So there you are, knocking on someone’s door, hat in hand. You are fairly anonymous in the community. Maybe you aren’t from here. The property owner doesn’t know you. Still, perhaps he/she grants you permission to hunt. Maybe not.
Let’s start over: Now you are a member of the community in good standing. You are somebody people know. Perhaps the landowner has heard of you. A quick chat reveals that you both know so-and-so and perhaps you share a laugh at so-and-so’s expense. Or maybe you are that guy that found Old Lady Stevenson’s wedding ring last year. This time, your percent chance of getting permission to detect has skyrocketed close to the “virtually assured” level.
Improving your standing in a particular community that you are interested in hunting in will not only increase the chances that someone says “Yes” when you ask for permission to hunt a particular site, but knowing people will also likely bring you a continuing supply of new sites to hunt.
1) Join or visit a Local Organization
Each community has different types of organizations you can join. Churches, rotary clubs, breakfast clubs and men’s clubs to name a few. Find out what might work for you and visit a meeting to determine if it’s a fit. Once you are in, make everyone you meet aware of your hobby. Many organizations are also constantly looking for interesting presenters. You might arrange to show a short slide show with some cool finds and reveal your knowledge of some local history. Talk about getting the “key to the city”. After this, you should get an influx of new great places to hunt.
Spend time meeting and talking to the old-timers. They generally LOVE TO TALK and will tell you places you should hunt that you would have never known about otherwise. “There used to be a spring-fed pond there where everyone would go to picnic and swim.”
2) Networking and Gaining Introductions
This is simply the act of getting out and meeting people. Being friendly. Starting conversations with strangers and the discipline of making everyone you meet aware of your hobby. Also you should ask everyone that grants or denies you permission if they know of anywhere else that would be good to hunt or anyone they know that you should meet. You are meeting people and the community is aware of you. Also if someone sees you out detecting, they are less likely to report you as suspicious as word gets around, especially the smaller the community is, and they may have heard about you.
3) Maintaining a Super Clean Reputation
In the small towns I usually hunt in, word gets around quick. Heck sometimes a guy metal detecting is the most interesting thing that has happened in the community all year. I represent myself as a history buff and not a treasure hunter. I am careful to know all land lines and to not trespass. I dig carefully, remove trash (including anything laying above ground), notify the owner of anything potentially dangerous I saw on their property, and always look friendly and confident. This makes all the difference in the world. After detecting a couple of places in a new community, I usually feel like I have received the “key to the city”. For example, a landowner I do not know has sought me out, insulted that I detected the neighbor’s property but did not respect the historical significance of his own property. With a good reputation, we are seen as interesting and not as a nuisance.
Conversely, if you have been “run off” for trespassing, leave properties in disarray, or are seen as generally unfriendly and/or unkempt, your position in the community is likely significantly weakened. Your chances of getting permission suffer greatly, and your chances of getting “run off” even from public property is greatly increased.
Dude, this cool find showed up as 12-47 on the e-Trac!!!!
4) Introducing Yourself to the Authorities
This is hit and miss, but in certain very small towns I have been introduced to or just walked in to introduce myself to the Police Chief or local Sheriff. Sometimes I’ve had lunch or coffee with them. I explain what I am doing and leave my card. I am a history buff and not a potential trespasser or vandal. And guess what? If someone “tattles” on me and calls them, they already know who I am.
All kinds of cool and bizarre things have happened. I’ve assisted in finding a murder weapon (didn’t find it but cool right?), and been called when someone loses something. Once they tried to get me to drag a dead dog out from under an old house, but I think they were pranking me – I did not drag the dog out but ended up detecting the property.
More likely sooner or later the authorities are going to introduce themselves to you. Use your people skills. Do not be overly offensive and try to make a friend of them. Usually if you respect their authority they aren’t going to give you a hard time unless you are clearly doing something you aren’t supposed to. Check out our other articles on the subject of law enforcement.
I introduced myself to the authorities. Thanks for the advice, @#$%#$#!!!
5) Being a Hero
If you can return a lost wedding band or class ring, or give a perceived family heirloom to the property owner, word will get around. Metal detector users regularly end up in newspapers and other publications as “Good Samaritans”. Talk about getting the key to the city! Who is going to deny permission to a hero?
Maybe you can even join an organization with other heroes!
We can do a lot of things to strengthen our reputation and communicate our interests to those that can tell us where to hunt and those that can grant us permission. An added bonus is that each and every one of these five methods can help the public to see our metal detecting hobby in a positive light and dispel any false notions that we are shady characters, trespassers,” takers”, excavators, and/or vandals.
DIG DEEPER: Looking for some other ideas to get permission to hunt? Check out these articles: