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Article: Detecting Tips

This is an ad-hoc list of helpful detecting tips and tricks. A lot of these tips are the courtesy of the folks at TreasureNet.

  • Read and adhere to the Metal Detecting Code of Ethics, especially the part about filling your holes.
    1. Ask permission first.
    2. Respect the rights and property of others.
    3. Observe all laws, whether national, state or local. Aid law enforcement officials whenever possible.
    4. Never destroy priceless, historical or archeological treasures.
    5. Leave the land and vegetation as it was. Fill in all holes.
    6. Remove all trash and litter when you leave.
    7. All treasure hunters may be judged by the example you set. Always conduct yourself with courtesy and consideration for others.
    8. Remember, all you want to leave behind are your footprints.
  • Overlap your sweeps - for concentric coils overlap by 20-50% - for DD coils overlap by 10-30%.
  • Keep your coil close to the ground and level throughout the entire swing.
  • Always re-check the hole after retrieving the target.
  • Do your research - location is the single most important parameter regarding the quality and quantity of finds.
  • Know your detector - a knowledgeable detectorist with a low-end detector can outperform his better equipped fellows.
  • Do not get disappointed or impatient - finds are generally proportional to time spent in the field and the number of holes dug.
  • Use the right coil for the conditions - small for trashy areas, stock or larger coils for deep targets when there is not a lot of trash or obstructions.
  • If an area is too trashy to hunt but has potential, concentrate on a small area and clean it out.
  • Have spare batteries on hand.
  • Bring some backup equipment if available.
  • Use headphones - you can hear the signals more clearly and you will not cause undue attention to yourself - the new timpanic membrane headphones that go on your temple instead of in your ear (see AfterShoks) provide the best of both worlds - clear response and you can hear what's going on around you.
  • A pinpointer, especially a Sunray, can save you a lot of time and reduce the size of the holes you dig.
  • Discriminate as little as possible - gold rings and chains show up as pulltabs and foil.
  • Re-balance your detector when soil conditions change or when you change your settings.
  • Wear gloves to protect your hands from sharp objects.
  • Attach an extra pouch (plastic grocery bag works) on your belt for trash.
  • For modern sites, like the beach, visit when the crowds are there and observe their behavior.
  • Keep tabs on the weather up until you leave for the hunt.
  • Check the tide tables when planning a beach hunt.
  • Have a backup plan in case your site is inaccessible for some reason or the weather intervenes.
  • For longer hunts, bring a backpack with food, water and other essentials.
  • A small camera is an excellent way to document your hunt and finds.
  • Use a probe or screwdriver to retrieve shallow targets.
  • Never show anyone your finds...just say "nothin' much" - tell the truth when hunting private lands.
  • In potentially unsafe locations go with a partner and look around often.
  • You might consider bringing along some form of self-protection depending on the hunt location.
  • Having a cellphone is a good idea.
  • Bring some test targets with you to ascertain your detector's performance at the hunt location.
  • When hunting in the wilderness it is a good idea to bring a map and compass and/or a GPS if available.
  • Using a cover for the control box and display and a coil cover keeps your detector in good shape and can increase its resale value.
  • Create a test garden to familiarize yourself with your detector's settings and responses under various conditions.
  • Search an area using a grid pattern - first two patterns at right angles to eachother - another pattern at a 45 degree angle to the first two.
  • Check a target by sweeping over it at different angles.
  • For DD coils pinpoint a target by pinpointing twice - the second time at a 90 degree angle to the first.
  • Wearing a kneepad or two can make digging more comfortable.
  • Having a rag hanging off your belt can help keep you, your probe and your detector clean.
  • If a kit is available, hip-mount your detector's control box to reduce weight.
  • Protection from the elements - hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, bug repellant, rainjacket.
  • Bring a variety of digging tools to hunt an unfamiliar location - you'll have a choice and can pick the best one for the soil conditions.
  • When hunting with a partner a pair of walkie-talkies can keep you from losing one another - cell phones work too.
  • Prepare for a hunt by using Google Earth or other satellite imagery software to familiarize yourself with the lay of the land and find interesting spots.
  • Go to the library and search old maps and newspapers to find out where old buildings were and where people used to gather.
  • If heading into the wilderness bring items to create a fire like lighter, matches and tinder.
  • On manicured lawns, place your dirt on a towel so you can get it all back into the hole.
  • To help identify deep, large targets you can lift your coil six inches off the ground and sweep to see if the response diminishes.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings, don't get too focused on your coil.
  • Take a break every once in a while - give your arm, ears and brain a rest - improves focus when you resume.
  • A multi tool, like a Leatherman, can come in handy.
  • A large plastic trash bag can make a good rain coat.
  • An old brush for sand and dirt removal can help clean up when putting things back in the car.
  • An old Frisbee can be used to put the finds into at the car.
  • If at the the beach, a dry pair of shoes and socks in the car can make the drive home more comfortable.
  • A large jug of water at the car can help clean up you and your equipment.
  • Keep special finds in a different place - your pocket or another compartment in your clothing or backpack - you may consider putting them in a pill bottle or small plastic box - lining the container with cotton can reduce scratches.
  • Rings will generally give a response based on the thinnest part of the band.
  • Chains with large enough links will "chatter" as the detector responds to each individual link.
  • Think outside the box - put yourself in the minds of the people of the past and hunt where others may not have thought to hunt.
  • Take time to read about your detector's settings and become familiar with them by practicing in the field.
  • Iron will generally have a weak, spread out, variable pinpoint field and the DC Phase will be negative.

Happy Hunting!
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