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Where Can I Metal Detect?

By Dan Breitenstein

This is one of the most common questions asked by the first-time metal detector buyer and the tire kicking guy that wants a detector, but has this nagging fear of failure that lurks around every corner. It's an honest question that deserves an answer. Finding a place to detect is no great challenge for anyone if you just look around.

Many of us get our first detector and head straight for the little town park, only to be disappointed. Sure, there are some clad coins there and a few what-nots, but let's face reality. These public lands are just to the public. That means that Uncle Bob was there with his detector 25 years ago and he hit it hard. He probably had the local detecting club there for it's annual meeting. You'll find treasure in the old parks, but the pickings are pretty slim.

The best place I've found to start is an old yard. That's it, plain and simple. The yard of any older home constructed prior to 1950 holds treasure in it for us to find. I started in my father's old yard and I was amazed what the earth had kept hidden for years. His is an excellent example of a Midwestern farm home that has been used for over a hundred years.

You're sitting there wrought with doubts again...I can feel it. You probably don't have a father with an old yard. That's OK too, but you undoubtedly know someone who does.

Asking permission to dig holes in someone's yard is a tough task. First you need to learn to dig nice, small, neat holes in your own yard before you ask to dig in someone else's yard.

When asking permission, I strongly suggest you go in person. It's easy for a landowner to say "no" over the phone. Your own appearance and demeanor make a world of difference when you face someone and ask permission to metal detect. If you go up and knock on the door looking like a slob, they are going to send you packing. You have to put yourself in their shoes for a moment and think about what their impression will be of you and what they think you will do to their yard. I always introduce myself with a handshake and a smile. It makes a world of difference. I try to quell their fears that I'm not going to leave mole holes all over their fine trimmed lawn and explain that I only cut plugs or trapdoors and I replace all my divots. You have to always remember that if you are given permission, you are a guest in their yard and should behave accordingly.

Yards are a good place to start, but they're only the tip of the iceberg. The possibilities are endless. I found four old silver dimes this spring on a boulevard in the street. Just look around....the possibilities are endless.

Campgrounds in older areas are usually productive places to detect, especially if the ground has been used for recreation for many years. Almost every campground I've visited had a set of rules and if metal detecting is forbidden, it will most likely be clearly stated. State parks are famous for their "no-dig" policies. (dang tree huggers!) Federal land is another ticklish place to detect. If it's a military post, the local Provost Marshall is the person to ask. they are very up-front with their policies and sometimes helpful.

Churches, older school yards, and ball parks are great places. I've found some of my best coins and nicest relics in them. Getting permission to hunt a church yard usually just means asking the pastor. He'll either give you an answer or turn you on to someone who will. Schools are another story. I've never had anyone hassle me about hunting on public school grounds. I think they realize that we all pay taxes (huge taxes) to support the public schools. The thing that makes schools such a lucrative hunt is that kids will lose anything.

Getting a place to start detecting is not as hard as you would imagine. Just look around. the possibilities are endless.