Note: In this series, we have selected 100 metal detecting finds that were extremely difficult to detect and recover, and provide details on the circumstances and techniques that contributed to their successful recovery.
KEEPER: Civil War Iron Stirrup, Possibly Confederate. Found at site of hospital used after major battle in accompaniment with a plethora of other Civil War artifacts.
SITE: Yard that was part of a small neighborhood in front of an Antebellum mansion. These yards used to be the front grounds of said mansion and have produced significant relics.
SITE EVALUATION: 7 of 10. Site had been hunted in the past, but only moderately and certainly not professionally. Adjoining yards had each produced many great relics. This house had no back yard, which is why I hadn’t hunted it before.
PERMISSION: Nice lady who told me to go ahead but I wasn’t going to find anything because it had been hunted before
Do not Listen to Negativity: This is not 30 or 40 years ago. These days the vast majority of sites have been hunted. Property owners and other detectorists will tell you so, implying that you are wasting your time and couldn’t possibly find anything. I’d rather not even know. I went and got my gear out of my truck and expected to have to fight for a find. And in only an hour, I found the stirrup, several bullets, several cartridge casings, a silver dime, and a bridle rosette.
Dig Big Iron on Battlefields: Can’t tell you how many times I’ve hunted a site that had been literally scrubbed by other detectorists over the years and in spite of all my so-called skills been relegated to digging iron. This includes some pretty obvious publicly accessible sites. Some of my best finds have happened this way, but for different reasons. Sometimes the big iron is a cool war relic as it was in this instance. Sometimes after removing the big iron, the prize or prizes that were lying under it are revealed. The stirrup was my very first signal. It was big iron. I knew the site had been hunted, so I dug it.
Hunt very Edges of Property Lines: Some of the best places to hunt when a site has been hit hard, are right up next to the house or other structures or obstacles, right next to the road, where many detectorists think “road trash” or “messed with when road bed was put in”, and right on the property lines. Often detectorists don’t bother to ask where the lines are, and miss many square feet of hunting space. Other times they are worried about getting in trouble for crossing the line so they don’t get right on the lines. Either way, this stirrup was right on the property line. It was standing straight up in the ground, and the top of it was only about an inch under the dirt.
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