Courtesy to your Fellow Detectorists

Courtesy to your Fellow Detectorists

“A pity and pall bearing, prophetic point.  Clear, chorusing, climactic it chimes on and on inside of my head.  As the future comes to reveal itself, it is always as I have said: ‘Friends and love may come and go but you are here to stay.  From whence you came I do not know; to where I’m not to say.  A lightning strike of insight enlightens visions that dance in my mind.  I alone know of the truth; the rest of the world is blind.'” – Soliloquy of a Dying Hermit

I’d like to thank D365 contributing author Whit Hill for the inspiration to write this article.   Whit and I both live in the Nashville, Tennessee area.   She is a very accomplished detectorist, and has been gracious to invite me detecting not once, but thrice.   I failed to make it either time, but promise to hunt with her soon.

In contrast, while visiting in-laws in rural Mississippi over the weekend, I had the good fortune to be invited to hunt a nearby early 1800s ghost town.    While on a break during the first hunt in an old church yard, I was told that the caretaker of the grounds had driven by and seen me hunting and remarked “I don’t know why he’s bothering.  I’ve hunted that place out.  He’s not going to find anything.”    I’d have been pleased for the guy to have stopped and chatted, even gibed me about his finds.   If he truly felt there was nothing to find, why not be friendly?  He could have simply remarked that he wished me luck, but had heavily hunted the site before.  But it was like he was insulted I was there.  I’ve run into this type of pseudo-animosity from time to time over the years – usually when I hunt a new area and run into a local detectorist.

The contrast between the attitudes of detectorists like Whit, and some of these others got me to thinking:

What do you think when you hear about or are driving and see someone hunting in “your” area?

Detectorist Density
is another one of Clark’s stupid terms.  It simply refers to the number of detectorists you are competing with within a given area.  Usually it is zero, an exact number like 2, or “a lot of them”.    In Middle Tennessee where I hunt, the detectorist density is “a lot of them”.   In the primary areas I hunt in Mississippi, some of the spots I hit were hunted moderately years ago, but for now, the density is zero.

I expect to see lots of detectorists around the battlefields in the Nashville area, and it takes heavy research and permission skills to find great sites.

Natural Tendencies
As detectorists, perhaps our natural tendencies are to feel that our “territory” is being encroached on.  I admit I feel a slight tinge of jealousy when I see someone else detecting a cool spot – mostly because I’d sure like to be out there with them.

We can also tend to be somewhat secretive and not very friendly to other detectorists.   After all, many of us do not want to reveal our sites – often found with tough research, and hunted with hard-earned permission – especially our “honey holes”.

It’s also easy to think that anything found by another detectorist is something you could have or should have found.   After all, there is a finite amount of treasure out there to be found, right?   And new sites get harder and harder to come by as more are hunted.

Dangerous Mindset
The obvious fallacy with these tendencies is that, as long as the other detectorists have permission and are lawfully detecting, they have just as much right to detect as we do.  We aren’t wolves protecting a den or food source are we?

If you detect alone and never hunt with a partner, never visit the local detecting club, and never share information with other detectorists, then I have to ask you:  what kind of hobby is that?

What kind of hobby is that?

I submit to you that you are not only missing out on some of the best enjoyment of the hobby, but you are also missing out on finds.

What Your Anger May Be Actually Telling You
When I see someone detecting “my turf”, and get even mildly jealous or irritated, I jump on my own case.    If I had got off my ass and identified or got permission to hunt the site they are hunting, I wouldn’t be so worried about it.  Maybe this is a wakeup call?

When I run across someone detecting in “my area”, I try to make an attempt to introduce myself.   Most of the time they are suspicious, defensive or at least irritated, so I’ll be brief so they can get back to detecting.  I validate myself as a detectorist and not a threat, and give them my card.   If they seem cool, I may throw them a site to hunt, or maybe even invite them to hunt together at a later date, making it clear I expect they provide the next site in return.   I’ve met some cool people and hunted some great sites like this.

Exceptions to the Rule
When I see someone hunting right through the middle of a graveyard, vandalizing by not covering their holes or leaving their dug trash in a public area, or trespassing, I have to admit I get upset because that is the type of behavior that is continuing to ruin the hobby for all of us.     I’ll generally stop and talk to them and try to be friendly before trying to nicely point out the problem I have with what they are doing.  Many times they just don’t know any better and apologize!  I’ve shown detectorists how to properly and neatly recover a target, and if they seem cool, I’ll even offer to hunt with them some time.    I did have a trespasser who obviously knew he was trespassing run off and fall on his detector jumping a fence one time.   Maybe he thought I was the landowner or 5-0!

Final Thoughts
We each do not have a monopoly on metal detecting.  Detecting is a hobby, and it’s not all about the greed of finding the most treasure.  Like any hobby, half the fun is sharing it with others, yo.    Thanks for reading.

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Photo Credits
Some rights reserved by Tambako the Jaguar

There are 6 comments for this article
  1. Whit Hill at 1:15 pm

    Why, thank you, Clark! I do not even remotely think of myself as a “very accomplished metal detectorist” but I’m certainly trying. Loved this piece. Yes, I’m all for sharing sites and detecting with others, tho I will say that I’ve had some pretty transcendent times detecting alone (always in safe place, like a lawn or park with people around). That said, I sure love being able to go “Whoo-hoo!” and show some cool trinket to my digging buddy, Cheryl. Likewise, I thoroughly enjoy cheering her on when (as so often happens) she skunks me! And of course, on this topic, Cheryl and I would not be half the detectorists we are today without the generous, open spirit of the late, great Doug Drake. We can never repay him, except by being excellent ambassadors of the hobby and welcoming and encouraging the new folks. See Dirt Girl Unleashed for more!

  2. Allyson Cohen at 2:39 pm

    I do have a favorite spot, where time and time again, I’ve continued to find good stuff. I did take some folks there once, they found some silver, but dismissed the site of being worthy. Funny thing is though, the next time I went there, it looked like someone had been shelling the place (and this was not a well known or easy to find spot). It was easy to put two and two together, and that was the last time I shared my favorite site.

    As for seeing others out detecting, theres enough treasure for everyone, and I am usually friendly, however, if it seems like the person is avoiding me, I will keep to myself.

    And those holes–I can’t count the number of times I’ve walked around filling other peoples holes. The worst offenders seem to be at group hunts, where fellow club members, who are aware, and told at the beginning of the hunt to “fill in them holes”, neglect to do just that. Maybe they figure since there are so many people, they can be lazy because someone else might get blamed. I can’t always figure people out, but I clean up their mess rather than see another spot off limits.

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