John Schmidt – Mr. Tek

Got thinking about the Q & A blog posts and realized that I had featured tekkies using just about all the detector brands except Fisher and Tek.  I immediately thought of two, John Schmidt and Greg Toney and both have agreed to participate. 

John Schmidt is relative newcomer to the pastime, starting out in 2014, but has made up for it through his time in the field and his finds. Thanks John (and Nayleen) for sharing your story here on SS.

Q. John, I know you live in California but do you mind telling us where in particular?

A. I live in Fresno, which is dead center of the state in the San Joaquin Valley. I was born and raised here for 24 years and then spent the last 17 years in La Junta, Colorado. My family and I just recently moved back here to Fresno in July. It gets up to 110 here in the summer – and Colorado was -15 in the winter. Sometimes I question my sanity.


Q. Can I also be a little personal and ask what it is you do for a living?

A. I am Cisco certified and also have separate IT and Web Development certificates, I rarely utilize them however. I am a treasure hunter to the core. Gold prospecting and metal detecting pay my bills. I am a Teknetics rep that sells their awesome line of detectors. Let me not forget YouTube sends me a paltry check for my channel “TheHunterGT” every couple of months as well – which is always a nice added income. Thank you to all my viewers for your support!


Q. I know you have a significant other who also detects. How did you two meet?

A. I sure do. Her name is Nayleen (TheHuntressGT). We met on the internet back in 2000. Before it was cool to meet on the internet. 17 years and two kids later, we are still going strong.  She is an avid detectorist who often comes out with the better finds when we go together. I try to make the excuse that I am filming and she is not. However, she still runs circles around me when the camera stays at home. In all of our challenges, I think I am sporting a record of 2 wins and 10 losses. She is a master of her pink Fisher F19.

Me and my lovely wife Nayleen (TheHuntressGT)


Q. So what was it that got you interested in metal detecting?

A. This will sound strange – but surgery got me into this hobby. I came home from work with a swollen left calf one day. My wife is a nurse and dragged me into the emergency room where I was sent into surgery that very evening for a blood clot. It turned out that the one clot was actually multiple clots. They ran up my leg and were very close to my heart. Turns out I have a vein and artery issue I never knew of – since birth no less.

Feeling nervous before surgery

Total of 9 surgeries and 14 stents in 8 months. As I laid in the hospital for days I watched a TON of gold prospecting and metal detecting videos from various uploaders. My doctor advised I do something that keeps me on my feet and active, so I figured those metal detecting and prospecting videos were a sign of some sort.


Q. When did you start and what was your very first metal detector?

A. I started detecting right after I left the hospital and could walk without pain. It was late 2014. So about 3 years ago roughly. I have put close to 2000 hours into this hobby in those 3 years. I live and breathe it. The first detector in my hands was a Garrett Scorpion Gold Stinger. My wife and I used it at relic sites and parks. Only occasionally did we go gold prospecting with it (the intended use).


Q. And what was it that made you purchase that particular brand/model?

A. I actually scored it as a trade for a Marlin .22 rifle. It was a tough detector to learn and many people on the various metal detecting forums gave up on it before they ever got to know it. It has a 10-turn dial for ground balancing, which in hindsight is fairly ridiculous. I learned it well but eventually sold it when I came across a couple of new-in-box Bounty Hunter metal detectors at a yard sale. I fell in love with both of them. One was a SharpShooter 2 and the other a Lone Star Pro . I have been a First Texas metal detector fan ever since.


Q. What was your very first signal/find? Do you remember?

A. I would be fibbing if I said I could remember what it was. I do remember it was either a pull-tab or a crown cap of some sort. My wife was much luckier with .50 cal boat-tail from a WW2 plane as her first ever find. She made sure to let me know who was the better detectorist that day!

My wife’s first detecting find….


Q. What was your very first good or decent find, as in keeper.

A. A 1930’s Colorado tax token. I found it on the top of a hill maybe 100 yards from my house. It was maybe 2-3 inches down, proving the good stuff is not always deep! I had no clue what it was until I took it home and Google searched it. That token opened the floodgates, as I have found close to a dozen of them in the following couple of years.

First decent find…1930 Colorado tax token


Q. In the beginning did you concentrate on one particular treasure? i.e., did you hunt for coins, relics, jewelry….

A. I actually started out hunting random old sites around our 1800’s town. Living close to the Santa Fe Trail there was history in every direction. All the small towns in the area were early to mid 1800’s towns and stage stops. So I guess you could say I was a relic guy in the beginning. I’ve changed over to a coin shooter since then. Something about dropped coins amazes me. I keep pretty good track of my bills and coins and always wondered how so many people drop theirs. Makes me ponder how many I have dropped without ever realizing it! Now that I am in California the focus is on beach hunting and gold prospecting. We are proud GPAA members.

Finding gold in Colorado


Q. How long did it take you to find your first silver coin and do you remember what it was?

A. It took me about 2 months. It was a 1943 Mercury (Liberty) Dime at maybe 2-3 inches deep. It was about a foot over from another 1930’s tax token. That was a pretty great day being a new detectorist. I remember calling my wife to let her know how excited I was. She of course beat me with a 1919 Mercury Dime not much later.

First silver coin – ’43 Mercury


Q. How long did it take you to find your first ring and what kind of ring was it?

A. My first ring was a silver Celtic wedding ring. I found it at about 4 inches down with a Fisher F44 a friend loaned me for a few YouTube videos. It was a good year into detecting and I was wondering if I would ever find one. After that they starting popping out of the ground left and right. I found at least 10-15 within the next year. I have still yet to find a gold ring – but that is due to the fact I usually disc or notch out the trash range. Being a coin shooter at heart I try to avoid the trash at the parks. Being a gold prospector, I get my gold fix that way.


Q. Did you spend a lot of time researching in the beginning and if so how did you go about it?

A. Recovering from those surgeries gave me loads of time on the couch. I spent hours on all the major metal detecting forums. Search after search trying to figure out what all these terms like recovery speed and ground balance meant. YouTube was a big factor as well. I still love watching videos from air-testing to nail boards tests. That is what interests me the most. How the detectors work and perform in different tests and environments. There are so many models out there – I wanted to learn the dynamics of each and every one.


Q. Do you prefer hunting with others or are you a loner?

A. My wife is my best friend and hunting partner. It is just not the same without her. I do have a couple other buddies I hunt with as well – but 80% of my hunts are either alone or with her nearby. We love to have Husband vs. Wife challenges to see who can find the most coins. Most nickels – most dimes – total count. The challenges are a big part of my YouTube channel (TheHunterGT).


Q. If you do go out with others who decides on where to detect?

A. We always try to make it a mutual agreement. There are so many parks, schools, and relics sites around that there is no point trying to be a bossy type. We just pick a few spots each and narrow it down to an agreeable location from there. If one place has skunked us a few times, my wife and friends will write it off at times – so I will go alone to try to eek out a keeper to prove them wrong. No place is hunted out!


Q. What would you consider to be your best find after so far?

A. My favorite find would have to be an 1880’s key found relic hunting. I searched for hours for the padlock that went to it, but never found it. It was at an old crumbling homestead near the original Santa Fe line in Colorado. Something about old keys really does it for me, so I was thrilled when it came out of the ground in such great condition.

1880’s key


Q. Okay, what is your weirdest find to date?

A. Now that is a tough one. I’d have to say a bunch of pull-tabs that were tied together in a string. I suppose a bored kid decided to make them into a bracelet of some sort. Although I would not put it past a detectorist to bury something as a “haha” for another fellow hobbyist.


Q. What is your “oldest” find to date?

A. Right before I left Colorado to return to California, I dug a French Centime from the 1850’s. It was very shallow at maybe 2 inches tops. My friend and I had hunted that area of the park 3-4 times and were both shocked we had missed it. What it was doing in a Colorado park is beyond me. I would love to know that story!

French Centime


Q. What detector are you currently using and why?

A. Just one? I am using the Teknetics Patriot as my main detector lately. It is based on the same 13 khz process as the F75 and T2. It is blazing fast on recovery speed and separates and unmasks very well. However, I do try to take out different detectors from time to time to keep things fresh. I also use a Teknetics T2 Classic, Omega 8500, EuroTek Pro and a Fisher F44 for those weatherproof situations. When my wife is not looking I snag her F19 to take. Who cares if it is pink!

Just z few of my detectors…


Q. Can you share a setting or two?

A. The Teknetics Patriot is VERY sensitive just like the F75 and T2.  Less is more at times.  Many people like to crank up their detectors to 99 and feel cheated if they are not maxed out.  Nothing could be further from the truth with the Patriot.  You can set it as 70-80 sensitivity and hit an 8 inch dime no problem.  It also has a controllable threshold All-Metal that turns into a secondary gain option while in discrimination.  It run -9 to +9 and and can be manipulated in accordance with the sensitivity setting.  It’s really neat and something I have not seen on other detectors.  Running 50 sens and +5 threshold can get you depths that 99 sens and -3 threshold can.  It is a VERY adjustable detector.. 


Q. What accessories do you carry in the field?

A. I try to keep in minimal. I use “The Digger” from Teknetics, a Nokta pro-pointer, and Fisher headphones. My car is always close by for when I need to grab an extra battery or a sip of water.


Q. How often do you get out detecting today?

A. I usually go detecting 3-4 times a week for about 4 hours each trip. If we are prospecting, we try to make it all day trips to maximize the gold in the pan.


Q. Where do you concentrate your time….parks, rural areas, homesites, etc..?

A. Being a coin guy, parks and schools are my favorite areas to hit. Don’t get me wrong, if I happen across an old mining site or homestead that is legal to access , I am going to detect it. However, I find older parks and schools are a dime a dozen so tend to hunt them to death. Beach and gold prospecting will be a BIG focus now that we are in California.

Looking forward to more beach detecting….


Q. You surely have a bucket list. Care to share it?

A. I have a few items to cross off for sure. Hunting east of the Mississippi River – finding a nugget over an ounce – finding a gold coin – finding an Indian Head Penny that for some crazy reason keeps eluding me.


Q. Have you detected overseas at all?

A. No, and I probably won’t be either. A pressurized aluminum tube full of jet fuel at 20,000+ feet does absolutely nothing for me. I’m terrified of flying. I once flew to Hawaii which was 5 hours in each direction from Los Angeles. It was white knuckle the whole way. I traded my window seat right away with the passenger next to me. Never again!


Q. What would your ideal detector look like?

A. I guess something like Iron Man’s mechanical arm. Something that flies through the air from my secret lab and attachs to my arm. Ok maybe that’s just the kid in me talking. I am a big fan of the new Ameriteks that Teknetics launched. The patriotic faceplates are very appealing to my eyes. While performance always come before beauty, I feel more companies need to add some color and pizzaz to their line-ups. Seeing that red, white, and blue every time I look down is fantastic. An easy to read display is also a must-have. Nobody wants to squint when reading their display.

The Tek Patriot after a good day


Q. If you could pass along one or two words of advice to other detectorists, what would they be?

A. In one or two words? Have patience! To many hobbyists want to buy and then sell within a month or two because some guy on a forum found an old coin with a new released detector. It’s bonkers. Take 100 hours and learn the language your detector is speaking.


More Q&A posts coming soon…..

Greg Toney &

“Hammy” Sammy Jayne



Filed under Metal Detecting

12 responses to “John Schmidt – Mr. Tek

  1. Hey, Ricardo, great interview with a great treasure hunter. Oh yeah, Snap! Got one of them Napoleon bronzes too. These circulated in Britain to supplement copper coinage, so I’m told, around the 1850s to 1860s. How on earth it got to Colorado is anyone’s guess.\

  2. John is a great guy and an asset in promoting the hobby through his website and videos. We both started back in 2014 and met on Treasurenet. Since then we chat on the phone and via PM on Face Book. I really appreciate the time he takes to review metal detectors and also goes through how to set them up and navigate the set-up/menus. I sincerely hope that those who visit this site, take time to check out TheHunterGT site and watch a few of his videos.

    • Hi Kevin, I haven’t known John that long but I’ve heard nothing but good things as well. Thanks for taking the time to comment and don’t be a stranger.

    • Thanks Kevin, I really appreciate that. It is support from friends like you that keep me going. This has turned into quite an adventure. I am glad there is no end in sight as I am enjoying it thoroughly. Very humbled to be chosen by Dick for the Q and A session.

  3. BigTony

    Dick, that wa an interesting interview. It’s good to hear folks using different machines other then the top four and doing well with them. This interview made me look up the machines they use and I found out that they are not expensive at all.
    I would love to hear from of few of your readers that use these machines here in NJ.
    Thanks again and best of luck to this husband and wife team!

  4. Very good interview with an obviously smart and successful treasure hunter/coin shooter/ and relic hunter. After I saw his 1800’s key relic, I realized John is a man who appreciates history as much as the gold and coinage he recovers! And I thought his advice to learn your machine well was spot on (I think a bit of John Howland is rubbing off on me, there). A good portrait of a passionate hunter! Thanks Dick!

    • Thank you for the kind words James! I am very happy you enjoyed the Q and A session. If I found keys like that every hunt – I may have never got into coin shooting. Take care and best of luck out there!

  5. Brenda Laughlin

    Thank you for an interesting interview featuring my son, TheHunterGT. I have always thought him to be a humble, engaging and intelligent person. He has converted me into a detecting addict! I love this hobby and love my son! Thank you again for an interesting read! … TheMotherGT

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