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Detecting in Massachusetts

Clizz

New Member
Joined
May 14, 2021
Messages
1
Hello!

I am new to metal detecting and I am looking for some advice. I live in Brookline, Ma and the laws surrounding metal detecting are a little confusing for MA. Does anyone have any recommendations on public lands that are good spots to search, and information on to contact the supervisor so that I can get permission? I really want to make sure I am by the book while still having fun!

Thanks!
 

Tom_in_CA

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Dec 23, 2013
Messages
18,470
.... the laws surrounding metal detecting are a little confusing for MA....

Maybe you can let us know what is "confusing" about them ? If it doesn't say "no md'ing", then it's not disallowed. Or maybe it says "no md'ing". Either way: What's "confusing" ? Or are you referring to *ancillary* verbiage that *might* apply (if you stood on one foot and squinted real hard). Let us know what you mean by "confusing".

... and information on to contact the supervisor so that I can get permission?...

Since when does metal detecting "need permission" ? If it's not disallowed, the presto, it's not prohibited . Just like kite flying or skipping stones on the pond: Does those things "need permission" ? (you might poke someone's eye out after all)

Or have you seen something that says "With permission" ? If so, please link us to that. I have a sneaking suspicion of where that's going to lead. But the bottom line is: If it's not a forbidden activity, then, no, you don't "need permission".
 

BottleCapKing

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Joined
Aug 8, 2011
Messages
2,140
Location
Central Mass
As general practice, state and federal land is generally off limits. You can usually get permission to hunt the beaches in state parks. As far as public parks go, hunt away. Unless it is posted at the park, it is fair game. Worst thing they can do is ask you to leave. Do not that some public parks are designated as federal/state historic sites and hunting there is of course not recommended. Such areas are usually well marked and it is very clear you should not hunt there. Public fresh water beaches are fair game (unless a state park, and in that case you need to talk to the rangers to get permission). Pretty sure public spaces such as the Boston Common and Lexington Green are off limits as they are more likely than not "National Historic Sites". Old North Bridge is of course a national/state park and is off limits as well. Other off limits places of note - The Quabbin Watershed, Plumb Island, Cape Code National Sea Shore (which covers a lot more of the Cape than just beachs - so be careful), Minuteman National Park. Common sense rules the roost here.
 

BottleCapKing

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Aug 8, 2011
Messages
2,140
Location
Central Mass
Also, keep in mind that if a place is labled as part of the "National Historic Registry" it does not mean it is unhuntable. The NHR designation only regulates what the owners of the land can do to it. You can still hunt those properties, provided they are not private land (and you do not have permission) or if they public land and it is not posted - for example: Rogers Field (the old parade grounds) at Devens. Last I checked it wasn't posted, though they do hold a lot of sporting events there so tread carefully.
 

Tom_in_CA

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Dec 23, 2013
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18,470
As general practice, state and federal land is generally off limits. .....

I would change that around to substitute the word "rare" in place of "general".

Obvious sensitive historic monuments ? SURE ! NPS ? Sure. But federal land like BLM and NFS is not off-limits. And those comprise the lion's share of federal land.

And as for state land, don't forget that not all state land, is state PARK land. There are other forms of state land in each state. And as for the state's whose state parks *do* have a specific "no md'ing" rule : Those can be isolated and found out (and I have a sneaking suspicion of why those came-to-be). And others, where you find something that says "With permission" are a subject unto-themselves : You might just be reading "commentary", not actual rule or law. Thus, no, you don't need to show up at each kiosk grovelling.

Or the commentary might say: "don't alter or deface", or "harvest or remove". Yet if you study closely, it never says anywhere "no md'ing". So in CA state parks for example, there's nothing *specific* that says "no md'ing". So we hunt them all the time (assuming it's not a historic sensitive monument). And hunt state of CA beaches till we're blue in the face. And ... no ... there's no one to ask "can I?" at each one :roll:
 

grf1868

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Joined
Mar 8, 2021
Messages
170
State parks, state forests and many other public land in MA,is managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation(DCR) paragraph below is from their website. Mass Wildlife who oversee all the wildlife management areas use very similar wording in their rules and restrictions.

“No Person shall use or offer to use metal detectors on Department property except at the discretion of the area Supervisor on designated swimming beaches and designated campsites. The Director may issue a special use permit authorizing archaeologically-related or geologically related activities.”

“Metal detecting is allowed on beach and campsite areas with permission of the Park Supervisor”


And this is my favorite.


“witness someone using a metal detector. Call the DCR archaeologist. Metal detectors aren't allowed on DCR property for 2 reasons: they damage the landscape, and they're often used with intent to “loot” and “pot-hunt” state land. Their use is subject to Massachusetts General Law Chapter 92, Section 37, as amended”


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HistoryHippy

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2018
Messages
415
Location
Southwest ohio
Get permission and then get hassled by the misled public.

Not posted or defined rules and regulations go hunt!

It irks me when the "officials" try to get citizens to report on other citizens. This is supposed to be the United States of America not East Germany.
Like some kind of Metal Detecting Red Flag Law.
 

Tom_in_CA

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Dec 23, 2013
Messages
18,470
.....“No Person shall use or offer to use metal detectors on ..

grf1868, no doubt that is *specific* wording. Not ancillary "catch-all" stuff that we can all promptly ignore. But I have a sneaking suspicion on how all that specific wording became necessary, way-back-whenever it was introduced.

You can probably look up the chapter & verses that you cited, and often time they will have little fine print as when those specifics came into being. And then you have to wonder "Gee, I guess it was ok prior to this date ?" And "Gee, what caused them to all-of-the-sudden enact this " ?

I realize that your citations/quotes are riddled with archie rationales (cultural heritage, blah blah). So we md'rs will mutter under our breath: "DURNED THEM ARCHIES". As if those archies just sit around in their ivory castle desks dreaming up rules to make our lives miserable .

But IMHO : What is it, that PUT it on that archie's desk, in-need-of-him needing to make that decision IN THE FIRST PLACE ? I suppose it's *possible* that a bored archie just happen-chanced passing by an md'r, decades ago, out on the beach or forest. And thought "Oh me oh my, we need to make a law". This scenario is entirely possible. But me thinks there's a more plausible history (since I've seen it repeated over and over) : I'll bet that past md'rs decades ago (bless their little hearts) went in there asking "Can I ?" questions. Which, in turn, get passed up the chain of desks, till it lands on an archie's desk. :mad:
 

grf1868

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Mar 8, 2021
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170
I agree with you Tom, it’s likely someone asking for permission that got the rule put on the books in the first place, just wanted to point out there isn’t much interpretation needed with that one. Most times the rules do read exactly like you say with catch all phrases that isn’t about MD’ing at all but we interpret them that way. But in this case and also the Army Corp of Engineers who own a lot of property in MA have a similar rule specifically saying no metal detecting on federal land.


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Bioheat1969

Senior Member
Joined
May 4, 2021
Messages
259
Location
Dudley, MA
Down here in Dudley Massachusetts, if I'm in doubt, I call my local police dept. And very politely explain what I'm doing and where I want to do it and get their blessing. I always make sure to write down the officer's name in case I have a patrolling officer stop me and ask.
 

grf1868

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Mar 8, 2021
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How have the police responded when you’ve called? Ive thought about that. At least if someone calls them they can be like “yeah we know”


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Tom_in_CA

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Dec 23, 2013
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18,470
Down here in Dudley Massachusetts, if I'm in doubt, I call my local police dept. And very politely explain what I'm doing and where I want to do it and get their blessing. I always make sure to write down the officer's name in case I have a patrolling officer stop me and ask.

I've heard of this preventative tactic before : Don't call the park's dept. Instead: call the police dept. Because, after all, it's the police that would be doing any sort of enforcement. And it's them that "know the laws". Eh? And let's be perfectly honest: They have "bigger fish to fry". And thus would be the most likely to say: "Go ahead, have a ball". Right ? What's not to love about all these ingredients, right ? :?: HOWEVER , people's attempts at this (gleaning from forum posts about this) have been met with the following results :

1) What do you do if they just say "no you can't" ? (because perhaps they have images of geeks with shovels). But they don't cite any chapter or verse law/rule that says "no md'ing" ?

2) What do you do if they tell you "Call the park's dept. That's not our domain" ?

3) What do you do if they say: "Sure. Go ahead". And then later, if someone gripes, you cite the "officer's name" (as you said-to-do). And the griper gets on the phone, calls that police officer and says : ".... But he's tearing the place up !" (which isn't true, of course). And you are promptly chastised for having gotten permission under false pretenses (for failing to mention "dig" and "holes").

So I don't understand why a person can't simply look up laws and rules for oneself ? Why does it need a police officer's "blessing" (your words, not mine) ? :?: If it's not disallowed, why ask for anyone's blessing ? Why risk the "no one cared UNTIL you asked" routine ? :?:
 

Bioheat1969

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Joined
May 4, 2021
Messages
259
Location
Dudley, MA
I've heard of this preventative tactic before : Don't call the park's dept. Instead: call the police dept. Because, after all, it's the police that would be doing any sort of enforcement. And it's them that "know the laws". Eh? And let's be perfectly honest: They have "bigger fish to fry". And thus would be the most likely to say: "Go ahead, have a ball". Right ? What's not to love about all these ingredients, right ? :?: HOWEVER , people's attempts at this (gleaning from forum posts about this) have been met with the following results :

1) What do you do if they just say "no you can't" ? (because perhaps they have images of geeks with shovels). But they don't cite any chapter or verse law/rule that says "no md'ing" ?

2) What do you do if they tell you "Call the park's dept. That's not our domain" ?

3) What do you do if they say: "Sure. Go ahead". And then later, if someone gripes, you cite the "officer's name" (as you said-to-do). And the griper gets on the phone, calls that police officer and says : ".... But he's tearing the place up !" (which isn't true, of course). And you are promptly chastised for having gotten permission under false pretenses (for failing to mention "dig" and "holes").

So I don't understand why a person can't simply look up laws and rules for oneself ? Why does it need a police officer's "blessing" (your words, not mine) ? :?: If it's not disallowed, why ask for anyone's blessing ? Why risk the "no one cared UNTIL you asked" routine ? :?:

How have the police responded when you’ve called? Ive thought about that. At least if someone calls them they can be like “yeah we know”


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So first we're a very small town, if it's no it's no, I just go find somewhere else to detect. We don't have a parks department in our town, so it's the police or the roads department(Town Garage), the roads department won't even give me the time of day. The police on the other hand really appreciate me calling them and giving them a heads up on what I'm up to. I've even had a couple of patrols walk along with me as I go and chat me up. I honestly think they were just making sure I was really being as neat as I say I am with my digging. They even let me scan the poperty the police station is built on, got a IHP there. All in all it's been a positive experience. Only once did they have to come and check on me because of a caller, someone saw me on the town beach with a pair of binoculars and told the police I was there with a weapon in my hand (metal detector) lol. She saw me from the other side of the pond.
 
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grf1868

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Mar 8, 2021
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170
Wow that’s definitely a positive response from the police, makes it easy on you
That they already know you, they won’t be on edge responding to a guy with a weapon when they know it’s just a detector. It amazes me the things people think we are doing. I had two different people tell me they thought I was bow hunting, and one guy asked how the fishing was?..lol...what?


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RockieBoston

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May 19, 2020
Messages
164
Location
Boston, Massachusetts
I have been very, very careful detecting in Brookline and generally don't go there at all. It's about the most uptight town on the planet and people will call the police for pretty much any disturbance. You ever read the police blotter? "Caller reported a turkey in their driveway."

Be inconspicuous and be really friendly if approached. And for God's sake wear a mask if they haven't changed the mask ordinance yet. FILL YOUR HOLES!

Or go out to the burbs where things are more spread out and people are a bit chiller.
 

RockieBoston

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May 19, 2020
Messages
164
Location
Boston, Massachusetts
Also I got kicked out of Franklin Park a couple weeks back. My advice is to wait till the motorbike controversy and increase police presence dies down before going there.
 

Brucem

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Sep 9, 2010
Messages
134
Location
MA
Haven't been here in ages but I'm retired now so I have time. I have asked one person on a site and told it was OK only to be told by another to just go away.
I think the best advice is stay away from people, and fill your holes !.
best way to leave a site at all is to leave it just like you found it.
I am also in MA and I think that Salem, MA would be the best place to go, but its off limits. I can only imagine everything that could be found there.
 

Tom_in_CA

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Dec 23, 2013
Messages
18,470
Brucem, loved your post. You summed it up nicely. The problem with grovelling (thinking we need express yes's) is:

.... was OK only to be told by another to just go away.....

Yes. Far too many md'rs march away triumphantly, with their "yes" in hand (from some desk jockey) . Thinking this means carte-blanche to detect nilly willy in nice manicured turf. Only to find some busy-body in the field who gripes. So the md'r proudly whips out his "permission". Only to have it promptly yanked.

So you have to ask yourself then: What was the point of all that ?

When are we md'rs going to realize that md'ing has 'connotations' ? And no amount of grovelling ahead of time changes that ! And no amount of whipping out your "permission" changes that. You are NEVER going to get "red carpets rolled out for you" !

Thus I like your conclusion:


.... the best advice is stay away from people,.....

Yup. Kind of like nose-picking : You don't go seeking permissions. Instead, you .... uh ... opt for discreet times so as not to offend the squeamish. :roll:
 

Bill_Ace_350

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Apr 26, 2011
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1,326
Location
Upstate New York
Easy for me to decide whether to hunt a piece of property.

Posted/No Trespassing areas means i don't hunt there(unless I have asked for and received permission)

Public property that doesn't specifically prohibit metal detecting I will hunt.

Public property that specifically prohibits metal detecting i will not hunt.

Cemeteries are off limits to me.

I won't ask about metal detecting on public property if it isn't expressly prohibited by signage, or otherwise published/available sources such as website, brochures etc.

I don't worry about phrases like "disturb", "deface", "dig" etc., as long as dogs !!!! and pee on the same ground, soccer cleats, baseball cleats do much worse.....

Don't sneak around. If you aren't prohibited from hunting, do it with as much enthusiasm and confidence anyone else using the same real estate exhibit.
 
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