“I bought a ticket to the world, but now I’ve come back again. Why do I find it hard to write the next line? Oh, I want the truth to be said.” – Spandau Ballet
Metal detecting is a very tough and complex hobby. We as detectorists are salvaging historical artifacts. As historians we are trying to piece together evidence to support our research. In detecting, there is no room for subjective analysis or opinions. So I check myself on any question I ask or am asked with one simple answer. This simple truth is the cold, hard answer to all of these questions and others.
Question: Who is the best detectorist? John or Bill?
Answer: The Relics Never Lie. Doesn’t matter if John detects 40 hours a week and Bill detects 1 hour a week. If John recovers the most significant coins or relics, than he is better. Doesn’t matter if Bill has 50 years of detecting experience and John is a newbie. If John is currently recovering the most significant finds, he is currently the most effective, best detectorist between the two.
Maybe Bill is just lucky. John has a better detector. But John detects more than Bill. Bill has the hookup for better permission. Everybody knows John is the better detectorist. Bill is in a slump right now. But Bill has a better history. You and I can make various perfect arguments, but I believe none of this matters. Either you are currently rescuing the key relics from the ground, or you are not. The Relics Never Lie.
Question: What are the best settings for my metal detector?
Answer: The Relics Never Lie.
I maintain that there are no single set of magical settings for a given detector, and therefore I adjust out in the field based on the nature of site and conditions – density and depth of remaining targets, iron, trash, etc. I have a good idea of what the best general settings are for a variety of detectors. With that said, if you are finding good stuff with your settings, then don’t listen to me. Perhaps there is room for improvement. Perhaps not. The Relics Never Lie.
Question: Is this the location of the Smithington house?
Answer: (Wait for it) THE RELICS NEVER LIE. When we research and determine a great place to hunt where the structure or site no longer exists, the best way to know for sure is to detect the ground in the area until you find evidence that states you are in the right place.
There is a famous historical home in the Nashville area that most everyone thinks is in a certain place due to maps and other records. The location is close, but I’ve learned otherwise. I know where the well and the nail bed of the structure are because I’ve detected them and found suitable evidence. The Relics Never Lie.
Question: How can I become a better detectorist?
Answer: The Relics Never Lie. What are you currently not finding? If all the relics (and coins) you dig are six inches or less, then you need to work on depth. If you are not digging great relics out of iron and trash, then you should work on that in the test garden. If you are not finding any or enough relics or coins, or the finds are not quality, then perhaps you need to work on research and permission. Let us let the nature of our finds dictate what we need to work on.
Question: Do I need a new metal detector?
Answer: The Relics Never Lie.
I use a Minelab e-Trac and a Fisher F75. I’ll be honest and say I’d like an XP Deus right now. It is the sexiest thing out there IMO. Light as a feather. Wireless. Deep. Killer performance in trash. Everybody is getting them. I wish I could buy one in candy apple red with some kind of hood ornament on it.
The cold, hard truth is, however, is that I am killing it right now with my existing detectors. In the first six weeks of the year I have found a Civil War Martingale, an 1842 half dime in VF+ condition, a pocket spill of 4 Barbers and and Indian Cent, and a boatload of other stuff. The inconvenient truth is that it is not in my best interest right now to start using a different detector. I’d like to say I would find more stuff with it but I know better. The learning curve alone could set me back. So I’ve forced myself to hold off on the purchase because I really believe that, in spite of my own wishes and opinions, the relics never lie.
I’m sure there are exceptions to every rule, and you can’t go around blindly saying “The Relics Never Lie” to everyone. But when you are confronted with a research, equipment, or other metal detecting related question, I find this is a great place to start. Most often no matter how much I try to get away from it, if I’m honest with myself, in the end I realize that maybe the relics actually don’t ever lie. Best of luck on your next hunt.
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