Whatever Happened to…

Not sure about you, but it seems that everyone who enjoys this pastime is talking about relic and water hunting.  What happened to coinshooting?  Are our ranks thinning?  Are the coins disappearing?  What’s up?

When I started in the late 70’s, most everyone searched for old coins, silver coins, and we were finding them with some regularity.  This preoccupation continued for quite some time, and if my ability to gauge time periods is correct, it started changing in the late 80’s.  Not that we coin hunters stopped looking…. just that the manufacturers realized beach and shallow water hunting was becoming popular.

Detecting beaches was pretty easy, and finding just one gold ring made your day.  The rush was then on, and all the manufacturers started  designing models that were supposedly entirely waterproof.  I use the word “supposedly” loosely because I knew of a few that were surely not.

In the past few years relic hunting has taken off, and I think it’s partly because of rural areas becoming more readily available, and because of the just “dig everything” approach.

Now, having said all that, we coin hunters have to start speaking up, promoting our passion, and in particular the forgotten art of probing.  Back  in the early 80’s using a probe was not all that uncommon.  If you wanted to hunt a small town park or homesite, you had to be proficient in this method  of recovery.  Being able to “bring up a coin” neatly was the test, and the price of admission to many good areas. Today?  Not sure 75% of detectorists even have a probe, and it just might be that’s why we are facing so many restrictions?

My tools of choice….

I don’t intend to dwell on this subject, but when I see all the many YouTube detecting videos I see large plugs being dug, and many times replaced hastily.  Yes,  I sometimes see drop cloths being used, but why aren’t we seeing anyone probing, and why isn’t it being promoted by the manufactuers and clubs?

Probing is not all that difficult, and with a little practice you can become quite proficient….

  1. Once you pinpoint your target with your detector, insert the probe in the ground where you think the target is located.
  2. Setting your detector down, probe the area until you actually touch the coin (target).
  3. Lift the probe slightly and push forward about three or four inches (keeping tip centered on the target). Then do the same from left to right.
  4. This leaves you with an “X”(or at least I hope so) in the ground (while the tip of the probe is still centered on the target).
  5. Then, either using your probe or a long handled screwdriver, gently pry the coin to the surface.
  6. Once you have the find in hand, push the folds of the grass back together and continue on detecting.

I looked long and hard online for a video demonstration but was not able to come up with one.  If you have or know of one please let me know. It’s an art that needs reviving, and one that just might take you to all the right places….



Filed under Metal Detecting

6 responses to “Whatever Happened to…

  1. wintersen

    This method of recovery is alien to most UK detectorists, Dick.
    I can’t seen myself becoming proficient in this method, which appears to assume that the target is going to be a coin and not an artefact (sorry, relic). How do you know?

    I assume that the environment in which you guys detect often rules out using a spade. We’d get strange looks if caught wielding a screwdriver on an English field or pasture.

    • John, the probe has a brazed ball bearing tip which typically wouldn’t scratch the item, and it doesn’t matter what the target is….probing is an extremely precise and neat method of recovery.

      Lastly, you Brits get strange looks no matter what the hell you seem to be doing….. I can’t help you there!


  2. Hi Dick.
    Great new site! I did a video last year on target recovery and talk about probing with a screwdriver for targets less tha 4″. here is a link

    I think the reason people have gotten away from probing is most of the silver coins left ar now deeper and probing a coin at 8″ is almost impossable.

    • Thanks Ron for sharing….as always. The White’s probe that I use is 8 inches long, and still does well on fairly deep coins. Just seems everyone is in a hurry now….

  3. Great point Dick. I rarely have any of my customers ask for a probe anymore – everyone always wants something like the lesche digger.

    I fear more and more sites becoming off limits as a result of large plugs dug poorly in public areas.

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