The Detecting Mindset:  Quick Tips to Win, Win, Win!

The Detecting Mindset: Quick Tips to Win, Win, Win!

“All I do is win, win, win – no matter what.  Got relics on my mind. I can never get enough.” – DJ Khaled

A fellow detectorist recently asked me “how do you go out and find a pile of amazing finds every single time you go out?”

Well first of all I corrected him:  I don’t find a pile of good stuff every time.  But I do almost always manage to find something decent each time I go out detecting, and sometimes I hit a site that really produces a fat pouch full of finds.   And here is how I do it:


A guy on Facebook posted this recently:  “Is there anywhere to hunt in XXXville?”   I started to reply with a simple “No” at the ridiculousness of the question but after watching the thread I realized he was serious.     Research and permission are the primary keys to consistently finding quality items.   If you are afraid of knocking on doors and get permission I guarantee it gets easier if you force yourself to do it.   Fortune favors the bold.  No risk no reward.  All they can say is “No.”    The detectorist who consistently goes after well-researched, new private property with honest permission will win bigger and much more often than those who hunt sites repeatedly, hunt the easy public sites, and “sneak around” to hunt wherever they can.

And don’t be afraid to hunt the “hunted out” sites.  My last three Civil War plates and my GW Inaugural button came off of sites that were obvious and had been hunted hundreds of times over the years.


If you only hunt an hour here and there and do not hunt every single week, you are not going to stay sharp and simple math says you will not find as much as someone who hunts 8 hours per week.  If you want to be consistently successful in this hobby, you’ve got to swing a detector as much as possible.  I block out Saturdays for detecting.  I try to take off work at least one day per month to get in a day.  And I try to hunt in 6-8 hour sessions on those days.     And I try to get in an hour before dark at a construction site or honey hole once a week.

My goal is to actually swing a detector, not counting travel time, at least 30 hours per month.


This is the key and why I like yard hunting.    If you have six hours to hunt, try to hit three yards or more and if you hit a yard that is golden, stay there.  Be ready to move on after a couple of hours to another site.   Use the laws of averages to get on a good site on a given day.  Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, in other words.  Strike a balance here though – don’t leave a promising site too soon, and be ready to come back to a site where you had no luck on another day if it is promising.

You can hunt large properties the same way.   Pick spots and hunt them as separate sites:  that hill, that bad low lying area, that spot with the heavy nails, up close to the house,  the chicken pen, etc. etc.


I feel like I have mastered my primary machine.   If you can’t make adjustments in the field and take advantage of different types of sites, and can’t get the tough deep targets and targets in iron and trash, then you are severely handicapped.   So you have to master your machine.  I don’t mean learn it.  I mean master it.   Put in the hours and hours in the test garden and out in the field, experimenting with all the controls and settings until you are surgical with the best metal detector you can get your hands on – one that others hunting for the same things you are, in the same types of soil and properties are successful with, or one you are able to “kill it” with on a consistent basis.   When it’s working , don’t “fix it”.  When it’s not working, “fix it”.

Two of the best detectorists in Middle Tennessee hunt with an Old White’s machine (with a freaking needle indicator) and a Bounty Hunter.  Laugh at them while you swing your Deus, ’75, or GPX, but I’d put my money on them any day of the week, because they have mastered their machines in ways you would have to see to believe.


I hear constantly how all the good places were hunted out long ago.   People have been saying that for years.    Sure most of the obvious, publicly accessible sites may have been hit hard, but tune negativity out.   Do the research, go for the permission, and work hard on your technique so you can find the goods.

Don’t listen to negativity surrounding your detector else you will fall in the trap of always believing you need an upgrade.  The problem with upgrading constantly is that you have to start the learning/mastering curve over again.    If you need to upgrade your detector, you will know it, and know the specific reason.  Perhaps you need a machine with a faster processor to hunt better in trash.  Maybe you need to upgrade your “entry level” machine.  Most of all, maybe you feel like you have mastered your machine, and are hunting quality sites, but aren’t finding enough.  Check yourself by hunting with a good detectorist to see if he/she consistently out-hunts you.  Remember “The Relics Never Lie”, and the finds, or lack thereof, will help you determine if you need to upgrade.

Don’t listen to negativity about a specific site.  Sometimes this negativity comes from your own mind – some sites just don’t look good.     Any good detectorist can tell you some of the worst looking sites are “the bomb” and some of the best looking sites are a waste of time.  You don’t know til you get out there and hit it hard.


Before you leave a site carefully select and dig 3 extra targets.  You will be shocked out how often one of those three is the best find of the day.

Best of luck to you and thanks for reading!

Adapted by Detecting365 from Flikr

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