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Monday, May 22, 2017

Scooping targets in the wet sand

There is nothing worse than getting a good signal, scooping it out the hole and having a wave wash it away. 
If it is rough surf and your beach hunting you probably will never know what it was, it's gone.
To avoid the heartache of seeing a gold ring or a Spanish treasure coin washing away in front of your eyes, it is always best to use the scoop and dump target recovery method in the wet sand.
I prefer using a large basket scoop to cut down on digging, as the quicker you recover targets in the wet sand the better.
Scooping, double checking the hole and taking a few steps away from the water before dumping, is my preferred way of recovering targets in the wet sand. 
It's not foolproof and surf may wash over the sand you just dumped, but if you see it at least you have a chance of stepping on the target or using your foot or scoop to prevent it from being washed away.
Closer to the water those options have less chance of being successful. 
Try scooping and dumping, see if it works for you.
Here is a video I made recently showing the way I go about recovering targets in the wet sand.

Holiday weekend beach hunting tips

Memorial Day beaches are going to be busy so here are a few tips that may help you to detect something good.


When expecting crowded beaches over a three day weekend, try to time your beach hunts to take advantage of the crowds. Avoid going out and spending all your energy on a Saturday morning before people have had a chance to lose anything. Sunday or Monday are the best days to search over a long weekend holiday.
Patience is one of the three Ps of beach hunting, have the patience to wait for suntan lotion, water temperature and waves to help you. 

Equipment choices 

Plan ahead by using the beach hunting equipment that will give you the best chance of finding something good.
Check out the expected weather forecast, tide times, surf height and plan to use the best choice of metal detector or search coil size.  In other words, don't just show up and wish you had used a different size search coil or metal detector.
Successful beach hunters plan ahead and know what to expect and find accordingly. 


Have a premium location in mind and at least two good back up sites.
Think about parking and if you have to move because you know the site is not happening, know where you can quickly move or park.
Choose back up sites that are not very far away from the first site you had planned to search. 
You never know what can change between planning and showing up to detect.

If you time your beach hunts, know what to expect and have a plan you are already way ahead of the competition at heavily hunted tourist type beaches.
Some of my best finds have come during or after three day holiday weekends. 
Be the beach hunter with the plan over the next crowded three day holiday weekend at the beach.

How to find and search a coin line at the beach

How to find a coin line

A zig zag or loose S pattern is a great way to find a coin line on the lower beach.
Coin lines are basically a line of assorted materials washed onto the beach during a previous high tide.
As you are searching for a line of deposited materials, it makes sense that a zig zag or a snaking search pattern will help you discover a coin line faster than searching in a straight line parallel to shore. 
Snaking down the lower beach, periodically glance behind and check out previously dug holes, any linear pattern of dug holes is probably a coin line. 
Gold rings being heavier and creating drag because of their shape, are more likely to be found below the coin line.
Once you believe you have found a previous high tide ( Coin) line, change to a tighter north - south or east-west search pattern.
Pound the heck out of the area and dig as much stuff as possible, especially if you are recovering jewelry. 
Before moving away from any productive coin line I always search the area from two different directions, never ever walk along and then away from a coin line without hitting it twice. 
Any target along the coin line may potentially mask a good target, I've lost track of the number of diamond rings I have recovered along coin lines I only heard after I removed clad coins and bottle caps. 
I had the means to disc all of those unwanted targets out, but I know the effects of both iron and target masking along productive coin lines. 
Now you know why I never only walk in one straight line paralel to shore, like many other beach hunters do. 
Discovering a coin line is always a high priority to me, like finding the end of the big lower beach sandy conveyor belt. 
Find a line of coins on the lower beach and jewelry is never far away. 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

You cant get it all

In my latest book " A guide to searching heavily hunted beaches" I explain the beach and water hunting techniques I use to keep finding on a regular basis.
I pretty much deal with competition every time I hit a Treasure Coast beaches searching for Spanish treasure coins and artifacts or a tourist beach searching for modern bling.
The one sure thing about searching heavily hunted beaches is you can't get it all.
Spend a few hours searching a beach, another beach is just waiting for someone to show up and search it. 
You cannot be every where at once and the competition also cannot be every where. 
Not all beach or water hunters have the same skills and the tides often dictate which areas of the beach can be searched. 
You can show up and search an area that may have been inaccessible to several beach hunters only a few hours earlier.
You could also detect something good behind a beach or water hunter using too much discrimination or covering the ground too quickly.
Even searching an area from a different direction to the last person who searched the same area can lead to finds, especially at trashy or iron infested sites. 
Good targets can sometimes only be detected from one search coil sweep direction, even search coil size can make a significant difference. 
Use too small a search coil and you may leave stuff behind for the next beach hunter because you did not have enough time to cover the area.
Use too large a search coil and you run the risk of leaving stuff being masked by other non ferrous and ferrous targets. 
These reasons are why I prefer to search small areas really well, using search coils best suited to detect what I'm searching for at the places I like to search.
I know you can't get it all, but I want to at least make it very difficult for any other beach hunter following me.
One of the great things about beach hunting is even when you think you have found it all, Mother Nature can rearrange the beach giving you plenty of chances to find more good stuff. 
Now you know why I don't care who or how many people are searching, or have searched the beaches I walk onto. 
Knowing other beach hunters cannot get it all on the most heavily hunted of beaches, is all the motivation you should need to go get your share!   

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Bling rings and gold bands

Some beach hunters find a lot of rings with stones, other beach hunters recover more gold bands.
In heavily hunted areas you can tell a lot about the competition by jewelry posted on detecting forums or social media sites, if they post finds.
A beach hunter predominantly posting gold bands, is probably missing a heck of a lot of valuable gold rings with stones.
A beach hunter who posts a wide variety of gold rings including thin platinum or gold rings with stones, has no problem detecting gold bands.
You could count me in the last beach hunting example, as my gold rings with stones and gold bands count is about even this year.
I have stated in my beach metal detecting books and previous blogs, if you can detect small gold you will never have a problem detecting big gold.
Every time I have run across an excellent beach hunting opportunity and recovered multiple gold rings, I have always had a good balance of gold rings.
The most gold rings I found in one beach hunt was twelve gold rings on a two hour beach hunt a few years ago, in a mid beach runnel opposite an old beach entrance.
That memorable beach hunt before the tide came in, I recovered gold and silver rings of all sizes including several thin rings with stones, which told me I had my metal detector set up correctly and I was using the best search technique for the area.
One of the best insults I ever received was from a full time water hunter who accused me of mugging old ladies because of the wide variety of ladies rings with precious stones I used to post on detecting forums back in the day.
Far from being insulted, I took it as a compliment to the way I use my metal detectors and my beach hunting skills.
Guilty as charged on stalking old ladies at the beach, but it was sunscreen lotion and water that did the dirty work.
When other beach hunters circle around mobbed spring break beaches, I go looking for rings with stones at beaches frequented by the parents and grandparents who pay for those college funds!
If you only ever find gold bands and are lacking in the diamond or emerald department, it probably has to do with the following three things that make a huge difference when searching for valuable rings with stones.
Location, location and location.
If it is not location, the problem is not being able to detect small gold.
A small gold detection problem may be either metal detector or search technique related, or a combination of both.
Don't get me wrong, I love the clanking sound of a heavy gold or platinum band in my scoop, but one thin ladies gold ring with a chunky diamond can be worth thousands of dollars more than a half dozen heavy gold bands.
Smaller and harder to detect platinum and gold bands with valuable stones are more likely to go undetected at tourist beaches with competition trying to cover ground quickly. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Numbers don't always add up at the beach

Gold rings with cracks or a break in the band can throw you off if you only hunt by numbers, or you are not yet up to speed on what your metal detector is telling you.
Just like only digging two way repeatable signals, if you only dig solid low or high tones you will miss stuff.
I remember the broken low tone from this gold ring with three nice chunks of ice, it sounded similar to a bottle cap.

The reason for the broken low tone and jumpy target cursor on my CTX 3030 was the ring had a break in the band.
This often occurs when a ring is sized or resized, the solder breaks and the band cracks in the repaired area.
If the band was complete the signal response would have been just as expected. 
Broken gold bands and open gold ear rings sound very similar on the metal detectors I use, an unusual broken low tone not too far off a crusty bottle cap response. 
Something to think about if you have your metal detector set to reject bottle caps.
The more time you spend beach hunting the easier it gets to distinguish between junk and good targets without having to use too much discrimination.
I don't advocate digging everything at tourist type beaches, if you rely on experience and your instincts you should not have to dig everything.
I have recently received quite a few emails from people with Ferrous Conductive number questions, questioning why something registered unexpected numbers.
The very reason I never put too much stock in numbers when metal detecting, searching for jewelry at the beach is all about the audio responses and tones to me.
Sure you can get quite good at spotting coin numbers after digging hundreds or thousands of them, but lost jewelry at the beach is a different matter.  
There are just too many variables about jewelry to expect consistent numbers on a metal detector VDI screen. 
For example, metal mixes, shapes, breaks or cracks, encrusted objects and even patina of the target all have a say on what response you will get through your headphones at the beach.
Anyone who has ever found a heavily oxidized Spanish silver reale or an encrusted gold class ring at the beach knows what I'm talking about.
Expect the unexpected and don't expect everything to go by the numbers when metal detecting at the beach.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Overload warnings

I have read many fascinating "Overload" warning success stories, and they usually have the same thank god I decided to stop and dig it up endings. 
From old swords and muskets to gold Rolex watches and gold chains to die for.
All beach treasure hunters dream about finding a treasure chest full of old coins, a thick gold chain or a gold Rolex with a diamond encrusted bezel.
I wonder what response you would get from your metal detector if your search coil passed over one of those bucket list finds, perhaps an overload warning.
Would you stop to investigate or walk away from an overload signal or warning from your metal detector? 
I always stop and see what the heck is causing an overload signal, even if I have to waste valuable metal detecting time doing it. 
If it is a big piece of movable junk, I will move the object causing the overload signal and detect around the area.
My thoughts are how many people did not investigate the source of the overload and how long stuff may have gone undetected close to whatever is blasting out my headphones.
I never give up and walk away from a target once Ive started digging it, if it is an overload signal I need to know what is causing the warning.
Which can be very frustrating if I'm water hunting, sometimes I will mark and revisit the site at a more favorable time.
One mans trash can often hide another mans treasure at the beach.
The larger a trash target at the beach is, the more valuable target masking or hiding potential the immediate area has.
The next time you receive an overload signal warning, think of the opportunities as it could be something good or have something good close to it. 
Cannon or sewer pipe, cannon ball or rusty clump of iron, beer can or Rolex, one day you dig up an overload signal that pays off.
Assuming you don't always see an overload warning as a bad sign and not worth the hassle of stopping to investigate or dig it up.
Im happy I stopped to investigate this overload warning on Oak Island a couple of years ago, it turned out to be a trade or ships rigging axe from the 1730s 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

A classic beach hunting mistake

Only stopping to recover two way repeatable signals is a classic beach hunting mistake, no matter how little discrimination you are running on a VLF metal detector.
It is ok to do as a novice beach hunter or a person getting used to a new metal detector, but only digging two way repeatable signals will cause you to leave valuable targets behind for the next beach hunter.
There are many ways a good target will not respond from a left / right and vise versa sweep.
It may be a coin on edge, broken band, gold chain, unusual metal mix, iron masking or a target being masked by a larger object that is the reason for a target only responding from one sweeping direction. 
Target depth also has a lot to do with the way an object will respond when you sweep your search coil over it at the beach.
Beach hunters have the disadvantage of not being able to rely on the " Halo" effect a coin or artifact buried on land will often have. 
Recently lost jewelry or coins at the beach could have sunk at any depth in the sand and in any position, especially on the lower beach and in the surf zone.
This area of the beach is constantly changing and churning over stuff we are searching for.
Only stopping to dig two way repeatable target responses is ok, but targets on the edge of detection range hardly ever sound good until you have removed a few inches of sand.
You can place a gold ring next to a clump of iron or a large nail and I guarantee you will only hear the gold ring sweeping your search coil from one direction over the iron object.
You may not hear the gold ring at all, if you do not sweep over the two objects slowly.
Only digging two way repeatable targets is like only going to the beach two hours before low tide, both lead to missed opportunities. 
This superb antique gold ring with jade and diamonds was just a crab fart signal response from one direction at a Florida beach with a shipwreck from the late 1800s.

If I only dug two way repeatable signals, I could have easily walked away from an antique ring that appraised for $7500.00  
Something to think about the next time you only hear a slight signal from one direction when sweeping your search coil. 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Wait a minute

On a recent beach hunt I hit a place with five people already searching the area, not unusual for 7 am at a south Florida tourist beach.
Six people metal detecting and no other people using the beach on this day in the middle of the week.
After scanning the beach with my twin optical scanners, a potentially good jewelry hunting spot was picked out. 
Fifteen minutes later this gold ring was rolling around in my scoop, but I was not smiling.
My well trained ears told me not to believe my eyes, I used my hand as a second opinion and the ring was dropped into the trash pocket of my finds pouch.
After returning home my trusty metal detecting ears were proven right, the high tone and light weight of the ring were dead giveaways to this being a fake gold ring.
Afterwards I got to thinking how instead of a disappointment, the fake gold ring was a testament to target ID skills learned.
I did not need a VDI screen with Conductive and Ferrous numbers or a target cursor to tell me what I had detected, although I was using a metal detector with a VDI screen.
This experience hammered home the importance of not solely relying on display screen read outs.
Yesterday I was reminded of the fake gold ring recovery after giving a detecting lesson on the Treasure Coast of Florida.
Instead of walking along keeping an eye on my metal detector screen, I kept an eye on the shell line I was searching along. 
I picked up several cool sharks teeth and a nice shard of Kang Hsi pottery from a Spanish 1715 fleet wreck.
Earlier I stopped to dig a broken signal that gave a slight scrappy blip from one direction, it turned out to be a nice little decorative bronze fastener from the same 1715 wreck.
Difficult for my metal detector to identify at depth, but not for my bat detecting ears.
There is a lot to be said for the most important detecting equipment you take to the beach, your ears! 
With experience spent using a metal detector at the beach, you will find they are your most reliable treasure hunting equipment. 
Kind of summing up beach or land hunting, you and your search skills are what really matters, your metal detector is just there to help you. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The best ability is availability

Nothing beats being able to take advantage of excellent beach hunting conditions.
Here in Florida we are approaching hurricane season, after stocking up on hurricane supplies I make sure all my treasure hunting equipment is also ready to go.
I intend to be ready for anything and I recently did a thorough inspection of all my metal detecting equipment.
I try to do this at least twice a year, starting with breaking down my metal detector shafts.
Then I inspect the nylon search coil fasteners, arm cuff and arm cuff straps on all my metal detectors.
I always keep a spare nylon search coil bolt / nut and arm cuff strap in my vehicle when I go detecting.
When I travel abroad I also take these two items, because if you break or snap either of these your metal detecting plans are over.
Have you ever tried metal detecting without an arm cuff strap, or tried to find a nylon bolt and nut close to the beach? 
The same applies to hunting inland, little things you often take for granted can really mess with the best thought out metal detecting plans when they break.
Get in the habit of checking your search coil cables and search coils for damage.
Your search coil cable is vulnerable to cuts or wear close to the search coil, especially if you search around rocky areas or beaches with obstacles protruding out of the sand.
It is always better to find and take care of any problem ahead of excellent beach hunting times. 
For example during hurricane season when beaches are often eroded, or during the busiest tourist season. 
You want to be available to hunt, not forever think about what could have been because you had an equipment failure and you did not have a back up plan.
My recent equipment inspections revealed significant wear inside the ears of one of the search coils I use the most.
I replaced the worn rubber teardrop washers with thicker new ones at the end of a lower rod, preventing a potential problem down the road. 
I also took the step of replacing a frayed arm cuff strap on a different metal detector. 
One thing I can tell you from experience, annoying equipment failures always happen when you least expect or want them to.
Regular metal detecting equipment inspections help prevent you from missing planned beach hunts.
My wife calls my car the metal detecting ark, because I always have two of everything in it when I go metal detecting. 
Two metal detectors, two search coils, two battery packs, two scoops, two pairs of dive boots, two Pitbulls, two of anything that makes me available to be out in the beach searching instead of driving home because I was not prepared.
The best ability for a beach hunter waiting for the chance to search a great area during prime beach hunting times, is availability!