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The Exciting World Of Metal Detecting

Updated on July 5, 2011

Treasure Hunting

Treasure hunting with a metal detector is a great outdoor hobby. Generally, metal detecting revolves around searching for coins, buttons, jewelry and other iron relics. The challenge of treasure hunting is finding old sites where finding treasure is likely. Old mining cabins, railroad stops and roadside parks are good areas to search.

Using a metal detector is fairly easy. Simply sweep the search head back and forth over the ground and when it passes over an object an audible signal is produced. More advanced metal detectors may have displays that pinpoint the depth and different types of metal.

Very low frequency (VLF) is probably the most popular detector technology in use today. More expensive metal detectors usually have the best advanced features such as automatic ground balance, auto tune and semi automatic sensitivity. These convenient and time-saving features allow you to metal detect without frequent manual ground balancing and struggling with false signals!

However, before heading out on any expeditions there are a few items a prospector will need like digging tools. A compartment pouch will also come in handy for separating different items found. And don’t forget sturdy gloves and kneepads

Proper Authorization

Most importantly, make sure to obtain proper authorization before beginning any search. You cannot use a metal detector in National Parks, State Parks, or wilderness areas. And always get permission to prospect on private property. One way of gaining access to property is to place an ad in the local "Penny Saver" advertisement booklet. Placing ads offering to find lost items can be very successful.

There are a number of different kinds of hunts people usually go on such as coin shooting. This kind of search means searching only for coins and ignoring everything else. Although that would be great, only a few detectors are that precise today. Coin shooting is divided in two categories. There is general coin shooting, searching for any type of coin or searching for a particular type of coin.

Relic Hunting

Relic hunting is another category. This is looking for mostly iron artifacts and relics having a historical, archaeological or collectible value such as Colonial iron door hinges or Neolithic axe heads. Non-metallic relic finds, such as 18th century clay pipes are sometimes accidently discovered during these hunts. They are also prized by relic hunters.

Relic hunting is very popular and consists of many subcategories such as "Bronze Age," "Medieval Period," "Early American Iron," "US Civil War," "World War I" and "World War II" and so on. In short, relic hunting is more difficult and time consuming than general metal detecting because these items frequently involve exploring in remote areas, dense woods, swamps, mountains or overgrown fields.

Beach hunting or beach combing obviously refers to metal detecting on beaches. Items like jewelry, religious medallions and coins are common treasures found here. Other things people have found on beaches are cell phones, watches, knives, sunglasses and lighters as well as many other personal items. But beware of local beach ordinances. Some beaches don’t allow metal detecting

Beach hunting is one of the most popular metal detecting activities probably because it doesn’t require research. Beaches are frequented by many people who often lose valuables there. However, unlike treasure found on land sites, which remains stationary, things on a beach are constantly being moved by ocean waves, storms and tides. Most valuables lost on the beach are during the summer months of June through September. The best place to find them is in a zone stretching between the waterline and low tide mark.

Obviously gold finds are more valuable than silver. Not only because of market price, but gold jewelry usually have valuable gem stones and diamonds. However, finding gold items with a regular metal detector is a challenge. Gold's low conductivity puts it into the conductivity range of pull-tabs and foil found in abundance on beaches. But, there are metal detectors made specifically for gold.

Searching on salt water beaches are more difficult because of iron magnetite (black sand) and salt minerals. A metal detector that can filter them out is needed. If a proper detector isn’t used, iron and salt mineralization can sound numerous false signals and render it virtually useless, especially on wet sand and in water. If wading and searching in water it is advisable to have a waterproof metal detector.

Metal detecting for gold nuggets, even as small as half a grain can be exciting as well as rewarding. Gold is normally discovered in its elemental form, containing trace amounts of silver, copper and iron as impurities.

In the US, gold bearing areas extend from Northern Alaska down to the lower Southwestern deserts of Nevada, California, Arizona, and the Mexican border. Arid desert regions in the Southwest are popular among the metal detector crowd because that’s where our historic gold rush took place.

There are millions of pieces of history still buried in the Southwestern Deserts. A metal detector can find old coins, artifacts and bottle dumps buried in the ground. Not all historic items are worth a lot of money, but nonetheless can still have interest value.

Gold prospectors of the past didn’t have metal detectors. Now, with a metal detector, it is easy to locate a rich vein overlooked by them. Great locations for gold nugget detecting can also be found alongside the Pacific Coast where beach placers have been discovered. They can be explained by shore currents and waves on debris broken off the cliffs and washed into the ocean by the streams.

Underwater Metal Detecting consists of snorkeling, scuba diving and shipwreck diving. Treasure hunting while using a snorkel and mask in salt or freshwater is usually done in less than 6ft of water. This type doesn’t require much equipment or physical strength.

In contrast, scuba diving is mostly done at depths less than 20 feet deep. It is advisable to take some scuba classes. In addition scuba gear is needed.

Shipwreck Diving involves hunting in and around a shipwreck and may require as diving as deep as 200 feet. It’s the most costly type of treasure hunting as it requires expensive equipment and gear. in addition a dive boat specifically designed for it is needed. Shipwreck diving presents many physical and mental challenges. It requires a considerable amount of skill as it’s also the most dangerous type of treasure hunting.

It must also be taken into consideration the geographical location in which a hunt is conducted. Depending on the location, surfs can differ greatly. Also water temperatures can vary considerably.

It must be noted here, snorkeling or scuba diving with a metal detector in the tropics may bring you into contact with sting rays or other sea life which can present dangers. Sting rays won’t usually bother a diver but there have been reports of divers being stung. One must also be vigilant if night hunting in lakes or ponds since snakes may be on the prowl.

Some snorkelers use long wood handled steel trowels for recovering items. The handle is light weight, comfortable to use and keeps knuckles from getting damaged by corals or rocks..

Try to select locations where people congregate the most such as swimming holes and popular beach areas. Pay special attention to spots where people jump into the water. This is where most valuables are lost.

This is by no means all the places people can hunt for treasure…but it’s a start!


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    • Drew6405 profile image

      Drew6405 5 years ago from Central Vermont

      Awesome post! Very informative and I love to relic hunt as well!

    • grayghost profile image

      grayghost 6 years ago

      Great hub! My son and I have been a relic hunting team for nearly 20 years. It's a great hobby. Your points were right on (especially the knee pads for us old guys).

    • profile image

      Cathey 7 years ago

      Very nice Hub. Great pointers for newbies also. Metal detecting is a wonderful hobby.