A Spoonful of Sugar…

…might make us a little more palatable.Stoutinitials

About two months ago I got an email from someone named Brad.  Brad lived in central New Jersey, my old stomping grounds, and he had recently received a White’s Coinmaster for his birthday. He had one of my books, found my blog and asked if I might suggest a few places for him to detect.

Brad lived in Somerset county, and while I didn’t hunt a lot in that area, I did suggest a few places that used to produce a few old coins in Hunterdon county, just a few miles South.  I offered them with two caveats.  (1) I had not lived there for 28 years, had no idea what the sites/areas were like now, and (2) if they were still available, I had no idea what regulations and/or restrictions there might be now, if any.  The sites I offered were town parks, picnic areas, carnival sites, athletic fields and schools.

A couple of weeks ago I heard back from Brad. He had gone to one athletic field I had suggested in Lambertville, New Jersey, and had just started to detect when a city maintenance worker tapped him on the shoulder, and told him that metal detecting was not allowed in that area. He left and then drove to another athletic field I had suggested, just across the bridge in New Hope, Pennsylvania. There too, after about fifteen minutes of searching, a policeman drove up and asked him to stop.  On a more positive note, Brad did say he was able to detect an old school I had suggested in Ringoes, New Jersey, and came away with a couple of silver dimes, so his excursion was not all bad.

He went on to say that since his first email he had purchased a pinponter, a Lesche shovel, and while finding places to detect was somewhat difficult, he was having a lot of fun. I asked if he had the shovel with him when he was in those areas that he was asked to leave, and he said yes.  Now I suspect he would still have been asked to leave, no matter his choice of recovery tools, but I reminded him to think twice about this is in the future. Both of the athletic fields in question were in residential neighborhoods.


Understand that back in the 70’s and 80’s detecting was not as popular as it is today, and if there were ten detectorists within 30 miles, that was a lot. In fact if and when you did run into one, it was an exciting moment. One that almost necessitated a hug, and surely a long talk about all things metal detecting.  For me, in one instance, it resulted in a new club, the (Mid-Jersey Research & Recovery ) and eventually the formation of the FMDAC.

Back then you also could walk on to most any town park, school or athletic field and not be bothered by anyone. If anything the local gendarmes would stop, and walk over to you just to see what kind of goodies you were finding.  I remember quite a few leaving, saying “I need to get one of those”…..

Today the competition is keen, and many of the areas that used to be available are nonexistent. I also suspect that those that are still available are not producing the finds that they once did, which is understandable with the influx of new hobbyists.  What I don’t understand, and often wonder about, is how many areas have been closed because of our negligence and inability to present ourselves in a good light.  By that I mean, in the rush to beat the competition, did we completely forget to think about how we might appear to others?  Did we bother to find out the rules or restrictions, if any, before we stepped foot on that property, and in our haste to take home “all we could” in the limited time we had, did we sometimes leave unsightly holes or dead spots?  Were there times when we were asked to leave a site and got a little testy?  While I don’t know the answers to these questions, I’m guessing it just might be a little of all the above.

So is there a way to fix this?  Personally,  I don’t think so.  Maybe John, Bill and Jim Bob will give it some thought and change their ways, but will Bubba, Jack and Willy?  Sadly there are just too many tekkies out there who just don’t care about anyone else but themselves, and once an area is closed to metal detecting, it’s very hard to turn it around.

So a few suggestions, or spoonfuls of sugar….

1. When detecting small town community parks, maybe search in the early morning hours.  I personally loved Sunday mornings.  Hardly anyone out and about, and it was peaceful and quiet.

2. If you are searching a park or athletic field, leave the shovel and camo apparel at home.  You won’t be digging land mines.

3. If you are searching a manicured area (one that is extremely well landscaped and cared for), use a probe to recover your finds.  If you don’t know how to probe, LEARN.  If you can figure out how to use that $2,500 metal detector,  you can learn how to probe a target.

4. While it’s fun to hunt with a lot of  friends, save it for the rural areas.  Nothing attracts attention like a gang of tekkies invading a town park.

5. You night laugh at this one, but if you like to take a break for lunch, think about where you are. Nothing shouts out trouble like popping a beer on the tailgate of your truck.  I’ve experienced that here in Texas, and I wanted to crawl under a rock.

6. Be polite to police, city workers, and others who might ask you to leave, even though you know you are in the right.  Arguing is not going to help your cause. Think over your options, and if and when you return, be sure to have a print out of the park regulations in your pocket.  You can almost always find them online. No need to visit city hall and bring up the subject.

7. Dress as inconspicuous as you can. Maybe leave the camo belt at home, and just bring your detector, headphones, pouch and digger. You might even like the simplicity of it all.

You may consider these suggestions stupid, or a waste of time, but that’s okay.  I am old school, old hat and just happen to care about how we look to the masses.



About a week ago, someone on a FB detecting page said something to the effect…”treating my self to a small Christmas gift. What do you think of this”, and there was a photo of a “Lesche” digger. There were maybe fifteen replies and 3/4 of them were recommendations for shovels.  Not one mention of where he would be using his recovery tool….just get a shovel!  Have these really become our recovery tool of choice?



Metal Detecting is Sexy

Thanks to Robert James Ellis for sharing the following….

Colombia treasure-laden San Jose galleon ‘is found’

Old Base Metal Spoons



If you are a coin collector give a listen to Dan Hughes latest podcast.  Lots of very cool information about the….

Whitman Publishing Company





Filed under Metal Detecting

17 responses to “A Spoonful of Sugar…

  1. allan bakanas

    I still don’t get camo-detecting?

    • Allan, I think I get it in that it’s a Southern thing, but I just wish those that wear it all the time understood the implications and the potential harm it does to our pastime.

      • Jim Fielding

        I agree about cammo NOT being a good choice for detectorists…I give a “Detector Talk” at the Central Florida Metal Detecting Club once a month and ALWAYS nix the cammo theme to members. I promote the “Hiding-In-Plain-Site” uniform, bright neon-colored shirt (orange or lime-green), reflective vest, beige cargo pants, hiking boots, dark glasses and a beige cap with sun-shield on the back. I usually work busily and even along roadways, folks completely ignore me. Why? This is the uniform of city workers, day laborers, and the like…and they have become invisible to us we see them so often in parks and along roads. And who has the guts to approach an outdoor worker and question him? Not many. I had someone walk past me one day, do a double take, and asked what kind of an edge-trimmer had no blade? Laser, I told him. He nodded and walked on.

      • Jim, thank you. I know I’ve made a lot of enemies with my dislike of camouflage clothing, but I just don’t get it. If it’s ALL you have to wear then fine I guess. I just doubt it’s the case. I think if everyone would back at the older treasure hunting magazines they would have a tough time finding camo. It’s a fairly recent trend, and I have my thoughts about why, but I will not put myself on the spot here.

        I love your idea of the neon colors and what they represent. It just might make the difference between an enjoyable day and a bad day. Thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts. Don’t be a stranger here..

  2. heavymetalnut

    I agree about not having a shovel in grassy areas.I always use my hand Lesche in yards and parks when detecting.Have a blessed Christmas Dick and a non super bowl year.Go Cowboys!

    • Merry Christmas to you too Dave, and someday I will get you to learn how to probe a find, and wear your baseball cap the right way….

      GO GIANTS!

      • heavymetalnut

        I used to probe back in the day. Had a nice brass probe. Nicked a few coins but,was pretty good at it. Lookin back it’s hard to believe we used to do that after having had a pin pointer for so long now.

      • “I don’t think necessity is the mother of invention — invention, in my opinion, arises directly from idleness, possibly also from laziness. To save oneself trouble”…..Agatha Christie.

  3. Bob Ellis

    A Spoonful of Sugar…” : well done, thanks. I reposted to the YTC metal detecting clubs Facebook page.

  4. Lisa

    I would truly love to go detecting with you. No frills, just relying on instinct, experience, and gut. And respect of the land.

  5. Bigtony

    Maybe if there were frilly camo and more women detecting – thern less folks would be there to tell us to leave….

    Thanks Dick for the Spoonful of sugar….makes good sense and is the way to go nowadays

    • You are probably right Tony. Having a gal with you just might be the deal breaker. Much like taking your kids or grandkids with you when you knock on doors.

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