Getting started in the hobby of metal detecting is fun and exhilarating. In a previous post, we listed ways in which to get the absolute most out of your first month detecting. Since swinging around a metal detector and deciphering signals is all new, it's important to take guidance. Among our tips: read your manual, run an air test with your detector and plant a test garden in your yard. This article details the best place to begin searching for metal treasures and exactly where to look (for successful results).
Local Parks are the Beginner's Go-to Destination
For your first outing, many experts recommend a “tot lot,” or the children's play area at the park. Reason being—it's really easy to dig there and you're likely to find a coin or two. What you're looking for is the area with wood chips or sand. Give a good, steady swing, keeping your search head flat. The most common mistake beginners make is lifting the head at the end of the swing. If you do this, you won't get the same depth as the middle of your swing. Also—very important—when you first start detecting, hunt in “All Metal Mode.” You'll get a feel for what all signals sound like. If your detector has them, test the pin-pointer function and check out the depth indicator.
After detecting in wood chips and sand, here are some other areas in the park that may yield treasure:
- Under and around benches, picnic tables and pavilions
- Underneath low branches or climbing areas (where upside-down activities take place)
- Around shady trees
- Under and around the swings and jungle gyms
- Along walking paths and bike trails
- The parking area and grass leading to/from the park
If you are hunting a busy park, it is probably best to leave your shovel in the car. Wielding heavy digging tools will draw a lot of attention—especially in a well-manicured park. Instead, a small scoop or hand trowel like the Lesche digging tool will work perfectly for retrieving your finds. It's very important to learn the proper way to dig plugs in these types of areas. Leaving holes and piles of dirt behind may draw disdain from other park visitors—which in turn could end your treasure hunting there. Play it safe by learning about digging etiquette and best tools for target retrieval.
Dig up Everything for the First 20 Hours of Detecting
Dig everything you hear for the first 20 hours or so. This is the best advice expert Tim Kerber, author of "Metal Detecting for Beginners and Beyond," can give. He says it is information he wished he had when he first started metal detecting. This way, you can make a mental note of how each object sounds. Is it a steady signal or is it jumping all over the place? Was it at the depth that your detector indicated? Start to guess BEFORE you dig up an item what it is. In a few months, you'll be good at identifying items before you dig them up. Extremely successful detectorists divulge that their secret is digging nearly everything all the time. The exception is targets which are obviously large—like a can or chunk of metal. People who are looking for valuable gold jewelry have to dig even signals they think are junk. A good way to know you're on the right track to finding gold jewelry is by digging up nickels and pull tabs. If you are being too picky with your signals, you are probably missing out on valuable gold rings.
After Your First Two Weeks Detecting, You'll be Hooked!
Experience is the best teacher. This is probably overstated, but you WILL get better over time. As you get comfortable with your metal detector, you'll learn its settings; along with its quirks, strengths and weaknesses. The beauty of metal detecting is that it's easy to become knowledgeable enough to quickly start enjoying the hobby.
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