When metal detecting, whether you are gold prospecting, relic hunting, or water hunting; it is easy to get discouraged. However, it’s important to know that you can better your results in metal detecting if you explore some of these best practices. I prefer to call it Smart Hunting!
Find a Metal Detecting Location with Google Earth
Use Google Earth to search your local area for new potential spots. Start off by branching out from where you live. Sometimes there are fields hidden in woods that you can’t see from a major street or road. Keep your eye out for clear stretches of land. You should be able to see the difference between a forest and a field.
Organize Your Metal Detecting Leads
If you see something that piques your interest, drop a pin. You can also make separate folders to organize your leads. Just make sure your privacy settings are enabled! You do not want to share your new potential locations right away!
You can grab the Latitude and Longitude aka coordinates, from Google Maps. Make sure you have this information copied or saved in a separate area, as you will need it.
Use Historical Aerials
You may now use Historical Aerials to “peel back time” for your respective area. This website gives you access to many historical aerial photos that may help you refine the area you want to detect in.
This is great if you are looking for things like old trails and swimming holes.
If you are looking for old relics and coins then it may be best to look at an atlas for that area. For example, in NJ you can find free Atlases online that date back to the 1800s. All you have to do is search on google. Depending on the atlas you look at it may even show you old homesites, which is a fantastic clue.
An example of a really great website for atlases is Historic Map Works.
Research the Property Owner and Ask For Permission
Once you have found your “prime” location, the next action is to obtain the permission of that area. It is important to always have the permission of the area in which you are detecting and most importantly, never to trespass.
But, how does one find out who owns that property? Well, there are many ways to obtain information. For now, we will focus on the Smart Hunting aspect.
There are tools online for each state in the US that allow you to pull up public tax assessment information. Remember when we said save your coordinates? Use the information discovered to build your strategy as you will be given contact information to aid you in your journey to permission.
If the location in which you are Smart Hunting turns out to be a business, find the website to the company. Try to locate a “contact us” page to strengthen your efforts in getting the permission you are seeking. You may also attempt to create a “Waiver of Liability,” as businesses want to ensure you are not an insurance risk. Do not get discouraged if you get a no. I always try to play the “No” game. And that is how many “No’s” can you get before you get a yes. You will be surprised with your outcome!
Sometimes if the property is owned by a private resident it will show their contact information. Again, I want to clarify that this is public information. You may choose to find them on social media or send them a well thought out handwritten letter. Why? Because people need to write more handwritten letters. You also have the option to show up at their home. If it is a farm, sometimes this works out as they often have farm stands. Go grab some juicy vegetables and talk yourself into some permission. Need some exercise? Maybe lend a helping hand on the farm! You never know of the doors that will open through the power of positivity.
If you manage to gain permission, you now have your opportunity to put the Smart Hunting you did to work.
You have now become a Detective Detectorist!