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Sunday, December 31, 2017

My best finds of 2017

It is that time of the metal detecting year when you look back at all the stuff you saved from the land, beach and Davy Jones locker with fond memories and perhaps post a few. 
This year has been a memorable metal detecting year for me and I managed to cross a couple of things off my metal detecting bucket list. 
I believe that had something to do with the amount of time I was swinging a metal detector this year. 
I spent a lot of time away from home on my metal detecting travels in 2017 and I would have to say my best finds are the people I met this year. 
My best finds are not stuff I dug up, they are the real treasures in life my family and friends. 
To my family and all the people I have worked with, met and talked with along the 2017 treasure hunting trail I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Not all good finds are two way repeatable signals

These two Spanish military buckles are Treasure Coast of Florida finds from a few years ago, found at the same beach a month apart.

Check out the file marks on the one buckle and the fastener pin still attached to the other, not bad condition for stuff from the 1700s recovered off a beach. 
I was using a pulse induction metal detector when I recovered these artifacts, searching for deep targets that often do not respond with a classic two way repeatable signal response. 
As with anything metal detecting related, you have to use the equipment and search techniques to suit the site and what you are searching for.
The only thing that gave these Spanish artifacts away was a slight lowering of the threshold (Metal detector back ground noise) so if I was not paying attention I would have missed them. 
I often dig all target responses when I know a site potentially holds what I am searching for, even a slight break, lowering or raising of my metal detector threshold.  
Very deep targets on the edge of metal detection range respond quite differently to shallower targets which are easy for a metal detector to identify.
Some of my favorite old finds were "Knee deepers" stuff that many beach hunters would miss if only stopping to dig two way repeatable signals.
Threshold sharpening skills are obviously best learned when you have a decent threshold level, I know many beach and water hunters prefer to have a barely audible threshold which is ok for tourist type beach hunting but it is not the best threshold to use when searching for old stuff.
A beach hunter searching for old coins and artifacts needs to maintain an audible metal detector threshold, so you can hear subtle and not so subtle changes in the metal detector background noise.
You do not always hear deep targets, unless you are paying good attention to your metal detector threshold.
I always turn my metal detector threshold a little higher when searching for gold chains after recovering a gold pendant at a tourist beach.
Then I dig any anomaly in the threshold, just in case one of them is the gold chain the gold pendant was attached to.
Good practice at trashy tourist beaches for artifact hunting, you will be surprised how many things you recover from an area you thought you had searched thoroughly. 
Save the two way repeatable signal digging for tourist beaches, where tourist bling is the main target. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Talking and walking at the beach

I meet a lot of other people metal detecting at the beach, although I keep my head down and avoid eye contact sometimes chatting with other beach or water hunters is unavoidable.  
I used to post all my Spanish treasure and modern jewelry finds so it was not really the best idea to chat to everyone I met using a metal detector because I risked people knowing exactly where I recovered the stuff I was posting.
Before I came out of the shadows writing beach hunting books, posting bling and appearing on treasure hunting shows, I was a hardcore metal detecting ninja and I must admit I pulled some crazy stunts to fly under the radar.  
I used to go out of my way not to be remembered, wearing a mullet wig, a flap hat, wrap around shades or mismatched clothes, anything to make me look like any other local metal detecting club member out swinging a metal detector. 
It worked because when I did have to talk to chatty beach hunters they always told me I was using the wrong type of metal detector when I responded no I have not found anything.
They often invited me to local metal detecting clubs to meet the best hunter for miles around, who uses a certain metal detector that I should also buy to change my fortunes. 
I remember one day visiting a remote beach along the Treasure Coast of Florida, as I walked towards the beach another person was walking off the beach with a very old metal detector. 
I smiled and asked if he had any luck with his vintage machine, I had the latest model of metal detector from the same company and was to be honest being a smug.
That guy wiped the smile off my face in a New York minute as he showed me a superb looking Spanish treasure coin he had just found at the beach, a 1715 fleet silver four reale with a small iron spike fused to the back. 
He then went on to tell me how my latest and greatest metal detector would have rejected the iron and not detected the treasure coin, he was probably right. 
We chatted a little and the guy left the beach to me, which I would probably never have visited again if I had not seen the chatty strangers sweet treasure coin. 
That Treasure Coast beach has been so good to me for about thirteen years now, you see where Im going with this? 
On another occasion I was water hunting at a tourist beach and watched a guy showing his fresh jewelry finds to a crowd of people in the water, I recovered a hum dinger of a diamond ring about 30 yards ahead of the guy who was entertaining the crowd with his silver ring and cheap watch.  
The $10.000.00 diamond ring would have probably fallen to the other guy if he walked instead of talked as he was searching in that direction. 
That tourist beach is still one of my favorite modern jewelry hunting sites, because I decided to cover ground instead of lallygagging with tourists. 
The moral of todays hardcore beach hunting blog is to never show your finds to strangers, especially when that stranger could be a hardcore beach hunter because the site and future finds are probably gone forever. 

Monday, December 18, 2017

Pieces of the beach hunting puzzle

It is much harder to search for and recover old coins and artifacts at the beach, than it is to search for modern jewelry and coins.  
You have to research and know where you are likely to recover old stuff and to familiarize yourself with things from the era you are hoping to recover.
I look at beach hunting for old coins and artifacts as kind of like putting a jigsaw puzzle together, it is easier to start at the edges and work your way to the middle to complete the puzzle.
Just like the shipwreck salvage operations, you should look for a high amount of ferrous (Iron) targets in an area.
Salvage operations look for large iron hits on or under the seabed with sonar equipment, so it makes sense that certain iron objects especially in numbers will give away the same type of area on the beach.
Large iron ship spikes (Nails) are usually the outer edge pieces of the jigsaw puzzle when searching for shipwreck treasure on a beach.
These hand forged iron spikes are from a mid 1600s shipwreck beach in Florida, they often lead to recovering old Spanish silver and gold when you find them.

Lead is another important puzzle piece, musket balls, sheeting or any other pieces of scrap lead are often found in areas when you have a chance of recovering old coins and artifacts.
Hand forged iron nails and old lead are the very best indications that you are searching in the right spot at the beach.
But.... if you are using too much discrimination and rejecting iron you will more than likely miss old coins and artifacts at sites that hold the potential to cough up treasure.
I usually save the discrimination and rejecting targets for tourist beach hunting and dig everything at sites when searching for old stuff at the beach.
Once you find an area at the beach with a lot of old iron, its just a matter of finding the pieces of the puzzle that you are really searching for.
In beach treasure hunting, one find often leads to another as long as you do not miss the first important find which often is not made of bronze, silver or gold.
I wish I had a dollar for every piece of junk I had to dig for the old coins and artifacts on the front cover of this book, I look at this book cover and remember what I found before recovering each piece.
Ironically a ship spike before the large silver religious artifact, two crusty pieces of junk before the 1836 gold coin and several musket balls before the mid 1800s jade gold ring.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Three difference makers in metal detecting

In my opinion, site reading skills, search techniques and good metal detecting equipment make all the difference in this great hobby.
These three things help each other and will lead to a successful treasure hunt more often than not.
I learned my site reading skills while scouring tidal river banks for old bottles and clay pipes in England, using good metal detecting equipment and the right search techniques help me to find what I am searching for.
Just showing up to metal detect and hoping to get lucky is not an option in my book, its not an option in any of my books lol
You learn site reading skills every time you search a site and every time you detect and recover something at a site.
Unfortunately, beginners often do not realize at the time how important certain things are during a hunt until many years later.
For example, leaving a really productive area with a plan to return and hit it later. Or not recognizing the importance of an uncovered object or exposed layer at a site.
Take notice of the site and ground conditions present during every recovery, the detected target depth and the matrix the recovered target came out of.
All of these things are probably going to be the reasons you have a chance of recovering something similar in the future at the same site.
When you detect targets you are searching for it tells you that the metal detector you are using is the right tool for the job, especially if you can recover a variety of size targets at various depths.
You made the right choice of equipment and search techniques and you are learning how to read a site, even if you do not think you are.
The learning experience that is metal detecting all comes together when you take note of where you find stuff, the conditions present at the time you found stuff and what equipment helped you to be successful.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Separating, detecting and recovering

In my opinion, too many beach and water hunters stress over target depth, wanting the deepest seeking metal detector or search coil.
When a new metal detector or search coil is released, the number one question asked is how deep is it? 
Target depth is not the number one thing I look for in a metal detector or search coil,  I am more concerned with detecting small size targets at shallow to average depths. 
If you can detect small stuff at shallow to average depths you can certainly detect large stuff buried deeper. 
The majority of my best finds were recovered from shallow to quite average depths, levels where target separation and my metal detectors sensitivity to small targets are always far more important than target depth.
You could say beach and shallow water hunting is simply about separating the good stuff from the trash, making sure you detect it so you have something good to recover. 
Once you learn how iron and other non ferrous (Iron) objects help mask the stuff you are searching for at the beach, you will realize how target depth is ok but not the most important thing for a beach hunter.
Several times this year, I took deep seeking equipment into areas immediately after I recovered good stuff and recovered nothing more at deeper levels. 
It was not there and that is often the case when beach hunting, not everything good or better is just out of normal detection range. 
The old adage you have to dig through the trash to find the treasure is true, either dig the trash or find a way of searching over it to detect and hear the treasure you are looking for.
Separating targets is the real key to finding good stuff at trashy tourist type beach sites, in wide open areas with very little trash, use a slow pace and slow sweep speed to help you detect deep targets.
Ever notice how many stories of good beach or water hunting finds start with, I rechecked the hole and got another faint signal.
The same thing happened to me several years ago, when I pulled this three hundred year old Spanish silver religious artifact out of a hole I had just dug a small galleon spike from. 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Traveling to metal detect tips

I have been a road warrior this year, spending a lot of time metal detecting in different countries and packing my metal detector for a total of twenty flights. 
As you would expect, I learned the pros and cons of the metal detecting equipment I took with me. 
Not only the metal detecting equipment, but the clothes, boots and rain gear I took to metal detect in.
I would fit in nicely on Noah's ark as I took two of everything which in my opinion is always the safe thing to do. 
The Minelab metal detectors I use are very travel friendly and I take two search coils for each of the two metal detectors I travel with.
I still prefer to put the actual control box guts in my carry on baggage along with manuals so the security screeners can see what they are. 
All my batteries I put in checked baggage along with my Lesche digging tool, pin-pointer and bottle of rum, hey a pirate has to take a little grog when traveling abroad. 
I wear my heavy boots for traveling in and keep my lighter boots in my suitcase, along with two sets of lightweight Columbia rain suits.
If I am going to be land hunting I buy a spade when I get to where I am traveling to, if Im going to be beach or water hunting I take a lightweight two piece aluminum travel scoop.
I take the stock rechargable metal detector battery and charger along with a metal detector battery pod that takes throw away batteries, two different sets for each metal detector I travel with.
A few things I take just in case, are a small roll of duck tape, extra search coil bolts, lower detector shaft, arm cuff straps and a multi tool, but remember to put it in your checked bag.
The clothing side is easy, I keep an eye on the weather predictions for the place Im traveling to and I take cold and warm climate gear just in case because weather forecasts stink no matter where you travel to. 
Bug spray, sunscreen and emergency medical kit round out the traveling to detect stuff, any other emergency see earlier note on bottle of rum. 
The main lesson learned this year is to not cheap out and check two bags, divide your metal detecting equipment, target recovery tools and clothes between two bags just in case you have a bag go missing.
If you have to run to catch a flight, you can bet your suitcase did not run as fast as you did! 
Pack lightweight versatile metal detecting equipment and good outdoor type clothing.
Im big into moisture wicking and thermal shirts, convertible pants and waterproof boots.
Traveling to detect is fun when you are prepared for the little stuff to go wrong, even something as simple as having that second set of rain gear or boots so you don't have to detect in the damp stuff that did not dry out in time. 
Safe travels and stay lucky my friends.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Beach conditions and reports

People who wait for favorable conditions or rely on reports from others miss out on more than good recoveries, they miss a chance to learn site reading skills. 
One of the many reasons I do not rely on tide charts or surf predictions is I make my own luck.
I am going to go beach hunting regardless of the conditions and I am going to detect and recover something somewhere at the beach.
Searching beaches under less than ideal conditions will help you to become a better beach hunter, because it will force you to adapt your metal detecting and search techniques to tackle a wide variety of beach hunting situations. 
I promise you will never see me complaining about poor beach hunting conditions or posting fluffy filler in my blog as I have nothing to talk about due to unfavorable conditions. 
Saying I got to the beach and the tide was not in my favor will never happen, I search the tide and conditions I encounter when I get to the beach. 
Second hand beach reports are just that, old news telling you that you should have gone to the beach instead of waiting for improved conditions.
In my opinion, the more beach or water hunting conditions and tide levels you expose yourself to the more chance you have of detecting and recovering something good.
Check out the finds page on my website for inspiration or better still reap the rewards of having your search coil over the sand instead of waiting for improving beach hunting conditions or low tide.
Even if you do not recover anything good during less than ideal beach hunting conditions, I know you will learn something you can use on future beach hunts. 
Ask me what tide it was when I recovered a good find and I will struggle to answer, but I can tell you the conditions and they were not always good. 
A beach is constantly changing, its best to be at the beach with a metal detector instead of reading old news about how it changed. 
Being at the right place at the right time happens more often to beach hunter who search regardless of the conditions and tides.
Experience the conditions and reap the rewards !

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Looking down and around

When you are into metal detecting you find yourself looking at the ground a lot, even though I often use a metal detector with a VDI screen I always have my eyes trained on the ground or on the ground ahead of me. 
I have recovered so many great things using my "Twin optical scanners" while sweeping a metal detector search coil in front of me. 
Yesterday I was able to help a stranger out in a parking lot because I am always looking ahead with an eye towards the ground. 
As a person walked towards their car in a beachside parking lot, I saw papers flutter to the ground as they pulled their car keys out and got inside their vehicle.
The person backed out of the space and was pulling away but I stepped in front of their car holding my hand up and pointed to the ground. 
I picked up the six $20 bills and gave them back to the person who thanked me before driving off.
On Oak Island this summer I found a wallet stuffed with some lucky old couples holiday cash in the hotel parking lot, I say lucky because I handed the fat wallet to the hotel receptionist who reunited the happy couple with the wallet.
I believe I have posted a few stories of finding cash while walking the dog this year and even a prosthetic leg leaning against a chain link fence, talk about getting legless lol 
The point of todays blog is how observational skills help in metal detecting, instead of looking at a metal detector screen look at the ground you are covering.
Always keep an eye out for things that do not belong or look out of place, especially a the beach if you are a beach hunter. 
A favorite trick of mine when searching tourist beaches at night is to search in a line below the previous high tide mark, wearing a headlamp with the beam angled just along the high tide line.
Im metal detecting but watching for anything caught in the headlamp beam, at first light my attention changes to trying to spot any potentially interesting areas on the beach as the early beach hunting bird often gets the worm!
After years of looking at the ground and the ground ahead of me, my ninja site reading skills are something I rely on all the time. 
Being in the right place at the right time means little unless you see the things that make a difference.
A beach is constantly changing, make sure you see the subtle as well as the obvious changes, the compactness of the sand, a shell line, exposed rocks or any number of things can help you if you are looking down and around. 
Something to think about if you believe only a specific metal detector or search coil make everything possible at the beach.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Strippers at the beach, warning with topless photo!

Some of my favorite strippers at the beach were called Frances, Katrina and Sandy, hurricanes that stripped sand from beaches helping me to detect a lot of good stuff.
When rough surf from fierce coastal storms strip sand off the beach, you have a golden opportunity to find something good assuming you know how to search an eroded beach.
Two often overlooked areas on eroded beaches are the vertical face of the cut and mid beach, areas I have recovered some pretty amazing finds at this year.
Most beach hunters when searching eroded beaches, are into searching the base of the cut at the back of the beach, then following the cut a long ways down the beach. 
I do search along the base of the cut, but I also search the face of the cut and drop down to mid beach if the tide will allow it. 
When I know I am not the first person to have searched an eroded beach, or some time has passed since beach erosion took place I tend to head directly to the mid beach area, especially if I see lower spots mid beach.
Like many other things to do with beach metal detecting, there is a logical reason why the mid beach area tends to be the most productive area after a damaging coastal storm.
Following high tides rarely make it back up to the back of the beach, so mid beach becomes the new high tide zone, logically any good targets flushed out of the back of the beach or washed onto the beach  will end up being deposited beach in the new high tide zone.
Another reason mid beach is often ignored is because people wrongly assume once the base of the cut has been searched the erosion has been searched out. 
Nothing could be further from the truth, eroded beaches can often be productive for many days, weeks or even months after erosion first took place. 
Look at an eroded beach like a push penny arcade game, try putting your search coil closest to the line with the most targets. 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Come get it

Oh no they did'nt? is something I often find myself thinking after checking out internet metal detecting sites. 
On Facebook groups and metal detecting forums, you see people giving away productive sites or areas for a few WTGs on a nice recovery.
Posting photos of potentially good beach hunting conditions is also popular, especially during or after coastal storms or high surf. 
Call me an old fashioned beach prospector, but sending an RSVP to the competition is not the wisest move for a beach hunter.
Productive sites always have the potential to be productive in the future, unless you give them away and everyone with a metal detector for miles around knows about them.
Good beach hunting conditions have the potential to be open for business several days, but they will be cleaned out quickly if you post a report about upgraded site conditions and attract a metal detecting crowd. 
Beach and water hunters can find more stuff in the future at productive sites if they keep the site and upgraded conditions on the down low.
Good beach hunting sites are normally reliant on specific beach conditions to help open them up.
This is especially true of beach hunting sites known for kicking up old coins or artifacts, for example shipwreck beaches. 
Good sites within a site are golden if you know where they are located, no matter if it is a tourist beach or an out of the way shipwreck beach.
Give your good sites away and they are gone forever, give an eroded beach open for business away and it is heavily hunted quickly.
I look at my favorite money holes like a savings account, I can always make a withdrawal in the future when the time is right. 
There is a darn good reason why I do not post details of exactly where I go or who I meet and what I find at those places I search. 
I like productive sites and knowing I can count on them in the future too much to risk giving them away with a blow by blow account of my beach or water hunt.