Metal detecting may seem easy to learn, and the hobby is simple. Nonetheless, there are a number of mistakes that people frequently make when first starting out. If you’re going metal detecting for the first time, avoid these seven mistakes to increase the chances of finding something valuable.
- Not Getting Permission to Go Detecting
Being ticketed for trespassing is sure to make your outing memorable, but getting a citation isn’t exactly how people like to remember their metal detecting experiences.
To make sure you aren’t ticketed for trespassing and can legally keep any loot you find, obtain permission before you start walking over any property. You can check with local authorities to find out whether detecting is allowed on nearby public lands and whether permits are required.
For access to private lands, request permission from the property owner. Local tax records will show who the property owner is if you’re unsure.
- Not Bringing Proper Digging Equipment
In many cases, finding something beneath the ground is the easy part of metal detecting. The real work starts once you need to dig up the item.
You’re going to need a shovel to dig items up, but there isn’t one shovel for every type of detecting. Consider whether you’ll be digging in sand, loose soil, or dry clay, for this will determine how strong the shovel must be. Also think about how large the items you expect to find will be, as this will determine whether you can use a spade or need something larger.
- Not Studying the Local History
Although you might find an earring, newer coin, or other common object while detecting in high-traffic places, the real treasures usually aren’t found where people spend time today. Instead, they’re historic artifacts that are discovered where people used to spend their time.
To find out where people used to spend their time, study the local history. Read history books on the region, and talk to old-timers who remember how things used to be. Any insight on where there used to be a baseball park, farmers market, or defunct business might help you discover something truly unique — and potentially valuable.
- Not Leaving the Patina Alone
Should you find an antique item or historic artifact, it will likely have a patina. This is a green or brown film that develops over many old metals, and it generally increases the value of an item.
Many beginners will clean the patina in order to get at the original metal, but doing so is often not the best idea since it lowers the item’s value. Before cleaning anything that’s old, check with an antique dealer or someone else who’s familiar with the values of old items to see whether cleaning is advised. They’ll be able to tell you if cleaning will impact the item’s worth.
- Not Mapping the Area You’re Covering
Whether you’re able to cover a lot of ground or only a little, failing to map where you’ve walked can result in revisiting the same terrain later. Even if you think you’ll remember where you walked, get a map and draw where you went detecting. Mark any place you found an item, and note whether it was worth digging up.
Over time, remembering exactly where you’ve gone metal detecting will become increasingly difficult. These maps, therefore, will become increasingly valuable. You’ll be able to see where you have gone, what areas are worth revisiting, and what areas you should avoid. Eventually, this information will even help you predict what other areas might be worth going over.
- Not Using a Pin pointer
Metal detectors are effective at determining whether there are any metal objects below the surface, but they scan a fairly wide area and aren’t the most precise instruments available. Just going off of a metal detector’s findings will result in lots of digging, as you must dig up the entire area that the detector checks.
To reduce how much time you spend digging, invest in a pin pointer to complement your metal detector. A pin pointer is more precise and can tell you exactly where a metal object is located underground.
- Not Getting the Right Metal Detector
As is true with any kind of equipment, you can choose from several different types of metal detectors. These range in size, weight, precision, and purpose. Some are made specifically for coins and artifacts, while others are designed to help people detect raw gold. Using the wrong detector will lead to fewer results and more frustration.
Don’t assume that all metal detectors are the same and just purchase the cheapest or the one that has the most features. Determine what you want to go detecting for, how large a piece of equipment you’re willing to carry, and what features are must-haves. Make a decision with all of these factors taken into account, and you’ll end up with a detector that’s good for you.
If you don’t yet have a metal detector, let Rocky Mountain Coin recommend one that will suit your needs.