How Intimate are you?

I’ve been a big fan of chef Jacques Pepin for many years and when I saw this recent quote of his on a Facebook page it got me thinking about how it also relates to metal detecting and our pastime……..

“I tell a student that the most important class you can take is technique. A great chef is first a great technician. ‘If you are a jeweler, or a surgeon or a cook, you have to know the trade in your hand. You have to learn the process. You learn it through endless repetition until it belongs to you.”Jacques Pepin


Now I have long advocated that metal detecting is not rocket science, and I still believe that, but I also believe that constant use of one detector in the field will make you a much better detectorist. That is if you are not constantly buying new ones, and yes I know certain areas, certain situations might call for the use of a certain kind of detector. What I am referring to and trying to say is that the longer you use “one particular detector” the more attuned you will be to its nuances quirks and responses. Every detector has a personality and you need to get to know it.

Back in the 70’s, and 80’s I pretty much knew what I was about to dig based on the sound/tone I heard.  A lot depended on how it was sitting in the soil, but I could almost always tell whether a coin was a penny, dime, quarter, etc..  I am talking about using machines like the early Coinmasters, groundhogs and Judges. I might also add I only had one detector back then and did not have the luxury (or maybe not) of having a backup.

Joe Attinello was the man who sold me my first detector and he was uncanny in his ability to tell what the target was based on the audio response. He used to tell me to call him over when I got a response and he would tell me what it was.  I have tell you he was almost always right, and he could tell what coin it was, whether it was a nail, pulltab, bottle cap, etc.. He was also the smoothest guy I ever saw when it came to recovering a target. He used a probe and would have the item out of the ground in seconds and it was impossible to tell he even disturbed the soil.

Today I feel pretty comfortable with my MXT Pro, its features and its ability to find good things, but I must say I don’t have that “togetherness feel” that I had years ago.  A lot of it I’m sure has to do with the visual readouts, as well as the broader audio responses that it and most all of the newer detectors offer.

In the 80’s I drooled when those first target ID models came out, and when they changed from the “good – bad, left – right” meter to one that actually had the various coin denominations listed I pawned my car, kids and playboy collection to buy one. I mean damn man!! After that the bottom fell out.

My good finds slowed to a trickle. I blamed in on lack of depth, the weather, worked out sites and just about anything else I could think of. It took me maybe a full season of hunting to realize I was “staring” at that meter, and digging only those targets were labeled as good.  I was mesmerized with that damn penny, dime, quarter thing and not listening to the audio. It took some doing, or in this case undoing, but I eventually got back to square one and my better finds started showing up.

I do miss the staccato responses of the early VLF detectors and wish the newer machines would offer a similar sound. A couple of tekkies have told me the Deus responds like those earlier machines, but I have never had the chance to use one.

Anyway, are any of you having an intimate relationship with your detector (no need to respond Howland)?  Curious too if you can ID your finds easily, or if you have become a slave to that meter. And……do you have a name for your detector? Joe used to call his “mama”, and if he put on the large coil it became “big mama”.  I also had another tekkie friend who used to call his machine “Louise” just to piss off his girlfriend Diane. Loved telling her things like “I promised Louise I spend some time with her on Sunday but I’ll give yo a call when I get home”…..

Thanks y’all for listening to my wine induced drivel. It’s all I can offer right now.  Get your big mama or your Louise out and go find something cool…..



John Howland told me a while back that he had bought a bike to aid in his attempt to lose some weight. I laughed and told him he was wasting his money. I was right. He sent this photo…..




Filed under Metal Detecting

8 responses to “How Intimate are you?

  1. Yes, Dick, my old Garrett Deepseeker ADS was my pride and joy…solid metal housing and a thick pie-plate coil, I was floored by the ability of that thing to ID and pinpoint targets. I spent more time with that machine than my first wife, which may or may not have resulted in our parting; my wife not the Garrett!

    I actually wore off the indexing around the knobs from constant adjustment and experimentation, and I could almost tell you what I had by the tone…double-blip when a coin lay on it’s side…single “bling” when it was level with the ground.

    Now 100 years later (or so it seems), I use a Minelab E-Trac. Initially, I was hypnotized by the quad-digit display, the multi-tone audio panel, the programmable pattern features, the “learn the target” feature, a half-dozen different size and configuration “double D” coils. My finds continued to drop as I stared at the panel like I was flying a Learjet manually on an IFR instrument approach in heavy fog.

    I finally found a really relaxing, little-used park and went back to the basics again, closing my eyes and relaxing more than straining to see the indicators under the plastic gloss. I let the tones gradually return to my subconscious, basically a detectorist’s symphony. Interestingly enough, the sonic nuances started to sort themselves back out, regardless of the panel’s readout, and the ear, more than the eye, started to re- resolve target makeup. I still utilize the technical advantages my machine offers, but have added a little more old metal detecting zen back into the mix. I still cannot douse for crikey though LOL!

  2. Dave Wise

    Anytime you switch to a new machine it’s hard. I fell in love with my White’s Silver Eagle back in the early 1990’s but I wanted the Spectrum. When I was able to afford it I got a One. That machine I knew inside & out. I knew what it was telling me all the time. I then went to the XLT e-series, which was more streamlined but still the great machine the spectrum was.

    When I had the chance to get the MXT All Pro I was very skeptical, thinking nothing can beat the XLT. It took some getting used to but now my XLT sits in the closet collecting dust. White’s sent me the new MX Sport and I am very apprehensive about even taking it out to try. My other machines have treated me so good that old saying comes into play in my head “If it’s not broken don’t fix it”, but I know I have to bite the bullet and get out there with it and give it a few runs, part of my obligation. I have to say I’m a creature of habit and don’t like change. I hope I can get the hang of the new Sport, but not looking forward to the learning curve of a new machine.

    Good article Dick! Hope you are doing ok down there in Cowboys country!Dak Prescott lookin pretty good huh? and how about the running back Zeke? Go Dallas!

    • Thanks Dave. Appreciate you taking the time to respond. Will be interested to hear how you do with the MX Sport. I’ve heard good things from tekkies back in Jersey.

      Dak just may have taken Romo out of the picture. For a low draft pick he has a lot of cool and his teammates love him. Hate to say it but the Cowboys are looking good. Still hanging in there with my Giants though Eli better get his sh&t together and soon.

      • heavymetalnut

        They would be foolish to disrupt the energy this team has now with Dak at QB.Having said that..Jerry Jones will screw it up as usual. Giants looked good Sunday too.

      • I agree, Jerry has to have his way, and that way is usually is mess things up. The Giants won Sunday but they make me nervous. They seem to always find way to lose the game in the last few minutes.

  3. Packrat

    Dick know exactly what you are talking about those early machines. I still use the old Compass 76 Auto detectors for competition hunts. I Know the sounds and can pinpoint like crazy. The one I use most went thru a couple owners including Lucy Bowen. The original owner was a club member from Canada named Marion. She wrote her name on the coil in permanent marker and to this day I still call her Marion. She has found thousands of coins and tokens in competition hunts.

    • Hey Larry,good to hear from you…

      Without a doubt the old VLF/TR machines are great for competition hunts. I think they are also the reason I can recover a target without a pinpointer. Love those “blips”….

      Hope all is well in the great Northwest and that you are back to 100% healthwise. Don’t be a stranger and oh yeah, say hello to Marion for me.

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