Metal Detecting in Frozen Ground

Many detectorists avoid detecting in the freezing winter months simply because the ground is too hard to dig. But don’t let that stop you! If you’re a detectorist that just can’t get by without going detecting until the ground thaws, there are some tips you can employ to make sure that your hunts are still stay safe while metal detecting and fun when you’re digging in frozen ground.

Look for Sites with Shallow Targets

Avoid going to sites where you know that the targets are going to be deeply buried — you won’t be able to reach them. Instead, focus on areas where finds are going to be closer to the surface. Construction sites can be fruitful locations to search in the winter because often, the topsoil has been removed, making it easier to get to targets that aren’t very deep.

Turn Down Your Sensitivity Setting

It can be discouraging to get an alert for a target that you just can’t get to. Setting your sensitivity setting low will help you avoid that disappointment and only be alerted when the target is just a few inches below the icy ground’s surface. If there is snow on the ground, adjust the sensitivity setting so that you get through the snow and about three or four inches of earth for a small target.

Bring Garbage Bags

When the ground is frozen, you may be able to dig out a chunk of icy earth containing a target, but not the target safely from the chunk of frozen ground it’s encased in. That’s where some garbage bags come in handy. Once you’ve made sure that your target is indeed in the chunk of icy dirt with your pinpointer, just throw the whole thing in a garbage bag and take it home to thaw out. Later, you can dig through the dirt to see what you’ve found.

Look for Less Icy Patches

If the outside temperatures are rising but the ground is still frozen, there are likely to be some patches that have thawed. Look for spots where the sun is hitting the ground or where you see mud. If you’re hunting on a construction site, look for piles of dirt and areas where the ground hasn’t been compressed by heavy equipment. Those areas will be easier to dig than the hard still-frozen ground.

Make Note of Locations to Dig Later

You might run into targets that you just can’t get to when the ground is hard as a rock. When you do, mark the spot with a colored golf tee so you can return to it later when the ground has thawed. To be sure that you find it again, it’s a good idea to make a sketch of the site and mark your targets on it so you have a reference on your return trip.

Metal Detecting in the Winter – Don’t Let the Cold Weather Stop You

For some detectorists waiting until Spring to get outside and search for treasure is simply impossible. Especially for those hunters who get new detecting gear for the holidays. It depends on where in the country you live, but for some, the frozen ground is just too hard to dig in during the coldest of the Winter months. Don’t fret, though. There are likely still some places you can search, but if not, there are some detecting activities that you can do inside where it’s warm.


Places to Metal Detect in the Winter

Near Unfrozen Water – If you live near bodies of water that don’t freeze over, they are the perfect spot to metal detect. Detectorists who have underwater detectors have found some great targets in the shallow water’s edge. Just put on some waders and stay warm.

Beaches – If you are lucky enough to be near any beaches, you should definitely plan some Winter excursions with your detector. The sand doesn’t usually freeze, even the coldest areas, because of the water and wind, so you shouldn’t have difficulty digging for targets. Winter is also a nice tome to detect on shorelines because you will likely have the whole place to yourself.

Cold Weather Gathering Places – Even in areas where the ground does freeze, you can still hunt for items in the snow. Think about places where people gather for Winter activities – sledding, skiing, ice skating or hockey, and ice fishing. These are all activities in which people may lose things from their pockets, perfect hunting.

Things to Watch Out for During Winter Detecting

There are some Winter-related precautions you should take if you are going metal detect. Of course, the most important thing is that you stay warm. Be prepared by making sure that you are dressed warmly enough to withstand the cold temperatures, keeping as much of your skin covered as possible.

You also have to watch out for ice. Not only does it make slipping and falling a risk for you, but if you drop or land on your detector, it could get damaged. Then you’ll be laid up and out some cash.

In some areas, Winter is hunting season. If you are going to hunt in wooded areas, where it may be hard to see you, be sure that you where brightly-colored clothing so you are not mistaken for an animal.

When It’s Just Too Cold to Detect

If you can’t bring yourself to get outside and hunt because it’s just too cold, there are still ways that you can keep your metal detecting hat on. It’s a great time to do some research and planning for future hunts. The most successful hunts are the usually the ones in places where people gathered in the past – churches, city halls, old taverns – that no longer exist. A little bit of research into those types of places can go a long way to increasing your finds. Don’t let the cold weather keep you from planning. Some hot cocoa and the internet are all you need to determine new sites to visit when the weather warms up.

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About The Author
Carolyn Harwick
Stomping in the woods and at old home sites is where you can find Carolyn on her days off. She loves finding relics and pieces of the past. Her go-to machine is the Minelab CTX 3030 and the Garrett AT Max as a backup. She would detect everyday if she could because she loves the hobby!