Thursday, April 28, 2011

Treasure Hunting 101, Part II

In my last article I briefly touched on the different types of detectors available to today’s treasure hunters. And yes, even though I’m sure some of you thought the article was a little long winded, I really only scratched the surface of what is out there.

So you’ve read the previous article, done a lot of your own research and then shelled out your hard earned cash for a detector, what do you do now? No matter if this is your very first detector or number twelve, you should practice, practice, practice! I can’t say that enough. Every detector is a little different even if it is from the same manufacturer. You need to learn the specific nuances of each detector you use. Not knowing how to use the detector to it’s full potential EVERY time you turn it on could literally cost you the find of a lifetime.

I have found the best way to practice is with your own “test garden”. It’s easy to do and will make a lot of difference when you practice. You simply need to find a place in your yard where you can bury different objects at different depths. Your biggest problem here is what your wife will think about you digging holes and burying things in the yard. I know ladies, there are women treasure hunters but let’s face it, we’re men, we don’t usually care if you are digging holes in the yard as long as we don’t have to dig them.

I keep several different coins buried at several different depths along with mason jar lids, a mason jar full of coins, a couple of different iron pots, one copper pot and some other iron objects like railroad spikes, horseshoes and an old knife. I also have a separate “trash” section for things like barbed wire, pull tabs, aluminum cans, etc.

Knowing what is buried at a certain depth allows me to know how each detector will react with each target and under different circumstances. A detector will work better, meaning finding deeper targets, if there is a little moisture in the soil, not soaking wet, just a little moisture. It will also react differently in topsoil, sand, clay and rock, etc. Having a little bit of each type of soil and a few rocks to detect over is a good thing.

What you bury and how deep you bury it falls into the same circumstance as which detector you choose. It will all depend on how you intend to use your detector. If you’re a coin shooter then you don’t need iron or copper pots or railroad spikes, etc. If you are a relic hunter you may not care about how deep the detector gets on coins because you know that what you are looking for could be deeper than the average coin anyway.

This treasure hunting stuff is starting to sound like a lot of work, huh?

It is work but if you get bitten by the bug then there’s nothing else like it and it won’t seem like work. If you are just a one day a month coin shooter then having a test garden could be a little bit of overkill. As a cache hunter I like to know how my detectors will react to different objects at different depths and in different types of moisture content.

OK, you have practiced, practiced and practiced so more and are ready to work a site. The first thing you need to do once you are at your site is to be logical about where you look. If you are coin shooting you need to be looking in the areas where there will probably be coins. If it’s an old homestead you work along the pathways where they walked, you look under the big old trees where people use to sit in the shade, you check under where the clothes line used to be (this is a great spot and has yielded me several silver coins, much to the dismay of my hunting partners) and you look anywhere else that would have had foot traffic where people could have dropped coins from their pockets.

If you are looking for the possible money stash of the home owner then you need to be looking where the gardens used to be or near or under a fence post. These types of caches usually were put within site of the home so the owner could keep an eye on the spot.

If you are cache hunting, like those left behind by outlaws or the Spanish then you will need more to go on and that’s where research comes in.

Once you start detecting and finding things the most important thing to remember is to ALWAYS check the hole again. Once you pull that coin or jar of coins out of the hole run your detector over it again to make sure there isn’t anything else below what you just took out. A lot of people forget this thinking, well, I found a coin, I will fill in the hole and move on. This can be a very big mistake! I think my record for coins in one hole is 13. You couldn’t see any of them but I just kept hitting the hole with the detector and kept getting readings. This is not a rare occurence. OK, maybe 13 coins in one hole is but finding a second or third coin happens all of the time and I can tell you that finding a jar of coins or an iron pot can definitely lead to finding a second one 6-12 inches deeper in the same hole.

Always check the hole before you fill it in!

Two more quick things. Headphones, do you or don’t you wear them? The idea behind wearing headphones is that you can hear the really faint signals and you won’t miss that one object you might really need to find. Personally, I like to hear what’s going on around me so if I do wear headphones (which is a rare occasion) then I only wear them on one ear. The only other reason to wear headphones is to keep anyone else from hearing your detector and maybe to keep your ears warm during the winter!

The other thing is batteries. The manufactures say you should remove the batteries from your detector if it is going to sit for any extended period unused. This is a very good suggestion and well worth heeding. The first time you have some batteries leak inside a compartment you will wish you paid attention.

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