How To Use Metal Detectors
1) Read Up On Your Metal Detector, Get Familiar With It
Metal detectors are all different. Even if you’re vaguely familiar with metal detecting or have it done it before, each metal detector you use is going to have a different methodology and different features for you to parse through.
Before you head out treasure hunting to find your target item of choice, it pays to get familiar with what your particular metal detector can and can’t do. Read the instructions. Watch YouTube video demonstrating its use. If you really want to hit the ground running (and digging), you gotta know what your machine is capable of!
There are three main types of metal detectors for treasure hunters to familiarize themselves with:
- Beat Frequency Oscillation Detectors — A basic detector which uses two coils at different frequencies. Considered the weakest of the three main types of metal detector, the history books will show just how ineffective these are compared to the next two types. These are the detectors you’ll usually find in retail electronic stores.
- VLF Detectors — VLF detectors are a much more advanced version of a two-coil machine. One coil transmits a powerful electrical current while the second receives and amplifies signals fed through the main coil. VLF detectors are usually the device of choice for gold prospecting as they’re effective at finding targets in the ground with a lower magnetic pulse. SomG come with coil covers to protect the two search coils.
- Pulse Induction Detectors — PI detectors use a single coil (or a band of coils functioning as one coil) and rely on echolocation and a jolt of electrical current which pulsates through the coil. This is the newest version of a metal detector and it’s much more effective at picking up targets with a higher magnetic pulse than a VLF detector.
It would be a good idea to have this information before you purchase your metal detector so when you want to find something, you can find that certain something without hesitation or problems.
In addition to the type of detector, you’re going to want to familiarize yourself with the common features of metal detectors and how your device stacks up. Some of these features include:
- Ground Balance — Ground balance keeps your metal detector from going crazy over trace iron in highly mineralized soil, or losing its effectiveness when surrounded by potential false targets. Ground balance dictates how much iron the detector should ignore in its pursuit of real treasure. Some detectors have manual ground balancing as an option, while others just have an automatic setting.
- Different Detection Modes — A detection mode tailors your detector to find a certain type of metal. Quality metal detectors have multiple detection modes for things such as jewelry, trinkets, coins, and even gold. These pre-set modes are huge for beginners who aren’t sure how to tweak their machine for each circumstance.
- Sensitivity Adjustment — If you’re in urban areas where there’s other metal objects such as dumpsters and sign posts, your metal detector could go crazy with false signals. That’s where sensitivity controls come in. It helps you tune those metal distractions out and focus your device on the real stuff. That’s what the people want!
- Discrimination — If you don’t want to bust out your digging tool for every piece of iron-laden trash buried in the soil, you’re going to need a metal detector with proper discrimination segments. Discrimination settings help you zero in on real treasures in areas where the detector could be fooled by metallic garbage.
One last thing — give your metal detector a trial run before heading out on your first search. Your particular search coil may be extremely sensitive when paired with the pre-set modes of the detector. You might need to adjust things to ensure that you can effectively find the jewelry, coins, relics, good nuggets, and other treasures you’re looking for!
2) Put Together A Kit Of Digging Tools And Other Accessories
If you don’t have the right digging tool to get to the treasure you want, you’re better off not finding it in the first place! And that’s just one of the accessories you’re going to need to turn your bounty hunting into real bounties:
- Digging Tool — We just mentioned it, but it bears repeating. You need the right digging tool for the ground conditions you’re going to be working with. If you’re beach hunting, a sand scoop is an crucial tool. You don’t really need a shovel for packed soil or harder dirt. You can use a trowel or Lesche digger and also protect the integrity of the digging site.
- Good Headphones — You want to be able to differentiate the signals fed from your metal detector, so a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones with volume control may be the difference between bypassing treasure and finding it.
- Quality Gloves — You never know what kind of trash you’re going to find digging for your target of choice. There’s glass, scrap metal, and other items which could cut you quickly without proper gloves. Safety is a priority when metal detecting and treasure hunting.
- Protective Eyewear — If you have sensitive eyes and don’t want to risk getting dust and dirt kicked up into them, it may be good to consider goggles or protective glasses.
- Coil Cover — Some detectors have coil covers which come stock and others don’t. Search coils can be extremely delicate and expensive to replace. Protecting them is a really smart idea.
There’s also the option of bringing a cheap pinpointer with you which can help zero in on the location of the target your main detector has found. It’s not a crucial buy, but some people swear by them in their pursuit of saving time when working to find something.
3) Find The Right Search Site To Hunt For You (And Your Detector)
Metal detecting is such an amazing hobby which can also prove lucrative in the right places. However, you need to be aware of a couple things before you take the plunge.
First, there are some places where you simply are not allowed to go metal detecting. Unless you have the permission of the land’s owner, private property is a no-go. In addition, metal detectors are not permitted on some government-owned lands without express written consent. If you’re unsure if your site of choice is a legal option, take the time and find out before you go on an excursion. You don’t want to risk fines or even potential incarceration.
With that out of the way, lets list the locales which may be prime pickings for your metal detector:
- Historical Sites (Older Sites)
- Public Parks
- Private Property (With Permission)
- Resort Areas
- Highly Trafficked Urban Areas
- Suburban Man-Made Lakes (With Permission
One thing you should pay attention to as well is what your particular metal detector is strongest at. Some are better in urban areas than others. Some have waterproof casing which makes beach hunting that much easier and safer. Do a little research into your particular detector and find a search site which gives you the best chance for treasure hunting success!
4) Put Together A Winning Metal Detecting Technique
While different people have different ways of handling a metal detector, there are techniques out there which are more effective than others and that will safeguard you from potential injury.
The number one thing you’re going to want to practice is swinging your detector. Relax your arm as best you can and hover the metal detector’s search head right above the ground. Hold the detector about 24 inches out, but also ensure that your arm is comfortable with the position it’s in.
(Some detectors come with adjustable armrests, so use that if things start to find strained.)
From there, you’re going to want to swing the detector in a half circle going about 12 inches to your left and to your right. Try to keep a straight path and pay attention to areas you’ve already searched.
Once you’ve zeroed in on your target, don’t just start digging a hole! You’re going to want to dig a plug instead which can be replaced and saves grassroots from being killed by your efforts. Here are the steps for digging out a plug:
- With your digging tool, you’re going to want to serrate the soil in a horseshoe shape above the target’s location. Cut about three inches deep and don’t cut a whole circle. Cutting this deep will make it easier to preserve the grassroots.
- Again with your digging tool, flip the soil plug to one side and be careful not to disconnect it from the side which isn’t cut. This creates a little trap door and makes it easier to plug it back in.
- Check inside the hole to see if you can spot the target. If not, look at the plug and see if it’s in there. You can use a pinpointer to determine this if you have one.
- When you decide to dig, disconnect the soil plug and set it on a small towel for later. If not, replace any lost soil and the plug and move along.
- If you do dig, make doubly sure that there isn’t more items in your hole before you replace the soil and plug. Treasures often are grouped together and you may miss out on a score if you’re not careful!
- After refilling the hole and putting the plug back in, step on the soil to cake it back together. Then, fluff up the grass back to its original form.
People should understand that metal detecting doesn’t have to be an invasive process. You can have fun with the hobby and protect the environment in which you’re searching! It’s a piece of cake, even if it’s a bit more work.
5) Remember Safety And Proper Planning
Metal detecting is a fun hobby for people of all ages. It does take a ton of patience and planning to turn the hobby into actual relics, coins, and jewelry. However, if you take the steps outlined above and understand your metal detector for what it does and can do, you’ll be in great shape.
One thing you don’t want to do is be cavalier about your metal detecting. As stated before, private lands and government-owned property are not to be searched upon unless you have the okay from the owner or governmental service overseeing the land.
In addition, be aware of your surroundings at all times. This is especially important when detecting at night. If you’re in a forest or beach area, there are animals which could be either spooked by what you’re doing or way too intrigued for your good and theirs.
There’s also the consideration of other people around you. If you don’t know someone and they seem way too interested in what you’re doing, keep an eye on them or move into a more well-lit area. Don’t put yourself at risk just because you think a locale is rife with potential treasures.
As with any hobby conducted in areas accessible to the public, proper awareness will safeguard both yourself and those around you.
6) Go For It (And Have Fun!)
Some purchase metal detectors looking to make money, and that’s okay. However, what it should really be about is having fun and enjoying something which expands your horizons. You may end up finding a ton of jewelry worth a bounty, or you may find nothing but bottle caps and soda cans.
However, knowing what you’re doing and what you’re working with will give you the space to play and enjoy it. If you spend three hours having fun and don’t find anything (and you do safely and correctly), you’ll still have accomplished something and come out feeling like a million bucks.
Even if you don’t happen to find a single buck.