Some Days It Just Doesn’t Pay….

Well yesterday was one of those days where I woke up hurting, went out detecting and came home hurting even more. I did find coins….eighty five cents in clad!  Based on time spent, gas used, battery drainage that comes out to about minus a buck fifty an hour, not including the sore back, feet and necessary nap.

So if you are wanting to see a photo or video of Dallas Dick’s Sunday morning adventure, forget about it!



You all should know by now that I am a coin hunter. It’s what got me started in this pastime, and it’s what keeps me going now, albeit at much slower pace. I don’t think I will ever get over the excitement of seeing that silver dime or quarter after removing a plug.

I’ve had a couple of people ask me where I go when I detect and my answer is usually “down the road a piece”.  You see I don’t like to share this information for one reason….I don’t want YOU find MY coins.  It is what it is my friend, and I am pretty sure you understand.

Now having said that I will throw a couple of things at you from my “Coin Hunting in Depth” book and you can take them for what they’re worth.

The following pretty much deals with old grove areas but I will talk more about a few of my other favorites in future updates (good things come to those who wait…LOL).



Now that I got your attention….

Quite often you will need to make quick decisions about where to spend your time detecting. You may only have an hour or two and you can’t waste it driving any distance.  When I am faced with this (which is almost always now) I usually head to the closest park or school. I am fortunate in that I am close to both and while they are not old as in “turn of the century”, they can and will offer up silver every now and then. If I had my druthers I would spend my time at an old picnic grove or cellar hole, but as of now I have neither at my disposal (working on one potential grove but more investigative work is needed).


The key word here is ‘grove’! Today we have picnic ‘areas’ or picnic ‘grounds’. Years ago people congregated at ‘the grove’. No other explanation was needed. Usually it was a shaded wooded area not far from town. A place to escape the heat of summer and a place to relax with family & friends. Depending on the area it could be a very busy place on the weekends. Those who went brought blankets, picnic baskets, board games, footballs, baseballs and it was not unusual for families to spend the entire day at the ‘grove’.  It was THE place to be and THE place to be seen.  I might also mention a lot of church events, harvest home dinners, etc., were also held there, adding to the potential for great finds.

I worked this old grove in Hunterdon County for months...

This old grove in Hunterdon County NJ gave up a lot of old silver

Eventually radio, theaters and television came along, and the picnic grove became a thing of the past.  What was once a very popular gathering place disappeared, camouflaged by mother nature and remembered by an ever dwindling number of old timers.

How do you go about finding an old picnic grove?  

Well for starters bone up on your local history. Use the internet and visit your local library.  A lot of my early success came from reading the centennial and bi-centennial booklets that many communities published. They were loaded with lots of old photos.  Also be sure to sort through the various church histories and look for mentions of harvest home suppers.  Study old maps or plats of your area and look for any roads that end in ‘grove’. They were often named after the landowner, i.e., Johnson’s Grove, Herbert’s grove or an obvious natural description such as Oak Grove, Elm Grove or Pecan Grove (Google Earth is great for this)

If, while reading, you are unable to find any specific references to these gathering places drive the ‘grove’ roads and look for any area that might lend itself to picnicking.  Look for shade, minimal ground vegetation, sometimes a brook or creek, and enough space between trees where one can throw down a blanket. Also look for what might be a path or entrance into the area (which today could be nothing more than a filled in ditch).

If you find an area that does looks promising, walk it. Look for any indication of past use.  Remnants of old structures (believe it or not one old grove had a refreshment stand), rusty bottlecaps, square nails, oyster shells or small pieces of glass, and finally ask yourself if it looks like the kind of place you would take your family for a picnic?  Let your intuition come into play and proceed from there. Your first impressions or ‘gut reactions’ are often the right ones.

The best part about these old groves? It’s not that difficult to get permission from the landowner. It’s usually an area that would not be greatly affected by someone digging coin size targets.

Lastly do yourself a favor and find out where the town’s seniors gather and spend time with them. They are a veritable vault of useful information, and whether or not they can tell you about these old meeting places matters little. You will come away with a new friend or two and be the better for it. Good luck!



Just got a short email from John Howland, who is spending a week long holiday in Cornwall, and he’s claims to be having one helluva time. I can just imagine….


One of John’s earlier holidays….




Filed under Metal Detecting

20 responses to “Some Days It Just Doesn’t Pay….

  1. Joe(TX)

    …Hey Dick!!…..If I was doing this for the money then I would have given up shortly after I began hunting in 1970!! I think that most of us who have persisted have an Adventure Quest in their soul…doing research….eyeballing the site….getting permission to hunt….and even having a bad day is just all part of the game!! Some of the research can be disappointing …..discovering that the site is now covered in a concrete parking lot!!……..Getting out of the house and savoring the beautiful outdoors is a great thrill for me anyway. Sometimes a bad day is just a sacrifice for better tomorrow’s….I mean this especially refers to scouting trips….lots of potential good sites but one never know until the detector coil is applied to the ground and one starts to dig…..I get backaches toooo ….so do Not forget to pack the Aleve…….Joe

    • Joe I am not in it for the money either, but the older I’ve gotten the more I hurt, making those uneventful outings just a little worse. On the plus side I was out driving to a function Saturday and came upon an old homestead that looks really promising….now I need to find out who owns it. I need something old real bad. The Mercs and Roosie’s are not cutting it anymore….at least for me.

      • John

        Hi Dick,
        Send me the address, zip and county and I will see if I can find the owner of the property. Send me a private email.

      • John thanks, but I am on it already. I now have the box number/street number and will be on DCAD tonight.

  2. Joe(TX)

    Great Advice about looking for street’s with the word “Grove” in the name!! This reminded me of other roads in my area. Look for streets that have “School” in the name. I know of a street that has “Ferry” in the Name!!….of course the School House and Ferry are long gone….could be a lot of legwork but it is all part of the Adventure. Thanks for reminding me……Joe

  3. Joe(TX)

    I have a lot of physical problems too, mainly due to severe chronic back and knee problems and my doctor probably would tell me Not to hunt at all !! I would say to you and I am also referring to myself just to do some short hunts….like 30 minutes to an hour max…..once you start hurting bad it is time for either a break or just stop. At this point I usually take a water break with some Aleve. You should be OK within 10 minutes or less….if Not….it is time to go Home!!

  4. Mind if d365 reblogs this?

  5. Big Tony from Bayonne

    Dick, thanks for the reminder on the grove/street names research. I started to do this during the winter and got side tracked by diddly squat……It’s not to late in the year to get out there – Thanks again.

    • Tony, Diddly Squat is a very good friend of mine. Incidentally congratulations on the forthcoming article in American Digger. Looking forward to reading it.

      • Big Tony from Bayonne

        Thank you for the compliment – especially coming from an accomplished writer as yourself. That means a lot to me. But don’t fret I am not after your job, only better sites. I took your advice and did some research today and located two possible places – one dating back to 1910! You’re the best!

      • Accomplished? Are you sure you are responding to the right blog?

        All kidding side the check is in the mail….

  6. Robbie

    Dick, And you say you don’t have anything else to offer……………Big Tony gained some information from the blog, and I’m sure others did also.

  7. Big Tony from Bayonne

    Anyone have a bridge to sell?

  8. Big Tony from Bayonne

    Only if it comes with a great hunting site underneath!

  9. supernova1c

    A lovely post about groves, Dick. Very interesting and they are special, you are right.

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