until you have completed that sweep. That is how you walk off a beach knowing if jewelry was there you would have detected it.  


Call me an old fashioned jewelry hunter, but I like finding jewelry and going back to the same productive sites and finding more. I hunt alone and never tell anyone where I find any piece of jewelry. I always get a chuckle out of hearing other beach hunters tales of jewelry found here or there, because if I know it everyone knows it.  Productive jewelry sites can and do produce jewelry for years, so if you put these three tips together you will detect more jewelry.

Beach knowledge, ground coverage and tight lips are a beach jewelry hunters friends. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Multiple jewelry deposits at the beach

Casey in Massachusetts asked me why I often post multiple rings or chains on my Facebook posts, and the answer has a lot to do with the way the water effects the lower beach. 
I often refer to the lower beach as a giant sandy conveyor belt, because the lower beach reminds me of a push penny arcade game. 
The tides push and drags objects up and down the beach, but the water also helps to deposit objects of a similar size and weight into the same area. 
That is why you often find a lot of coins, rings, chains or bracelets in a small area.  
I actually hedge my jewelry hunting bets on finding more rings or chains, if I find one or more in the same general area.
This is another good reason why you should avoid being a long straight line type of searcher. 
If you find a ring or chain, you should always search for more in the immediate area because you may detect another ring close to the ring or chain you originally recovered. 
I often have multiple gold ring or gold chain hunts, because I am aware of the way the water helps to deposit similar groupings of desirable metal detecting targets. 
This is the reason why gold and lead are often found in the same small area, lead and gold are dense metals so they are likely to settle in the same general area. 
The three chains in this photo were recovered in a 6 x 6 foot area inside the water back in 2011.

Three straight targets,  turned out to be an 18K gold chain & cross and two silver chains. 
I took a one hour "liquid lunch" break, and these chains were recovered from a deep pocket of water close to shore. 
The next time you find a gold ring or a gold chain, see if it has any friends before moving away from the area.