Patience and Metal Detecting


“Why can’t I ever find anything?” my buddy asked.

My first thought was well, if you wouldn’t walk like you’re late for a bus, you might…

But that’s not what I’d said to him last fall. I’d watched my friend, who detects sporadically during the course of a year, scan a section of a local park while walking and swinging his coil at a rapid pace; I guess he wanted to make sure he covered all of the park’s open ground in the time we had to metal detect. Mentally, I shook my head.

“You need to slow down”, I told him. “You’re missing all the faint tones, the deep ones.” As we know, deep usually equals good.

He slowed his pace….a little. He ended that day with a ’56 wheatie, a few clad coins…and a lot of iron trash. Me? A merc, a silver Rosie and an 1893 Indian Head cent. All three of my keeper coins had been dug at least five inches deep, signals I would have surely missed if I had adopted his style of detecting.

That’s the key when looking for those deeper targets…patience and knowing your machine. You can’t get a feel for your detector if you only hunt a couple of hours every other weekend.

I’m fortunate in that I am retired and can pretty much hunt when I want. When I do get out, I get the sense that I’m just a skoash bit better with my AT Pro than I was the last time I hunted, and that feeling only comes from hours put in swinging the coil. There is no replacement, no accelerant for time spent with a detector in your hand.

This same pal and I hunted for three hours a few weeks ago, during a mild break in our winter weather here in Ohio. He’s slowed down even more but is still too quick. We hunted a wooded area with a lot of history that day, an old place that was populated in the mid-1800s. At the finish of our hunt I possessed a couple of pretty cool relics and a few as-yet-to-be-identified objects; Paul ( not his real name ) had only found rusted iron.

As we headed up the highway, he asked “So what am I doing wrong? How do you find the good stuff? Where should I be looking?”. So I told him, once again, the closely-guarded, ark-of-the-covenant-like secret to making good finds….

“You need to slow down.”


A Drained Lake and Decent Weather

Last Saturday was a good day, as is any day we can get out with detector in hand during February here in Ohio; it was fifty degrees and partly cloudy, I had nothing planned ( the ‘honey-do’ list was empty! ) and my wife was going out to look at wedding dresses with our daughter-in-law to be up near Cleveland. That being the case, off I went in my 2004 GMC Canyon in search of a spot to hunt.

I keep a list on my computer of locations I’ve obtained permission for, parks within a three-county area and other likely spots that could yield history. I hadn’t yet decided where I was headed as the garage door raised itself but, by the time rubber met road, I knew where I was going: a state park. After all, I had the $5 permit fee in my pocket and knew the park would be pretty much deserted, plus I hadn’t talked to the chief ranger in over a year, a fellow copper originally from the Pittsburgh area who took on the park’s law enforcement role in retirement. It would be a good day.

The twenty-minute drive through rolling farm ladscape, still brown and gray with bare treelimbs arching skyward in the intermittent patches of woods, hinted the least bit at the coming of spring. The air, crisp and clean, faintly smelled of wood smoke here and there as sunshine tried its best to burst through dirty-bottomed clouds. As I pulled into the large lot of the park’s commissary, jam-packed with sleeping pontoon boats, I saw that both park patrol vehicles were parked near the building…hopefully, someone was in.

Alas, all the doors were locked and there was no stirring from inside as I knocked a couple of times; looks like I’d be saving that Lincoln paper for another day.

I drove down to the beach area and was stunned at the water level: huge expanses of bottom were exposed, including the entire swimming area. Now, I know that there’ve been detectorists scanning the sandy bottom since the lake level was dropped, but there was no way they could have covered all this ground, not even with an army of treasure hunters. The exposed lake bottom extended at least 200 yards beyond the swimming area and was a quarter-mile wide, if not more.

After parking, I droppped the tail gate and geared up, making sure I had spare batteries for my AT Pro and waterproof pro-pointer. I’d brought both my sand scoop and the T-handled shovel I dig with, not knowing if the sand/clay would still be frozen in spots. Luckily, it wasn’t, and I ended up using the shovel as a guidepost every time I walked the breadth of the swimming area, moving it ten feet farther towards where the deep end of the swim area would have been had the lake been at summer levels. As it was, I started scanning in what would have been thigh-deep water and covered the area out to the boundary.

I won’t bore you with the details of each and every find; I ended up recovering 6 ear rings, a ring and a necklace along with a handful of clad change. Most of the items I classified as bling immediately, but held out hope on two of the ear rings; I’d decided to wait until I got back to Ram Field Ranch to clean and take a really close look at them.

I spent four hours at the park, seeing only a few people taking advantage of the weather to enjoy leisurely strolls along the water’s edge; I was approached by one person, a teen girl curious as to what I’d found, and told her of the possible treasure of the two ear rings. “That looks like a lot of fun”, she’d said, and I told her how addicting our hobby can be, adding that my wife was happy I didn’t spend my days in the recliner watching TV. The gal laughed at that, obviously picturing this gray-bearded sixty-year-old doing just that, and wished me luck as she strolled away.

It didn’t work.

The two hopefuls turned out to be junkers, too, but I really didn’t care; I’d been outside getting some exercise, imagining each promising signal being something semi-valuable. I was tired and hungry when I got home, my lower back questioning my intelligence as it complained of all the bending it had been subjected to, but it soon was quelled by medication and a hot bath. I hadn’t had any success this day….

…but I DID notice that both marinas were void of water, too, as I left the park….which means I’ll be back very soon…

…as long as the weatherguessers cooperate.


Mystery Solved

One of the reasons I post metal detecting videos on YouTube is to elicit assistance in identifying mysterious, unknown items we all come across in our digging adventures. That happened once again overnight, when a person who goes by ‘Manabozo’ on YT solved the puzzling, round wheel-like object that came out of the ground in a flick uploaded on October 13th, 2016. Here’s the link to that video:

It was the main frame of a gyroscope, easily identified when compared to the photos below.



Manabozo, by taking the time to respond to the video, in effect makes us all a little smarter, adding to the mental files we carry in our heads while we are out scanning the earth for buried relics and artifacts from the past.

Gearing It Up…

Sunshine and low 40s today and tomorrow before the rains come Tuesday; prepping my equipment to get after it in an hour or so. Headed to a swimming pool complex that’s slated for demolition in the spring, so I’m hoping to find some jewelry…and silver.

Stay tuned to my YouTube channel…I’m seriously considering making a video on applying a protective coating to the business end of my pinpointer. This is something I believe everyone should at least consider doing because it will extend the life of the instrument, protecting the casing from wearing through, and it will not affect its operation.

Looks like my red-headed angel and I will be in Ocean Isle Beach in early March…looking forward to that FIRST beach hunt of ’17 !


Saturday morning musings…

Yeah, so its twenty-six degrees outside my window here at Ram Field Ranch, with a light coating of snow on the ground. It’s been pretty much below freezing since last weekend; it was in the low 60s Saturday and Sunday, so I got out and hunted a bit at the abandoned farm I’ve been hitting. No really outstanding finds aside from a large cent recovered from the back yard, and it was pretty toasted. I soaked it in olive oil for four days, brushed it very gently with a well-used toothbrush, prayed and then examined it under a magnifier and high-intensity light…no joy. Still couldn’t read any sort of a date, but the Liberty head is visible. I am going to gift the land owner with the coin; he’ll be happy with something from his land that is at the very least one hundred sixty years old. The man has been very accommodating, allowing me to hunt, to date, two of his seventeen farm properties. He’s the kind of land owner you want to meet, wishing all land owners were like this one.

But we know that’s never going to be the case.

*  *  *  *  *

Guilty. I fully confess. I have yet to clean my gear this winter because…well, we here in north central Ohio have had detectable weather until now. The ten-day forecast from the weather-guessers calls for highs in the mid-20s for the most part, with a measure of snow scattered about the period.

Looks like I’ll get to that task after all.

*  *  *  *  *

I drove approximately 20 miles to a small town a few days ago, en route to a Mom-and-Pop consignment shop in search of undiscovered treasure. I don’t know about you, but I can spend all day in places like that, especially when it’s too cold to detect and the ground is frozen. All day, as in until my lower back tells me to stop.

My red-headed angel tells me I need to realize I’m 60 and not twenty.

This town is a little bit Mayberry, a little bit tourist trap and a side of Amish thrown in for good measure. I love the place. They have a week-long fall festival where they shut down the main drag through town and fill it with rides, concession trailers and craftsman booths. My wife and I go every year; that’s how I found this shop, one that I’d never been in but always wanted to visit.

This was the day.

I wasn’t disappointed, either. There was all manner of collectibles, antiques, oddball items, tools, clothing, equipment and trinkets. Since I started reselling on eBay I’ve discovered that police and fire memorabilia move pretty well and this store had a little bit of those items. The two middle-aged ladies behind the counter were very friendly and accommodating, answering my questions and directing me to the items I sought. Though I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for, I found plenty of stock to peruse; I think I might have worn out my ‘what’s it worth?’ app in the process.

I found a couple of items I wanted to do further research on, so I left empty-handed this day.

But I’ll be back.


Busy, Busy…

At the start of winter, I worked on finding a few projects to keep me busy through the cold and snow season. Maybe I worked a little too hard.

The last few weeks have been a little hectic for this old dog. Between an appointment with my favorite Doc ( she saved my life a couple of years ago! ), working on a home repair project, trips to regional second-hand and consignment shops, visits to area military clubs to build a list of subject material for my weekly newspaper column…plus a spat of good weather that begged me to get out with my AT Pro…well, my days have been full. Hence, blog posts have been sparse.

I’ll try to find some time in the near future, so that both of you will have some metal-detecting material to read…if you have a couple or three minutes of free time.

Undertaking Another Journey


Be advised: this post has nothing to do with metal detecting but everything to do with history.

I consider myself extremely fortunate for that.

Since I retired from the cop business nearly four years ago, two significant things have happened to me. The first is the reason why I’m even here.

Metal detecting. I discovered it shortly after I retired, talked into purchasing a machine by my wife’s brother. I bought a lower-end model and, after a month, I’d swallowed the hook, having been snagged waaay down in the gizzard. I upgraded to the trusty, dependable AT Pro…not a high-priced tool but still a good, solid detector with which I’ve spent hundreds and hundreds of hours and made a multitude of finds and friends. The history in our grounds continually amazes me.

Which brings me to the second event. I’ve always been a keen student of history, particularly the Civil War and World War Two; that works well with my passion for metal detecting. It also plays into this second event: I became a freelance writer.

I’ve always enjoyed writing and I thank one of my high school teachers, Mrs. Fehr, for focusing and developing the skills I now use, both on this blog and another I have that’s law enforcement centered; it can be found here:

Because of this affinity for writing, I’ve written several guest columns for our local newspaper, the Mansfield News Journal, as well as numerous entries for online magazines for which I was compensated. One particular submission to the paper, about America’s youngest warrior in WW II ( he was twelve years old, serving on a Navy ship in the Pacific! ) piqued the interest of the News Journal‘s editor, sparking an idea.

Would I be interested in submitting weekly stories about area military veterans?

What an opportunity! Being retired, I’d been looking for something to do, especially during the winter when I can’t get out and metal detect, and writing about our heroes from wars past is both an honor and an exciting venture, something that I can bring a passion to. Not being a military veteran myself, which I’ve regretted for decades, I feel that telling their stories will help assuage the guilt of not serving my country.

My first story appeared online this past Sunday and in the print edition the following day, and it can be found here:

Tomorrow, I’ll spend time with a WW II Marine who fought in the Pacific islands…

…and I cannot wait to hear, and then tell, his story.

God bless our veterans.