This month we caught up with Mark Martin. Mark is a super guy with an exciting, unusual job that allows him the flexibility to detect a good bit. Time and time again, he has repeatedly pulled rare finds from sites that have been hunted by veteran hunters for years. As a result, Mark has compiled an astonishing collection of key and rare detecting finds, especially impressive considering that he has only been seriously hunting for a couple of years. Mark’s mindset and techniques are top-notch considering today’s detecting environment. Here is his interview!
DETECTING365: Thanks for taking time to answer our questions, Mark! You’ve managed to rescue a collection of rare Civil War relics including an ultra rare CSA belt plate, a complete cavalry spur, a Confederate infantry button and a rare Whitworth sniper rifle projectile. Your key finds rival or exceed those of many serious relic hunters that have been hunting for 25 years or more. You manage to consistently find rare relics, so it is clearly much more than luck. How do you do it? What things do you do that you think make the difference?
MARK MARTIN: I have only had my own detector (Garrett AT Pro) since February, 2014, so I really still feel like a rookie. I credit good friend Terry Oquin who loaned me his old Tesoro to “get a feel” for metal detecting. He and hunting buddy Wes Ware have been a wealth of information and inspiration concerning the history of our area, relic ID, and technique. I was hunting with them when I found my first bullet, and everyone knows the obsession begins after that.
One of my major motivators, other than enjoying the hunt, is the fact that I have adopted a hobby that has been active in my area for decades. Who likes being last in line? I feel like I am fishing in a pond that has been fished and never restocked. That said, I have been on hunts with Terry and Wes at common sites and we still find CW relics.
Of the four relics mentioned above, I can categorize the finds as…. beginners luck, luck, and more luck. The Whitworth was found in a yard profiled in the Nashville Banner newspaper in 1965 for the CW Centennial. I was hunting a yard next door when the owner of the (Whitworth) yard walked over to ask if I could hunt his yard. After three days of hunting, only three bullets were found. The owner let me keep the Whitworth, and was happy to have the other two bullets and information I gave him about the Whitworth rifle.
It is obvious that research is very important. I try to read as much as I can about the Battle of Nashville and try to interpret battle movements with present day locations. I use a free app on my iPad called Coinshooter. It is a little clunky, but allows me to drop a pin on a map at each hunt site, add notes, and photos of finds. Today’s map lists 141 hunt sites since 2/2014.