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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.


15 May

I went out this morning for a couple of hours with my Blisstool V3 metal detector to the small park I’ve been hunting lately.

My plan was simple: dig.

It is my opinion that you cannot learn and master your metal detector unless you dig a lot of trash. To train my ear, I dug and dug and dug until I could dig no more. I dug a lot of shallow targets. By doing that, I could see that the discriminator circuitry works really well when it comes to targets down to about 7 inches. I dug  some deep targets too and past 7 inches the discriminator got fooled a few times but still it was impressive.

I am slowly honing in to the sweet signals. The 1910 wheat pictured above was such a signal. This tiny park still has a lot to give up, and I am just the guy to get it.

Thank you for stopping by.





Is the Blisstool a ‘park detector’?

5 May

I have a park in our city where the coins from the 1940’s and before are buried under more than 12 inches of dirt. I know this because the coins from the 50’s and 60’s are found between 7 and 9 inches deep. Why this is is anyone’s guess.

So after I dug up more than a 100 silver coins and countless wheats and nickels from the 50’s and 60’s  from my deep silver park,  I began the search for a detector that could get me to the coins dropped in the 40’s and before. My choices were pulse induction (p.i.) detectors and the Blisstool. No sooner I began my search however, people began to tell me that p.i. detectors and the Bliss were not ‘park detectors‘. Whaaaat??!!

No one ever told me what a ‘park detector‘ was. To my way of seeing things, if the detector beeps when the coil is over a piece of metal, then it is a park detector; and a field detector; and a private property detector. Come on. The Tesoro Compadre is a single tone detector with no depth indicator and no visual i.d. system and NO ONE is saying the Compadre is not a park detector. On the contrary, the Compadre is a perfect park detector. So what gives?

Hunting parks in this day and age is a trying exercise no matter what machine you are using. The real question is not whether your machine is a ‘park detector’ but whether YOU are a park detector.  You are the real detector (and your digger is the only 100% accurate discriminator). If you are willing to pay the price to get to the juiciest finds in our city parks, then the metal detector you use is just a tool.

I spent an hour at lunch time digging deep rusted iron and shallow can slaw with the Bliss today. It reminded me of the hours I spent digging deep rusted iron and can slaw with every other detector I have owned! I know that with patience and with time, I will learn what the Bliss is telling me and then I will begin to dig some really good stuff. I mean, I already dug up a couple of old coins with it and I have no idea what I am doing. Disclaimer: I have never known what I’m doing.

So there. I, pulltabMiner, here and now and in somewhat acceptable use of my faculties, declare that the Blisstool IS a park detector. Let it be known far and wide that I have thus spoken.

Thank you for stopping by.



Another controversial post

6 Mar

I took my XP Deus metal detector, Maurice, to an old park I frequent. I have found my share of silver at this park. The park goes back over 100 years so there are old, deep coins there. As with all the parks in my beloved city, this one has been hunted thoroughly. So it was sort of a surprise when, upon moving to a spot new to me, I began to find clad. In the 40 minutes I was there I found four clad dimes and two memorials, all from the 60’s with the exception of a 1959 memorial and none deeper than 5 inches.

Now my friend Steve would say that somebody cherry-picked the silver. But I don’t believe that is possible. Yes, let me put that succinctly: You Can Not Cherry-pick Silver.

Oh I can hear you all now: “You ignorant fool”, “What do YOU know, pulltab?”, “I know a guy who can do it”. Yes, it is true that I don’t know every machine out there. But I don’t have to. All I have to know is this: If there was a machine out there that could cherry-pick silver, it would by now, be the only machine in the market, having put all other brands out of business.

Wha-wha-wha-whaaaaat!!?? Yes. This is why that would happen. We, metal detectorists we, are braggarts. We love to show off our finds. That is why we have blogs, forums and clubs and that is why we like to hunt with friends. The second we unearth something shiny and cool, we turn into 9 year olds again, and we rush to tell our buddies about it. And our friends oblige and ooh and aah at our cool, cool find. Don’t deny it. I’ve seen it happen many times. When my friend lawdog1 found his super cool Seated quarter, I was doing cartwheels for him, and I thought he was the coolest guy in the world because he found that coin.

And so, if there was a detector out there that could cherry-pick silver, we would ALL know about it by now. And we would know whatever settings we needed to make the cherry-picking happen. No matter how well guarded the secret, somebody would tell his close friend, who would tell his close friend, who would brag about it in a forum. When LookingForSeated and those guys were finding all that silver with their E-tracs, suddenly everyone was buying etracs. When people began finding all kinds of cool things with their AT Pro, the AT Pro began to sell like hot cakes. So when this mythical machine appears, this pattern will hold.

Now, this is not to say that the Etrac and the AT Pro are not good machines; they are in fact, very good machines, but neither of them can cherry-pick silver. I have hunted with enough Etrac users by now, to know that the Etrac users will get fooled by an aluminum wine screwcap as often as AT Pro users are. I, with the mighty Deus, still dig aluminum screw caps because they can sound just like a dime. About the only time a detector might cherry-pick silver is if the conditions are ideal, the user fully experienced with the machine, and the dimes are on the surface, laying flat.

But don’t let me bring you down. I myself will be very sad the day they finally make a machine that can id a buried object with 100% accuracy at 24 inches deep. Right now I rather enjoy the uncertainty of metal detecting; it makes finding those keepers so much sweeter.

***Ozarks from the Ozarks Metal Detecting Blog, points out that you can cherry pick tones and I agree. That’s the best you can hope for. But if you are leaving coins in the ground because you are sure they are not silver, please let me know where you hunt! :)***

Thank you for stopping by.


13 Jan

Why with the polar vortex and all, I have gotten out only a couple of times since my last post. No silver nor gold but still fun to get out and spend some time communing with the pull tabs.

One of the parks I hunted is well over 100 years old. As with all the other public spaces in the U.S., there is a deep carpet of metal trash covering it. But this doesn’t daunt me in any way because I am rather simple minded. In two hours, I found a number of old pieces of brass and copper. Nothing even recognizable but obviously very old. That was enough for me. Another thing that I like finding is a bottle cap with cork still in it. You may not know this if you were born after 1979 but back in the day, the seal inside bottle caps was made of cork and not the little plastic round sheet that they have now. My simple-mindedness allows me to be entertained by this.

I also play a game I call “Remove-all-the-beaver-tail-pull-tabs-because-once-you-remove-them-they-won’t-be-replaced”. Once in a long while, this game pays off in the form of something made of gold.

The weather has turned so I look forward to resuming my lunch time hunts.

Wish me luck!

Pushing the limits

14 Oct

I’ve been thinking about this for a while and I have in the past, lightly touched on the subject. Be warned, this is not going to be your typical post about metal detecting. IT IS about metal detecting; it’s just that it is about the very limits of metal detecting.

Let me give you a little background which at first may seem unrelated but bear with me.

I saw a video about a man named Byron Ferguson, who can hit ANY moving target with his bow and arrows. In the video I saw the man hit a moving aspirin –yes, you read that right, a moving, regular size (very small!) aspirin tablet with an arrow at 45 feet!!!! Byron goes on to explain in the video, that when he is attempting to hit something very small like an aspirin tablet, he first visualizes the arrow hitting the target.  The scientists trying to figure out how he does it, learned that Byron can track a moving target with uncanny accuracy.

Then I saw a video about a young man (now deceased) who lost his sight at the age of two because of cancer. Eventually, the young man, whose name was Ben Underwood, taught himself to use echolocation to see the world around him. He would make a ticking noise with his mouth and use the echo to navigate around, much like a bat. He was tested and was found to be the real deal. Although completely blind, he could skate and ride his bike without any problems. I had already seen a video about a school that adopted this idea and was teaching it to other blind people.

Last, I had heard of something called the World Memory Championship. A man by the name of Dominic O’Brien won it 8 times. The stuff Dominic can do with his memory seems impossible.

I want to point out that these three people are humans like you and I. What they have done is push our normal human abilities to limits others do not think possible. At least in the case of Ben and Dominic, what they do can be taught to other people. I suspect what Byron can do can also be taught to other people but I don’t know that anyone is trying.

What does this have to do with metal detecting? I believe that there is a way to metal detect while in an altered state. If you’re not comfortable with the idea of altered state (and no, I don’t mean high), think of detecting while in a VERY relaxed state. Why do I say this? I have been trying this for a while and it seems that whenever I am successful at maintaining  a very relaxed state while hunting, I always find a silver coin or something cool. I suspect that when I am super relaxed, my brain can process the signals from the detector at a different level. I have an even crazier idea but I will only tell that one to my closest friends, who will (I hope) still be my friends after they hear it.

Anyway, I wonder how many of the super stars of the hobby use techniques like these but are not telling anyone.

Something to think about.

Thank you for looking!

Fail Miserably and your silver count will skyrocket

19 Jun

Here at The Dirt Is Good To Me, I have shared my joy of metal detecting and occasionally, tried to make myself useful by talking about the very few things I have learned (I am not very smart).

Prepare yourself however, to receive the ULTIMATE SECRET to becoming the SILVEREST, GOLDENEST, MOST RELICabulous hunter in the planet. Yes, after reading many biographies and self-help books, it finally hit me. THE SECRET has been in front of my face all the time. The secret is:


In the context of metal detecting, failing means digging a LOT of trash. Mountains of it.

Fail and pay attention. That’s it. Basic. Brutal.

I just learned that Babe Ruth held both the Home Run record and the STRIKEOUT record. He didn’t just miss the ball a lot; he missed the ball more than any other baseball player in history!!! How do you like them apples?

So go out there and (responsibly) dig a lot of holes. Pay attention and dig the trash and then try again. I guarantee that your gold, silver, and relic finds will go through the roof.

Thank you for looking!

All The Silver That Isn’t There

18 Jun

I was out at the park during my lunch hour trying all the new settings on my XP Deus metal detector, now that I have the new software version installed.

Tweaking this and that I walked over ground that I have hunted to death and pulled many and sundry pieces of metal from said ground. One maddening thought kept crossing my mind and that was silent masking.

Silent masking is when your detector fails to see any of the targets under the ground and simply runs silent as you run the coil over them. There is a technical explanation as to why this happens but I won’t cover that here.

I simply want to bring it to your attention. It is crazy stuff though.

I will leave you with this scenario: At my deep silver park, a municipal swimming pool opened in the 1920’s. Each summer until it closed (for a decade or so), the swimming pool saw upwards of 15,000 people (data from counts reported in the local newspaper every summer). If only 1000 of those people dropped a silver dime that’s 10,000 silver dimes dropped at that park during that decade. Too high of an estimate you think? If 500 people dropped a dime each summer that’s still 5000 dimes dropped in a decade. I’ve only found about 60 silver dimes at that park since I began hunting it last year. And by the way, I am not counting any of the people who went to the park for reasons other than swimming at the pool.

So, I tell people that there are thousands of silver coins at this park waiting to be excavated. 99% of them, silently masked.

Thank you for looking!

Thrash By Any Other Name…

30 May

…could be something cool!

What do you consider trash when metal detecting? Pull tabs? Foil? Zinc Lincoln cents?

The reason why I want to split hairs here is that I have read many, many posts out on the Web, whereas some wizened detectorist tells noobies that if the VDI jumps all over the place and the audio is a mix of mid tones, high tones, and iron grunts, that the target is likely to be trash.

Not too long ago, I would have accepted that assertion as gospel but now that I have put away childish things, I am looking at that kind of signal in a different way.

Let me repeat something someone smarter than me said: “There is no such thing as an iffy signal, only iffy analysis”. So when you run into a signal as the one described above, you could be leaving a keeper in the ground if you don’t spend some time looking at it with a critical eye.

Just yesterday, I ran into one such signal. What got my attention was the fact that the depth kept changing with each VDI shown in the screen. The audio changed accordingly. I asked myself, “Am I looking at an amorphous piece of aluminum can, or am I looking at several targets in close proximity here?” I walked around the target and tightened my swing to try to separate each sound. Eventually I could isolate the high tone and it came in somewhere below where a copper penny would be at 12KHz. If I moved the coil just a tad bit more, the mid tones and iron grunts would pipe in, at different depths.

It was then time to dig it to see if I was right. I was right. In the hole, there were: One piece of aluminum can (can slaw), a piece of rusted iron, and a 1996 clad dime. Sure, it was just a clad dime but it could have been anything in the coin range, even silver. The VDI was a bit off because of the other objects near the dime.

I am not suggesting you dig every signal of this nature. I am only suggesting that you spend a little more time evaluating them. It may pay off for you to do so.

And by the way, I no longer consider pull tabs and bottle caps trash. Their signals are so unique and consistent that I think of them as relics. Another thing I don’t consider trash is rusted iron, especially nails. In fact, square nails now are kind of sweet to me, especially if they are whole. In my hate list there are only two things (in order of hate)

1) Empty holes, or holes to nowhere as I like to call them.

2) Foil.

Unfortunately, given the way I run my detector and the nature of the signals I hunt, I dig more holes to nowhere than I should. And foil, well, foil may eventually grow on me and move over to the category of relic as well.

Thank you for looking!

Dig More Pull Tabs

28 May

I dig a lot of holes. I dig a lot of holes and I am always surprised when I run into the mystery of target masking. If things were really fair, every masked target would be a silver coin, or a gold ring. But alas! trash often masks other trash.

Still, I have found a few masked silver coins in my time and I wonder just how many more masked silver coins I am leaving in the ground.

Masking happens when a piece of metal is above a second piece of metal and your coil sees the target above but not the one below. If the the two pieces of metal are touching, masking does not happen, but rather your detector makes some kind of sense of the two pieces by seeing them as one object. Keep that in mind. Many people who do not know better out there, keep claiming that their detector sees through iron. That is not so. NO DETECTOR SEES THROUGH IRON. Not yet anyway.

But I digress…

Given that most of the trash in city parks consists of bottle caps and pull tabs, we can deduce that the trash doing the most masking are the bottle caps and the pull tabs. Elementary. So now we get to the point:

Dig More Pull Tabs.

I have noticed through digging many holes and examining the items found therein, that the ratio of beaver tail pull tabs to square stay-tabs is like a bazillion to one. Even given the tendency people have to go through the trouble of removing the square stay-tabs from the can, there are not that many square stay-tabs in the ground, relatively speaking. That means that most of the pull tabs masking other targets are of the beaver tail variety.

And they are not making them anymore! (ok, I have seen some modern products with beaver tail tabs, but very few). Sooooooo…when you dig a beaver tail pull tab and remove  it from the park, it will not be replaced by another. Thus we begin to take the masking tiger by the tail.

And here is the thing: if you find a site heavily infested with pull tabs and bottle caps, it only means that site saw heavy human activity in the past (or even sees heavy human activity presently) and that really is what we are looking for isn’t it? I mean rabbits and squirrels don’t drop silver coins or gold rings, people do.

So go forth and mine those tab and cap wonderlands out there. There is treasure to be had!