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Metal Detector

Should I Dig those metal detector finds?

By Dan Breitenstein 

It's simply amazing what lies buried beneath the ground we walk over every day. The lion's share of us seek the elusive silver and thank our lucky stars when we hit the odd gold object. Many detectorists never have the opportunity to see the golden glitter in our hand and never know the pride of such a find. This is sad in a way, because it's not the machine we're using and it's not necessarily our hunting ground, it's more than likely our own fault.

I have received numerous accounts of amazing finds with the simplest machines that I find totally astounding. But upon closer examination, there is a very simple reason for their success. Most of these finds were made by folks that are totally unimpressed by discrimination and tend to dig more targets than others choose to dig.

Discrimination is probably the greatest metal detecting development that has ever hit the market, but many, many detectorists over use it, myself included. It's a great feature to use if all you want to find are silver and copper coins and for the quick jaunt to the local fairgrounds. But most of us think that if we use it, we should never dig a pull-tab again.

Unfortunately, there isn't a metal detector out on the market today that can conclusively define the difference between a pull-tab and a gold ring with diamonds. This was proven to me recently when one of my customers sent a photo of a 18 carat gold ring with blue topaz stone surrounded by diamonds that his small grandchild found in a park with a simple Tracker ID. The odds are that other detectorists had already been there and had their discrimination turned up high enough that they walked right over that "pull-tab".

I went out detecting with my daughter last month and she chose to use the simple Tracker IV as her weapon and her find literally knocked my socks off. She found a Chinese coin that was minted sometime during the C'hing dynasty right in her own backyard. I had walked right over that pull-tab signal and on to what I assumed were better targets. She found the coin simply because she chose to dig a questionable signal. We can only assume that a Chinese railroad worker dropped it there in the 1800's when the line was put through her town. Her success was based on a desire to find anything of value and not by a desire to avoid digging.

I got an email several weeks ago with photo of one of my southern friends holding a beautiful gold ring. He was using a machine that had no target ID what so ever, and following the path of one of his friends that was using his target ID as his guide. His friend had walked right over that pull-tab signal and left the ring to be found by his hunting buddy and his "simple machine".

The problem that we face as detectorists is that we have become spoiled by the features on our machines and complacent enough that we choose not to dig what we believe to be junk. Consequently we are walking right over the treasure that we covet the most. Discrimination is a great tool, but like any wonderful invention, moderation of its use is the key to better targets.

Every machine that Bounty Hunter makes would have found the targets that I've mentioned. Unfortunately, we as detectorists, have to realize that targets require closer examination than the target ID gives us. This is true with any brand or model of machine on the market today. You will see and hear of many amazing finds by detectorists that use machines with no target ID at all. You need to be a good enough detectorist to know that target ID and discrimination are tools that need to be used in moderation for you to be as successful as you can be.

So, the next time you come upon a pull-tab signal or a s'cap, think twice before you go on your merry way. I would dig a hundred pull-tabs for one gold ring.