Really Not That Complicated…


I frequently get asked “why don’t you talk more about metal detecting” or “why don’t you share a few tips”?  Well you know what? I’ll give it a go, but it comes with the following caveat…

I’m a very uncomplicated individual in my personal life and when it comes to detecting I’m no different. I’m a no-nonsense hunter. Oh there was a time when I too lived and died for the pastime but those days have come and gone.

Today I don’t want or need the most expensive detector, or pinpointer or camera, nor do I want to read through a one hundred page owner’s manual. I also can’t talk to you about recent detector models or innovations, and for the record I don’t see any one particular brand or model setting the treasure hunting world on fire.

Lastly I don’t get out detecting much at all anymore and when I do I try to make the most of my time, concentrating on factory presets and sometimes excessive discrimination. I do that because it’s a big deal to get up and down or to put it another way….it hurts.

So here goes and remember I told you so….



Over the years I’ve used a lot of brands – White’s, Garrett, Compass, Fisher, and Tesoro and probably a few others that I can’t remember. They all did the job for me at the time and I have nothing bad to say about any of them. Today I currently own a White’s MX Sport, MXT-Pro, a White’s 6000di S2 hip mount, a Garrett VLF/TR Groundhog and a Garrett Freedom III.

Today when I do experience that rare “get up and go”  I take the MX Sport. I like the feel and I like the design of the visual readout. I have the standard 10-inch coil but if I were more active I would definitely spring for the 7- inch Detech. I am a coin hunter and not a big fan of large coils.

As I mentioned above I opt for the Coin/Jewelry preset, the two-tone ID and I up the disc setting some because I need to make the most of my ups and downs. Not my preference, just the reality of aging. The MX Sport has pretty decent depth in the all metal mode and if I were physically able to deal with it I would certainly use it all the time.

My 6000di S2, hipmount

The 6000di S2 has sentimental value. I remember finding a boat load of coins with it, and a few years ago I bought one on eBay, sent it back to the factory for a refresh and it came back working great. After the tornado it sat out in the rain for two days and now does not turn on.

The Garrett Groundhog is another sentimental favorite of mine and truly a classic. Built like a brick s**t house it too was an excellent coin finder. Remember reverse discrimination? I might also mention that this detector also sat out in the rain but turned on instantly and has never been back to the factory in all these years. It also has knobs and switches that enable you to ‘instantly’ visualize your settings? Imagine that….

The Groundhog VLF/TR….they don’t build them like this anymore.

The MXT Pro I touted years ago and eventually a lot of tekkies found out about it too. A no-nonsense, easy to use detector that also has knobs and switches that enable you to instantly visualize your settings. Imagine that….

The Garrett Freedom III was not a match for the Fisher 1266x back in the 80’s but it’s one of those machines that you can use in a seeded hunt, take to the beach or loan to a friend or family member.  



I find it interesting that a lot of the major functions today are pretty much the same as they were years ago. All metal/discriminate modes, depth/sensitivity, pinpoint and ground balance. Everything else is pretty much a by-product.  Yeah I know we now have visual and numerical readouts, tonal ID and computerized this and that but by and large we are still dealing with these same four features. They’re tinkered with today (relic mode, hi trash mode, beach mode, pie à la mode, etc) in order to adapt and that’s certainly a plus.

When I was really active I would hunt in all-metal, verify in discriminate and use a disc setting of just below nickel (I liked gold too). It was my modus operandi for years and it worked quite well.  Easy, uncomplicated and allowed me to do what I set out to do….hunt!  Yes I like visual readouts but in the beginning they diminished my ability (and probably yours) to find treasure. This might have been because I found so many coins early on (before the advent of the ID meter) OR because there were just that many more coins to be found in the 70’s and 80’s, I don’t know, but I vividly remember my first ID detector and how it made me a lazy hunter.

It was a White’s 6000d and I and my buddy Dan Hamilton (who was also using the same detector) were having a good ole time staring at the meter. The technology (and remember it was the 80’s), blew us away. We were impressed and sure we would be able to retire in short order

Old picnic grove….circa mid-80’s

One day we hit an old picnic grove and we were pretty sure we were the ‘first’ to hunt it. We searched for an hour, decided there was nothing there and left. At least that’s what our detectors told us. I had researched that site and it bothered me that we came away empty-handed so about a week later I convinced Dan we had to go back and give it another go. When we did we decided to dig every audio signal and see what turned up. Voila! It was like someone had seeded the area with an emphasis on Indian head pennies.

After going back to the audio only idea we began finding barber dimes, nickels and even a few quarters, all obviously too deep to push the ID meter. We hunted that picnic grove for a month and had a ball, BUT had we depended on the metered readouts we would left its treasures for the next detectorist. Today I think numerical readouts are a much better way to back your audio responses and hunches….

Back in the 70’s you had no other choice but to listen to the audio response your detector was giving and I got to the point where I could “almost” tell you what I was about to dig. I know, sounds like BS but it’s true.

I used (and still use) the depth/sensitivity controls a lot and would set them to ‘just’ where my audio was fairly stable. Then too if I was detecting a hunted out site that had once given up a lot of very old coins I would grit my teeth and put up with the chatter just to coax a few more signals. Today with the Sport or MXT Pro if I hear a whisper or faint signal and cannot get a good readout I lower the audio (threshold) to ‘below’ audible and crank up the sensitivity in hopes that I can ‘coax’ some sort of discernible readout (numerical in particular).

Finally understand there are so many things that affect your detector’s settings, performance and ultimately your finds…..mineralization, trash, weather and of course user expertise. I have to also add user attitude, outlook or temperament. I think it’s important to be free of obligations and stress (just my opinion). Oh and it helps if you’ve done your homework and wound up at the right site….



As I stated I’m not a big fan of large coils. I understand the basic premise of bigger means deeper and smaller means shallower but that’s about it for me.  You can have your open, closed, wide scan, concentric, double D, mono, coaxial, spider, elliptical, semi-elliptical, butterfly, domestic, imported and extra virgin coils. Give me a seven-inch coil and maybe a four or five-inch sniper coil and that’s all I need. I also don’t get the hoopla over after market coils but I also don’t care. Buy them if you want and if they improve your performance all the power to you.


I understand their purpose.  Just that over the years I have never had a problem pinpointing and I don’t want to carry any more than I have to. Likewise I can’t afford the cost.


What can I say? I’m old school and just don’t get it. I think you are diluting and wasting in the-field time having to worry about filming your adventure and that’s not even factoring in the cost of the camera, editing software, etc..  On the other hand if you want to be a rock star or get your own reality TV series…?


Meh, give me a middle of the road pair and I’m fine. Really thought we’d be into wireless headphones much sooner but I was wrong.


I use a Lesche hand tool. Don’t need and don’t want a short-handled shovel, and in my opinion the more they’re used the quicker our pastime will go down the tubes.


No GPS, no water bottle or brush for cleaning finds, no ammo belt and no weapons. I do carry an old hand towel that serves as a drop cloth. Oh and I did finally go the camo route. I bought two pair of ‘camo’ jockey shorts’ so I can hang around the house bare a$$ without Fay noticing…..



My tip for detecting in the field?  Have a great place to go and have fun. Research, and when you are done research some more. When I started detecting in the 70’s there were coins galore but I still spent an inordinate amount of time at the library looking for more places to detect. Did it for years and I always had maybe six or eight places lined up. Of course permission was much easier back then.

Talk to senior citizens…they have so much to offer and easy to talk with.

Dairy Queen guys ready to talk and share…IF you ask!

Forget the schools, playgrounds, tot lots, athletic fields, and parks (unless they’re turn of the century) and concentrate on old homesites, farms, fairgrounds and picnic groves. Having said that they’re probably all that’s left anyway thanks to the influx of new participants, shovels, big holes and camo.

Tried and true and nothing new…..

When you begin hunting a new site, start in the AM mode. Dig all your signals, trash included, for about fifteen to thirty minutes and see what turns up. It will give you an idea of what to expect and how to set and/or adjust your detector’s settings, especially Disc.

Do not walk away from a site without giving it a real chance to deliver!

Always take your time and scan slowly. I can’t begin tell you how many people I’ve hunted with and watched who swing their coil like there’s a finish line somewhere. They then almost always utter the ole “this place is hunted out”.  Shorten your stem one notch so that the coil is literally at your feet and give that a try. I guarantee you won’t move fast.

Old photo – Flemington Fairgrounds. Took months but this site was worth the hard work….

If the area you are hunting is trashy, clean out a small area using the smallest coil in your arsenal, and when I say small area I ‘m talking about maybe a 10 x 10 foot plot. No more. Make sure you remove ‘every single’ metallic object, then move on to the next 10 x 10 plot and do the same. This is not a new idea but it is one that works. I used it at the Flemington (NJ) fairgrounds years ago and came away with a lot of silver. The area was loaded with bottlecaps, pull tabs and foil, and If I had not decided to be methodical I would have walked away from a terrific site….one that is now a shopping center.


Okay, that’s all folks….

Your surely laughing but that’s okay. I understand.  I have no clever settings or tips that will set you apart from all the others. I just HUNT and as I said in the beginning, I am not a complicated person. My foray into metal detecting was to find coins and that’s what I still concentrate on. Not interested in relics, buttons, bullets, buckles or UMO’s (miss you Joe). I will leave them for you to find and get excited about (and I am indeed amazed at what excites today).

Early on metal detecting was uncomplicated, fun and very profitable….

To sum up my in the field outlook…..give me a “decent” detector, headphones, carpenters apron, drop cloth, digging tool (even a large screwdriver) and I am good, thank you. In all my years of detecting the fun times I had were always the result of being in the right place at the right time.

Spend your time researching and hunting, NOT experimenting, getting confused or spending your hard-earned cash.

Der ya go!!

 Coming Soon…

Q & A Sessions with Jim Fielding, Jocelyn Elizabeth and Whit Hill!



Filed under Metal Detecting

22 responses to “Really Not That Complicated…

  1. Lisa

    This really helped me. A lot. We have yet to really take Ken’s detector out and use it properly. Time constraints, illness, no clue what we are doing, new grandbaby! But, I think the time has come to give a good whirl. I just need to get my camo undies.

  2. John Devereux

    As a relative newbie I’ve tried out various detectors looking to find which I got to grips with quickest and found comfortable to use. I think they’re a bit like cars (boys toys) and what appeals to one person won’t to another and the manufacturers are definitely pushing LCD screens and read outs. Interestingly the best finds I’ve had so far have been with the V3i. The settings options are pretty intuitive but perhaps that’s because I come from a technical background. I’ve now reduced the machines I have to the V3i, a Nokta Fors CoRe and Makro CF77 the latter two being very straightforward to use. It’s early days for the latter 2 machines but I have high hopes for them. Their sensitivity is impressive. I wish Whites would bring out an evolution of the V3i and push it a bit more. I think it gets overlooked because of the huge amount of configuration available but in truth the standard programs don’t take much to tweak and it’s so easy to reset to factory. Plus it comes with wireless headphones 3 frequencies etc and it had all this back in 2009 way before every other brand jumped on that band wagon. The analyse screen convinced me to dig a tiny token at 9 inches down and then a 1585 Elizabeth !st sixpence at 8 inches. Whites are also honest about the number of frequencies they use unlike *****. Also I’ve found the V3i screen the easiest to read in strong sunlight. I confess to having a spade and a smaller digging tool as my permissions are quite hard and I do use a pin pointer. No camo though as I don’t want to get walked over by the bulls in the fields I go in:):) Glad you are still enthusiastic enough to post your thoughts. All the best from very sunny Sussex UK.

    • Hi John, good to hear from you…

      Understand I’m not against technology, just that at my age it’s not something I want to delve into or to be honest, waste my time with. I have enough trouble figuring out where the large prong on the plug goes. If I were more active yes, but I am not and I have come to accept that. I had a V3i and as a coinshooter always went for the green.

      You ended with “Glad you are still enthusiastic enough to post your thoughts. All the best from very sunny Sussex UK.” Well I am not on my deathbed and I am indeed THAT enthusiastic, LOL. Thanks John, have one for me…

  3. Yes, it’s all true…hunting for the fun of it needs to be in vogue again. Today’s hobby, and I’ve been part of it, being an engineer and liking gear…and lots of it, needs to get back to the basics. Back in 1978, we would hunt old fairgrounds in South Florida and nary see another metal detector anywhere, nada, nyet, and we’d dig by audio signal,especially the deeper targets, and usually come up with silver by the pouch-load. Analog electronics ruled then! A lot of folks I hunt with talk about wanting the hobby to be fun again, not a 5K footrace with coins! I think you have the solution, Dick. Good post!

  4. heavymetalnut

    This was an enjoyable read Dick.Well done! Have a great weekend!

  5. BigTony

    Dick, great post for sure. You are right about the visual effects of knobs and dials – you can see exactly where you set the detector and make changes quickly. Today’s detectors have additional menus that are hidden from sight and I have forgotten to reset them depending on the site. That is part of getting older.

    I too believe that the advent of the meter demisinshed the amount of cool finds folks are making. So going by sound/tones should be the first alert as folks detect before the screen display or VDIs. Oh yeah, attitude – you hit the nail on the head – stay positive – your best finds come when you least expect it.

    For me the pinpointer (although was expensive) has helped me from digging really deep holes while chasing a ghost signal. I haven’t scratched a cool coin in a real long time either. Lastly, I am bad at research, I tried it and found ten sites. In the spring I headed out and didn’t do well as I had hoped. I really should try that again as the weather gets hot so I will be ready for the wetter fall days.

    Thanks for taking the time and keeping us interested in this crazy hobby.

    • Tony research is not different than hunting…sometimes you score sometimes not, but you have to keep going. For every good site I found researching there were ten that were duds. Not every clue adds up. Have a great weekend.

  6. BigTony

    Got it – thanks –
    Have a terrific weekend!

  7. That pic of the Groundhog VLF/TR brought back some memories…one the best machines I ever owned and made some great finds with it. It’s only drawback was that it was not fitted with a bottle opener.

    One complaint though: Must you really put the words, ‘Lisa’, ‘Cammo’ and ‘Undies’ in the same sentence…I’m having trouble sleeping!

  8. Paul Southerland

    Most enjoyable read Dick. Thanks for putting that together.

  9. Bob Buzzard

    You said, pie à la mode, now that’s funny! You remind me so much of a Cleveland favorite named Dick Feagler. he wasn’t a treasure hunter but he was a treasure, just like you. Thanks for another great read!

  10. I like the VDI, but I only look at it after I have a good signal, otherwise, I pretty much play it by ear.
    Pinpointers are a godsend, especially when hunting in the woods with all the rocks and roots. Keeps you from nicking those coins too.
    The T-handle shovel has really helped, because not only does it make a neat cut, but it saved my knees, by not having to kneel down to dig a target. I know how you feel about them, but they do make a low profile shorter version, which I take to public areas. In the woods nobody cares.
    I’m sure there are some picnic groves somewhere that haven’t been hunted yet, and I’d sure like to find one. I haven’t found many sites lately that haven’t been picked over, but I’ve also moved onto cellar holes, which are a big draw for most detectorists. Honestly I found more stuff at random sites I just thought looked good than I do at cellar holes, but if you want those old coins and relics, the cellar hole areas are the best place to find them.
    Thanks for the great advice!

  11. Ed B.

    As if the manufacturers aren’t peddling enough things, we now have the Garrett “Keeper Box”. maybe it’s been out for awhile and I just never noticed it before or it’s the latest, greatest thing to put some of your finds in while still in the field

  12. Bill Meyer

    Thank you for your straight forward advice.

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