Metal Detecting- Treasure Hunting On A Budget.
Sometimes The Treasure Is Closer Than You Think
Recently I got the opportunity to take a break from my busy schedule and indulge in my favorite pastime.....metal detecting. We have been detecting for many years now and try to get out as much as our schedule will allow. It has been difficult, finding the time, this past year but now that spring is here I'm hoping to get more opportunities to go "treasure hunting"
I enjoy detecting beaches the most because digging in sand is a lot easier than "cutting plugs" in grass and hard earth. Beaches are also places where you have a lot of space used by a lot of people who lose a lot of items. . The beach we chose, this time, is on the Atlantic coast about an hour away from where we live and is a favorite with surfers almost year round. [Yes, people do surf on the east coast!] The beach is about 3 miles long and is a challenge for detectorists and surfers alike.
To properly "do" a beach, especially if you use a search pattern grid. can take several days. . On this , particular,day we were there to enjoy the location, the atmosphere, and the day off so I was not totally focused on detecting. The surf was pounding and the sun was bright and the air was warm. Very unusual conditions for so early in the spring. There were people jogging, walking, playing with their dogs on the ocean's edge and generally having a great time. To be honest, with all the activity surrounding me. it was a little difficult to fully concentrate on detecting....but I think "swinging" the detector, even if you are distracted, is almost an unconscious habit to the hobby enthusiasts.
Occasionally the detector would "beep" and quickly refocus my attention. I would pinpoint the target and dig for the hidden treasure! Sometimes a rusty old nail would come out of the hole and other times a pull tab would make it's usual appearance as pull tabs so often do during beach detecting. If things are going well you soon start finding coins and ,occasionally, artifacts. Each time I "dig" these type of targets it gets very exciting . You never really know what the detector has found, when that high pitched tone sounds, until you dig. Is it going to lead you to a common clad coin like a modern penny or will you uncover a rare collectible coin worth hundreds? Will you find a valuable rarity, like gold jewelry or is that glint at the bottom of the hole a worthless piece of foil or the ever present bottle cap? For me the "hunt" is almost as enjoyable as the find. It's the main reason why I love detecting so much.
We started getting into the coins very early. First a quarter then another followed by a couple of dimes and a penny. Nothing of great value but coins are coins and if nothing else I, usually,find enough to pay for my weeks coffee.
Within the first couple hours of searching we had managed to unearth a small pocket full of coins, including a Canadian "toonie", along with a few nails....the ever present pull tabs, an interesting fork, too many bottle caps, and several larger pieces of scrap iron. Nothing to get rich on but, at least, my next week's coffee habit was taken care of and, as a bonus, I was having a great time "at the beach" watching the surfers, metal detecting, and enjoying being near the ocean.
Usually my wife accompanies me on my metal detecting outings. We both enjoy the outdoors and detecting is something we enjoy doing together. In fact she does a lot of the actual sifting and recovery. She also loves to walk the beach so often times while I "detect", and do my own sifting, she is off walking the shoreline and getting her exercise.
On this particular day she had walked the nearly 3 miles of shoreline and had returned to find me happily swinging the detector and digging in the sand. I showed her the "treasures" I had found and she studied each piece closely to make sure our retirement "nest egg" wasn't hiding somewhere within the sandy and encrusted group of finds that I had placed in my pocket for safekeeping. It didn't take her long to realize that I hadn't found any gold bars or diamonds and that our "nest egg" was in no danger of revealing itself on this outing.
Metal detecting, by it's very nature, makes you focus on your senses of sight and hearing. You are listening for the detector's various "tones" that can indicate what the machine has found under the surface of the sand . At the same time your eyes are constantly sweeping the ground around you and often times you will "discover" things that most people would never notice as they walked the beach..
Over the years I have found a lot of things, just lying on the sand, that people have lost. From expensive fishing rods and reels to surfing equipment, clothing, and personal items. It is amazing what people leave behind at the beach. Some of my most interesting "finds", while metal detecting, have been found without the electronic aid of the detector. They were found because, while detecting, we were focused on the ground in front of us and around us. This day was one of those times where our "find of the day" came not from the detector itself but from the process.
While I was swinging the detector my wife was standing nearby, and I heard her exclaim "look twenty dollars" and then quickly she exclaimed "no it's forty dollars". As I turned she was picking up two crisp twenty dollar bills. The bills had been sticking out of the sand edge first as if they had been placed there. Had they had been just lying on the surface they would have blown away in the breeze. These bills were on their edge sticking out of the sand about 2 inches. Of course we quickly dug where the bills had been found. Sometimes when you find an item like a coin another one can be close by....sometimes in the same hole. No such luck this time...the bills were alone.
I always get great satisfaction when I make a discovery with the detector. Some of the items I have found are very rare and have been buried in the ground for, in some cases, hundreds of years. To me it's like holding history in your hands.......I never tire of that feeling!. Today was not one of those days but we scored a pocket full of coins, an interesting and, possibly, silver fork and two crisp 20 dollar bills. I can honestly say that I have never found "paper" money, while metal detecting, before but those 20 dollar bills will cover the cost of lunch and our gas bill and to me that qualifies as a great day at the beach.
I would encourage anyone who has ever thought about getting a metal detector and going treasure hunting to go ahead and join the rest of us who have discovered a great hobby. You will, most certainly, have some wonderful new experiences and who knows maybe it will be you who discovers that next "treasure trove". of gold coins or that priceless artifact They could be waiting just under the surface of that sandy beach you have been going to for years!
For those of you who aren't ready to take the plunge and get into metal detecting you too could find treasure. Just remember to look "down and around" whenever you're on the beach.....you never know what might be waiting for you.