Metal Detecting Etiquette

Metal Detecting Etiquette

This is a subject that comes up often on metal detecting forums.  What do you do and when? What are the rules?  Is there anything you should know for sure?

A lot of metal detecting etiquette stuff is common sense–something that is becoming more rare by the day.  But some of it is specific to detecting and might only be realized by those with more experience.  Let’s take a look at a few metal detecting etiquette subjects.

Be generally polite
Remember, most people are not familiar with metal detecting. That means you will be a lot of people’s first experience with the hobby, which means you should try to represent it in the best light possible. Answer any questions to the best of your knowledge, smile and don’t use strong language, and educate instead of berate. It’ll do you and the hobby a whole ton of good.

Go out early or late
Whether you hunt parks, beaches, lakes, or other public spots, it’s best to avoid crowds whenever possible. For that reason, heading out early in the morning or late in the evening are good ideas. If you have weekdays available, use them to detect. For obvious reasons, a park or a beach will be less crowded at two in the afternoon on Tuesday than it will be at the same time on Saturday.

Use headphones
Each brand and model of detector makes its own noises, but they all make noises. Don’t be the guy hunting a park sounding like an old Atari game. People go to the park or the beach to relax, not hear your beeping and bopping and growling machine. Trust me on that one. Besides, those of you in the know realize that using headphones benefits the hunter greatly, too, as we can hear smaller sounds inaudible with the stock speaker.

Use a reasonable digger
Don’t go to a public park in town with a shovel and a chainsaw, or our hobby won’t last long. Get yourself a nice digging tool like a Lesche or the Ames True Temper or the Fiskars–something small and light that isn’t overkill for grass. If people see you wielding a three-foot axe to dig finds with, your day at the park will end sooner than you had planned.

Cover your holes
This is another biggie that is discussed often on forums. It’s a sad sight to enter a park and see a million holes in the lawn. Again, besides protecting people from sprained ankles and the like, covering your holes promotes responsible metal detecting, which is very important. It only takes a couple of seconds to cover your tracks. Just put the dirt back in the hole and stomp it down on your way back up to a standing position. If that’s too difficult for you, it’s time to find another pastime.

Remove any trash you find
On top of removing any pull-tabs or other junk you dig out of the ground, it’s a great idea to also pick up other trash as you go. If you leave the area you are detecting in better shape than when you found it, it’s difficult for anyone to complain. But if people see you digging up foil and junk and casting it aside, there will be confrontations in your future. Don’t wreck it for the responsible detectorists.

Report dangerous things
If you are detecting and see something dangerous that could cause harm, tell someone. If the danger can be fixed quickly and safely, fix it but if it can’t, let the people who can fix it know and warn others around about the danger. Don’t be the jerk who is too busy to help people.

Obtain proper permission for private property
You are likely to get much further with a homeowner if you approach politely and ask permission to hunt their lawn than if they come home and you have a digger buried six inches into their front yard. Besides being illegal, it’s just purely uncool. Do everything you can to contact the owners of private property before you start detecting it out of the blue. Things like that put this hobby in a very, very bad light.

Help newbies
If you take out someone who is interested in detecting, don’t just hand that person a bunch of stuff and tell ’em to go for it. Explain the basics of the detector, explain the basics of etiquette, and answer any questions they may have to the best of your ability.

Also, keep a close eye on anyone who is new to the hobby. If you see them doing something wrong while you are out detecting, notify them immediately and suggest another way. To that end, the same goes on metal detecting forums. Don’t scoff and talk down to people who are new to the hobby. Remember, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

Final Thoughts
I’m sure there are fifty-‘leven other metal detecting etiquette points we could make, but I feel the ones above are the biggies. If we all detect responsibly, our hobby will stay around a long, long time but if we crash and bash haphazardly and do whatever we feel like doing at the moment, our hobby will go the way of the dodo.

Be safe, be polite, and happy hunting, all!


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Dig Deeper
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Detecting Etiquette:  Flickr- Some rights reserved by Muffet



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