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Looking for Mr. Donner

11 May

The State Archaeologist, Dr. Hoard, invited us to participate in a survey of a known camp site for the Donner party as they traveled West into American history.

The countryside was beautiful and the company was fun.  Everyone involved in this project seemed genuinely passionate about the history of Kansas. Steve and I were happy to participate and pitch in. We surveyed the area until thunder and lightning caused Dr. Hoard to call it a day. It was near 5 pm and I was busted!

Steve won Find of the Day with a beautiful 1867 Shield Nickel in great shape. The find was properly documented and cataloged and taken to the lab to add to the other finds in order to paint a picture of whatever events may have occurred at the site back in the early days of the camp. I found a period bullet of small caliber and a traveler’s trunk latch.

Although the finds were scant, I would not hesitate a second to do it all over again.

For an excellent detailed account of the day, please visit Steve’s detecting blog:

Picture of Mr. Donner and his wife

Mr. Donner and his lovely bride.

Steve and I representing. Dr. Hoard visibly impressed with our mad skills.

Steve and I representing. Dr. Hoard visibly impressed with our mad skills.

The above photograph was taken by professional photographer Tom Parker. Please visit Dispatches From Kansas to see his excellent work.

Thanks for stopping by!

The Long and the Short of it

21 Apr

Since I am not doing any detecting, I spend my time these days reading detecting blogs to sort of fill the need to detect.

One of the blogs I read and a blog I believe EVERYONE should read regularly, is Dick Stout’s blog. Dick has been involved in this hobby from the very beginning and he knew and frolicked with some of the legends of the hobby. So you get a big and unique perspective on all things detecting from him.

Alas!, I will warn you right now, in case you don’t know, Dick is an old curmudgeon from New Jersey now living in Texas (that info alone should tell you plenty about the man) but don’t be dissuaded by this. Dick is the real deal and you will benefit muchly by hearing what he has to say.

A topic close to his heart is the state of detecting today (and often compared to the early days when men were men and silver was the only coinage in the ground). It is hard to disagree with his assessment of the situation. I too, spend a great deal of time thinking about the hobby and here are a couple of thoughts on why things are different today than in the golden age of detecting.

One of the main reasons I believe, as to why things are different today than back in the 70’s is that the general public has had almost 5 decades to form an opinion of the hobby. Why would the general opinion of the hobby affect our hobby you say? I believe that most detectorists’ attitude is greatly influenced by what we perceive to be the public’s view of the hobby. Case in point: when I first began (or re-started) detecting three years ago, I told someone I trust that I was going to do this and her response was “Why??!! they let you dig up the parks like that?!!” And this came from an educated (PhD), open-minded person (on most topics at least, not including metal detecting obviously). Since then, I’ve encountered this attitude over and over. So you can forgive most detectorists out there for not wanting to be overly conspicuous when the public at large sees us as vandals and looters. And yes, I have and still do, proclaim from the nearest soap box, the taking of the high road and the attempting to educate. I will tell you that it is not easy to do it all the time and it really wears on you after a while.
So while I still wish that detectorists would stop hiding and that we would accept that our hobby has as much right to exists as any other hobby, I understand the reticence of my fellow dirt fishers to do so. By the way, on one of Dick’s recent posts, he showed a picture from a detecting convention (!). Wow! Are there any such things anymore?

In the early days of detecting I am told, it was not unusual to come home with 100 silver coins from an outing. This stands to reason since until 1964, dimes, quarters, halves and dollar coins were all made of silver. There was no clad coinage in the ground. There were darn few pull tabs as well. So the ratio of effort to pay out was pretty good. Nowadays, if I can find a silver dime in two or three hunts I am doing pretty good. So you see, it is a lot easier to feel inclined to join a club, care about the hobby and educate people, when you are actually finding cool stuff on a regular basis. I know, I know, this shouldn’t matter but human nature is human nature and we are not going to go out of our way to organize and give a damn if all we are finding when we go detecting are pull tabs and bottle caps and that damn can slaw and fighting concerned citizens and misinformed public servants to boot. We have developed a defensive mentality and the rewards don’t seem enough to overcome it. People in bunkers don’t join clubs and don’t fight city hall.

Steve and I thought we could make a small difference. We have gathered a nice group of people who are not too afraid to get their hands dirty (asides from digging holes). There are things we have done such as Steve reaching out to the city with the end result of us giving metal detecting classes. We even cleaned a park once (hint hint we should do this again).
I think the club ought to plant some trees as the city has lost 1000’s of trees since the drought of 2012 and cannot keep up with the replacements. That’s a long way from national efforts and more active involvement in fights to keep our hobby but it’s a start. The trick remains, how do we get involved even more? How do we elevate our hobby to a position where it becomes important to do more to protect it? How do we get the relic hunters and the coin hunters together as one group?

I have no answers for Dick. I wish I did. But I tell you, the idea of a convention where the metal detecting companies show their wares to us lowly users and where we can attend lectures and such makes me swoon. I have been to COMICON. I wish we had something like that. It would go a long way towards validating our hobby and towards uniting us into a cohesive force. If there is such a thing and I don’t know about it, then there is part of the problem right there.

Anyway, thank you for stopping by.

Out of commission

7 Apr

So a while ago, my favorite 11 inch coil on the Deus quit working. It won’t charge at all. And, as these things usually go, this happened just after the warranty expired. Figures!

As much as it hurts to lose my beloved 11 inch coil, I still have the original 9 inch coil for the Deus plus I have the two Compadres.

You would think then that I’d be out there disturbing the soil for loot but alas! my warranty also seems to have expired! A couple of months ago, my doctor put me on a new pill that could conceivably made me morose and indisposed but I wasn’t worried. Well within the last two weeks I began to feel weak and not like myself at all so I quit taking the pill and I will consult with the good doctor on my next visit. Soon I began to feel like the old me again and went out once with the Mighty Compadre and bam! I came down with this nasty cold that I haven’t been able to shake for 3 days now. So even as I write this, my throat hurts, my body, hurts, my head hurts, I have a fever and I feel clammy all over. Dang this old age business!

This is the reason for the latest lack of posts on this blog.

On an unrelated note, I am heading West this Summer with the final destination being Long Beach California. I am super excited to do some beach hunting for the first time ever! Woo Hoo! Wish me luck!!

Lightning strikes twice

13 Feb

Yesterday, at lunch time, I returned to the spot where I found the Buff and the Merc. I found this spot last year while looking for prospective areas to detect with my XP Deus metal detector. The spot in the park has been worked and reworked through the years. Structures were there and then torn down to be replaced with new structures. Last year, while I stood there taking in the lay of the land, I realized that I was looking at perhaps the only spot of original dirt left in that area. That time I found a Mercury dime but I never went back because of the horrific amount of can slaw present.

Every year however, my tolerance for digging trash increases and so I decided to go back and try again. Like I said, Wednesday I found a Buffalo nickel and a Mercury dime and yesterday I managed to pull yet another Mercury dime and a wheat. I will go back today at lunch and see if I can get lucky again.



Finding these coins at this old, over-hunted park should tell you that there are still thousands upon thousands of silver coins in our parks. You just gotta put in the work.

Thank you for stopping by!

Detecting day

7 Feb

This morning I hunted a couple of private yards with a friend. I was supposed to go out to western Kansas to hunt an old military campground with other guys but I couldn’t go out of town so when I got the invite to hunt in the morning I jumped at the chance.

As it turned out, the morning did not produce any silver but it was fun anyway. I ended up with a ton of clad and 9 wheats ranging in date from 1917 to 1944.

Then I began to get updates from the guys out west. Man! They were finding all kinds of cool stuff! So in the afternoon, I had a couple of hours free and I headed to my favorite park. Once again, my deep silver park didn’t disappoint. I managed to pull two war nickels and of course some trash.



So the day was pretty good. Got to hunt some private property which is rare for me, got to meet a new prospective metal detectorist and at the end, I managed to produce silver.

Thank you for stopping by!

First silver of 2015 and a remarkable hunt

18 Jan

The weather finally turned enough to dust off Maurice, my XP Deus metal detector, and head to my favorite deep silver park.

At the very end of 2014 I added depth to my hunts by increasing the sensitivity and lowering the speed. Also, I learned about a phenomenon that probably kept from finding some deep old coins in the past. With those two things in mind, I returned to a spot that I cleaned in preparation for the Blisstool v6 later this Spring (fingers crossed). I was thinking I would dig some old iron as I was sure that I had done a fairly good job cleaning all signals. Boy was I wrong!

First I found a bunch of pull tabs, beaver tails, and tiny foil. I was somewhat shocked. Upping the sensitivity got me a bunch of those super small pieces of aluminum. Eventually I hit a nice repeatable deeeeep signal. At past 10 inches deep I found what looks to be a brass accent for a purse or something. It says Russell Co. in old english gothic font. Then I got a fairly loud signal that according to the target I.D was a coin. Instead I found a square electrical doo hickie that says Delco REMY on it. I was shocked that I missed this before. Some clad followed. Crazy! Then I hit a 1945 wheat. Really?? It was the next target that floored me. A 1944 D war nickel. By then I had dug almost 20 targets between trash and the non-ferrous stuff. The spot was supposed to be clean!! But I wasn’t done yet; next I found a transportation token from the 60’s. The last target I dug was a 1940 wheat.

Was I hunting on deaf mode before?! I swear the spot was clean! I thought I had dug all obvious targets. I am still reeling from this hunt.


Well I can’t wait to go back to this spot. I will have to re-grid it now.

Thank you for stopping by!

A different kind of Indian

29 Dec

I have always been mystified by the fact that I can hunt for two hours and not find a darn thing and then, I do a quick fifteen minute hunt at lunch and find something cool right away.

Of course, lately I’ve doing a lot of finding, mostly wheats, because one of the beautiful things about my XP Deus metal detector is that it is a complex machine with many layers and even after two years I am still learning cool things about it. This time, I figured out how to squeak another inch or so of depth and I have been revisiting many spots in our beloved city.

So today after I spent 15 precious minutes of my lunch hour standing in line in front of this woman who was ordering for her whole office (I am pretty sure that if all her co-workers had bothered to come themselves the whole process would have been a lot quicker; but I digress) and then scarfed down my lunch, I managed to still have 20 minutes or so to disturb some soil at Riverside park. Right away, I got a deep signal filled with possibility. At about a little over 7 inches I found what looked like a pin. I could see that it was copper or brass and through the mud it looked like some kind of floral design. After I got back to my office and cleaned it some, this is what it was:


If you are a native Wichitan you’ll recognize that this is a pin from North High School. The pin has writing on the front, right where the warrior’s neck is but it is near impossible to read. I may be matrixing but I think I can see some letters. After a while my brain is torn between seeing the word INDIANS or the word MINAHA followed by the year 1929. On the back I can see the word FAIRGROUND followed by 4 letters I cannot read and ending with the letters KS which could mean Kansas or it could be the last two letters of the second word. If I look at the front from a certain angle, the words seem to be North H.S. 1929.

At any rate, this is not the only piece of North High’s Redskins themed bling I have ever found but it is certainly the oldest. North High opened in 1929 and perhaps that is why I think I see the year 1929 on this pin. Neither the word INDIANS nor the word MINAHA was ever associated with the High School (although admittedly, my research was very shallow) so who knows what really is written on the pin. Heck, at the end it may not even be a North High pin. My reasons for believing it is are that I found this pin on Riverside park, which is very near the High School and that the other two or three North High objects were also found on Riverside park. The only thing I can be sure of is that it is an old relic.

It is also very small:

I may be making a big deal about this pin because I have not been out hunting for a week and this is the most thrilling thing to come up from the ground for me in a while.

Happy New Year and thank you for stopping by.

Sweet, sweet pocket spills

14 Dec

I returned to the same over-hunted spot at my favorite city park. Right away I got a signal that I had somehow missed. I don’t know how since this was a loud signal. It was loud and all over the place. No matter, I have selected this spot for clean up and I have been digging up all signals. So I cut the plug and dug my regulation seven inches deep hole. In the plug, towards the tip, I found a 1941 wheat. Nice!. I put the pinpointer in the hole and bam! another strong signal. I put my hand in there with great expectations and pulled out a 1956 Jefferson nickel. Ok, I put the pinpointer in the hole a third time and lo and behold, there was yet another target. I was so sure it was going to be a silver coin but alas, it was another wheat, this time a 1956.


No silver this time but knowing that I missed this spill makes me hopeful that I missed many others and when I find them, there will be silver in the hole.

Thank you for stopping by and happy hunting!

When the bullet gives a tone

29 Nov

I dug a hundred holes yesterday with my XP Deus metal detector. I detected at a spot where houses stood from the late 30’s all the way to the late 70’s. I’ve detected that spot several times before but this time I decided to grid it. I was amazed how much stuff I missed before; I found a number of clad dimes and quarters. I also found a handful of pre-1982 memorials. Of course, I dug up a couple of pounds of house parts as well. The most interesting finds were a couple of wheats (1940 and 1950) and this:

It kind of makes you wonder what was going on at this place back in the day.

I left all the mid tones alone. Someday I will take the time to dig them all. Being that there were houses there, I am sure a couple of those mid tones are gold.

Anyway, thank you for stopping by


21 Nov

Although it may seem premature to talk about the year as if it was gone, for me, with detecting at least, it might as well be. Between holiday driving and work craziness, my detecting year is practically over. I have a little bit of hope that I may hunt a couple of homesteads in the woods yet this year but more than likely, those homesteads will have to wait until early next year.

In 2014 my hunting time was greatly reduced. I ended with ten silver coins for the year (I think, it may be nine). The best find of the year was my 1867 Shield nickel with rays back in April.  I found no gold this year.

Those sparse results were to be expected though. I hope to do better next year, especially since my boys have expressed some interest in the hobby. I also plan on buying a new detector. I have my eyes on the Blisstool LTC64x v5, from Bulgaria. I love my XP Deus don’t get me wrong but I am ready for a new detector. My Deus will still be my go-to machine and the Blisstool will be my specialty machine.

I feel that in 2014, in spite of the minimal hunting time, I grew even more as a detectorist. Perhaps 2015 will be the year when I really make an effort to obtain permission to hunt private properties. I also plan on traveling a little more.

I thank all of you who stopped by and read my dribble. It means a lot to me to share my hunts with you.

Here’s to a great 2015.