The Learning Curve or TLC for Newbies

The Learning Curve or TLC for Newbies

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Have you ever wondered what was under your front yard or at your local park or swimming hole? Have you ever watched one of the shows about metal detecting on TV or the internet and thought “Gee, that looks like fun, I want to try that myself?

Does that describe you?

Hello, my name is Keith, aka Konadog. I recently got into metal detecting and thought maybe I could answer some of the questions I had before I got one and by writing about it together we can grow into seasoned veterans and share the learning curve.

I got my first detector a week before my 58th birthday as a gift May 20th, 2014. A date that will live in infamy according to the little woman, since I go hunting most of my free time now she’s almost sorry she bought it…lol.

You may think you have to spend a lot of money getting into metal detecting, but you don’t. I got a Bounty Hunter Tracker IV she bought at a large retail hobby store for less than $80.00 with the printable coupon she found online from that retailer. But there are pawn shops and online retailers that offer used equipment at a reduced costs too by the way, so even those with limited play around money can jump in without starving the kids and pets.

As a matter of fact in the roughly two months I’ve been hunting only in local city parks, my yard and a couple neighbors yards, mine has already paid for itself in coins and rings that I’ve found, if I were to cash them in that is, but back to getting started.

Detectors are as varied in functions and features as automobiles almost. Entry level “turn on and go” like my Tracker with three modes, to all the bells and whistles of the upscale machines with LCD screens that almost can tell you what you are detecting before you dig. Dirt hunting and beach hunting are two different animals and the soil composition of your area may dictate the type of machine you need. If you are unsure about what to get ask either someone from you area or your chosen dealer about what units work best for what you want to do.

*Note: The guy at wally world or any big box sporting goods store will probably not know as much as a full time detector dealer about your needs so tread carefully in those waters unless you are sure they know more than you.

I think if you are new to the hobby “less is best” and “baby steps” so to say. If I’d have had to learn on a more complex machine I’d probably have given up by now unless I had someone looking over my shoulders teaching me. You can always upgrade to bigger and better when your ready. Selling your old detector or as I plan to do, keeping it for a spare or letting the kids or little woman use it down the road.

Going on the assumption you’ve read up on detectors or asked a  dealer what’s right for you and found one you think will work for you and your budget, let’s get started.

The first thing a new detectorist has to do of course is set up and read the instructions on your new toy. Since you are reading this, hopefully, you are already familiar with one of the greatest resources for a lot of hobbies, the internet. Youtube is chocked full of videos on everything from getting your detector out of the box to displaying those treasures you’ve dug up. Forums, and online magazines like Detecting365 are good resources not only for info but meeting and making new friends or finding a mentor as well. Do what the manual says and you’ll be out finding coins/relics in no time if you don’t have an experienced buddy who can show you the ropes.

You can start out with basic accessories too. My detector, a garden trowel and cloth nail bag are what I started out with. A backpack or fanny pack will hold extra batteries,water bottles and bug spray or what ever creature comforts you may want to bring along especially if your hunting an out of the way place. A garden knife, or a screwdriver or ice pick to probe is useful for shallow coins and you can pop them out without making a big hole. The soil you’ll be hunting or maybe local rules dictate the use of other means of unearthing those buried goodies, so read up on those areas too before heading out.

A pin pointer is nice but you can live without one. I bought a cheap one from a well known cheap tool supply place that’s been nothing but dead weight almost from day one so I don’t even pack it anymore. Buy a good one and don’t waste time with cutting corners, you can wave the dirt over the coil if need be until you get a good one. I have one coming from a buddy who got his with a new detector and doesn’t need it (BTW, PhilB… If you read this THANK YOU VERY MUCH. If there is anything I can ever do in return all you have to do is ask!)

Okay, you’ve got your detector, gotten it put together and have read the manual and are somewhat familiar with it? Got your digging tools and something to put all your loot in? Before you head out into the world, detector and digging tools in hand with visions of finding Blackbeard’s treasure or relics from days of yore. Watch a video of, or have an experienced hobbyist show you how to dig a plug or pop coins out the ground! I can’t stress this point enough.

I didn’t learn how to dig a proper plug and my wife wanted to beat me over the head with my detector for tearing up the yard. During my first hunt with an experienced hunter, he chastised me for not knowing the proper way to dig a plug. Use the Boy Scout wilderness code….”Leave No Trace”. There are several ways to dig, learn what works for you, the environment and conforms with local laws. Picking up trash you see on the ground is another good way to show goodwill and that you care about the land and keeping the hobby itself legal btw.

What’s next you ask? The answer to that is going out in your own yard. Make a “coin garden” and bury different coins and “trash” items, pull tabs, pieces of cans etc. at different levels and angles ,marking and identifying what and where they are somehow, to learn what your detector is telling you about what’s under the ground. Once you’ve become familiar with what things sound like you’ll dig less trash and more good stuff.

Detector? Check! Tools and accessories? Check! Know how to dig properly? Check! Know a little about how to tell the difference between a coin and some sloppy persons careless picnicing habits? Check!

Good, on to your first hunt!

Read More About Where to Go Detecting on Page 2

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There is 1 comment for this article
  1. Phil at 12:58 am

    Well written article Keith. I wish I’d had something like that to read when I first started detecting. Looking forward to your next article.

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