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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Minelab Excalibur tips

Because I am fairly well known as a Minelab CTX 3030 user, people often ask me why I still own and use a Minelab Excalibur. 
My answer is always the same, I have found so many excellent finds with my Excalibur that I could never imagine not owning and using one. 
Here are a few Excalibur beach and water hunting tips that have helped me fill my pouch with platinum, gold and silver.

Keep within the speed limit

A rapid detecting pace will kill your chances of detecting valuable targets, even at beaches with a moderate amount of trash. 
A slow sweep speed counters the effects of both ferrous (Iron) and non ferrous target masking. 
Excalibur users should be the slowest walkers and coil sweepers at the beach.
The main advantages of using an Excalibur at the beach, are ease of use, its ability to cancel out the effects of saltwater, and its excellent responses to a variety of detected targets. 
The slower you use the Excalibur, the more targets you will hear and detect, as your target recovery speed increases.
Remember, once your search coil passes over a ferrous target, you are not detecting anything until your threshold (background hum) returns. 

Avoid digging pesky bottle caps

I normally just rely on the Excalibur built in iron mask feature as my default discrimination setting,  but at trashy tourist beaches sometimes you need a little more help.
A discrimination control setting of 2 or 3 is the perfect answer, if you are detecting a large amount of bottle caps.
Any level higher and you risk not detecting 10K gold, every good metal detector I have ever tested has a cut off point to 10K gold.
With the Excalibur, do not be afraid to turn the discrimination knob a little to improve junk target identification. 
Good spongy sounding responses to corroding bottle caps, can easily be turned into crackly sounding responses, saving you valuable beach or water hunting time not having to dig bottle caps. 
Using an ultra slow sweep speed with a little discrimination, will make sure you still hear other targets close to rejected bottle caps. 
In my opinion, way too many Excalibur users worry about what they may miss instead of what they may find by turning the discrimination knob a little. 

Believe and wiggle

This 1932 Scottish masonic with 3/4 carat diamond is why I love the Excalibur, the legendary detector is just so damn good at the beach when you are searching for specific targets. 

I recovered this old gold ring at an iron infested beach site, it resembled a green coral golf ball when found.  
All you need to hear is the slightest low tone of gold or high silver tone, to stop you in your tracks. 
If you heard it the first time, believe your Excalibur you are both not mistaken. 
I learned the value of the "Sovereign wiggle" many full moons ago, the Excalibur wiggle is exactly the same.
If you think you heard a slight low or high tone, you can coax a better target response by wiggling your search coil over the same area you heard the initial tone.
A shorter wiggle from side to side over the potential target, will enhance the target response.
I have found so many fantastic pieces of platinum, gold and silver, after stopping to investigate and wiggle mouse fart low or high tones.
They are not always deep targets, many are just targets located very close to other larger targets helping to mask them. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Detecting the edges

Yesterday I scored a nice diamond and pearl bracelet, doing something I often do at my local beaches, going the extra yards and searching a little further than the competition.
I know many of my local beaches are moderately to heavily hunted, but I also know the usual turn around points used by local beach and water hunters.
It could be a line of sun beds rented out, two book end beach parking lots, or even two beach entrances or lifeguard towers.
You can be sure people who search the beach with a metal detector on a regular basis, like to use the same turn around points on a regular basis.
As if people magically do not lose jewelry or coins a few yards past a likely turn around point.
The 18K gold, diamond and pearl bling in this photo was found 20 yards past a turn around point I know many other beach and water hunters use. 

I often "Edge hunt" searching a few yards past obvious beach or water hunting turn around points, and I have found everything from 300 year old Spanish silver treasure coins to 10K high school class rings.
Even at heavily hunted beaches, you can search areas that contain jewelry and coins if you know how the competition thinks.
Not everyone who uses the beach stays within marked boundaries, and I know many beaches where the main entrances used to be somewhere different.
Detect on the edges to see what others are missing. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Minelab CTX 3030 beach and water hunting tips

I was recently recently asked what is the main advice I would give to people who are just getting started beach hunting with the Minelab CTX 3030, so here are three easy things to remember when using this incredible metal detector at the beach.

Smooth operator

Like any other metal detector you are not familiar using,  set the sensitivity so you can get used to the audio responses to different metal targets at the beach.  
I recommend running the CTX 3030 in the Auto sensitivity setting until you get comfortable with the audio target tones and numerical display read outs. 
This metal detector, unlike many other metal detectors can be be used in Auto without a massive drop off in target depth, I still regularly run my CTX 3030 with the sensitivity level set at Auto+3
You have plenty of time to experiment with manual sensitivity levels after you get used to your new metal detector. 
A mistake many people with new metal detectors make is running hot without knowing why they are using such high sensitivity levels. 

Video killed the radio star

Yes I know, Im showing my age with the sub titles lol but remember you should always hunt by ear first at the beach and only use your display read outs as a good second opinion. Check out the target numbers, but try not to base your digging decisions on Co / FE numbers until you really get used to the CTX 3030.
In fact, I would pay more attention to the target cursors than the target numbers.
Look for unwavering target placements indicating potentially good targets and a target cursor bouncing around the screen as probably not a positive sign.
Again, get familiar with the audio responses (Target tones) before getting too wrapped up in the potential conductive and ferrous readouts to various common metal objects found at the beach.

One step beyond

Sweep your search coil slowly and keep the search coil level through-out the sweeping motion.
A good slow sweeping motion improves the many target ID  features of the CTX 3030,  the main reason for using a metal detector like the CTX 3030.
Sweeping slow and low will force you to cover the beach slower, which has many advantages.
Target depth is increased when you keep your search coil level and close to the surface, target recovery speed is also improved. 
Meaning you hear the next metal target your search coil passes over on trashy beach sites. 
The most accurate audio and visual target IDs from the CTX 3030 are achieved by giving your CTX 3030 time to potentially identify metal objects detected. 
Slowly sweeping your search coil twice from side to side before taking another step, is an ideal way to use the CTX 3030. 

Notice how I used the word " Potential" a couple of times in todays blog, remember when you first pick up a Minelab CTX 3030 you are trying to find the potential settings that work best on the beaches you search.  
Lastly but most importantly, learn how to use the CTX 3030 on the beach before venturing into the water. Good beach hunters make excellent water hunters!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Invest in your knowledge of local beaches.

A keen eyed fellow beach hunter spotted something about my jewelry posts that explains the way I search beaches.
I rarely post single pieces of jewelry because I often recover multiple pieces of gold or silver jewelry in the same area. 
The way I recover multiple pieces of jewelry is by hammering any hot spot I come across, I am more into digging not walking at the beach.
I use my knowledge of local beaches and beach reading skills to put me over coins and jewelry as quickly as possible.
A quick scan of the beach to see where the best looking areas are, a few test digs and once I get busy digging targets that is it for two or three hours.
I know the majority of beach hunters prefer to cover more ground and spend more hours at the beach, quite a different beach hunting strategy to mine.
They hope to run across something, I hope to detect and recover jewelry instead of relying on luck.
In my opinion you do not have to travel very far to detect if you know the beach and its probable jewelry hot spots. 
Beach and water hunters are always looking for an edge through equipment, such as large search coils or headphone mods, when the real edge is local beach knowledge and beach reading skills.
The two combined, can and should make a difference between people searching the same beaches.
If you know a veteran beach hunter who always seems to be in the right place at the right time, my guess is they know where to look and how to work it.
You can too if you focus on areas at the beach that are more likely to have more coins or jewelry than other areas. 
Just like the veteran beach hunter who walks onto the beach, looks around and heads to one spot. 
You could follow that person to that spot, but that is no real beach or water hunting plan, although I see many beach and water hunters do exactly that lol 
Lurking on detecting forums trying to figure recognizable beach features in photos, is another beach hunting sloppy seconds strategy that lacks imagination. 
Learn what to look for at the beach and where to look for it, then work it! 
When is the last time you walked onto a beach with a metal detector, took a good look around and decided to try another beach or go home ?
A helpful situation that comes from knowledge of local beaches and prospective jewelry hunting sites within the area. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Expecting the expected at the beach

After checking my local beach webcam and surf projections, yesterday morning I finally got out for a long over due jewelry hunt. 
It is always good to know what equipment you will probably be better using before leaving home.
Instead of just showing up and using the same equipment no matter what the beach conditions are, as many people do.
Expecting 2 to 3ft surf and a high tide, I knew a smaller search coil would be better on the lower beach, helping me to pinpoint targets faster and conserve detecting time.
This is the time when good pinpointing and target recovery skills come in very handy, following on from the last blog the more targets you recover the more jewelry you recover. 
Being a jewelry hunter at tourist beaches, target depth is not often my top priority as I search for a lot of fresh drops. 
From experience I know when the lower beach sandy conveyor belt is turned on due to higher surf, the surf zone will be churned over and jewelry may be pushed up onto the lower beach. 
There are far more water hunters than beach hunters in south Florida, so the odds were in the old english geezers favor of bringing home some gold bacon. 
Yesterday morning (As I fully expected) I saw no other people metal detecting, mainly because it was high tide, raining and rough surf close to shore.
High tide and rough surf cuts the competition down by as much as three thirds at many beaches with more water hunters than beach hunters. 
Rainy conditions put the sneaker wearing and non waterproof detector users out of action. 
Although the jewelry I recovered was not that sexy, it is gold and it all adds up over time.  
It was also gold and silver jewelry that anyone could have detected if they wanted to, easy shallow targets that just needed to be detected and scooped up. 
There are some basic lessons to be learned from my recent jewelry hunt, including using equipment to suit the expected conditions and taking advantage of the local competition. 
Knowing what to use, where to use it in places other beach hunters do not, often equals going home with jewelry.  If you do not restrict yourself to doing the same thing using the same equipment at the same time at the same beach. 
Same is a bad word, when referring to jewelry hunting at heavily hunted beaches. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Are you digging it?

Sometimes beach and water hunting is just as simple as knowing the more digging you do, the more jewelry you find. 
Try not to get too carried away with low tides or searching heavily hunted sites, or you may forget the most important thing of all, if you are not digging you are not finding. 
When I go metal detecting I use my knowledge of local beaches to put me on the busiest site possible. 
By busy site, I do not mean the site everyone else is searching, I mean a site with lots of targets. 
I prefer to return home from a good beach or water hunt with an achy back or arms, not tired feet from walking long distances at the beach. 
Many beach and water hunters mistakenly think it is important to spend all day searching in order to find something of value.
Stuff that for a game of soldiers, I would rather find more in less time by relying on site selection and the laws of target recovery averages. 
In my opinion, the more you walk,the less you find so it is important to learn where the busiest places to dig are at your local beaches.
Again, not the busiest places for other detectorists, the places you have the most chance of getting aches and pains from doing a lot of digging.
I do not find many of the bling rings I post without digging a lot of stuff I am not searching for first.
Quite often at the beach, to find the treasure like these fine specimens you have to move a lot of crap they are hiding behind. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Search coil option number one

The majority of beach or water hunting questions I receive are always search coil related, especially from people wanting an edge at heavily hunted beaches.
So my answer may surprise many, but the search coil that came with your metal detector is that advantage they are looking for. 
In my opinion, the search coil that came with your metal detector is always the best option for general beach or water hunting. 
I like to think the people who designed and built the metal detector, chose the search coil size because it has the best sensitivity and depth to a wide range of targets.
To me, larger and smaller search coils for my metal detectors will always be accessories for special beach or water hunting situations. 
I know many beach and water hunters prefer only using extra large search coils on their metal detectors, but I would rather go smaller than larger in more beach and water hunting situations.
In fact I class a 10 or 11 inch search coil as a large search coil, because I am so fond of using small search coils.
Some of my favorite beach and water hunting sites are difficult to detect using 10 and 11 inch search coils because of iron and target masking, change to a smaller search coil and I am constantly digging targets.
I have many sites I am always busy digging targets using a 6 or 8 inch search coil, and I see people using larger 10 and 11 inch search coils walk right over those same areas without stopping to dig targets.
In my beach and water hunting related books and these blogs, I talk about the importance of sweeping your search coil low and slow. 
The larger the search coil you use, the more important your sweep speed becomes, especially if you are using 10 to 12 inch size search coils. 
A slow and low moving search coil helps to cut down on both target and iron masking, helps with improving target IDs on detectors with screens and increases your chances of detecting deep targets.
Of course it should go without saying, that you should first learn how to use your metal detector with the search coil that came with it, before attaching and swinging a bigger or smaller search coil. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Using the right tool for the job

Your choice of metal detector for beach or water hunting is very important, and hopefully you gave some thought towards what you are searching for.
I used to spend the majority of my metal detecting time searching for old silver treasure coins at the Spanish 1715 fleet shipwreck beaches along the Treasure Coast of Florida. 
I preferred to use a metal detector I knew was hot at detecting silver and capable of detecting small silver half and one reales like the treasure coins in this photo.


Due to work and family commitments , I now spend the majority of my metal detecting time searching for modern gold jewelry at tourist beaches closer to home.
As you would expect, my choice of metal detector changed to one better suited to detecting small gold instead silver. 
Many beach and water hunters do not realize how important it is to use a metal detector that is designed or better suited to detect what they are searching for.
Some metal detectors are hot at detecting silver, others are better at detecting gold, due to a variety of different reasons including operating frequencies. 
In my opinion, the number one mistake people new to the hobby make is buying and using a metal detector everyone else is using, instead of researching and finding out what type of metal detector is best suited to detect the main thing they are searching for.
The Minelab Sovereign series was always my go to silver coin machine, it was and still is a very good metal detector for a silver coin hunter. 
The Minelab CTX 3030 is now my first choice when searching for modern platinum, gold or silver jewelry, although I still own and enjoy using the Excalibur which is basically a waterproof Sovereign. 
Because of all the platinum and gold jewelry I have found at the beach I could use any metal detector I want, but I still would rather use metal detectors I know are the best at detecting what I am searching for.
If you are struggling to detect silver coins or gold jewelry at the beach, maybe you should look into using a metal detector better suited to detecting what you are searching for.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Sizing up the competition

As any Florida beach or water hunter will tell you, there are not many beaches you can go to now and not see other people metal detecting.
Rick in south Carolina asked me an interesting question, do I take notice of any other people metal detecting in an area.
My answer is no, because I am too busy doing my thing and most of the people I see are people who do the same thing at the same places.
I may not see them very often as I rotate my sites and try new places, but I pretty much know who the local hunters are by sight and newbies are easy to spot.
On my 4th of july beach hunt I saw two novice water hunters, shiny new metal detectors, full wet suits, dive hoods, masks, gloves, extended snorkels and meandering around from the dry sand, to water, to wet sand and all points in between. 
Did I say it was 90 degrees yesterday lol like I said I do not take much notice of the so called competition when I am metal detecting.
If anything I prefer to avoid making contact with other people metal detecting at the beach, as Im not into lolly gagging about who is finding what and where, Im there to find jewelry or coins. 
I would say most people are easy to size up from a distance, by the way they are covering the ground and using their equipment.
Heck at heavily hunted sites I will even pretend to not know what Im doing close to other people searching the same site.
I still believe the only real competition you have at the beach is yourself, especially if you look at the big picture which I often do.
The next time you go to the beach and turn on your metal detector, look at how small your search coil is and how much time you have to metal detect in and how much ground you have to cover.
There is no way you are going to detect every metal object within detection range at the beach, you are going to miss stuff.
The more of the beach you try to cover, the more targets you are going to miss. 
Even a small beach would take a long time to cover correctly if you kept a very tight search pattern, its even more difficult to keep a tight search pattern when you are water hunting.
Look at the big beach or water hunting picture and you will see how pointless it is to give any thought to sizing up the competition. 

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Coverage is everything

Time to get caught up on beach and water hunting questions after spending the last two weeks in England. To answer Jerry from Mississippi, in my opinion ground coverage or the way you cover the beach is the most important factor at heavily hunted beaches.
I had permission to search a pasture in England that had obvious signs of having been searched previously, kind of like walking on a beach and seeing scoop drag marks and refilled holes.
Just like I do at beaches in Florida, I relied on thorough ground coverage to detect targets behind other hunters.
I like to say, its not how much ground you cover, its how you cover the ground.
This 1862 half penny was recovered between two holes that had been filled in, who knows what the other two targets were, but a third target was left behind. 

It happens a lot at the beach if you are not careful, unless you take your time and try covering smaller areas really well.
A less is more way of covering ground, gives you the best chance of recovering targets at various depths. 
Almost all the items I recovered in this farmers pasture were deep targets, probably left behind by other hunters trying to cover too much ground.  
The slower and more thoroughly you cover an area, the more you take advantage of the size of your search coil when using larger search coils. 
Deep targets will always be missed at the beach if you cover ground too quickly, but searching slowly and methodically should help you avoid traveling across the beach too quickly.
You never have to be the first person to cover an area, you just have to be the first person to cover the area correctly.
Now I am back I am looking forward to seeing gold in my scoop, there will always be something to detect at the beach, especially if you give your metal detector a chance to detect it. 
Oh and can you believe I was actually disappointed seeing the 154 year old victorian coin I am holding in the photo, even though my detecting time on this trip was very limited I forgot just how much England spoils you when you are metal detecting.