The Metal Detecting Mindset:  Willing Yourself to Win Part 2:  Confederate Button

The Metal Detecting Mindset: Willing Yourself to Win Part 2: Confederate Button

On January 27th, I wrote an article on the process used to help me find my first Civil War Plate.  In the last paragraph, I set my next goal using the same process.  Here is the exact text from the last paragraph of the article:

“So now I’m working on creating a vision of digging a Confederate button.  As before I’ll collect information from those that have dug one, practice on samples, and create a video image in my head with as much detail as possible.   And we’ll see what happens…”

Well what happened is, two months later I dig the ultra-rare Confederate Block “I” infantry button, Tennessee style “puff rim” shown above.     Many detectorists in this area have hunted for years in Middle Tennessee without finding one.  I was stunned.   Middle of a back yard with a bunch of other relics from a camp or picket post.

An interesting thing to note is that shortly after I found the Martingale, I found a US Belt buckle – my second plate.  So the first envisioning process seemed to net me two plates and not one.  Go figure.

US Plate and Accompanying Finds

US Plate and Accompanying Finds

This is For Real

Knowing the nature of the internet, the first thing I’d like to clarify is that my finds are 100% real  I know there are a lot of people out there on blogs and YouTube and forums that are perceived to “find” planted items or post items they didn’t dig at all.   I don’t know if that is true or not, but I “swear on a stack of Bibles” that every single find I post is one I actually dug.  I am telling you this, because looking at my own finds, I don’t think I would believe them if I were you.  For example, I’ve found 11 buttons in the past year, and three of them have been rare:  A Confederate block “I” button, a Federal “R” Rifleman button, and an early militia eagle button.   Fortunately I have witnesses for all but the early militia button, which doesn’t have a shank, and though rare, is not the most unbelievable of the three.   Practically the entire Middle Tennessee Metal Detecting Club witnessed me digging the Eagle+R button in Triune, TN.   This is another great reason to not detect alone.   Anyway – if you are calling BS on my finds, please come down to middle TN and detect with me.   Maybe we’ll find something awesome or not, but I guarantee it will be fun and whatever we find will be real.  I’m like everyone else.  Some days I hunt 8 hours and am lucky to find a bullet or a silver.  But I hunt enough, research enough and am aggressive on permission enough to the point that I’m on good sites.  And this is where the “good stuff” comes from.

What Happened?

It was a beautiful Saturday.  I detected two yards with just awful results.  The first yard was in a great spot, big and on a hillside, but very trashy and I walked away empty-handed.  The second yard had been hunted to death in the past, and had very few targets of any kind.    At 2:30 pm, I  literally thought “I’m in danger of getting skunked today.  I haven’t even dug a bullet.”

The third yard had a big front yard which was ok, but the medium-sized backyard was absolutely loaded with stuff.

Absolutely Loaded with Stuff.

Absolutely Loaded with Stuff.

This is not Magic Wishing

I’ve had a couple of readers write to me and question whether you could “will yourself” to find something.    One of the best detectorists in Middle Tennessee drove it home though.  Johnny Pryor  said “It’s a mindset.  Not a mindset of wishing you would find something, but the mindset of doing all that is necessary to put you in the right place at the right time.”

This is why this envisioning process works, and is not the same as wishing we’d win the lottery.   Why?  Because in order for it to work, you have to be in position for it to work.   This process is simply harnessing the unused portion of your mind to make something specific happen that is unlikely to happen otherwise.    So what are these prerequisites then?

You have to Do the Work

This is why this is an “expert” tip and not a “beginner tip”.  You have to have the skills to convert.   Permission skills, research skills, and detecting skills.   You need to detect regularly and detect hard, master a good machine, and know how to dig tough targets such as deep keepers and iffy targets in trash.

You Have to Be in Position

You have to be in an area where it is possible that the finds you are envisioning can be found.    When I found my Martingale and US Plate, and the “I” button, I knew I was in a place where they were definitely out there.

I think it is certainly possible to use this envisioning process without both of the above prerequisites, but I am uncertain of how long it might take.

The Process

So what I’ve been doing is trying to harness the “unused” portion of my brain (hold the jokes please) to augment my skills and help me find specific items on my bucket list.  Specifically:

1) Select an item you’d like to find.  I prefer to be as general as possible to attempt to make it happen as quickly as possible.  “Any Civil War Plate”   “Any Confederate Button” are the two I’ve converted so far this year.

2) Research the items you’d like to find and practice detecting samples if possible

3) Collect every detail you can from detectorists you know that have found the item you wish to find.  Depth, sound, signal, environment.  What did it feel like?   Every little detail helps.

4) Create a vision in your mind of digging the item, in as much detail as possible.   You have to be able to see it, just like a memory.   What did it look, sound and feel like.   Picture it all dirty in your hand just out of the ground.  Feel it in your grip.  What did it smell like.   The more detail the better.

5)  Replay the vision/advance memory in your head as regularly as possible.  Every day.  Before hunts. Before you go to bed.

6)  Work to find the object via research and permission in the right places.    You’ve still got to find the object.  This process isn’t magical.  It is just giving you a huge extra edge.

What’s Next?

April 2, 2015:   I’d like to find any US Gold coin.   I am going to use the same process I used for the plate and the button, and again – no guarantees – I’m going to work hard and see what happens.  Best of luck out there!

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have all the answers as to why this process works.  But it works for me, and I appreciate it.  And it’s not crazy if it works.

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There are 7 comments for this article
  1. William G Siesser at 2:37 pm

    Nice article — I think you are right on the money with your thoughts on this.

    If I may also add something that I think distinguishes most successful hunters in the long run, and you have probably heard me say it before: within reason, a person just has to get out and hunt. It’s far too easy to say it is too hot, too cold, too muddy, ground’s too hard, etc., etc., etc. and stay home. If we waited for PERFECT conditions we would never go!

    • Clark D at 3:21 pm

      Mr. Siesser: Excellent point. If we don’t put in the hours, it is more difficult to get on excellent spots. Even with good research, various properties are “hit and miss”, but eventually, one will be a huge hit! So we have to hit a lot of properties to regularly get on extremely productive spots, which equates to a lot of hours. Thanks for your comments and best regards!

  2. Donnie Brown at 6:49 pm

    Knowing your going to find a confederate button in any confederate camp has always been a great determinating tool in my 33 yrs of relic hunting

    • Clark D at 5:14 pm

      Definitely Donnie. I bet you have more than one! In the Confederate camps I’ve hunted I’ve been lucky to dig a flat button LOL. Most Confederate camps these days have been hammered and have zero “I” buttons left. It took a random yard for me to dig my first and only! My only chance was to happen upon a small one no one knew about. Fortunately the back yard had never been hunted and had enough relics for me to afterwards conclude they camped there during the battle of Nashville, or it was a picket post. Conversely I know lots of detectorists who knew they were NOT going to find a Confederate button before hunting a known Confederate camp! And as you guess they are always right! Funny how believing or not believing can affect the outcome. Thanks for taking time to comment!!!! Good luck out there!

  3. Donnie Vaughn at 5:15 pm

    The secret to it all is really 3 things. (1) research. There are still places out there that have never been found, that’s were you can clean up. New places can be found. (2) You have to go! The folks that find the most, usually go the most. It goes hand in hand. (3) Hunt old, period house sites. Most people avoid them claiming they are too trashy and most ARE however, if you want to dig some good relics, stay with them. I’ve hunted many of them and if they are along a major road used during the civil war or even NEAR a major road, I will usually dig a few relics. Sometimes maybe just a bullet or a yankee button but sometimes a lot more. If you research, go often, and look on old house sites, I will guarantee that you will still dig relics.

    • Clark D at 8:01 am

      That’s some sound wisdom from one of Middle Tennessee’s legendary relic hunters, folks. Thank-you, Mr. Vaughn. You remind me that I need to do some research and map work to locate CW period homes in some of the new areas I am trying to break into along the Duck River. Come to think of it, some of the best places I’ve ever hunted are in yards where a CW period house once stood that is no longer there. I need to reduce my leadtime between great sites. I’m hunting a lot, but really grinding it out with a find here and a find there and its been a while since I hit a really good site! Best regards and thank-you for taking time to comment.

  4. Donnie Vaughn at 8:20 am

    Thanks Clark. I can’t overemphasize the importance of locating and hunting old, period house sites. almost every one of them will produce a few relics and it’s rare (at least for us) when they don’t. It might interest you to know (since you mentioned the Duck river) that we dug several Confederate buttons years ago at an old house site near Columbia, near Bear Creek road, and near the Duck river. Please understand that I’m not bragging but just trying to make my point. If we can do that, anybody can do that. Donnie

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