Top 5 Places To Go Metal Detecting

I havent written a new blog post in a while, so in the mean time, Michael Bernzweig asked if he could contribute to a guest blog post… well here it is.

Daniel Bernzweig manages MetalDetector.com in Southborough, MA. He has written on the subject of treasure hunting and metal detecting since the mid 1980’s. He enjoys traveling with his metal detector and helping to educate others in the correct use of metal detectors in their explorations.

So, you’ve just gotten your new metal detector, but, where can you go to use it?  Well, the easy answer is literally, almost anywhere.  The type of metal detector does limit you in some regards.  For example, if your metal detector isn’t waterproof, you’re not taking it diving with you.  However, the reality is, you can pretty much just walk outside and begin searching for treasures.

Outside of that though, where are the best places to go metal detecting?  Here are 5 of our favorites!

Old Sites

Old sites can be exciting places to take your metal detector.  While many are marked, and may even be local or national historic sites which are off limits to metal detecting, others are privately owned and may be good locations to explore. Many are only found through research, research, and then, some more research!  These types of places will almost always require you to determine the rightful owner in order to ask permission to look for treasures on their property, as well as make plans for dealing with any items that are found on the site.  That said, old sites are exciting to search and can of course, lead to some of the most unique treasure caches.

The Beach  and Other Public Outdoor Recreation Areas

Taking your metal detector out to the beach (as long as it’s properly rated for heavily mineralized ground conditions), lakes, carnivals/fair sites, campgrounds, picnic grounds or parks, sports fields, and other types of locations like these will almost always lead you to at least a few coins, if not a piece of jewelry or three!  Of course, many metal detectorists will get even luckier in public recreation areas.  Why?  People usually change their clothing in some way, and they stash valuables and money while out swimming, playing soccer, etc.  Unfortunately, items are often lost at parks and beaches as a result.  This is a disappointment for all of us out enjoying our public recreation areas, but, it can lead to great fun for a metal detectorist!

Farms

Nowadays, most farms are fairly old places.  Not everywhere of course, but for much of the world farms are places that have been around for generations.  As a result, old farms can be excellent places to go metal detecting.  Finds can be wide and varied and don’t just occur near the current homesite.  You may even run into former home sites on some farms and/or old outbuildings that can also be full of treasures waiting to be found.

Construction Sites

Anytime the earth is being dug you may find treasures if you have a metal detector.  Construction sites, both commercial and residential, are an excellent example of this.  The main reason construction sites make such great metal detecting locations is that now you can get much deeper into the ground, even if you already have a really deep seeking metal detector.  Construction sites can be dangerous though, so be careful and, as always, be sure to have the property owner’s full permission before heading out.  As long as you keep these facts in mind though, you can have an excellent time metal detecting around a construction site.

Right Under Your Nose

As we said, you really can use your metal detector anywhere.  As a result, many people overlook those areas that are literally right under their own noses.  Places like your own backyard, or the trail you walk down each day with your dog, or your daily route; ordinary locations like these are excellent places to go metal detecting and, often yield the greatest finds simply because they’ve never been searched before.
Wherever you take your metal detector, always remember to be respectful of the land, be sure to fill in your holes, and pack out any trash you find or make.   Also, always try to find the rightful owner of the treasures you find whenever possible; which can be as rewarding, and exciting as finding the treasure itself. Always be sure to check the local laws and get permission whenever it is required.  And, last but surely not least be sure to have a lot of fun whenever you’re out metal detecting!

mike silverman - March 4, 2014 - 3:46 am

Great post! Thanks for ideas you shared for us. Camping site is also a best place to metal detect. And, any abandoned areas are also good for metal detecting.

Luckless Beach Attempts

I know this is a long overdue post as I have been meaning to update this blog… and I dont really even have an excuse since I find myself now in the smallest town in the world with absolutely nothing to do!

So I tried my E-trac at the beach near our family holiday home in Scarborough near Cape Town. Lets just say, I found nothing but did receive many stares from beach go-ers who had probably never seen anyone with a metal detector before, or thats what it felt like anyways! This was my first time out in public and I admit it did feel a little awkward at first knowing there were gawkers staring at my every move. It was almost embarrassing to dig up sand and come up empty handed as I think everyone at the beach was expecting me to come up with a find of some sort. Needless to say the embarrassment vanished quickly and I got very used to working my way around the beach…

I did struggle though, I kept getting signals over a sweep yet when I tried to find the signal again to isolate the target, it was gone. When I found the signal, tried to pinpoint and nothing OR I get a pinpoint, dig and come up empty. Clearly my settings or the even more likely answer must have been my inexperience at detecting on the beach. I did however find a much better signal later on during the search, dug and found some tin foil. As unexciting as this sounds, I was more than happy to have actually found a proper signal, dug and eventually come up with something!

Scarborough is not the busiest beach in the world (think retirement village) so perhaps that had something to do with my lack of finds. They do say if there is nothing there, you not going to find anything… so perhaps it was just a case of there really was not much there.

One thing I learnt quickly is the E-trac is HEAVY. It might not seem so initially but after an hour or two you really start to feel the weight of the machine. Now if I kept on digging gold I wont mind the weight at all but alas when you digging up nothing, it is a bit of a drain.

After I returned home from my luckless attempt I read that my settings I was using may not have been the best for the beach. I was supposedly meant to use manual sensitivity as automatic is not preferred at the beach… noted for the next time.

In the meantime I received a 3 month work contract to lecture and instruct at an air school in Port Alfred. Coming from Cape Town and even more recently Dubai, this place is what I call ‘microscopic’. It really is a tiny town but the best definition would be courtesy of my cousin and in his exact words “A one horse town… but the horse has died”. A beautiful retirement spot I suppose, with a great stretch of coastline that goes on for miles on end including a blue flag beach called Kelly’s Beach. The beach is about the only thing to do here except for a few bars and one small shopping mall. Thats it! Apparently the beach is packed during holiday season as this is definitely a holiday town but certainly not many people live here outside of holiday season as everywhere I visit is empty – including the beach.

Luckily I brought my detector along to keep me occupied. I tried the beach (my now second attempt at a beach) and changed the sensitivity setting to manual so i was determined I would find something. They had major flooding recently where the tides washed up almost completely covering where the sand usually is, so I figured something must have washed up and waiting to be found under the sand. Alas again, I was having the same issues as before and yet again struggled to find anything. This time I didnt even find tin foil making it even a worse attempt than my first. Given it was a real quiet spot on the beach where not many ever go but I thought I would attempt it anyways. I am still not convinced about my detector settings and instead of using beach mode I am going to completely open up the discrimination and just dig whatever I can on my next beach attempt – hopefully I have better success stories on my next blog update.

Eti - March 4, 2013 - 11:41 am

Well done, I have a x-call2 and a garret, also feel strange on the beach, I need to get out again been too long, also cape town,

admin - March 7, 2013 - 6:46 pm

We should go together for a beach hunt when I am back in Cape Town!

Michael Bernzweig - May 3, 2013 - 12:17 am

Hi! Nice blog! My name is Michael. I was wondering if you’d be interested in publishing a guest post about the top five places to go metal detecting. If you’re interested, just shoot me an e-mail and I’ll send the article to you as an attachment. Hope to hear from you soon!

-Michael

Ana - April 2, 2014 - 5:21 pm

I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog.

I was such a great treasure hunter at the coast when I was a child.I’d dig for hours on end and always came home with a ring or some sort of jewellery ( I guess back in the 80’s ladies went to the beach with their jewelery)

I’m a mom now and when we do go to the beach – I’m at it again and my boys in tow,I’ve always wanted a metal detector and thanks to your blog and adventures (even the back yard ones) you’ve inspired me to add a detector to my birthday list.

By the way:My husband has been watching Alaska Gold Diggers and this little man on the show takes his detector and just walks around the grounds and detected Gold.How come this hasn’t become a trend in the City of Gold…Jhb?

I’ll be digging up my backyard in no time lol!

Keep Well
Ana

The first finds

I finally arrived back in South Africa on 26 December and what a pleasure it is to be back home but before I had left Dubai I sent off unaccompanied air freight which should have been delivered 5 days ago to South Africa but due to a lot of unexplained excuses it only arrived today. The one thing I realise is that having a big “FRAGILE, HANDLE WITH CARE” statement on the box clearly means “THROW ME AROUND AS MUCH AS YOU WANT” as the box certainly looked a lot worse off than when I had sent it off on its epic journey. I was pedantic in packing the items, bubble wrapped everything securely then bubble wrapped it some more so everything actually did arrive in one piece I am happy to report.

So I put my bags containing all my clothes and photography equipment to one side and hauled out the the one thing that I had been waiting for so patiently – the Etrac… Although Christmas is over, this felt like Christmas, opening a present I so badly wanted.

Surprisingly the battery pack still contained a charge so impatiently I headed straight off to the garden. I am staying with the folks at the moment who have a big enough garden for me to search or should I rather say, destroy? You see before I left Dubai, I had gone on to e-bay and ordered one of those Lesche Diggers which looked so incredibly handy but when the item arrived at my New York shop and ship address who usually forward on to me in Dubai, they had decided that the item was a knife and that it could not be forwarded to Dubai. In the end I was forced to either pay to return the item to the seller (which I had problems with too but that is another story for another time) or for them to discard the item. So discard it was, $40 down the drain and still a Lesche digger short.

I had done a bit of research on the ferrous and conductive values of the etrac so I had some very basic knowledge of what I thought would be good numbers to dig and recover. I was surprised with the amount of metal that was being detected under the garden – remember this is after all my first time I have ever used a metal detector. I found a spot where the numbers looked good to be a coin of some sort, pin pointed the position and was just about to start digging. Just then I had remembered I had left the Garret pin pointer in the house but my dad was quite amused at this whole setup so was outside with me watching at the time, so he kept the spot while I ran back to fetch the pin pointer.

The etrac tells you how deep the item is but still being being new at this, I thought it was a lot deeper than it actually was. After one spade scoop (was in a sandy part of the garden), the Garrett quickly located the object and it was indeed a coin. My first find ever and it was a coin… super excited even though it was only 2 cents. This spurred me on for the rest of the hunts in the garden.

Since I had the setting on all metal at this stage, I decided I will actually dig up a target that is usually considered not worthwhile to dig just to see what it is. Turns out it was a rusty nail so at least I know the FE and CU values does actually correspond to what I have read up previously about the good and bad numbers and what not to dig for.

Next I found a target that was pretty deep down, so dig I did and eventually could see something shiny and silver. This wasnt small either – excitement levels went through the roof at this point. Was it a silver? Well no, turned out to be one of those old tuna or sardine cans. Had a good chuckle and tried to cover up all my mess I had made digging up. I have watched numerous youtube clips on plugging neatly and this is certainly something I am not doing – certainly trying but not getting it right which I put down to not having the right equipment aka The Lesche Digger. I am using a cheap handheld spade with a rugged edge on one side sort of like the Lesche but no where near the same quality. I also put it down to lack of experience in digging but luckily its the parents house and they dont mind me making a bit of a mess – or so they claim. Give it another day or two and I am sure I will be banned from detecting in the garden. This is something I need to get right before heading out to public places.

Further more I found tin foil, a fishing weight, a door hindge and lastly another 2 cent coin. This hobby certainly gives you a bit of a workout, the etrac is actually quite heavy and all the digging is a workout in itself but so far I am loving it and hey, its already paying for itself – 4 cents worth.

The E-trac has arrived

After working a double night shift and by night shift I literally mean I was working all through the night (22:30 to 06:30) controlling busy air traffic, it was a relief that my doorbell rang only at around 12:30 – usually the delivery guys are here bright and early at around 08:00, so although I wasnt happy to be getting out of bed, there was light at the end of the tunnel knowing who it was at the door. Besides 4 hours of sleep is plenty when you know there is a new toy to play with!

I placed the order on ebay only 8 days ago – the item needed to travel from Ann Arbor in USA to my shop and ship address in New York and from there shipped over to me in Dubai. 8 days, thats pretty impressive.

I ordered the bundle so it came with the Etrac detector, Garrett Pro Pointer, Minelab carry bag, Metal Beach Scoop, Pouch for collecting finds, a cover for the control box to protect it from dust and rain, The Minelab explorer and E-trac handbook and a Europe charger as the US one wont work here or in SA due do the difference in electrical voltages used. It arrived in one big box and was slightly worried due to the fragile nature of the detector, that perhaps something might have broken during transit but luckily all seems to be fine.

Right, time to put this thing together. All looks easy enough except for trying to get the coil wire through the shaft – if anyone has an E-trac you will know what I mean, trying to push the chord manually just doesnt work… and after much sleep deprivation and not being able to think out the box it was time for the next step, youtube “How to get the coil wire through the shaft of an e-trac”. Luckily a video popped up describing the exact problem I was facing and the solution was to tie some fishing line to the plug of the chord,  feed that through the shaft and then pull it through from the other side. Well, I dont have fishing line but I do have dental floss and that worked like a charm. Problem solved.

So E-trac was now up and running, it switched on but due to the fact that I am inside the apartment it was beeping like crazy, detecting all the pipes below the floor. So no real testing can be done but I am happy to know it works and it arrived in one piece.

I have been going through the book and yes it does seem like a lot to take in but I will get to grips with everything eventually. I have also been in email contact with Des Dunne from Minelab in Ireland who ironically happens to be mentioned in the book too, and he has also sent me some articles on the E-trac. So plenty of reading material to get me through the next couple of days.

As mentioned before, I am in Dubai at the moment but relocating back to South Africa at the end of the year. As much as I would love to go out and play with my new metal detector, this isnt the right place for it. I have no idea if its legal or not but knowing how this place works after living here for 3 years – there is no ways I am taking the risk. The problem with detecting here is the fact that no one really knows the laws as it is very uncommon so if the cop on the day thinks you doing something illegal, you gonna have a hard time getting out of it. For an example people have been arrested just for taking photos – make sure you know if there are any military buildings around before taking the picture you or you can land up in serious heat. So with only a month and a half to go, I am not taking any risks but just imagine the possibilities that lie on those beaches next to the 7 star hotel where the rich and famous play.

So the E-trac has now been disassembled and packed away ready to be shipped back to South Africa. That means this blog is going to become very quiet until after Christmas when I arrive back in SA and get to start playing again.

Until then, please browse our forums and keep on detecting.

Carlo - December 4, 2012 - 12:02 pm

you lucky…. the etrac is a good metaldetector, one of my friends had one and i had the chance to try it. wont detect very small metals like the mxt dos.

Deciding on a detector

So if you want to get into the world of metal detecting then I guess the first call of action would have to be a purchase of a metal detector.

For someone who knows absolutely jack about this hobby, this was a tough choice. I have been living in Dubai for the last 3 years but looking forward to returning back to SA at the end of the year – the reason I mention this is because I am presently in the worlds biggest shopping destination, however metal detectors are not something they have easily available here… if at all. I suppose why would one of the worlds richest countries need metal detectors anyway, if you want gold then just go and buy it – I suppose thats the philosophy here.

So that pretty much left me with ebay. The USA seem to have the best deals anyways, so why not order from there and just get it shipped to me in Dubai, seems easy enough.

I was browsing some of the international forums to try and get a feel of what a good detector for a newbie is and I would say the general consensus was a Garrett Ace 250. Yeah it seemed simple enough but to be honest I didnt like the look of it, seemed a bit plasticy and cheap looking. The cheap looking part probably has something to do with the price because it is actually quite cheap. It would appear a detector can cost anywhere from around $200 – $3000 and the Garrett definitely fell in the lower part of the price range.

My problem always is that I buy a starter product and then quickly want to upgrade to something better and better and ultimately it has cost me a lot more to get the one I really want. So I decided this time round, I am going straight for a detector that I wont need to upgrade in the near future – getting the best one I can afford. The Garrett 250 was not that!

So I found that Minelab has some great detectors and after hours of research I decide the Minelab 705 would be a great choice coming in at around $800. However, what would my main type of detecting be, land, dry sand, beach, wet sand? I really think I would be doing a lot of beach detecting and I believe the best part of the beaches would be the wet sand and just slightly into the water for the best finds. Some more reasearch and I realise the 705 is a great all round detector but better for dry sand and not great for wet sand and water detecting, so that threw that out of the equation.

Everyone keeps talking about the Minelab Etrac – wow this thing does look like a beast. Its good for dry sand, wet sand, saltwater – this thing looks good! After about reading through a gazillion reviews, this is the one I want. So order placed at around $1500 gets me the detector, a Garrett handheld probe, a beach scoop, a carry bag and handbook.

Now I am also led to believe that this is one of the most complicated detectors out there with a steep learning curve. This is definitely going to be a challenge, just learning how the the thing works never mind actually finding anything with it.

I am looking forward to it arriving so I can start learning and playing. I will get some pictures and update the blog when it arrives. Cant wait…

 

 

thecoilist - November 14, 2012 - 4:17 pm

You can’t go wrong with an Etrac. There is a LOT to learn about the machine. The best thing about not having one before buying the Etrac is the fact you don’t have that “learning curve” everyone talks about. It’s a fresh start.

Good luck!