How Howland Sees It…

Next to getting married or divorced, buying a decent metal detector is probably the most money many of us will ever spend in a lifetime. If you’ve got the gear but no idea, or, are on the cusp of joining the illustrious band of international treasure hunters, here’s a few pointers.

Let the buyer(s) beware

John Howland

There’s a lot of talk doing the rounds about the pros and cons of manufacturers producing metal detectors with all the whistles and bells imaginable coupled to stratospheric price-tags. Me? I really don’t give a toss. If manufacturers can convince the more gullible to part with their hard-earned ‘Nelson Eddies’ based on advertising puffery, then so be it. Luckily for the manufacturers, that many people aren’t strict enough with their budgets, or, unwilling to draw a fiscal red line over which they will not step.

So what’s the pricing ‘red line’? For me, that’s around £750-ish. Most detectors in this price bracket, irrespective of make, will deliver. If you’re any good at what you do, then the price should be recouped in twelve to eighteen months if you’re so minded to sell what you find. Once again, I’m going to hammer home the bleedin’ obvious fact that; even a Ten Grand machine won’t find what’s not there! A high price is no guarantee of success. Good quality ‘finds’ with sound provenance always attract top dollar. Remember, quality sells.

Customise your detector requirements and pare down the add-ons to match where you’ll be hunting (beach or inland) and what you expect from your chosen machine. For example, do you really need a built-in GPS system? Does it need to be ‘All-terrain’? What about interchangeable coils etcetera and don’t forget the dealers either? Checkout their reputations and after sales service and back-up. Whatever else you may do, NEVER EVER invest cash in a machine based solely on the so-called ‘Field Tests’ appearing in the treasure press. Many, and for good reason, are written anonymously. Some of these ‘write-ups’ are not only potential contenders for the MAN Booker Prize for Fiction, but marginally less exciting than watching paint dry.

On the other hand, look for any reports by well-known and respected experts such as Bob Sickler, Ty Brook, or Jim Fielding for example. Oh, yeh, anything by Ole Stouty too is well worth a peek.

When doing your research check-out the many treasure hunting videos out there on the web. Take care though, there’s a lot of dross amongst the decent stuff, but there are some good insights into metal detector performance. Beware of the video that purport to show the same Tekkie(s) (but rarely their faces) finding endless goodies in every release. You can bet the ranch they are dealers, but for some reason, always fail to mention the fact.

One the best treasure hunting video sites belongs to Chicago Fireman, Ron Guinazzo, and you’ll find it here: – There’s a link on SS too. Jim Fielding’s blog is another site worthy of a visit. You’ll find Jim at Detecting an Attitude and there’s a link also on SS.



The old man hunting in sunny ole England

There’s a trout-fishing adage that runs when arriving at the riverbank, spend some time observing the water and see what’s going on. Read the water. The same applies to success in metal detecting.

Thirty years ago I had the opportunity to legally hunt a US Civil War battle site. The hunt window was about three hours and my search was to concentrate on finding Minnie Balls. The metal detector I was using was a hip-mounted Tesoro Golden Sabre. I spent several valuable minutes looking at the scene fathoming where were the combatants were positioned? Where were the bullets likely to fall? I soon had the answer.

To my front was a high ridge some 100-yards away atop of which was a barn contemporary with the 1863 battle, though the area I was hunting was the scene of a skirmish. Immediately in front of me were several huge boulders well capable of protecting infantrymen from rifle-fire coming down from the ridge.

Being familiar with firearms especially rifles, I knew the place to find the Minnie Balls would about 15-ft behind the boulders; having drawn a mind’s eye line down from the ridge as though I was firing down at the boulders. Anyone aiming at an infantryman from the ridge and not hitting the target, follows that Minnie Balls would strike the ground 15-ft or thereabouts behind the boulders.

Hunting a path at the distance I’d estimated soon revealed a Minnie Ball. The photo(s) shows a ‘star’ stamped into the base of the Minnie that I was told indicated a Confederate armoury. If anyone knows anything to the contrary, please advise.

The moral of the story is not so much about my being a smart-arse, or the metal detector itself, but more about how, and where you use it. Had I walked onto that site with the most expensive bit of kit then available it would still not have found that Minnie Ball. In that scenario I brought to bear two things; detecting experience and knowledge of firearms.


Great news from the UK’s National Trust #1

The National Trust in an encouraging display of backbone, has put two-fingers up to that busy-body outfit, UNESCO, by passing a resolution to accept the ‘short tunnel’ option which will improve the landscape and environs around Stonehenge enormously. The Agincourt salute was a magnificent snub to the mouthy, propagandist, archaeological lobby whose behaviour throughout was appalling, campaigned against the short tunnel. They lost the vote and are really pissed-off! Guffaw! Guffaw!

Hooray, doubles all round.

Great news from the UK’s National Trust #2

You couldn’t make this up. The anti-hunting-fishing-shooting yobbos tried to influence the National Trust’s members to ban trail hunting (at the Trust’s AGM) which as some of you might already know involves fox-hounds chasing a laid scent where no foxes are killed by the hounds as hunting foxes with hounds is illegal in the UK. They lost the vote and are really pissed-off!  Guffaw! Guffaw!

Hooray! Doubles all round.


This also applies to treasure hunters: –

“There are three types of baseball players: Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen and those who wonder what happens”….Tommy Lasorda




Filed under Metal Detecting

3 responses to “How Howland Sees It…

  1. Bigtony

    Wow you hit the nail on the head……getting a feeling of where to spend our limited detecting time, entails an inner ability to see where targets might be… very good tip, thanks for that one!

  2. Excellent write up, John! I have never considered the technique you mentioned in attempting to locate projectiles on a known battlefield…right on target if you will excuse the pun. UNESCO seems to have blown a tire…perhaps two tires…en-route to world domination. Pity, but doubles all around for the third time! I visited the UK’s National Trust site and found it extremely interesting…Patti spent a good deal of time going thru the site and wanted us to head for England immediately. Unfortunately I traded my private jet for the latest new detector with all the bells and whistles that goes so deep we pull silver Florins up from Australia from our backyard here in Florida. We will have to put that little sojourn off for a bit . Once again, excellent information and good reading!

  3. Bob Sickler

    Hi John… Thank you for the nod! I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment about how to pick a metal detector and that the very best of them will never find what was not there in the first place. Research and applied common sense are the real keys to any successful outing. I’ve been trying to communicate that very point for more years than I want to remember!

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