TV Shows…Give Them a Chance!

Well we are off to the races already with the critiques of the forthcoming TV series Dig Fellas….before it even airs.  Apparently a few of us are clairvoyant?  There also appears to be another series coming sometime soon (in the development stages) called  Fortune Diggers, but no date is given for that. You will just have to wait to piss and moan about that one.

I am not saying these shows, and those that came before, will be or were all that great in promoting the pastime, but hey it’s a start, and like anything else there are kinks to be worked out and improvements to be made.  Who knows.  Maybe a few years from now there will be a Treasure Hunting channel, devoted totally to what it is we do (I can already hear you saying, “great…more people getting involved and ruining it for the rest of us”).


When I started detecting back in the mid 70’s the only information one could get about the pastime came from other treasure hunters or from magazines.  I might also add that there were probably two or three detectorists in my area, and you didn’t run into them that often.  The internet?  Not even in the dictionary.

We also had more options when it came to what to buy. We had White’s, Garrett, Fisher, A.H. Pro, Daytona, Compass, D-Tex, Tesoro, Teknetics, Gardiner, Gold Mountain, C & G Technoloy, Usika, Treasure Hunter (Phantom), Bounty Hunter, Nautilus and probably a few others I’ve forgotten about.  Today, we have fewer companies, more complex machines, but more info and data available about how to use them.

When I was the Marketing Director at Garrett my orders were simple and very direct. Get our product (and the pastime) out to as many people as you can. In other words, we needed to be more visible to the masses!  Of course that was precisely the same goal every other manufacturer had as well, and accomplishing that was not an easy task.  I remember well my trips to “L.L. Bean” in hopes that they would feature one of our detectors in their catlog.  I gave them every incentive in the world, not to mention products, but it never happened.  We did eventually get into the Sears catalog, but shortly after that the Sears catalog went bye-bye, kaput!

The words metal detecting and/or treasure hunting were not household words back then.  Most of our dealers were selling detectors part-time out of their basement or garage (will always remember one with a name something like Jack’s Roto-Rooter and Metal Detector Sales).


Today manufacturers still want their products to be more visible, more known to the public. It’s still called marketing and we should all be happy to have more people joining our ranks instead of discouraging it.  Yes it means more competition, but it also means more acknowledgement and acceptance of the pastime, and we absolutely need larger numbers if we are to continue to even have a hobby (something you SHOULD worry about).  Yes, a few newcomers will leave unfilled holes. That’s nothing new…we have had to deal with that for some time,  and will probably have to deal with it for years to come.

Today, be happy you have the internet, detecting shows on TV, and zillions of YouTube videos (some good, some bad). You are probably a movie producer yourself with that camera on your head, sharing your adventures with others (who are also doing the very same thing). Nothing wrong with that, and if I were younger I would probably be doing the same thing.  Likewise if you are having a problem with your detector there’s probably an answer out there at the click of a mouse.

That metal detecting shows on TV are ruining things for the pastime has some validity.  American Diggers was the first and absolutely the worst (why the participants ever agreed to participate in that show is beyond me).  On the other hand those shows that came after, while not great, were improvements, and I do think that trend will continue. At least I hope so.

Be patient with the new shows. Give them a chance, and cut the participants some slack. I’ve heard many say these folks would do anything for the money but I don’t believe it for a minute.  Of course they get paid, but do you really think they are raking in the big money?  I doubt it.  I think they do it for the experience, the opportunity to hunt terrific sites, the chance to travel and see other parts of the country, and most of all I think they do it for the fun of it.  They also have nothing to do with the final product, and to paint them in  a bad light is unfair.

Lastly, if you read my blog you know that I have critized these shows, and have not always given them great reviews. I do however appreciate that our pastime is now out there for all to see, and we are no longer that “old man looking for pennies on the beach“, and yes, like it or not, that was the perception for many years. Watch the shows, discuss them, criticize if you must, but try to be a little more civil.  Saying nasty things changes absolutely nothing, and come on, you know you would jump at the chance to be on one of these shows.  Just sayin…



Hope you will spread the word about our effort to help  Ken MacIntyre, and to tell your detecting friends they can win new detectors in the process.  Click HERE to find out more.  The prizes are still coming in, and we thank all the contributing parties!



Mourning Ring Returns Home

Local Treasure Hunters Up for the Search

Hawaii’s Unexpected Treasure Hunter



I am very humbled and honored to present the following to Harry and Wally. No two individuals have ever been more deserving…Congratulations to you both!




Filed under Metal Detecting

34 responses to “TV Shows…Give Them a Chance!

  1. Outdoor Outfitters

    I believe fortune diggers was renamed dig wars and has aired already.


  2. pocketspill

    I want to give them a chance but the producers keep sticking to the *LAZY* formula of “cha-ching” rather than actually basing the shows on detective work and knowledge-as-treasure.

    So here’s the description of the Fortune Diggers (working title) emphasis mine…

    “[it] is produced by Sharp Entertainment and McKnight follows three teams of America’s best relic hunters, competing head-to-head-to-head in a race, armed with metal detectors, to discover the ****most valuable artifacts in a location — from forts to historical landmarks. Once on site, the teams in six half-hour episodes must use all their resources and *****hustle to ensure their victory — and paycheck. At the end of the hunt, the modern-day treasure hunters will have their finds evaluated to learn more about the piece of history they’ve uncovered and the ******price tag that goes with it. ”

    The ***** items are what’s Fking over our hobby. They have to STOP with the cha-ching based theme. There is a great formula out there based on the historical hypothesis and the travel through time with site discovery, surveys, detecting and interpretation to prove/disprove it. Detective work, not *HUSTLING* is what we need.

    • pocketspill

      Ah… so there’s not another one. That’s good. I thought we were heading backwards.

    • Scott, first my apologies for getting that second show wrong….was not aware that was the original title of Dig Wars. My bad.

      I understand your frustration with these shows, but I still have hopes that they will improve over time. That our pastime is even being presented on TV is something we should be happy about. The “cha-ching” thing is more about keeping the viewer watching.

      I think all of these shows could and should start and end with a disclaimer or statement that says something like “all items recovered at these sites were recorded by an archaeologist and were donated to a museum.”.

      If however the land is private, and not known to be historic, then such a statement is not needed, nor is an archaeologist.

      • pocketspill

        Dick, I guess we’ll have to disagree. I don’t think a disclaimer is enough. And I think private land provenance is just as important as public property. I think the theme of preservation must be woven into the show. Once they’re done screaming and doing somersaults, why not have them pull out a bag, label the item and plot it on the grid?

        For example… in Diggers when KG or Ringy dig an item, they never show them doing anything to build a data set (though you do catch a glimpse of finds forms and bags when they spread things on the table – and I happen to know they do that off camera.) I say – why not make that PART of the recovery? Why not show a plot of the property with their finds marked so they can be mapped with future surveys? Why not say things about how the iron objects must be preserved soon because iron decays rapidly once removed? Are these ideas to cerebral for the audience?

      • Scott, I understand your position in all this. I just don’t think the television audience is ready to understand it or give a damn about it. JMO.

  3. With regards to that award for Wally….

    Anyone who sought refuge in a Communist country, in 1986, foregoing the freedoms of thought, word and deed of the West…deserves the Soviet’s Order of the Red Banner. The apparatchiks I suspect, will be proud of you! The hard-core operatives will, like Philby, never take you to heart.

    Your decision making ability may be somewhat tarnished and open to speculation, um, no, a lot tarnished I suspect. Mr Barford, you have done treasure hunting a great service. I applaud you Comrade!

    Your loyalty to one of the most odious political systems does you credit.

  4. Dick, I agree with you that it is good to get people involved with the hobby. I personally wish there was a better way of doing it than with dramatized television. If every club in the nation would hold general interest classes maybe interested parties would get started off in the right direction..Pipe dream? I used to think so. Not so much anymore!

    • Steve, you and your club have worked with your local community and accomplished a lot. You should be proud for sure.

      All I am saying is that TV shows about metal detecting (in prime time) were a pipe dream a few year ago, and as such, we need to embrace them, work to make them more realistic, more enjoyable and push for even more. Impugning the character of those participating is just wrong in my opinion.

      I know Diggers and Dig Wars could improve here and there, but I still enjoy watching them.

  5. Joe Smith


    Is that available in two ply?

  6. Bob Buttafuso

    AD was fun to make and with more say in the entire project, I would do it again. A great experience all around. We thought that they would at least research the prices and let us in on the editing but that didn’t happen. Before we could say booo, or “Boom Baby” 🙂 , it was on the air.   Here is one of the many things that pissed me off. On the way back to the hotel following the plantation dig in S.C., we stopped at a black museum in Augusta, GA. They filmed us and Ric donating the dug slave beads to the curator of the museum. Now that was good for the show and the hobby but went on the cutting floor.

    Folks hated us as much as the show which was unfair. The ones that viewed it as “entertainment” loved it. It was a huge hit in Australia and is now showing in India and Pakistan. I am getting positive emails about it daily’ Shutting my store down for 3 months cost me money so in no way were we reaping in the bucks. That would have come from additional seasons which didn’t happen. By the way, you forgot the original Bounty Hunter and also Nautilus as manufacturers.  


    • Thanks Bob for your comments, and for your views as a cast member. I appreciate your taking the time to share them here.

      I know I have had articles edited to the point where they didn’t look anything like the original, so I can guess what it must be like to see a finished TV show without having any input.

      Incidentally I added the Bounty Hunter and Nautilus. Thanks for jogging the memory. Have a safe trip to the UK.

  7. Big Tony from Bayonne

    Dick, maybe shows like this will get other people involved in this crazy hobby. It took a Treasure magazine to get me hooked! Next thing I know I was buying a used machine and learning about garden tools real quickly!
    I still feel we also need shows that document the bigger finds. Those shows make you dream of finding the really big treasure!

  8. Hya BT from B:
    You’re right on the money there mate…people want to find treasure; it’s healthy, it’s great, and it’s fun. But steady on the garden tools thing old pal, that kinda stuff is for the ladies….!!! No point in buying a hound and barking yourself. Treasure hunting is man’s work and requires beer and JD chasers to lubricate the mind and senses.
    Best regards
    John H

  9. Big Tony from Bayonne

    Hya John H, I couldn’t have said it better! I always feel better detecting those kind of libations! Or should I say it? Beer is good for the men!

  10. Yep, we’re into gender equality here, mate!

  11. Big Tony from Bayonne

    First off, plenty of landscapers have found silver coins with garden tools but they don’t tell the home owners. Second I am a metal detectorist who Is not afraid to bring along a few libations in case a serious chat breaks over – who has the best find! And we have all been in those conversations. Although the last guy I met detecting said ” I’ll show you mine if you show me yours”. Man I was out of there in a flash – sorry pal gotta go I had to walk my pit bull!

    Third, the case – some of these digger shows don’t cut it and we know by the first 15 minutes but some of them have been fun to watch. I still like the shows that go back to the site and give more details and display what was found – like the last one from England where one man found Anglo Saxon gold pieces in a 30 foot area of a farm that was already detected by a few others two weeks before.

  12. Big Tony from Bayonne

    You are right Dick, today I had my own “Dig Wars”!. I was detecting in a local park just coin shooting to chase away the mumblies. Along comes an old gal and asks me what I was doing. So I tell her that I work for the US Mint and I am looking to put old coins back into circulation but it doesn’t pay much. She didn’t buy it and tells me that I can’t dig in the park because everyone would do it! Well how about that – I thought I was the only one! I asked her how she knew that I was there and she said “I was watching you” – Dam I knew big brother watched but now the retirees are doing it too!

  13. Dallas Dick??? Ain’t that some kinda nasty disease?

  14. Big Tony from Bayonne

    Hello Dick, tonight on Diggers on the History channel II – they went to Glorieta Pass in search of civil war and Santa Fe trail targets. They also keep bringing up Forest Fenn’s 3 million dollar cashe!

  15. Tony, missed these last night….sorry.

    • Big Tony from Bayonne

      A few were repeats but that show was new to me. They found musket and mini balls, a few parts of cannon shells, a nice colonial button and a silver coin or two.

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