Winning Anyway:  Beating the Buzzer

Winning Anyway: Beating the Buzzer

A good detectorist knows the proper way to efficiently detect a site is to grid it off and hit every square inch multiple times at different angles.   Before I do that, I like to “free-style” the site, wandering around attempting to find a hot spot – checking the obvious spots first for a fairly virgin site, and checking the places I figure previous detectorists might have missed on heavily hunted sites.  If a site is really productive and I can hit it for multiple sessions, I may grid it off and detect it properly.

I’ve spoken to a lot of detectorists and heard a lot of find stories, and in spite of a vast array of different approaches, I hear the same three phrases over and over:

1) “I found it immediately.  It was the first hole I dug.”   And often times they found nothing else or this was the best find of the day.

2) “We didn’t find anything but found this when we were about to leave.”

3) “I found this randomly swinging walking back to the car.”

And these statements match my own experiences perfectly.   Many of my best finds of the day during a detecting session are recovered immediately, literally the first hole or two I dig in the first few minutes – first few swings.

Until further notice, I’m chalking this up to something like good luck brought upon by a fresh mind and excitement of hitting the site.

It is the second two that concern me the most because these happen a lot – two many times to count in previous years, so let’s just talk about this month – January 2015.       I have two finds I consider monsters and a prize keeper that is a “first” for me.   Let’s take a look at their recovery in relation to the session:

1) Civil War Burnside Cartridge Case:   I was detecting a spot where I’d found a few bullets – a treacherous place to hunt that was a Union position high above a river.  I’d found a few bullets on the rocky ledges before, and can only hunt it at all during the winter as it is just too much undergrowth.   Lots of trash too.  So I hunted an hour without finding anything but a couple shotgun shell casings.  It was wearing me out so I told myself I would dig three more targets and then leave.   So I started detecting in the direction of my vehicle and Bam!  The very next target was the Burnside Casing.

2) Civil War US Martingale:   Was detecting a yard with a buddy and since time was short I took one half the yard and he took the other.  I found a couple of three ringer bullets and he had dug a really good find.   So we switched sides and I could tell he was ready to leave so I was just hitting the edge of the yard.  Just as I turned to start walking back to in the direction of my vehicle, I hit and dug the Martingale.

3) 1842 Half Dime:   Same story different day.   Hunted an incredible site for almost three hours.   Decided to detect the border of the property and make my way back up to the car where the guy I was detecting was wrapping it up.        This site had been absolutely pounded by detectorists in the past, and all I had was a big horse shoe to show for my efforts.  As I climbed the gently sloping giant lawn back up toward the car, I got an iffy signal, and dug the half dime.  The very next target about two feet away was a brass ladies ring that looked as least as old as the half dime.

And I can go on and on.  Perhaps you can relate with your own stories.

In the past I’ve never really put much thought into this phenomenon.  I guess if someone had asked me, I would have pointed out that often, I’m not going to leave until I find something, and therefore many of my finds are at the end of a detecting session because I’m not leaving until I found them.  But that doesn’t explain it at all.  The finds I describe above all came as I was about to leave, not because I wasn’t leaving until I found them.

So naturally I’m thinking this:  What am I doing differently as the clock is about to run down, then during the entire rest of the session?   And the only answer I can think of is SENSE OF URGENCY.    It’s like the buzzer at the end of a basketball game.  I’m literally trying to beat the buzzer.

But that’s crazy right?  Do we actually have the power to will ourselves to find something in the final minutes of a hunt?    And even if we do, how can we apply this “sense of urgency” to the entire session?

The first thing I’m going to start doing is establish a Buzzer for every detecting session.  Whether it is sunset or my kitchen pass ran out, or I just gotta go, I’m going to treat it like a buzzer.    This is very different than not leaving until I find something.  Because I don’t change anything – I just detect until I pass out or finally find something.

I’m not sure, but maybe when time is running out, subconsciously my mind is driving me like “That’s a good spot over there I better pay close attention to it before the clock runs out.“, or “The clock is running out, so I better focus to the extreme and try to hear a tough, iffy signal or I’m not going to find anything.”

And maybe I do detect differently when the clock is running out.  3….2…..1…….Bzzzzzzzz!   More later.

Best of luck on your next hunt.

Photo Credits

Kevin Dooley


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