Metal Detecting as a Hobby
Why I Love My Metal Detecting Hobby
When I tell people that I like to go metal detecting, I sometimes get some strange looks. While the hobby is becoming more popular due to the advent of television shows and newcomers, I’m not sure that its appeal has fully made it all the way out here to the desert in Tucson. I’m sure that isn’t true – I haven’t had the opportunity to talk to other detectorists in my area, but I know there are several metal detecting clubs and groups available locally. So far though, metal detecting has become a fun hobby that I enjoy with my family.
There are lots of reasons that I love metal detecting, and none of them have anything to do with the items I’ve found (although it’s always exciting to find something!). One of the biggest reasons I love it is I get to really see the beauty of the desert landscape. I have lived in the southwest my whole life and that makes it easy for me to take the picturesque views for granted. When I’m outside detecting though, I am able to enjoy looking at the jagged mountains, the desert vegetation, and all the lizards and bunnies that run around. It even helps me appreciate the appeal of all the cacti that fill the area. Of course, summer is almost here, so it’s going to be too hot to get out there for a while. But I know that detectorists in other parts of the country have weather challenges too, with snow and icy conditions in the winter.
Another great thing about metal detecting is that it gives me time to spend with my family. My husband, my 12-year-old stepson, and I get to be outside doing something together. In this, the age of screens everywhere, it’s refreshing to have an activity in which we have conversations that don’t include emojis. Metal detecting is a great hobby to do as a family.
I’m lucky because my husband was a history major and has a lot of knowledge about what went on in our city’s past. So, he always gives us insight about who might’ve been in the area and the things they might’ve done. Whenever metal detecting comes up in conversation with friends and acquaintances, one of the first things they ask about is whether I have found anything valuable. My answer is we haven’t found the mother lode yet, but we have found enough to keep us searching for that next great find. Our opinion is, it’s not always that it hasn’t been about what we find, it’s more about the thrill of the hunt and spending time together. It’s exciting to anticipate the possibilities of what we might find. That always leads to conversations about the history of the area that we are hunting.
I know that lots of people get into the hobby because they hope to find valuable treasure. And I certainly would be excited if we found something of value. But for me, it comes down to the other benefits of metal detecting. It’s the excitement of searching, spending time with my boys, and getting out and enjoying nature that do it for me.
Metal Detecting Challenges and How to Overcome Them
Every detectorist runs into challenges with the hobby; it’s inevitable. The good news is that for every challenge, there is a solution. Maybe you have felt frustrated by the following challenges. If you have, or you do, here are some ways that you can overcome them.
Challenge: You Live in a Bad Area for Detecting
Do you feel like you live in an area that history avoided while other detectorists are finding valuable Civil War relics and rare coins? While it may be true that unless you live in Europe where there is thousands of years of history, or the east coast of the United States where there is several hundred, you may have a more difficult time finding actual treasure.
There are some things you can do even if you don’t live in Europe, the east coast, or in states where Civil War battles were waged. Here are a few to get you started:
- Research – No matter what area you live in, there is some history to be found. Try looking for old maps for your area that show old homesteads and gathering places like churches and town halls. These can be great sources of finds. You can also hunt for things other than relics. Lost and valuable items can be found anywhere on the planet that there are people.
- Check with other detectorists – There are metal detecting clubs in all 50 states. Checking with one in your area will provide you with information about finds and good sites to search. Consider joining one to make your detecting more fun and social, but at the very least, talk about your concerns with other detectorists. They will give you good advice.
- Be open to travel – You may not be too far from sites with amazing potential. Consider taking day trips if you are a couple of hours from a site that you are interested in hunting. Traveling just takes a little bit of extra planning and a willingness to foot a few more expenses.
Challenge: You Can’t Afford an Expensive Detector
It’s true, the cost of metal detectors can get pricey. Like any hobby though, when you see the fruits of your labor – or the treasure that you collect – you will likely find ways to finance it. Until then, use the machine that you can afford. It may not be the top-of-the-line detector that you covet, but it will work and you will be able to see whether you love detecting enough to make more of an investment. For more information, read our guide on the best cheap metal detectors.
- Use what you have – Detecting has a lot to do with the equipment you use, but it also has a lot to do with the skill you have. It isn’t unusual for someone who knows what they’re doing and knows their detector to be more successful with a $300 machine than someone who just dallies in detecting who has a $1000 detector. Also, keep in mind that there is always a good amount of luck involved in detecting.
- Buy used equipment – You can usually find some great deals on Craigslist and with metal detecting groups on Facebook for used detectors and other equipment. You don’t have to have the newest generation detector to make awesome finds.
Challenge: You’re Afraid to Ask for Permission
It can be intimidating to go up to a total stranger and ask for permission to dig up their property. But if you want to hunt private property (and you do!), then it has to be done.
- Do some networking – There are some ways to get permission without having to knock on doors. Share that you are a detectorist with friends and acquaintances and that you are always looking for new places to hunt. You will likely get suggestions and offers to search interesting areas.
- Just do it – Sometimes you just have to jump in with both feet knowing that the worst thing that can happen is that someone tells you no. It’s like anything that is uncomfortable at first, it gets easier the more you do it.
Metal detecting is a hobby and it should be fun and enjoyable – and it can be as long as you don’t let the challenges get in your way. There is always a way to overcome the difficulties and maintain the thrill of the hunt. Happy hunting!
Metal Detecting in the Dark
It’s summertime and in many areas of the country it’s just too hot to get out and detect during the day. Rather than risk sunburn and overheating while you search for treasure, you should consider hunting after the sun goes down. Learning to metal detect in the dark may help you with more than just avoiding the sun. Have you ever started a successful detecting trip in the afternoon, only to have to cut it short because it got dark? Or had to wait for workers to leave a construction site for the day, leaving you with a limited amount of time to search? Those are just a couple of situations in which knowing how to detect at night would be helpful.
Of course, the biggest difference hunting at night instead of during the day is that you will need light. You don’t want to damage any finds while digging because you couldn’t see them clearly, or trip and fall while you’re carrying expensive equipment. But lighting up the area that you are searching can be tricky – you can’t easily handle your detector and pinpointer, your digger, and a flashlight at the same time. There are some simple solutions for lighting your search at night though, that don’t require you growing a third hand. The following are five great ideas.
#1 – Take a Detecting Partner
Perhaps the easiest fix for light when you’re detecting at night is to bring someone along with you to hold a flashlight. Even those who may not share your passion for metal detecting might find it more exciting to hunt at night.
#2 – Use the Moonlight
If you pay attention to the phases of the moon, you’ll know when the best nights for hunting by moonlight are – anytime there is a full moon and a clear night your eyes will adjust and you’ll be able to see pretty clearly.
#3 – Buy a Pinpointer with a Light
You probably have a pinpointer already, but did you know that you can get one that has a light built in? You can, and you should if you want to detect at night. You may have to be diligent about keeping the dirt out of the way, but pinpointers with lights can be a great addition to your detecting toolbox.
#4 – Use a Headlamp
Using a headlamp that straps right onto your head is the smartest way to go for night detecting. They use LED lights, so they are bright, they are relatively inexpensive, and you can easily find them online.
#5 – Install a Flashlight App
There is an app for everything these days, so if your smartphone doesn’t already have a flashlight app, you can easily install one (most flashlight apps are free). This isn’t the number one choice for lighting up your search area at night, but it is a good option if you find yourself without alternatives. Be sure that you have a cover on your phone so that it doesn’t get dirty.
Give night detecting a try. You’ll stay cooler in the summer months and you’ll be able to detect longer, and that’s great news for detectorists.
Metal Detecting with a Partner
Benefits of Having a Detecting Partner
The following are just some of the benefits to including a partner in your metal detecting hobby.
You get to socialize. Detecting with a partner allows you to fraternize with someone who shares your love of detecting. While you may have friends and family that take an interest in your hobby, there is nothing like hanging out with someone who is just as passionate about it as you are.
It’s safer. Some of the best sites you’ll find are in older parts of town, rural areas, or areas with rough terrain. It’s never a good idea to hunt in those types of places by yourself. You never know what might happen while you’re detecting, so having someone with you should an emergency arise makes sense.
You can hunt more sites. Two detectors cover more ground than just one. So, while you may have to share the finds of specific sites, you will be able to hunt more.
You can motivate each other. Sometimes hunts don’t go as you hope – you end up digging far more trash than treasure. When that happens, rather than cutting a trip short, your partner can encourage you to keep searching, and vice-versa.
You can present a united front. Let’s face it, you are far more likely to knock on doors for permission to hunt when you have your pal with you. Not only do you not want to break the rules in front of your partner, but it’s comforting to have a friend by your side when you approach strangers.
You can learn and mentor. No two detectorists do things exactly the same. That means that when you metal detect with a partner, you have the opportunity to both learn and teach new things. It’s a great way to hone in on the great skills you already have and to pick up some fresh ideas that may not have occurred to you.
You can engage in friendly competition. A little bit of competition is a good way to liven things up – especially if you and your detecting partner have similar detecting experience. Like any teammates, you can compete in a friendly manner, making bets and doing a little bit of trash talking as you see which of you comes out on top at the end of the day. Just remember that if you’re competitive, keeping it friendly is important. You don’t want to run off a new partner after just one outing.
Unless metal detecting is your way of getting away from everyone, you’ll find that it’s better to metal detect with a partner. It will add some extra excitement and fun to your hunting trips and it may mean that you find even more great treasure.
Top 4 Happy Side Effects of Metal Detecting
Most people get into metal detecting expecting to find jewelry and coins left behind by others. Sometimes they can find the owner, but most of the time the find ends up as part of the detectorists collection – along with a story to tell about how it was found. Most don’t expect to have other experiences along with it. Here are the top four happy side effects of getting into metal detecting.
Ok, this one may be a little more obvious since you know you will be walking around for hours in search of the best signals. When you start digging though, you could consider that you are doing some strength training. Using your legs to dig into the ground could add some resistance depending on how hard the ground is. Then when you move the dirt from the plug and back you are definitely using different muscles in your arms with at least some weight on it.
2- Cleaning the Environment
No matter how much you fine tune your detector to ignore trash targets, you will eventually dig one up. It is frustrating when you think you have something really good just to find out it’s not. Next time this happens, change your perspective and think about how you are making the area you detect a little better off. It could be helping a farmer clear metal out of a field or even making sure that a beachgoer never steps on a hook.
3- Preserving History
If you are into relic hunting then this is a given, but most are looking for clad or jewelry. In those searches, you could come across a musket ball or door hinge that could mean that it could be the site of where an old home once stood.
Even if you don’t join a detecting club you will most likely end up talking to people while out detecting. It opens up the door to many conversations. Most of the time people will ask if you’ve found anything good as they pass and if you have they will most likely stick around to hear about it. Other times you may come across another detectorist and they will let you know some things about the area that you didn’t know.
Ways Metal Detecting Helps Mental Health
It’s very important to take care of yourself, both body and mind. Metal detecting is a great way to do both. Your body is pretty obvious since you need to be outside to enjoy the hobby. What about mental health, how can metal detecting help?
Changing your environment is one of the best ways that mental health professionals suggest to help disorders like depression. Many times you start to feel down because you’re in a rut doing the same things over and over again. getting outside gives you a chance to change what you see. It also allows you to be in the sun, which stimulates your body to create vitamin D and increased levels of Serotonin. both of these chemicals are needed in your body and a lack of them are linked to depression.
Exercise is one of the best ways to improve your mood. At least 30 minutes should be the goal to get enough endorphins in your system. Endorphins make you feel good and give you a positive effect almost instantly. this also is a chance to help restart your brain so the haze can lift.
Having a metal detector makes people curious about you. Most likely someone will come over and ask if you have found anything. Sometimes people start asking about the hobby in general. Even if you are still learning, talking about subjects has been shown to strengthen the topic in your brain.
You can even join a metal detecting club. Being in a group of others with a shared interest opens up natural ways to talk and be social. If you have anxiety, this common ground may give you a great place to start chatting with others. In general being social has been shown to help with mental health in many ways by helping you see that you are not alone.
We would like to note that this is not a claim that metal detecting will cure any mental illness. If you need help please reach out to your doctor and someone you trust. This way you can work to get a treatment plan in place that works for you.
Getting Out of a Metal Detecting Slump
It happens to most detectorists at one time or another – a detecting slump. It’s easy to feel discouraged when your three-hour hunting trip leaves you empty-handed. While a detecting hobby isn’t always about the finds, you have to admit that it’s the finds that keep us motivated to go out again and again.
The great thing about metal detecting as a hobby is that it provides us with some options regarding what to do when we are feeling discouraged or unmotivated. Here are three things that can help you regain your metal detecting mojo.
Using New or Different Equipment
You may have a favorite detector that you use for most of your hunting, but changing it up might bring back some of the excitement you’re missing. Try leaving your beloved detector at home and use the one that’s been gathering dust. Even switching other equipment up can be helpful. Have you tried a different pinpointer, search coil, or broken in a new digging tool? If you don’t have multiple detectors or other equipment, try hunting with another detectorist and trade machines for the day. It will help you and your partner to stay focused and keep the search interesting.
Finding New Sites to Hunt
Sometimes a change of scenery is refreshing and provides a new, exciting environment for you to search for treasure. Finding new places to detect not only changes your view, but often times, it changes your attitude and even the quality of your finds as well. If you normally hunt in parks or schoolyards, try doing some research and find some old homesteads or abandoned churches to search. Or if you live near bodies of water but never hunt them, try searching the shore lines or even under water detecting if your detector is made for that. Keeping it new and interesting will help you with motivation.
Searching for Different Targets
If you are normally a coin and jewelry hunter, try searching sites that have a high potential for old relics. Not only is finding something old thrilling, it may prompt you to do some research to show what the item was used for or how to clean or restore it. Working on a relic that you found and learning more about its origin will definitely up the interest level you feel about it. Changing the focus on what types of targets you are looking for can help you maintain a strong interest in detecting.
Being Creative Will Break Your Metal Detecting Slump
Metal detecting is a hobby that offers detectorists a bunch of different options for hunting. Use them to your advantage. Change things up when you feel your interest waning, and you will quickly reinvigorate your cherished pastime. Don’t be afraid to try new equipment, search for more interesting sites, or look for a variety of different types of targets. The more creative you are, the more fun and exciting metal detecting will be. The whole world is out there for you to find, so start swinging!