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HugoBorchardt 08-23-2011 10:23 AM

Tips from 25 years detecting
Hi! I am a newbie to this forum, but have been a metal detecting nut in Mississippi and Tennessee for over 25 years. I currently hunt with a Garrett GTI 2500 and a GTP 1350. I primarily hunt old homesites and occasionally hunt battlegrounds.

I'd like to share a few tips from my experience, and hope that someone here finds one or more of these useful.

1) Know your metal detector! Learn every little thing about it! This sounds obvious, but I have often ran out screaming into the field with a new detector and used it for hours (or months) without knowing something very important about that model. Read the manual, then search for your detector model on and watch videos of others that are an expert with your detector.

Two commonly overlooked settings on a detector are Sensitivity and Frequency. My Garrett's factory setting is around 80% sensitivity! You can vary the depth and number of targets you hit by adjusting the sensitivity. You may want maximum sensitivity in areas where you are getting few hits, and may want reduced sensitivity in high trash areas. You can always go back over the area later with higher sensitivity after you have removed some "low hanging fruit" and major trash. Your detector ever start acting "Haywire"? It could be interference from another detector, powerline, or the like. Change the frequency!

2) Create a Test Patch and warmup before every session! Take an area free of any targets and bury some coins and trash at different depths. Scan this area for a few minutes prior to going out to make sure your batteries are good and your detector is working properly, and to get a feel for what a coin hit feels like. Nothing beats knowing you are digging a coin before you break the ground! Another advantage of warming up is that you can't say you didn't find anything! :lol:

3) Positive Thinking: Prior to commencing a hunt, envision yourself digging a gold coin up. Relive your greatest find ever in your memory. Try to mentally take yourself back in time and pretend that old homesite is still there, or the battle is raging, or kids are running through that park in 1905, or the congregation is singing inside that old abandoned church. You catch my drift? Get your mind in a winning state every time you go out! :grin:

4) Enjoy Yourself: I am outdoors and above ground if I don't find a darn thing! Take in and appreciate the history you are looking at. Don't let anything get you down. You are enjoying your sport.

Slumps happen. I happen to be in a slump right now, which I feel is mostly due to the hard dry ground in the Southern US during this hot summer. You feel better if you can identify a probable cause for the slump and not feel like the metal detector dieties are after you personally. Try to break the slump by mixing it up some - hunt a new area, think outside the box, try different settings, change your batteries....

5) Safety: Some of the dangers I have encountered during my days detecting are snakes, fire ants, open abandoned wells, glass, wasps, sunburn, and poison oak/ivy. Just be aware of your environment and take the proper precautions. Get permission to hunt, or you can add "Shotgun" to the list of safety hazards!

HOT TIP: If you are in a remote area, take plenty of water and some toilet paper with you. Thank me later.

6) Respect the area. Don't ruin the site by having someone come along and it looks like vandals have been there. Don't make someone regret giving you permission to hunt. Respect the dead and don't dig in cemeteries please. An old man once told me that as a metal detector user, you are one part historian, one part archeologist, and one part treasure hunter.

7) Share your finds! School children learning about history by viewing some of your finds in a display case at a local museum or from you first hand is the greatest joy you can ever get out of this hobby and is far more satisfying than finding gold. Trust me.

8) In old crumbling and abandoned homes that are still standing, I have the most luck in the area under the porch (often find coins under less than 1/2" of dust) and in the bottom of the inside of the outer walls. Look for chewed up very old newspaper. Rats hid coins over the years and I have found many silver coins like this without even having to use my detector.

9) In high trash areas, I like to move way out to the outskirts of the area where there is less trash and work my way in. I like to begin a hunt in a new area with no discrimination to get a feel for the concentration of trash. I usually switch to discrimination only if I am tired of hearing trash signals, or just to switch approaches because I am not finding anything.

10) To identify very old home sites in the woods where there are no obvious visible signs, look for anything out of place such as a depression in the ground that may have been a cellar or a well, or out of place stones or rocks. High areas nearby a water source are good candidates as well. Keep in mind the original road/roads may be long gone. A quick scan with the detector will hit nails and verify a structure was once there. Spending the time to find an old topographical tax map of an area is a huge shortcut. I carry one of the handheld Garmin GPS devices to mark sites in the deep woods so I can find them again. It also keeps me from getting lost like I was in the Blair Witch Project!

11) Don't be afraid to dig trash. I used to refuse to dig up anything that my discriminator didn't like. When I started digging up more trash, I started also digging up more treasure. Remember a gold ring shows up as a pull tab on the detector, and remember a gold coin could be lurking under that cola can you refuse to dig up. You know the one I'm talking about!

12) I love old driveways that are no longer visible from above ground. You can identify them because the ground will be very hard about 1 to 2" deep and has a dense concentration of small rocks in it. Old driveways hold great targets very shallow as they cannot sink. Once you think you have found one, survey the entire thing with a screwdriver or your shovel to get an idea of how the whole thing is layed out, and hunt it all on low sensitivity. Silver coins, jewelry and even a hood ornament to a 1950's Plymouth are some of the shallow targets I've found in such.

13) Use proper digging tools and cover your holes appropriately. My digging tool of choice is a drain spade/shovel!


14) Take a kid detecting! Pass along the hobby and teach the kid something. A kid that is detecting is probably not out getting in trouble. Not only are you being a positive role model, you can negotiate with the kid for half of his finds! Just kidding LOL! :lol: Detecting also can be fun for the entire family. My wife and daughter love it. If you only have one detector, take two shovels and alternate using the detector and digging holes. You'll dig more stuff!

15) Ever dig a giant pit and can't find what the detector is yelling about? Spend the money and get a good pinpointer probe! Thank the Lord (and by proxy the manufacturers) for these things. I like the Vibra Probe and the Garrett ProPointer.

16) Redig and rescan every hole you find a winner in. When I was a kid, I didn't have a metal detector, but I followed this guy around and dug coins out of the holes he had already extracted a target from and abandoned! True story. I like to spend the extra time to dig a few more inches and use my pinpointer one more time. Sometimes you will get an extra coin that your detector wouldn't have hit. Also, check your shovel. I've had a coin stuck to it with gummy mud before.

17) Take care of your detector. Don't sling it to the ground every time you get ready to dig. Keep it clean and dry and store it properly. Take the batteries out if you plan to store it for a long time. My Garretts are tough as nails, but these are expensive, sensitive instruments. Take care of your detector and it will take care of you.

Happy detecting. Best of luck to you, and thanks for reading:

Clark R.
Nashville, TN

new jersey andy 08-23-2011 10:29 AM

:goodpost: Thanks for the great tips!

OZARKS 08-23-2011 11:18 AM

Good word!:cool: Welcome

Steely_Ray 08-23-2011 11:24 AM

Now that is a quality first post!!! Thank you!!!

Ark 08-23-2011 11:25 AM

Great tips

The Rebel 08-23-2011 12:32 PM

Mods Please Make This A Sticky!
This is one of the all time best posts I've ever read! There are so many AWESOME tips in this post, we can't afford to let this one turn to dust.

For the newbie, this is a MUST READ!

Thanks for all of the time & effort you put into this. You've given me a few good ideas for a trashy site I've been working!

Thanks & HH!

:goodpost: :gottaluv: :hat3: :clap:

Brittany-Guy 08-23-2011 12:37 PM

I'd vote for this to be Sticky. :yes: :yes:

Thanks for a 'keeper' post and Welcome to the forum.

Your on my 'must read' list now.

Thatsit 08-23-2011 01:09 PM

Very informative post for sure.....Best 1st post I've seen since I've been on here...Nice Job and Welcome.

pulltabMiner 08-23-2011 01:17 PM

This post has better, more useful information than some of the books on md'ing out there. I can really tell from these tips that you are indeed an experienced metal detectorist.

Thank you for sharing!

SeabeeRon 08-23-2011 01:21 PM

Thanks and WELCOME Clark!! I hope you will do an "Intro" post in the General section and become an active member of this Forum. We can all benefit from your experiance!:yes:

mamahound 08-23-2011 01:35 PM

As a newbie, I find this post a valuable read. You can bet that I will print this out and keep it for a reference close at hand. Thanks and I hope you post more and often!:thankyou:

whynot 08-23-2011 09:40 PM

Thank you very much

Dug13 08-23-2011 10:05 PM

Tips galore!!
Thanks for sharing a quarter century of tips. It's always great to hear from seasoned veterans.

(Heavy) 08-23-2011 10:24 PM


This one right here tells me a lot about you ;) I see too many lose that expectation you had when you first started detecting.

3) Positive Thinking: Prior to commencing a hunt, envision yourself digging a gold coin up. Relive your greatest find ever in your memory. Try to mentally take yourself back in time.

I'm hanging on to this voice of experience and look forward to hearing more from you.

BountyHunter 08-24-2011 01:45 AM

Thank you for the Gift post
Welcome to the Friendly Metal Detecting Forum.

What a great first post.

Much thanks for sharing with us and hope to read more from you.

Again, welcome!

Thatsit 08-24-2011 01:46 AM

And since you have been in the game for so long...where did you drop your coins.....I wanna find them...LOL...:lol:

Charlives 08-24-2011 05:51 AM

Good job, thanks

Doggy Daddy 08-24-2011 09:01 AM

Great post, loaded with many great tips. Thanks for posting.

Countrybob71 08-26-2011 03:00 AM

Great post. Thanks for taking the time!

stewart73 08-26-2011 05:23 AM

Lots of great information in there - thanks! :yes:

LIBear 08-26-2011 06:40 AM

First off I would like to say welcome to the forum from Long Island NY.
I also wanted to say thanks for such a well informed post.

hellomikie92 08-28-2011 11:02 AM

Awesome post! This will help me a lot! And Welcome to the Forum!

sofiap 09-06-2011 09:15 AM

Wonderful Post
Thank you so much for some great tips! What a wonderful post! It will be alongside my metal detecting books for studying and rereading again.

DFX WannaBee 09-08-2011 07:39 PM

Thank You
Thanks Clark,

Your my kinda guy, willing to share your knowledge to the benefit of others.
I love the Positive, I"m gonna find it", attitude.


roycewillard 09-11-2011 05:33 PM

Thats so cool!
Thanks man, and I love the part about the kiddos, those little rascals love to dig , and I want to make a setup place in the sand on my place here. I have one spot thats flat and about 30 acres of sandy soil where I can bury pennys and things and just let them go crazy out there, They would be hooked. :lol:

phifly04 09-16-2011 12:41 PM

Excellent reading,nicely done
appreciate it and HH

RedHawk357Mag 09-18-2011 09:43 AM

Excellent Sir! Thanks for taking the time to put that together.

MoBob 09-18-2011 10:01 AM

Everything you stated is true , and great advice , will foresure benefit those just getting started ,and a great job covering everything .

scash 09-18-2011 11:38 AM


wv digger 09-19-2011 07:41 PM

Hi and thanks Clark,

What a good post lots of very useful information for a newbee like me. I have a Whites Prizm II as a starter detector. There is a lot of information out and can confuse you even more, but your post puts it very simply and easy to understand. Thanks again for helping a new guy here.


coinMD64 09-19-2011 08:43 PM

Thanks for posting these valuable tips on metal detecting!!! I will learn from your tips when I will go MDing. Thanks!!!!:D

Spartan84 09-19-2011 10:54 PM

You are very wise yoda.:lol: thanks for the tips and HH!

rosedoctor 10-19-2011 12:36 AM

Great information!
I am new and have only been beach detecting, but I love old things and am looking forward to going to old sites....

I especially liked the tip about re-examining spots where you have found something before - thanks!

Los Angeles area
Since August 2011

quo155 10-24-2011 05:39 PM

Great, very useful information! As a newbie, I needed this...

Now, where did this wise man go? One post...this one and no others!!!???

MikeSatter 10-24-2011 05:49 PM

Great Information and thanks for sharing!!!

rivvers 10-24-2011 06:14 PM

Great tips,
couple i would like to add,
i dont know about other places but here in the south we have small Yellow Jackets that live in holes in the ground, if you get to close or make to much noise near them they will attack, bring wasp spray and hit the holes as soon as you see em,

also pepper spray will knock a Bear out cold.

Dorado 10-27-2011 07:09 AM

thanks for sharing these precious tips

I would only add, don't spend a fortune on every high level detector you hear about, detector value doesn't equals finds, save the money for fuel :yes:

grinsebring 10-27-2011 07:31 AM

Welcome to "Friendly"
Great first post. Stick around, this forum is all about helping out the new
people. Your experience and positive attitude will go a long way...Gil

Perquimans 10-27-2011 09:12 PM

Thank you very much for sharing your experience in the forum...

pine3874 12-25-2011 10:44 PM

Thanks for the great post.

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