OK, About Those ‘Gators…


This 13ft 4in, 600 lb alligator was harvested Sunday evening out of the Ashley River, which borders the Charleston peninsula.

I am never, ever entering a river in the Charleston area to metal detect again.


You can read the story here:  http://www.live5news.com/story/33132333/13-foot-alligator-caught-in-ashley-river-in-summerville


Do I Pull The Trigger, Or Not?

This river hunting thing has me hooked, and not just because of the 1786 reale find a couple of weeks ago.

I blame YouTube.

Metal detecting in a marine environment has opened up a whole new source of locations in which to hunt; creeks, rivers, streams, lakes, ponds…all of which we have in abundance here in Ohio. Watching an assortment of detectorists on YouTube who venture into these places, I’ve learned much…except how those guys in Southern states know when the ‘gators are around! A couple of summers ago my wife’s brother and I went to Charleston, SC for a week to do some beach detecting; during one outing, we stopped at the end of Sol Legare Rd on James Island at the boat ramp and ventured into the Stono River with our Garrett machines. Steve didn’t stay in too long but I did, this at a time when I was still learning my machine. After about 45 minutes of finding nails and sinkers I quit…we moved on to the northern half of Folly Beach. It wasn’t until a few weeks after we’d returned to Ohio did I discover that alligators had been sighted in that river. You can watch the vid of that week-long adventure here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcSgXVoQ0bM

I have a set of waterproof headphones, the blue ones from Kellyco…and I don’t like them. I understand there will be degraded sound quality simply because they are waterproof, but that doesn’t alleviate my dislike. They sound too ‘tinney’ and the audio signals have too much separation in tone. I can easily tell the difference between, say, a bottle cap and a piece of scrap tin just by the sound alone, without the need to monitor the ATP’s digital display; not possible with the blue ‘phones.

So, I am seriously considering the DetectorPro Gray Ghost waterproof headphones; from what I’ve read, they work as well in the water as they do on dry land, but I’d like to hear from someone who has a pair ( of Gray Ghosts, not the anatomical pair ). There’s no urgency right now; this is the last week of hot weather we’re going to have in north central Ohio. The weatherguessers say temps will cool considerably starting Monday, which means bodies of water will start getting too cold to hunt….and I’m not at the point of buying a wet suit yet. Before I add a higher balance to my BankAmeriDinerVisa, I’d like some verification from someone who knows.

But I am ordering Garrett’s 5″ X 8″ coil today….I just hope my red-headed Chief Financial Officer/Wife understands…

…I hid the cast-iron skillet, too.


Still Waiting…

Well, it’s been nine days since I shipped the control unit and coil from my AT Pro off to Garrett in Garland, Texas; the first time, they had it back to me in seven days so I hope this added time isn’t a bad sign. I’ll be watching for the Fed Ex delivery van all day tomorrow.

This whole metal detecting thing has become an obsession, as I’m sure it has for thousands of other fellow hobbyists, and I’m getting antsy from being without mine. The high school I live next to had a home football game Friday night, and I woke Saturday morning thinking about going over and scanning the huge gravel parking lot because they’d had a full house…and then I remembered that my detector isn’t whole.

I do have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow morning, to find out the results of the bone scan I underwent last week. I’m confident it’ll return showing nothing, though, because the ribs are pain free now and have been for a week. Fingers crossed. My doctor ordered the scan because I had part of a kidney removed last year due to a tumor; he wants to rule cancer out as the cause of the pain I’d been having.

In the meantime, I sorted through all my scrap metal, putting the stuff I didn’t want in a 5-gallon bucket which pretty much filled it. I have a few other metal items, too, and listed the stuff under the ‘free’ heading on Craigslist; someone texted to claim it ten minutes later. I guess there’s a lot of scrappers out there because I’ve gotten several messages asking about the stuff since then.

Going through all that stuff, though, brought back memories of past detecting sessions and I was surprised that I could remember where almost every item came from. Parks, old home sites, lakes and rivers…great memories!

Can’t wait to get back out there!

Down Time

My last adventure was the high water mark of my metal detecting career; a 1786 Carlos III reale. That was on Monday, Labor Day, 2016.

It was followed by a crashing, fiery low point two days later.

OK, maybe ‘fiery’ was a bit much, a little over-the-top, but you get the idea.

If you’ll recall a while back, I was having issues with my Garrett AT Pro; VDI numbers up and down the spectrum, changing at a rapid pace even as I pointed it skyward. Checking my records, I was disheartened to discover that the two-year warranty on my machine had expired twenty-four days prior to this event. An impassioned plea via email to Garrett Electronics’ Customer Care department was made…and they responded less than 24 hours later, informing me they’d cover the repair under the expired warranty as long as I got the control module and my coil to their facility by August 1st. FedEx Ground made it with a couple days to spare and Garrett sent me a brand-spankin’ new control module ( I had to get the FedEx plug in there; I used to drive tractor/double trailer for them from Columbus to Rialto, California then to Portland, Oregon and back to Columbus for a period when I was out of law enforcement due to a spinal injury ).

Excellent! After receiving the return package I reassembled my machine and went right back to work with it, making some pretty outstanding ( for me ) recoveries, including the reale, over the next five or so weeks.

Then came September 7th, 2016, and Nickel Plate Beach in Huron, Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie. I’d driven the 60 or so miles that sunny Wednesday morning filled with anticipation; after all, it was a scant two days after Labor Day, the holiday that tells most of America that summer is over, and I was sure the beach had been packed over the weekend. I arrived at 0930, pleased to see there were only a couple of cars in the parking area but rather displeased to see another detectorist already at work, headed east along the sandy shoreline, coil swinging side-to-side but not stopping very often to investigate promising tones. It would be the last I would see of him.

I geared up for my beach/water hunt and went to work, finding a clad quarter within the first minute. Awesome!, I thought, this ought to be a great session! I’d planned on spending five or 6 hours at this place, hoping to find gold and/or silver jewelry along with the always-present beach cash.

I started working the area where two volleyball nets were set up, happy to see evidence of heavy activity. With all the jumping, diving and twisting that happens during beach volleyball games, there was sure to be treasure awaiting recovery.

That’s when I noticed something wasn’t quite right with the AT Pro.

I passed over a target right-to-left, iron to be sure, but when I swung the coil in the opposite direction…nothing. Back to the left and there it was, a couple of inches into the sand, a deep grunt sounding in my headphones; back to the right and the ‘phones were silent. It ended up being a bent nail, but now I was concerned about my machine.

Over the next hour I recovered some clad coins, the usual trash and a silver-plated child’s ring but the VDI started going crazy again, so much so that I trudged out of the knee-deep water I’d been working and shut the machine completely off. Performing a factory reset, the wild fluctuations continued in the same manner.

I walked dejectedly back to my truck, dropped the tail gate and geared down, trying to control my frustration. This was an AT Pro, waterproof, the ‘AT’ standing for ‘All Terrain’ and useable in a water environment…submersible. I’d used it in just that manner countless times over the two+ years I’d owned it and never, ever had a problem. Garrett had been quick to cover the initial issue when it first reared its ugly head at the end of July and now, a week into September with the brand-new control unit, here it was again.

I’d parked next to a concrete walkway that led to the rest rooms at the beach, the sidewalk lined with four-and-a-half foot tall wooden posts, I suppose to give it that nautical feel. I walked over, checked the nearest post with my pin pointer to make sure it wasn’t full of nails or staples, and sat my AT P on the top, the coil extended horizontally. The VDI was still demon-possessed. I shot some video on my iCam of the display’s activity for documentation purposes, finished packing up my gear and pointed my GMC homeward, first stopping at a Dairy Queen for a peanut butter shake ( which always improves a bad mood ).

Once back at Ram Field Ranch, I opened my laptop and formulated another email to Hilda at Garrett’s Repair Department office; she’d helped me immeasurable during the first incident in July, and told her of the new trouble. I attached the video I’d shot to the email and sent it off, receiving a reply within twenty-four hours. Again I was asked to send them the control module and coil; the repair would be covered this time under the ninety-day ‘repair’ warranty, costing me only for shipping to get it there. I sent it out Friday.

So now, here I sit, watching YouTube exploits of guys like Shannon at Palmetto Digger, Hiluxyota, MentalMetal, Tony Eisenhower, Gravedigger Max, Dave at AmericanCoinHunting, Jimmy Maya and NuggetNoggin, guys that I enjoy watching and learning from, waiting patiently for that FedEx truck to arrive later in the week with my repaired gear. In the mean time, I’ll also be tapping away on my laptop, creating more entries for this blog and my cop-related one at http://mpd135.blogspot.com/

…and doing some yard work, wishing all the while I was out swinging a coil somewhere.




Plans Changed…I’m Glad They Did

Wow, so much has happened in the last 48 hours. First and foremost, the rib problem I’ve been battling interrupted my plans for yesterday; I stayed at home, where the heating pad and a couple of prescription pain meds became my best friends for the day. Prior to that occurrence, I discovered that my Ion Sports Cam wouldn’t record, either video or photos; I’ve had it for over two years and used it heavily, with almost all my Youtube videos being shot with it. It’s small, waterproof to ten feet and very easy to operate, and you can imagine my disappointment. I wasn’t looking forward to shelling out extra cash for a new waterproof cam.

As my wife and I sat on our patio sipping our Tim Horton’s black gold this morning, I remarked that my ribs weren’t hurting at all. As we had no plans other than to grill out later in the evening, my redheaded angel said she wanted to get some housework done and then do some shopping…and added that if I wanted to go metal detecting it would be fine. Now you see why I call her my angel!

I’d already thought about what I might do; with today being Labor Day, I knew the Lake Erie beaches would be busy and many depositors would be leaving behind things that us detectorists love to find. I’d also previously scouted out a couple of new river spots I wanted to hit, so I made the decision to go river detecting. After all, tomorrow or Wednesday would be prime times to hit the thinned-out beaches up north.

I readied my gear for water detecting, kissed my wife and told her I’d be back around 3PM, maybe sooner if I wasn’t having any luck. I backed my 2004 GMC Canyon out of the garage and headed for the Mohican River.

First, though, and without my Chief Financial Officer’s blessing, I made a side trip to Walmart and picked up a new video cam and micro SD card. It’s best to commit the sin and ask forgiveness later than ask permission beforehand and be denied.

I arrived at my spot near where the old settler village of Newville had stood, geared up and headed into the water about 200 yards east of the Pleasant Hill Rd bridge. I was in luck; no one else was at the spot fishing, which its very popular for. I tethered my floating sifter to my belt, secured a lanyard to my waterproof pin pointer and then switched on my AT Pro.

The hunt was on.

The pickings were slim, aside from all the iron targets. i did find an old Zippo lighter early on, which I’ll try to clean up to see if there’s any sort of inscription. Some clad change, a couple of wheat cents, an old broken spoon and a junk kids’ ring rounded out most of the three hours I spent in the water, aside from the two canoeists who glided by in the gently flowing river.

I’d left my gear bag on a high and dry rock just off the river bank and was making my way back to it, with the intention of calling it a day. The rocks became the size of moss-covered cannon balls, making the footing treacherous. Still, I continued to swing the detector’s coil, as a lot of material gets trapped between and under rocks.

Withing about fifteen feet of the bank I hit a semi-high tone. Centering it, I withdrew my pin pointer and searched an area between two large rocks; soon, I pulled up a short length of fishing line with two small shot weights attached. After bagging them, I stuck the pin pointer back into the small space between the rocks, which was in about two feet of water; I was still getting a signal. The space narrowed until I could only squeeze two fingers in and began brushing away the sandy silt, pausing every so often to see if the target had moved.

Deciding it would be my last target for the day, I brushed a few more times before rechecking the crack…and the target had moved. I relocated it in the small pile of material I’d just brushed out, holding my hand-held machine on the spot while grabbing a handful of pebbles and sand. I had the target, whatever it was.

As I opened my hand once I’d cleared the surface of the river, I saw a small, dime-sized coin; giving it a quick once-over, I decided that’s what it was, and a badly-worn dime at that. I put it in the fat pill bottle in which I keep my smaller finds, closed it up and climbed out of the water, tired but happy to have been doing something other than sitting in the recliner at home.

As I loaded my gear for the trip home I phoned my wife, telling her I’d be there in about a half-hour. “Great”, she said, “you’ll be just in time to start the grill.” Brats and burgers were to be our evening meal, me being the grillmaster of the house.

I arrived home shortly thereafter, telling Stacy of my rather meager finds.

“But you had fun, right?”


I unloaded my gear bag, thermos, .40 caliber M&P Shield and my ‘finds’ container from the passenger compartment, pausing to shed my soaked tennis shoes and socks in the garage. Once inside I stripped off my shorts and t-shirt, heading for a much-needed shower. It was luxurious.

After getting dressed, I emptied my finds onto a paper towel to take a closer look, which is habit. I used my small, high-intensity flashlight and magnifying glass to examine the dime, hoping to at least get a date off it.

What I saw shocked me.

Although I now knew the coin wasn’t a dime, I could easily read the date: 1786.


What in the world had I recovered??

As I sit here telling you this story, I’m still not 100% sure, but I think it might be a Spanish 8 reale piece, which now makes it my oldest coin yet.

Sometimes, a change in plans is a good thing.

Headed for an Old Canoe Livery

Tomorrow, bright and early, I’ll arise; I’ll fix my extra-large cup of Tim Horton’s black gold, which is an absolute must to start my day. I’ll have my toasted Wheat Thins with peanut butter and honey ( right after my 15-unit injection of Humalog ) and then my customary cup of yogurt.

I’ll don my oldest pair of jeans shorts, socks and beat-up tennis shoes to go along with a black T-shirt with cutoff sleeves, then brush my teeth and take all 7 of my once-a-day pills ( 6 are prescription, the other is a multi-vitamin specially formulated for us middle-aged men ). I’ll kiss my red-headed angel of a wife goodbye…

….and then I’ll be off for another water metal detecting adventure.

This time I’m headed for a spot we used to canoe from when I was a young teen. Our church youth group would embark on canoe trips at least twice a summer, and it was always great fun…especially if I had the opportunity to share a canoe with Becky Ellington, our pastor’s stunningly beautiful daughter. We’d always been flirty but, alas, eventually her father ended up transferring to a larger church up near Cleveland somewhere. I never saw or heard from her again after that.

Since those days long ago ( back in the early 70s ) thousands upon thousands of canoeists have traveled that particular stretch of watertway. Some canoeists aren’t as adept at navigating the waters as are others, and hundreds…if not thousands…have overturned their crafts, meaning items were lost to the river. There’s no telling how many undiscovered treasures lie on the bottom of the Black Fork River from those days til now.

Hopefully, Ill find some of them in the morning.