I am a member of several different metal detecting Facebook pages and forums and there are always two main questions that I see that beginners ask. 1. What machine should I buy? 2. Where is a good place to metal detect? The answer to the first one I will discuss in a future blog post. The one I want to tackle today is the second.
The best place for a brand-new detectorist to hone their skills is public parks or your own property. I say this because the art of digging holes and making sure you do not destroy someone's personal property is a learned one. Will you find a ton of stuff in parks? Yes. Is it the type of stuff you want to find? Usually not. There are always exceptions. Could you find a silver coin or gold ring in a public park? Yes. You should always do your best to follow the Code of Ethics for metal detecting. The two most important rules are “Leave no trace” and “Always get permission”. If you are unsure if you are allowed to metal detect at a park, I would always seek permission from the local parks department or city government. Here in Texas there are not very many parks that I am aware of that do not allow metal detecting.
When you first start metal detecting, I would focus on three main things to better your detecting skills.
- Learn your machine and what the sounds it makes are telling you. Most newer machines have some form audio discrimination. Low tones – mid tones – high tones. These are key in telling what you are about to dig.
- Learn how to use your machines built in pinpoint feature, this is one of the biggest factors in digging a good plug/hole. There are several ways to do it. Some people draw and x more or less finding the spot where the pinpoint sound is the loudest where they intersect. Some people use a method where you slowly back off the target until the pinpoint sound fades and then the target should be at the tip of your coil. I have used both ways and they are both very effective.
- Practice digging a plug. Digging a good plug is key to being able to make it look like you were never there. It's also key in making sure you do not hit your target with your shovel.
Once you have a good understanding of your machine and have the ability to dig holes/plugs and make it look like you were never there I would focus on private permissions. I have found tons of silver coins and other good finds throughout the years on private land but not many at public places. The single best thing you can do to get private permissions is door knock. This is a touchy subject with some people because they feel like they are intruding or bothering people. I have door knocked 1,000’s of houses and get more people that say yes then no. I have had a few instances where the homeowner or property owner was upset that I even asked or bothered them but not many at all.
I focus on older houses in the area I live in and have a set way of asking that goes something like this. Hello sir or mam, my name Is Ryan. Sorry to bother you today but I couldn’t help but admire the beauty of your old home. What year was it built? That is awesome. I sure do love these old homes and the history behind them. I have one more weird question for you. Have you ever let anyone Metal Detect your property? I have been in this hobby for many years and would love to detect your property. I will make sure that I take any trash with me and any holes that are dug are very small and the way I dig them you will not even be able to tell I was here. As crazy as that sounds it works!
The biggest thing about door knocking and being successful is confidence. You can’t let a no get you down. I have been out door knocking before where it seems like every house says no. I don’t let it get to me and move on to the next. "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." -Wayne Gretzky