IF IT BEEPS, DIG IT! – Part 1 of 2

By Richard H. Creason

  • Metal Detectors, Simple Outdoor Fun
  • Getting Started in Treasure-Finding
Sand beaches and playgrounds are popular detecting sites for entire families and groups.

Step by slow step, you cross the old yard. Your eyes scan the ground. Your ears are tuned to the slightest sound. The machine you’re holding follows the motion of your arm—right, left, right, left. Anticipation builds. You know it’s only a matter of time.


The noise startles you even though you’ve been waiting for it. Anticipation turns to suspense. What caused the beep? A piece of trash? A coin? A ring? A smile crosses your face as you slip the digger into the ground to expose the hidden treasure. Possibly no hobby other than metal detecting offers enjoyment, exercise, and excitement, with the added attraction of actually putting money in your pocket.

Civil War relics are much sought-after “detector finds” in the South.

Not surprisingly, modern metal detectors will find metal. This includes, but is not limited to, coins, jewelry, relics, tools, toys, keys, pocketknives, foil, pull tabs, nails, and anything else that is metal or has metal parts. These items can be found on land or in the water. Some types of machines are designed to work on some items, or in certain areas, better than others. Many can eliminate, or at least reduce, the amount of trash you find. The depth at which a machine will register a metal item and notify you with an audible sound can vary. This depends on how large the item is, how long it has been in the ground, how damp the air and the ground are, what material the item is made of, what “setting” your machine is adjusted to, plus other variables.

To get started in this unusual hobby, you first need some kind of metal detector. There are many different brand names to choose from. Fisher, White’s, Garrett, and Tesoro are just a few. Each company has several different models to choose from, and the price can range from $150 to well over $2000. A good beginning machine can usually be purchased for less than $400. You will also need three more items. One is a set of earphones so you can hear the machine signals while blocking out wind, traffic and other outside noise. Cost starts around $10. A tool of some type to get the target item out of the ground is next. This can be as simple as a small garden trowel or a heavy bladed hunting knife. Some hunters use a screwdriver or thin probe. The last item you need is a bag of some kind to put your finds in. This can be a nail apron or a special bag made for detector recoveries.

You can get all of these items from a full service metal detector dealer. You will also get expert instruction, answers to all your questions, immediate assistance in the event of a problem, and any other information you need. Talk to several dealers if possible and pick one you feel comfortable dealing with for your purchase. Look in the yellow pages under “Metal Detectors” or “Metal Locating Equipment” or go online.

While it is possible to buy a machine from a catalog or a magazine, it is difficult to have a catalog assist you or answer your questions. Also, while you can sometimes find detectors in electronic or discount stores, the sales clerk probably knows nothing about the machine except the price. If the person selling the item can’t take you outside and show you how to use it, maybe you should try somewhere else.

In Part 2, we’ll cover additional details about searching and finding your next possible treasure.

The author may be reached at eyewrite4u@aol.com.