“Son, I’ve made a life out of readin’ people’s faces. Knowin’ what the cards were by the way they held their eyes. So if you don’t mind me sayin’, I can see you’re out of aces. For a taste of your whiskey, I’ll give you some advice…” – Kenny Rogers, The Gambler
I’ve been fortunate to have received a lot of great advice from veteran detectorists over the last couple of years that have saved me a lot of wasted time and potential headaches. Local detecting veterans and relic dealers that have helped me in ways I can never repay, sharing advice based on years of experience. All I can do, through Detecting365 and as I get older, and hopefully wiser, is to try and pay it forward to the next generation of detectorists.
Many good detectorists are happy to provide intel to help each other. While I try to be smart about areas I’m currently working or researching, I’m happy to help others with intel on areas I have hunted in the past, such as which yards might be worth hitting, and key property owners that can help with permission.
That said, Metal Detecting is one of the most cut-throat hobbies in the world. Many detectorists feel like they should be the only ones practicing the hobby and will say anything to “protect” their finds from being dug by you. I’m speaking from the vantage point of Civil War relic hunting. I can’t imagine how bad detecting for gold nuggets must be.
I was very naive on this subject until about 3 years ago when I started trying to improve. I’d take advice from anyone that would give it. One day I was told that a certain landowner never gives permission and was taken aback because I had already hunted it and the older lady that had owned it forever was as nice and kind as could be. When I mentioned this to the person, they got angry and rarely spoke to me again.
So I started evaluating the advice I was given from several people and realized that many were mentors, willing to help me. They weren’t feeding me free sites, but helping me on my way with intel on specific research I had done, for example, or seeing something I was struggling with and offering tips. Others, I noticed, never actually helped me, even though it seemed like it. All their advice was about NOT doing something, or NOT hunting somewhere. “Let me do you a favor and save you some time. That place is hunted out.” or “They never give permission.”
EVALUATING ADVICE AND INTEL
In general, if someone tells you anything, no matter how good it sounds, that discourages you from improving your skills or hunting a given site, you should consider it highly suspect. At a minimum, don’t follow any advice blindly.
If I’m given advice on settings or techniques, I’ll work it out for myself in my test garden. Maybe the advice is sound, but just not right for my detecting style.
If I’m given intel on a great site where permission supposedly is impossible, often I will use that knowledge to develop a careful strategy to approach the property owner that might work, such as a mutually beneficial proposal. Sure I’ve got some “No’s” just the same, but also I’ve gotten some really good permission that way.
Permission is never impossible, albeit extremely difficult. I believe that every property owner will grant permission with the correct approach. We might never know what that approach is. The correct approach might be calculated, or total blind luck, such as just catching them at the right time. A few months ago, I received one day permission from a landowner that never grants permission, because by blind luck I caught him on his birthday.
Often permission intel is very honest, but maybe outdated. We hunted one area where everyone had been run off 20 years ago because of crowding the homeowners. Apparently, detectorist’s vehicles were parked up and down the street like an estate sale, and some hunters were trespassing at night without permission. However, enough time had passed where most of the property owners were reasonable, and many properties had changed hands.
And if the advice is that a place is “hunted out”, I will always hit it, and hit it hard. 90%+ of my best finds have come from such sites. So when I hear “hunted out”, all I think is “loaded”. “That place is hunted out (loaded)”.
THE RELICS NEVER LIE
The answer to almost any detecting related question might be “The Relics never lie”. If advice from other detectorists results in finds, then it is good, even if the advice is crazy or the assistance is unintentional. Keep listening.
The best yard I have ever hunted is less than a half an acre. We were told that permission is tough to impossible and that it had been hunted over 100 times in the past and nothing was left. The yard has since produced three belt plates, including 2 rare ones, over 100 bullets, eagle buttons, civil war pocketknives, gun parts, and an ultra rare state button. And it continues to produce whenever we drop by as a fallback.
The advice I received on this site was all true. Permission was difficult, and the site had indeed been hunted a lot. But we approached it anyway, because of the potential.
Develop good relationships with other detectorists, even those you don’t detect with. If I can’t hit a site that has a limited window, or sites that I’ve hit but think hold more relics, I will let other detectorists know about it, and even get permission for them. Detectorists that want to see relics saved, and want to see other detectorists be successful are like this.
Help those that help you, and those you want to see succeed. I do business with the relic dealers that help me out, for example, when I’m in a bind with research. I also like to help up and coming relic hunters that are trying hard and are willing to listen.
Detectorists that want it all for themselves will offer discouraging “advice”, let the relics lie, or try to set you up for failure. Interestingly and thankfully, the good guys always find more than those that are in it just for themselves.