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Friday, June 30, 2017

Skill, luck or metal detector?

Of the three things listed in today's blog title what do you believe makes the biggest difference to a beach or water hunter.
If you believe beach or water hunting skills is more important than luck or what type of metal detector you use, we are in the same camp.
Basic metal detecting techniques and beach reading skills are the solid foundations a beach or water hunter needs to be successful.
Luck will eventually run out if you have any in the first place, and in my opinion a proficient beach or water hunter should be able to find good stuff using any metal detector.
Imagine if you had no metal detector, would you still find jewelry or coins at the beach ?
I know I would with a swimming goggles and a garden rake lol 
Of course there is no reason why you can't have beach and water hunting skills, good luck and use a good metal detector.

I believe skilled beach and water hunters improve their odds of recovering good stuff by knowing how to use the correct tools for the job.
What got me thinking about today's blog was a couple of recent beach and water hunts and running into several people already metal detecting at the same site. 
No worries was my initial reaction after seeing three people water hunting and two people beach hunting at both sites I intended to search.
Every person had major flaws in their search techniques, from plowing through the water leaving a mini wake, to swinging search coils like golf clubs six inches above the dry sand and speed detecting along the wet sand.
The amazing thing was everyone was using the same metal detector, the Excalibur II.
I also saw a few custom headphones, large search coils and straight shafts, and the idea for today's blog was set in motion.
No doubt certain people thought a modded metal detector gave them an edge, but unfortunately sloppy haphazard beach and water hunting basics were going to quickly cancel out those mods. 
In my opinion, the best thing you can use on the beach is good beach reading and metal detecting skills, learned while using any type of metal detector.
Check out a metal detecting forum and it's all about the metal detector everyone is using and going to the beach two hours before low tide. 
In reality, beach and water hunting is about being able to put yourself in the most favorable areas of the beach and using the correct search techniques to detect what you are searching for.
Beach and and water hunting basics include the following:

Learning what conditions effect your local beaches.

Knowing where jewelry and coins are likely to be lost and found.

Identifying highly used areas of the beach. 

Learning what sand or base is likely to trap or hold jewelry and coins.

Knowing the correct sweep speed for your metal detector and controlling a low level coil throughout the sweeping motion.

Covering the ground correctly, by stepping forward only after first sweeping your search coil. 

Searching a wide variety of sites 

Learning what metal detector and search coils help detect the things you are searching for and likely to find in the areas you hunt.

In closing, why type of metal detector you use only makes a difference when you know how and why your using it.  
No matter what kind of hunter you are it is important to know how to hunt no matter what type of equipment you carry.
Good hunters don't go hungry !

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Are you walking away from good stuff ?

People often ask me where is the best place to start off searching at the beach, which is a tough question for me as the majority of my beach hunting time I start and finish searching in the same area.
Probably where I first start searching is the best answer as I noticed was the amount of times I would find something good after returning to the spot I started out searching from.
This is my best example of that, a diamond encrusted gold chain and cross.

I recovered this Bobby dazzler on a predawn beach hunt many years ago, walking back to where I started searching thinking I was going home empty handed.
Just a couple of yards past my first footprints opposite the beach walkway, out pops this beauty.
I've done it several times on the Treasure Coast of Florida, scooping up Spanish silver treasure coins only a few feet past the place I started out searching from. 
I have seen several huge treasure finds recovered in Europe by people who kept searching all the way back to their cars.
I have been told stories of magnificent finds recovered by people who keep on sweeping  all the way to the top of the beach before leaving.
To this day I still keep searching until I step off the beach, just in case. 
As you would expect after so many good recoveries at start out points, I always search a few yards past the point I first started out searching from.
I believe the reason for these  finds around beach entry points is because it is a beach entry point, a high traffic area you are likely to find stuff. 
Watch other people beach hunting and the first thing they do is walk away from the entrance in a straight line along the shore.
Perhaps walking directly away from the very thing they are searching for.
I don't take a chance on someone recovering something good a few feet away from where I started out searching.
The first thing I do is make sure I search a few yards in the opposite direction before walking away from any area. 
Are you walking away from a potential find of a lifetime ? 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Minelab CTX 3030 search coils

It's no secret if you read my beach and water books or blogs, I rate search coil selection as one of the keys to jewelry and coin hunting success at the beach.
I have all five search coils designed for use with the Minelab CTX 3030, three Minelab coils and two Coiltek coils. 
I also use all five search coils, depending on what I am searching for and the beach conditions.
The following are the ways I use my CTX 3030 search coils.

Minelab 6 inch coil

I use this hot little "Sniper" coil over coquina and coral outcrops, exposed on the lower beach at Florida beaches during extremely low tides or after beach erosion.
Tidal rock pools are another area I like to fish for goodies with the 6 incher.
This small 6 inch coil saves the need to carry a pin-pointer, detecting coins, jewelry or shipwreck artifacts trapped in holes of coquina and coral.
I also use the 6 inch in the water, searching cracks in coral ledges for jewelry and coins. 
The type of areas other water hunters take a pass on because they are too difficult to search.
A small 6 inch coil can detect shallow targets close to iron obstacles that you can't even get close enough to detect using the 11 inch coil. 
There is always a way if you have the right search coil.

Coiltek 10 X 5 coil 

The elliptical 10 X 5 is the bees knees at tourist type beaches, especially around trashy beach entrances.
 I also use the 10 X 5 on iron infested beaches, as it allows you to get closer to iron obstacles on the beach.
No surprise, this coil is my go to CTX 3030 coil when beach hunting at trashy beach sites.
I often use the 10 X 5 when "Cherry picking" for gold in the dry sand. 
Target separation is excellent using this coil and on eroded beaches you can sweep nearly the whole side of the search coil up against the face of the cut.
Reminds me of an 8 inch coil in depth and sensitivity to small targets.
I have had my share of gold from Beach volley ball courts using the 10 X 5

Minelab 11 inch coil 

I'm old school and believe the engineers who design metal detectors usually put the best all around search coil on a metal detector.
Saying that, you do need smaller and larger accessory search coils as the beach is forever changing.
As a good all around search coil the 11 inch will not disappoint.
I would say this search coil has the best combination of depth and sensitivity to a wide variety of targets at the beach.
This is the coil you should have on your CTX 3030 until you get used to your metal detector.
It's the coil I compare all other CTX 3030 coils to and a safe choice to travel with if your going on a detecting trip.
If your hooked on target ID readouts as many CTX 3030 users are, you get the most accurate in screen readouts using the 11 inch Minelab coil. 

Coiltek 14 X 9 coil

I have spent hundreds of hours beach and water hunting with the newest CTX 3030 coil, it's a killer  coil in the water.
Deeper than the 11 inch and just as sensitive in my opinion, but where it shines is in the surf.
My 14 X 9 has took a beating in brackish swamps, rough saltwater surf and on saltwater beaches with jagged rocks. 
The tad extra weight over the other CTX 3030 coils is an advantage when water hunting, the 14 X 9  it's definitely not a floater. 
If your strictly a beach hunter a detecting harness will help balance out the extra coil weight on the beach.
A nice "Tweener" size between the 11 and 17 inch coils from Minelab.
I run with an open screen (Pattern 2) in the water and wet sand at less trashy sites, maximizing the larger coil target depth.
Don't hunt by numbers as target ID readouts are not as accurate on deeper targets using large search coils

Minelab 17 inch coil 

The CTX 3030 "Big daddy" allows you to cover serious sand at the beach. It is surprisingly sensitive for its size and target depth is not an issue.
I use this monster coil during sanded-in beach conditions when targets are few and far between. 
Don't let the size fool you, it is surprisingly well balanced on the CTX 3030. 
If you search rocky shorelines with decent size rocks, you can detect over the top of rocks with the 17 inch coil and still detect targets at decent depths.
I find Auto+3 the best sensitivity setting for using the 17 inch coil in the water. 
If your using the big daddy it's probably at a clean beach, so run in Pattern 2 and lay off the CTX 3030 bells and whistles for improved target ID readouts.

In closing, you have plenty of search coil options for your CTX 3030, if you need another option.
My best advice is to only buy an extra search coil because it will help you detect what you are searching for in the places you search.
Different size coils can make a huge difference to a CTX 3030 user when you know why and how to use them.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

You cant always get what you want

But if you try sometime you find you get what you need, I think I've heard those lines somewhere before but they related to my tourist beach hunt this morning. 
It serves me right for showing up to metal detect at 9am on a heavily hunted south Florida tourist beach. 
Nine people were metal detecting along a half mile stretch of the tourist beach I chose to search this morning, I already fed my money to the hungry parking meter so I decided to stay.
When this happens I usually go with the flow, it was too hot to beach hunt and the beach was getting busy so I hit the water in the only area left open by other water hunters. 
The deeper water was open so I figured that is where I will find my share and I did !
This happens to me a lot nowadays with so many people beach and water hunting.
Writing beach and water hunting books and posting jewelry on the internet, good move Gary! 
Many beach and water hunters have a set area they want to search and they usually get there early so they can pounce on certain areas.
I used to do that too, but not anymore I go with the flow if a place is already being searched by other people.
Heck, some of my best finds were recovered after I was forced to search areas that would probably not have been my first choice.
This is one of the reasons why I do not watch tide times, I believe it is better to show up and search regardless of the high or low tide times.
Just like seeing other people searching areas, search the tide you come across and roll the dice by going with the flow.
This little " Crab fart" signal turned out to be a 24 inch long 14 K gold chain, probably lost by a swimmer on the previous low tide.

I searched for the pendant and I had no luck recovering it, but I did recover two small gold bands close to the area. 
Perhaps the gold rings were on the gold chain, no way of knowing.
What I do know is it pays to stay and search different areas, when other people are probably searching areas you may have planned to search.
If a beach is heavily hunted, it's usually for a very good reason, just go with the flow and see what happens.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Double search patterns and spirals

There are two eye opening things a beach hunter can do, one is place a gold ring on or very close to a piece of iron and the other is go back over an area they covered well from a different direction. 
The result of both eye opening tests will be a failure to hear the gold ring and no doubt hearing targets you failed to detect on the first sweep of an area, no matter how tight a search pattern you thought you had used.
When I search an area that produces what I am searching for, I always double back over the same area sweeping my search coil from a different direction.
Both the iron / gold ring and double coverage tests show what your real enemy is at the beach.
It is certainly not competition from beach hunters, our real enemy is iron masking at the beach.
Iron masking is the reason why you can detect targets in sand you thought you had just covered correctly. 
Iron signals over powering and masking other non Ferrous targets located close to the iron.
Double search patterns are the reason I cannot cover many of my favorite jewelry, coin or artifact hunting sites very quickly.
I spend time re-covering areas I have just searched from a different direction. 
When I detect a good target, I spiral out from the site I scooped the good target.  
I do this because I know objects of the same size of density often end up settling in the same area on the lower beach and inside the water.
Why walk away from a productive area, when there are probably more good targets in the area to be found.
Spiraling around a recovery location is useful if you find a pendant or a chain. 
There is a good chance the missing chain or pendant is close to the area you located the first find.
Here is a photo of three ounces of 14 K gold jewelry proving a spiral works, both pieces of gold recovered within feet of each other early last year.
The gold chain with sapphires in the clasp was recovered after spiraling out from the area I scooped the 1.4 ounce gold pendant.
I figured the gold pendant must have been attached toa sturdy gold chain and I guessed right.

I have recovered some mighty fine pieces of modern gold jewelry and superb old artifacts by searching over areas from a different direction and spiraling out from dug holes.
Don't walk away, double check and see if you just missed something on the first search or grid of the area.
Cover more of the ground and less of the beach!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Modify or multiply ?

Modding metal detectors is very popular now, adding inline search coil connectors, pinpoint switches, headphone connecters etc.
It gets a little tricky if you use a waterproof metal detector, unless you really know what you are doing.
I always avoided modding waterproof metal detectors, but now the actual connectors have improved I see no harm in experimenting with mods if your metal detector warrantee has expired.
Some of my favorite finds were recovered using Minelab Excalibur's with big mama jammer 
search coils like the Coiltek 15 inch WOT coil. 
Heres a few goldies I recovered during one hunt last year using an Excalibur with a 15 inch NEL search coil.

Check out all the lead fishing weights, lead and gold recovered from way down deep inside Davy Jones locker taking full of advantage of the big rig. 
In my opinion, it is good idea to sit back and weigh both the advantages and disadvantages of modding a metal detector before you jump in feet first, especially if you use a waterproof metal detector. 
If the work is something you cannot do, you need a competent person to do the work.
Are the parts and labor worth the end result, in other words are the mods going to make a difference.
Many people have metal detectors modded because they see other people with mods and think they are missing out on something. 
If you know what a modification to a metal detector is going to do and how it is going to make a difference, by all means go for it if that is what you want to do. 
Another alternative option to modding is buying a metal detector that closely resembles what you are modifying your existing metal detector into. 
This is what I usually lean towards, as I own several metal detectors thanks to gold I have scrapped and reinvested into equipment.
Why spend hundreds of dollars making your metal detector into something that can already be bought. 
Who am I kidding right, metal detectors have become really expensive and that is one of the main reasons for modifying metal detectors and why modding metal detectors has become so popular.
I talk a lot about using versatile equipment, so I have metal detectors that allow me to easily change search coils or headphones or switch between all metal and discrimination.
They also tend to be expensive, which brings us back to the chicken and the egg type conundrum. 
Better to modify or save money to buy another type of metal detector, what say you fellow treasure hunters? 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A few things about search coil size

Ever come across a really productive area and thought a larger search coil would make a difference. 
A large search coil only makes a difference when you are searching for targets buried deeper in open areas, by open areas I mean areas with little to no iron.
Put iron in the equation and it does not matter how much non Ferrous stuff is in the ground you probably won't detect it. 
The last time I ran across a productive site with multiple good targets I was using an 11 inch search coil.
Because the area was littered with iron, I went smaller instead of larger and found more good stuff.
I know from experience that a larger search coil would not have detected any more good targets.
A larger search coil would have been one big null, even with the removal of multiple non Ferrous targets from the area. 
Instead, I was able to cut down on iron masking and detect more good targets. 
A perfect example of bigger not always better better, and showing how target depth is not everything to a beach hunter. 
I still search areas that I see other  beach hunters walk right over without detecting anything using 11 and 10 inch size search coils.
Sweep a smaller search coil over the same area and out pop small gold bands, ear rings and chains.
You don't have to always go big, the hardest targets to detect are often the shallowest targets.
A recent bucket list find I recovered popped out of a 3 or 4 inch deep hole, it just needed to be detected.
As a guide, use larger search coils at beaches with little to no iron, taking advantage of the large coils best features, ground coverage and target depth.
Use smaller coils at trashier beach sites, taking advantage of the small search coils sensitivity to small targets and enhanced target recovery speed between the trash. 
Remember to sweep low, slow and level no matter what size search coil you use.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Rocket science and beach hunting

I'm a meat and potatoes kind of guy when it comes to beach hunting, as anyone who has read one of my beach and water hunting books or took a lesson from me will tell you.
I rely on beach reading and metal detecting skills I've learned from spending an insane amount of time walking tidal river banks mud larking and saltwater beaches metal detecting.
Boots on the ground river bank and beach hunting, information earned the only real way you can.
Beach hunting, water hunting, setting up and using a metal detector is not rocket science, but to hear many people who describe themselves as pros you would think it is.
Metal detectors for beach hunting are only complicated if you want them to be, after all there is only one thing you want to set them up to do, beep when the search coil goes over metal in the sand. 
I don't think I've ever used all the controls, options or features on any metal detector I have used for beach hunting.
I just use the ones I need to detect the stuff I'm searching for.
The words complicated and a metal detector for beach hunting should never be used in the same sentence, you are using the wrong type of metal detector if they are.
Beach reading and people reading skills are also not rocket science. 
You don't need a degree in beach or ocean floor sedimentary science to tell you if the sand is firm your walking over, it may hold jewelry or coins.
In my opinion, you can't beat simple stuff when it comes to beach and water hunting.
From metal detectors used at the beach, to visual clues that potentially increase your chances of finding what you are searching for at the beach.
Learning curves in beach hunting are easily overcome by taking a straight line! 

Monday, June 19, 2017

To show or not to show finds

This year marks the first year I have not posted freshly scooped finds on a regular basis. 
I stopped posting recent beach and water hunting finds after getting tailed to the beach, dropping our girls at school, the ice rink and even all the way through a McDonalds drive thru! 
It's been tough not posting especially with some of the stuff I have pulled out of my scoop this year, including three finds I had the good fortune to cross off my treasure hunting bucket list this year.
Recently while on vacation I checked out a few social media sites and metal detecting forums to see who is finding what and where.
I saw a few pieces of jewelry with the beaches named that had me saying to myself, wow they must be crazy posting that.
Posting previous big ticket finds I always preferred to put a few weeks or even months between finding and posting.
From previous experiences posting big ticket finds, you can expect about a half dozen people saying the jewelry you posted belonged to them. 
I believe I am at eleven people and counting after one Rolex I recovered several years ago and two people saying my 300 year old Spanish treasure ring was lost by them at the beach! 
Don't get me wrong, I have found and continue to find many pieces of jewelry that get returned every year to grateful owners, but with millions of people visiting Florida beaches from all over the world I know there's a good chance many big ticket finds will be napping in the bank vault a long time. 
Which brings me nicely to the next reason I stopped posting finds which is security, although 
I don't keep any valuables at home why imply there is.
Perhaps I will do a few year in review type posts towards the end of the year, but in the meantime this beach pirate is going to keep flying under the radar.
I often wonder how long the old gold prospectors would have lasted if they had metal detecting forums back in the day.
Hey look at what I found today, good or bad idea, what say you fellow beach and shallow water hunting enthusiasts?

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Digging deeper

Although I am known as a discriminating beach hunter, I often dig it all and dig it deep by using a PI (Pulse induction) metal detector or a VLF metal detector with an extra large search coil.
The deeper a metal detector detects, the more difficult it is to recover deep targets inside the water or in the wet sand. 
You have to be careful you don't waste valuable metal detecting time digging instead of recovering, but away from the water the depth advantages using a PI, all metal search mode, or an extra large search coil often pay off.
I sometimes prefer to put my metal detector down and use a spade to dig deep holes faster when I am using a PI, all metal search mode or an extra large search coil on the beach.
Pulse induction metal detectors and VLFs with large search coils work especially well at heavily hunted beaches, when your best chances of finding something are getting lucky with fresh drops, lady luck is something I prefer not to rely on.
Better than relying on luck is detecting deep stuff beyond the range of the majority of people searching the beach. 
Sure you dig a lot of deep trash, but a heavily hunted beach has the majority of surface trash removed by regular beach hunters or " Skimmers" who actually do you a favor. 
Knowing the shallow surface finds have probably already been removed allows you to concentrate on detecting deeper targets.
A pulse induction metal detector is in my opinion very site specific, but when you have the sites pulse induction is definitely the way to go.
If a pulse induction metal detector is not in your budget, invest in a large search coil for your VLF metal detector and switch to the all metal search mode digging everything.
Beaches are forever changing, competition comes and goes, it makes perfect beach treasure hunting sense to change things up to counter conditions and competition. 
Bringing up encrusted gold at a well hunted tourist beach is a good sign, it means you are probably the only one using the correct equipment or search mode for the site or conditions.