The Reality Of Metal Detecting

Sometimes you’re the G.O.A.T & Sometimes you’re the Skunk

Some of you may recall my excitement all last week surrounding my “Ghost Town” hunt for Saturday. I prepared all week and stayed excited. I could hardly contain myself! I got permission last year about this time to come out and do some metal detecting, but our schedules didn’t line up. Since it was Spring the brush was growing, I patiently waited until the fall again and contacted the landowner. He told me to come on out and meet him and he’d show me the layout of the land and where the old foundations are.

Finally Friday night rolled around and I just couldn’t wait for daylight to break so I could start finding silver coins! I loaded my gear into the car and logged off of the computer early and went to bed. I fell asleep shortly after going to bed, but something woke me up. Then, I laid there half the night thinking about my hunt. I tried to tell myself to get some sleep so I’d be rested, but my mind wasn’t having it. I don’t think I slept a total of an hour the entire night!

When I did finally fall asleep from exhaustion my alarm went off. It was time to get up, and I was ready since I had been up all night anyway. After some last minute preparations and a quick shower I was on the road headed to possibly the biggest hunt of my life! I couldn’t wait to get there and start swinging around some old foundations. I had waited a long time for this hunt, so the anticipation was killin me…lol

When I got there the landowner was doing some brush clearing, and I was happy to see that the grass had been mowed for the most part. I apologized for being a few minutes later than we had planned, but he wasn’t worried about that. We shook hands, and I gave him a collectors knife as a token of my appreciation for the chance to detect on his property. A very old property dating from the 1870’s. He showed me around and told me where the old foundations were and the old road, as well as some land history.

One of the oldest foundations is on the back side of his property, on the other side of a creek. I had hoped to get to do some swinging over there, but unfortunately it is still a little too early in the fall, and the brush is just too darn thick to swing a metal detector right now. I figured that might be the case, but I just wanted to get out there and see what I could find. I guess I will have to be a little more patient until I can get back there in a couple of months.

So, I decided to concentrate more on the areas where the grass was short and there was no brush so that I could swing my detector. My first target was a brass buckle, and I was pleased with that. It was a promising find! Since the landowner had recently removed a bunch of trees while clearing a tree line, I decided to try my luck and hug along where the newly uncovered earth was along the new brush.

Brass Buckle, Probably WWI or WWII Strap Buckle:  Best Find Of The Day

Brass Buckle, Probably WWI or WWII Strap Buckle: Best Find Of The Day

As you can see from the pictures, I found a bunch of targets, but nothing worth mentioning. I have adapted a new detecting style of “digging it all,” recently but I have to wonder if that didn’t hinder my search for some old coins today. Basically the “dig it all” style works best in a park like environment, but in this situation maybe I should have left the lower tones alone and concentrated more on the mid and high tones in search of silver coins.

The Days Total Finds

The Days Total Finds

That leads me to the moral and lessons learned in this hunt.

Luckily for me, I have been detecting for three years now, and mostly consider myself a relic hunter/ woods hunter. I understand that when detecting old homesteads and 130 year old properties that I am going to dig my fair share of trash targets. In this instance, 130 years of trash targets to be exact! So, even though I was so excited before this hunt that I couldn’t even sleep, I knew that in order to get to the old coins, I was going to have to earn them by getting the trash out of the way first. Sure, occasionally you can stumble upon an old coin early in your hunt, but in My experience, more often that not, you’re going to have to get the junk out of the way first.

20's-50's Lipstick Case, Brass Buckle, 1968 Penny, Brass Light Bulb Bases.

20’s-50’s Lipstick Case, Brass Buckle, 1968 Penny, Brass Light Bulb Bases.

Recently I have been detecting in parks and fields that get mowed regularly, so my detecting style has been a “dig it all” type of style because I am in search of jewelry first and coins secondly. That style has served me well in parks, but all good metal detectorists know how to adapt to each environment that they are detecting that day.

Experienced metal detectorists also know that every day isn’t “pay day.” Just like our jobs, we know that we get paid at regular intervals, and the other days we have to just work hard and look forward to pay day. Detecting isn’t any different.

Best Coin 1968 Memorial

Best Coin 1968 Memorial

Today was a learning day, a day to work hard and look forward to ‘pay day.’ Today was the reality of metal detecting.

Not every hunt is going to be full of silver coins or gold rings. Most hunts are filled with our share of trash, and the occasional treasure. If you visit online forums or videos, you can get a clouded vision of what most days of metal detecting are really like. We see the guys on videos pulling silver coins out of the ground left and right, and we get it in our minds that ‘THAT’ is the reality of metal detecting. It isn’t the reality.

The reality, especially of woods hunting and detecting old homesteads is that the trash to treasure ratio leans in favor of the trash targets more often than not. Today was no different, and as I stated, luckily for me, I realize that. So, even though I didn’t pull any silver coins out of the ground today, I know that with a little bit of patience and alot of hard work I will eventually be rewarded with an amazing find on that site.

Today was a learning experience. I learned a few things from sampling the area. One, there are targets everywhere! Since I moved around alot and sampled a few areas, I learned after the fact that in the future I am going to have to stick more to a “gridding” style of hunting in order to increase my chances of success. Likewise, due to the number of targets, it might be best to approach this area with the smaller 4 inch sniper coil in an effort to separate the targets better.

Another thing I learned is that while finding jewelry is exciting, when I am at a very old property such as this one, maybe I should dig less of the low tone signals and concentrate more on the high, silver tones and hunt a more “coin shooting” style. After “cherry picking” the high tones I can always go back and dig the lower and mid tone targets that are left.

Lastly, I also learned that some days you just have to remain grounded and realize that not every hunt is going to produce treasure! The average days, the days where we get skunked are the days that help us appreciate the good days even more!

The metal detecting tv shows, finds forums, and youtube videos only tell half of the story. They only show the good hunts, the exciting hunts where guys seemingly find silver in every hole, or a diamond ring every other swing. The truth is that is not the reality of metal detecting. The reality is that every good find in our pouch is earned by digging pounds of junk targets!

The reality is that some days you are the G.O.A.T. and some days you are the skunk. No matter what type of day you have, use it as a learning experience and make adjustments for your next hunt.

You never really get skunked if you learn from today’s hunt and apply it to tomorrows hunt.

I received permission to come back any time I want, so next time I will be more prepared for this type of environment. I’m sure that I’ll still dig my share of trash then too, but I have a feeling that today’s learning experience will set me up for future success. Next time I’ll concentrate on coin shooting, and hopefully it’ll pay off.

Hey, as long as we learn something each time out, then every hunt is a success, right?

About Ozarks

I enjoy Metal Detecting in The Ozark Mountains and surrounding areas where I primarily detect for relics and coins. I have tested and used over 20+ metal detectors as a dealer and Company Sponsored 'Pro Staff' Product Tester. Previously Senior Editor of Detecting365 Metal Detecting Magazine for 7 years. I have authored over 200+ articles published on multiple metal detecting websites and magazines. I have real world experience testing metal detectors in the field and enjoy teaching others how to become better metal detectorists. Questions? Shoot me a contact email! Check out my Recommended Metal Detecting Supplies here:
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9 Responses to The Reality Of Metal Detecting

  1. supernova1c says:

    Great stuff Rob, good post. I know exactly what you mean, I also change my tactics depending on the age and trash situation of the site. Cheers Pal, James 😉

  2. Looks about like my average day! 🙂

  3. Derek Odom says:

    Excellent write up. This hobby definitely requires patience and maybe even some imagination. Then again, each person who abandons the hobby due to the lack of immediate payoff leaves more stuff in the ground for those of us in the know. 😀

  4. Virginia Online says:

    What’s up, just wanted to tell you, I liked this article. It was helpful. Keep on posting!

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