Advertisements
Archive | Philosophy of Metal Detecting RSS feed for this section

Lots of square inches, lots of coins

18 Nov

I hunted a site that has been active in our city’s history since its very beginnings. The school sitting there is the modern version of the school that was there in the 1870’s. Unfortunately, the dirt at this site has been moved countless times as other structures were built and torn down and at least one railway crossed it. Still, I was hopeful a coin or two may have been left unmolested in the ground.

After almost an hour of digging bits of zinc and old brass, I managed to dig a 1940 wheat cent, then my lunch hour was over. On my way back to the car I could see the thousands of square inches I did not ran my coil over, each with the potential of having a coin under it.

I have mentioned this before. If you think of the site you are working as a collection of square inches, then, maybe, you will be more careful about exploring each and every one of those square inches. I am just saying.

Again, I didn’t take a picture of my wheat; you know what a wheat looks like. I am really enjoying my metal detecting these days. I hope you all are too.

Thank you for stopping by.

Advertisements

So many coins, so little time

3 Nov

Yesterday, I went back to a couple of spots that have been producing coins for me. The first was at the 1884 park where I have an 5′ x 10′ area that won’t stop giving up coins and the second was at another old park (1887) where I pulled a number of old coins this past Summer from an area equally as small.

I didn’t take a picture but I found two wheats from one park and one wheat and two copper pennies from the 70’s from the other. Again, these coins were there every time I hunted those two spots before and I missed them.

Anyway, today at lunch I tried a different park (1886) and as I was detecting, the thought struck me that there hundreds of spots in the old parks where I’ve never ran my detector. The possibilities are endless.

You may think me overly optimistic for no reason but in fact I do have a reason and I am going to tell you about it.
Before the Great Depression, Wichita was a happening place. I don’t mean just a good place to be at; I mean THE place to be at. Wichita was slated to become the next Chicago. Movers and shakers were relocating here in troves. Opportunity flowed through the city streets and anyone with a modicum of spunk could make it big. All these successful and driven people needed a place to be seen and a place to relax after a hard day of getting rich and our city parks were a great place to do just that. That is why I get excited at the thought of all those areas in our old parks I’ve never touched.

Before I had to go back to work, I pursued a faint signal under an old tree among a roar of iron grunts. at the bottom of a nine inch hole sat a spoon:
img_2130

Sometime in the 20’s I would guess, one of those early Wichita dreamers sat near the Arkansas river with his lovely companion to have a pick-nick. Between laughter, drinks, and talk about their bright future, one of them dropped this spoon and forgot all about it.
(Or a hobbo during the Depression ate his hobbo stew with an old spoon he found somewhere). Take your pick. It is still a cool find.

Thank you for stopping by.

Why do I do it??

29 Aug

After several weeks of not even looking at my detectors, I finally went out for a four hour hunt. It was glorious. I dug up what seemed like a thousand holes and found only ONE thing even mildly interesting: a tiny silver-coated locket. I don’t have a picture of it but it is round and it has a hinge so I assume I’ll be able to open it.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining. I had a great time alone in the park, answering the call of the tones as sailors of old answered the call of the sirens. Among the legion of trash, I dug up a handful of center-fired bullet cartridges (probably 25’s, although I am no expert) wondering once again if it was legal to shoot your gun at the park back in the 30’s and 40’s. Also, I unearthed a couple of very rusted square nails and about 30 lbs of aluminum foil. OK, OK, I didn’t really weigh it.

So, any reasonable person would ask, why do you this? It is sheer madness to spend 4 hours digging for naught but trash. What can I say, it’s a detectorist’s thing.

I cannot speak for anyone else but for me, it really is about satisfying the 9 year old inside me. Yep, now you know it; I never grew up. That tiny locket is all I needed as a reward. Sure, a couple of old coins would have been nice too but the locket will do. I can’t wait to open it and see what could possibly fit in it.

There is much more of course. The wind, the trees, the squirrel that humorously and noisily gnawed on a black walnut (I think) right above me as I was trying to decide whether to dig or not, and so on. But at the end, I spent 4 hours just for the sheer curiosity of it.

No one else will know what’s buried in the parks. Only those of us afflicted by this weird sickness can know. And there are so many interesting things buried; each with a story.
I mean, back in August of 2011, I was detecting the banks of the Arkansas when I dug up a golden coin. I still vividly remember the excitement. I even remember that, convinced it was a gold coin in the hole, I looked around to make sure no one else saw the bounty I was about to receive. Alas, it was not a gold coin but a shekel. In fact I dug up fifteen of them from that hole.
Sheqels
The coins were from the 90’s and worth about $5 American. What in the world were 15 Israeli coins doing buried in the mud of the Arkansas?

I will never know but no other person in my beloved city can even begin to ponder this mystery. Only me.

And that’s why I do it.

Thanks for stopping by.

Detectorist

9 Aug

I was watching a British show about metal detecting and in one episode, one of the characters corrects a civilian by telling her that his machine was a metal detector but that he was a metal detectorist.

I had heard the term detectorist from British dirt fishers before but over and over my online spelling dictionary would flag the word as erroneously spelled and when I checked, the dictionary would not give me an alternative spelling.

Thinking this was odd, I have looked for the word in online and physical dictionaries and have failed to find it.

I rather like the term. The ending of the word: -ist, suggest a person who does something and in this case the activity is detection. I like the general sense of the word; whatever else we are, we are detectorists first. I may be looking for silver coins but I am detecting all kinds of other metals in the ground.

Why is this important you may ask? The answer my friend is solidarity. Dirt fisher and Hunter are fine and well but hardly universal. We need a name to bring us together. Heck, at our meeting with the state archaeologist we were asked what we called ourselves and we all threw a number of terms at him. I think we settled, rather uncomfortably, on the term Hunter.

I just now read a post by Detecting Diva where she pins this lack of standard name for us as a pet peeve and I for one agree with her.

So spread the word. We are Detectorists. Sure, Dirt Fisher is cool and so is Hunter but lets present a united front and call ourselves detectorists to the uninitiated out there. Coinshooter and Relic Hunter are good for the specialists among us but I humbly suggest saying something like “I am a Metal Detectorist of the Coinshooter species”. Ok, that may get you beat up on the playground. Most certainly we are not vandals, or looters though.

As for me, I am a Metal Detectorist, a Coinshooter, a Park Hunter, and a Pulltab Afficionado.

Thank you for stopping by.

The Old Timer

8 Aug

About five years ago, I was a newbie in the hobby. I want to call myself a newbie still but I don’t know if I can do that after five years of metal detecting. Be that as it may, five years ago I found my first ever Indian Head cent. It was a beautiful (to me) 1900 Indian with a fair amount of wear, probably dropped in the 20’s or so. That I found it in one of our city parks was especially cool to me. At that time, I didn’t know any other metal detectorists. I was by myself and I had barely discovered the metal detecting forums on the Internet.

Finding that Indian was nearly a religious experience for me. I needed to share that experience with someone who may appreciate it. So, after making a video, lost now in the bowels of YouTube (never to be found again) where I waxed poetic about my Indian cent, I put away my equipment and drove off to another park. As I was approaching the park, I saw another guy metal detecting! Forgetting my anti-social pathologies for the moment, I parked my car and ran, well, you may not have called it running, towards the poor guy. I may have told this story here before but bear with me. I asked him if he had found anything and without waiting for an answer I trust the Indian upon him and I told him I had found an Indian Head cent.

Kindly, Richard (that’s his name) asked me, “Where did you find an Indian in this city?” I excitedly told him the particulars of the story and then he told me a little about the history of the park we were standing on and encouraged me to find him in the forums. Richard has been detecting for many years and he was my first ever metal detecting friend. He could have lectured me but he didn’t. Instead he gave me exactly what I needed: encouragement, support, and friendship.

So what’s the point Miner? I hear you ask. The point is rather oblique. The point is to ask “Why do I write a metal detecting blog?” I must admit that when I started this blog, I did it because I was done with metal detecting forums. I am not saying that forums are not important, no. They are filled with political, religious, and other content not related to metal detecting at all but you would be a fool to ignore them. They are also the premier source of information regarding this hobby. At the time however, I was done with them and I felt the only other way to share my finds was via this blog.

Over time however, I’ve come to realize that I mostly write this blog for the people who like me in the past, are just beginning to enjoy this hobby and who may need someone to talk to about this thing we do. I have striven to do like Richard did that day and to remain open to all newcomers although I do get a little full of myself sometimes. I also write an opinion now and again which may make me no friends but the comment section is always open to any rebukes (to this day, I’ve only blocked spam).

Many times I have discussed the state of our hobby and bemoaned the fact that people just want to detect and they don’t want to get involved in the business of keeping metal detecting legal in our communities. It is my opinion that the main reason people don’t get involved is because these days it is hard to find good stuff. Before I can get someone excited about fighting for the hobby, I have to make them excited about the hobby. Just yesterday, I spoke to two newbies and both told me the same thing: we are alone. One told me he hadn’t found anything in 7 months of detecting. And then, another type of old timer came by to gloom and doom yet another newbie (and me) because we had the audacity of not having been in the hobby back when he was finding silver coins two inches down and by the hundreds in the city parks.

So that’s the point. Be kind to people. Be like Richard. We may yet keep metal detecting alive for years to come.

Thank you for stopping by.

I’ve done told you

27 Jun

Regardless of the heat, at lunch time today, I went to the place where I’ve found a number of old coins in the recent past. Saturday morning I took my Tesoro Compadre and cleaned a bunch of trash from the first 5-6 inches of soil. The spot is a bear in terms of iron. But it wasn’t the iron I was after, I was after all the freaking aluminum foil. As it happened, I removed a bunch of iron that was near the surface as well.

So today I took my time and decided to dig only the choosiest of signals. I was fooled a couple of times with rusted nails and I even got fooled a few times with small aluminum foil that I missed with the Compadre. By the way, I decided to take the XP Deus on this hunt. Towards the very end of my lunch hour I got a nice signal among iron. Nice and repeatable. After I dug up my obligatory 9 inch hole I stuck my pinpointer in and got an iffy bing at the bottom of the hole. This always makes me smile because that means the object is deep. Incidentally, in an effort to avoid holes-to-nowhere, I dusted off my DetectorPro Pulse Induction pinpointer. It has a reach of about 4 inches for a quarter size coin and a solid 3 inches for a dime sized coin so if I miss my pinpointing with the Deus, I can still find the target in the hole.

This particular target was about 2 inches deeper. I know, I ought to quit talking about depth. It means nothing to anyone else but me. Be that as it may, I pulled this nice 1905 Indian Head cent out of the dirt:

This IH was dropped shortly after it was minted. You can see part of the word Liberty on the headdress and the reverse has nice details on it.

And now comes a bit of ranting

Here is the list of all coins found at this relatively small spot at this park: I’d say is about 15ft x 15ft. You can see the pictures of these coins in the last 10 or so posts:
1919 Wheat
1918 Wheat
1915 Wheat
18xx V nickel
189X V nickel
1890 Indian
1905 Indian
1917 Type 1 Standing Liberty
1894 Barber quarter
1901 Barber dime
1912 Barber dime
1904 Barber dime
KS Tax Token

This list does not include the coins found by Redd and KSDave three years ago, many from this very same spot, one of which was a Seated dime.
Also, keep in mind that this park has been hunted a quadrillion times by a thousand detectorists since the hobby came about.

My point is that our old parks are choke-full of old coins but these coins are not easily accessible. You most definitely will NOT find these coins if you:
Swing too high
Swing too fast
Lift the coil at the ends of your swing
Listen poorly to the tones
Use a detector not built for these environs
Use a detector you do not know well
Do not learn from the trash you dig

I am not trying to be an ass. Really. I am just saying those of us who came into the hobby in the last 10 years have a different reality to contend with. Unless you are only hunting private properties (lucky you), you need to approach our city parks with a fresh set of expectations, philosophy, and equipment.

Thank you for stopping by.

 

Are you a treasure hunter?

22 Jun

I went out this lunch hour in the 95+ degree weather to clean up a site that it is promising. This task was assigned to the Mighty Compadre. I just love that little power-house of a detector.

After an hour, I had a respectable amount of wire, nails, foil and even some pulltabs in my pocket. I wasn’t expecting any coins as I know those are beyond the depth capabilities of the Tesoro Compadre and its five inch coil. No matter. I considered my hunt a success. Now I can return with the Bliss and the 15 inch coil to explore the depths of that dirt.

On my way back I began to think about what a different detectorist I am today. Five years ago there is absolutely no way I would have done what I just did. No way José. So what’s different?

I believe the answer is that I stopped being a treasure hunter and became a detectorist.
Wait a minute pullTab!, I hear you say; aren’t those synonyms?  Well, not in my way of thinking they are not.

See, when I began to detect for fun and profit, I was really mostly going after the profit. Finding things that could not readily be turned into cash would just ruin my day. I was rather petulant about it if I am to be honest. I did not accept the reality of metal detecting; and that is that the ratio of trash to good stuff is somewhere in the vicinity of 1000/1 and in some parks around here, that’s actually a pretty good ratio!
I was in other words, hunting for treasure.

Later, as I packed in the hours detecting, I began to relax a bit and began to explore the signals for the sheer pleasure of exploring them. Don’t get me wrong, I still love that shiny silver and gold but now I can really enjoy a sortie even when all I find is junk. I believe now I can really be described as a detectorist true and through. You could say I am no longer one dimensional when it comes to our beloved hobby. I’ve grown wiser… Ok, I’ll stop making myself look good.

Thank you for stopping by.

Deploying the BIG GUNS

10 Jun

*** Before you read this post, read this post about the time Dick Stout spoke to Congress about our hobby. Plus, check out the eye candy. No, I am not talking about the pictures of Stout.***

I decided it was time. No more pussyfooting around. It was time to dig deeply and carry a big coil.

I am not, generally speaking, a fan of large coils. As a coin shooter, I have never found a use for them. An 11 inch coil has been the limit for me. However, with my recent acquisition of the Blisstool V3, I became the proud owner of a 15 inch coil. This thing looks comical and to quote my fellow hunter Steve Ukena, it looks as if I am compensatin’.

Yet, there is a spot at a local old park. I hunted it once or twice with no good results. This spot is a sea of bottle caps. It is interesting how some areas of our city parks will get a certain personality. Sometimes it is pull tabs, sometimes it is bottle caps, and sometimes it is both.

So I drive by this particular area and think about the next time I will hit it. You see, this area has always been open. Since the very beginning of our city’s history. It never had any structures. I know, as I have been told by someone in their 80’s, that after swimming in the river or in the municipal swimming pool that stood nearby, people would sit in this very spot and have pick nicks. I can see how this may have happened all the way back to the late 1800’s.

There is evidence that this spot has been covered with silt from the river during the many pre-1960 floods that occurred here. There is a layer of clay on top of what I surmise to be the original sand.

This has led me to believe, that the very old coins and stuff are buried deep under the silt and the bottle caps. I spent some time with the Deus and the Bliss with the 11 inch coil but I am not penetrating deep enough; thus my decision to apply the 15 inch coil to the dirt here. I did the first excursion yesterday at lunch.

I was happy with the coil’s pinpointing ability. The Blisstool doesn’t have an all metal pinpointing feature. You pinpoint the old fashion way. I like to use the front of the coil
and use the wiggle method. I tested this yesterday and was able to pinpoint relatively shallow targets with precision. Of course, I had to work spots from every direction because of the coils large footprint but this does not represent a hindrance to me. I worked to empty a large enough area to be able to manually ground balance the Bliss but although I dug 5 pieces of trash from a 2×2 area, more trash was revealed that was previously masked. Such is the ground I hunt.

Last  I want to mention a phenomenon that I will call the “Now you don’t see it, now you do” syndrome. I have experienced it several times in the last 5 years. I select an area somewhere that’s utterly hopeless. I stick to it and after a number of excruciatingly painful hunts I cross a certain threshold and voila! keepers! It goes beyond removing trash; I believe it has to do with my brain getting to know the particulars of the dirt, almost as if a psychic connection is made between the site and me; as if the ghosts of the past finally break through the mist and whisper in my ear…
Laugh all you want, but I believe this is why I consistently pull silver out of certain parks where others don’t.

Anyway, it’s getting hot out there. The dirt is beginning to harden and time’s awastin’. Time to dig!

Thank you for stopping by.

More about our hobby

9 Jun

Once again, an experienced detectorist adviced a new detectorist not to tell anyone about her finds.
Part of me thinks this is sound advice. I myself, quit posting about any gold I find. There are just too many nuts out there for me to tell them I found a gold ring they may claim is theirs (never mind I dug it from the bottom of a nine inch hole and it was obviously crafted 100 years ago).

The other part of me however, wouldn’t enjoy the hobby if I didn’t have someone to share it with. So I must forge a compromise: I will tell you about the old coins and the occasional “relic” I may find on these here blog.

And as long as I am writing about blogs, I just finished reading the latest post by Dick Stout where he says he has slowed down and so has his blog writing. I know Dick has a lot of opinions and as he is a venerated member of our community you should listen to them as he is right (most of the time). Not to hand anyone their hat but I wish some of the old timers of our beloved sport would post more about the old days and their hunts. As it is, the only time these guys write about the old days is to tell me how screwed up I am for not having lived in said old days. As I said before, we love our hobby and at least I, enjoy metal detecting vicariously by watching metal detecting YouTube videos, reading about metal detecting sorties, or plain hearing about someone else’s experience on the dirt. I am sure Dick has many a story to tell to illuminate and entertain.

All of this leads me to wonder what will I do when I no longer can go out there and metal detect. I love drawing and do damn little of it these days. I love playing my musical instruments, even when I decisively lack any musical talent. I love growing vegetables but these days my two dogs own my yard and alas, no vegetable would survive their attention. I love learning foreign languages although what I do could be best described as auditing foreign languages. By the way, if you are interested in learning a foreign language, give the Michel Thomas method a try. If you do what they tell you, you will be surprised how quickly you can reach an impressive level in a matter of hours. They have courses for French, Spanish, Italian, German, Polish, Greek, Mandarin Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, Russian, Japanese, and Arabic. I like hiking although if I can’t metal detect, I probably won’t be able to hike either. Last, I like writing. I write bad English mostly.

For now however, while I still can stand back up after I dig a hole, I will continue to enjoy this our past time of kings. Here’s to finding some gold no one will ever hear about.

Thank you for stopping by.

Blame it on the rain

17 May

Rain, as far as the forecast can see.

So now I cannot go out detecting and I must write about some other aspect of the hobby.

Today I want to tell you why I write a blog about metal detecting (I also have a gardening blog but since my dogs won’t let me grow anything is kind of in suspended animation).
To begin I must tell you about the first time I found an Indian Head cent back in 2011. Before that day, all I had ever found were clad and a couple of wheat cents from the 40’s.
Well, I had actually taken the day off to detect all day. I started around six in the morning and by around eleven  I was done. I had found nothing but pulltabs and bottle caps. I was dog tired and ready to give up metal detecting for good.

I decided to end my detecting day by going to a site near downtown and by the Arkansas river where many Native groups had camped through the centuries to trade and where, legend has it, there is some treasure buried nearby by the first French traders to come through here in the 1700’s. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, this was also a very popular swimming hole, where in the 20’s, a couple of municipal swimming pools were built. In the 70’s, the swimming pools were torn down and now, tennis courts sit there in their place. So if I couldn’t find an old coin here, I was never going to find an old coin anywhere.

And so, under an old elm tree, I found my first ever Indian Head cent. I made a video of it and the video is still in YouTube but is best to leave it be because I waxed philosophical about that IH and it is kind of embarrassing. I also found a very old Chinese coin under that elm but somehow that didn’t seem as cool as the IH.

I then got this overwhelming need to find another detectorist and show him or her my IH. I don’t know why. I just had to share this glorious find with someone who may appreciate it. So I drove from park to park until, miles away at another old park, I saw this guy detecting. I slammed on the brakes, found a place to park, and approached the poor guy who saw a 5′ 11”, 280 lb (i am down to 230) Hispanic man, coming at him with a deranged smile on his face. I know this guy well now and I know he packs heat so I am really lucky he didn’t drop me on the spot. As it turned out, he is a really nice person and he was properly impressed by my find.

After this, I began to participate in metal detecting forums and eventually I started this blog.

This is why I write here about my metal detecting sorties. Maybe I can entertain someone or even inform them. But truth be told, the first and main reason I do it is to share what I find with anyone who may care.

Now, let’s hope I get a sunny day this week so I can go dig some holes.

Thank you for stopping by.