Another Dose…

In a funk of late and pondering the future of Stout Standards.  In the meantime here’s a popular post (according to my stats) from December of 2015. 

Happy Halloween


…might make us a little more palatable.

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. He left and then drove to another athletic field I had suggested 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 recommended 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.  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 just to see what kind of goodies you were finding.  I remember quite a few doing it then 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 thanks to 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 before we stepped foot on that property and in our haste to find 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 experienced that once 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?




Filed under Metal Detecting

24 responses to “Another Dose…

  1. Sorry you’ve been in a “funk.” I enjoy all your posts — including the latest repost with suggestions not to carry big shovels or wear camo when we really don’t want/need to be noticed. Personally, I’ve found being a “little old gray haired lady” without a big shovel enables me to detect most times without making folks feel the need to call the cops on me.

    • Joe Patrick

      Well said Dick! I can well-relate to all that you say and remember those wonderful early days of metal detecting alone and undisturbed. So many of the places that I could walk on to then are either gone, closed to detecting, fenced-in and under security and/or cameras now. I detected for many years before ever seeing another detectorist in the field. So for company, I got some of my close friends interested and involved in the hobby. Since then, a handful of them have passed on, so I am now back to detecting alone most days. But it’s now different as I am constantly looking over my shoulder and assessing my situation trying to stay totally aware of my surroundings. Too many “crazies” out there today! When I am searching today, I am usually “packing”, and I don’t mean just a lunch! Gone are the days of total R&R when out detecting. I miss those “glory days” of detecting but I try to make the best of the situation we are now stuck in. Keeping a low profile is still excellent, sound advice. Don’t draw attention to yourself. No shovels in the parks, schools and other manicured/maintained areas… ever! Dress to blend in… whether that be to the trees or to the people, depending on the site. 95% of the time I only use a large hunting knife and small hand-trowel to retrieve targets. I never even owned a shovel until recently and that is only used for woods and field hunting. My personal opinion is that the hobby is now oversaturated with “detectorists” – for good or bad. I personally think that many of the “newcomers’ will exit the hobby once they discover that finding “treasure” is not quite as easy as they may think or be led to believe. It takes dedication, work, persistence, knowledge and a true love of history and the hobby to be consistently successful long term. I think over the coming years there will be many used detectors for sale!

      • Thanks Joe, all valid points. Just happy I got to experience the good ole days.

      • Ed B.

        I agree that many of the newcomers will sell their detectors as soon as they realize they’re not going to become instantly rich BUT….it’s quite possible those detectors and a lot of new ones will be sold to the next wave of “newbies” so we’ll be right back where we started.

    • Thanks Torie. You gals always have an advantage. Most people will approach you differently and I have a feeling that homeowner will fall over himself giving you permission to hunt his property. JMO.

  2. Bigtony

    Dick, too bad he didn’t produce from your old spots and happy to hear he was cool with the locals though. I try to keep low key when out and about but will speak up for my rights as a tax paying citizen in a free country. You are right on the spot – years back our hobby wasn’t even a consideration from anyone…just some nut looking for treasure….wow were they wrong.
    Nowadays they are looking for modern treasures….like Pablo Escobar’s millions stashed in barrels underground…discovery channel this Friday 10 pm eastern…..I love modern cache stories they make arm chair detecting more fun….

  3. David

    I agree with the comment about getting out early, hunt a lot of less desireable neighborhoods and I get out early on weekends when everybody is sleeping off the night before.

    • David I remember those early Sunday mornings like they were yesterday. Fresh air, anticipation and good finds. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Don’t be a stranger…

  4. Good post…I can see why it is popular. I have a bit to say about the issue of shovels…and I understand what you are saying. To me, it’s all a matter or degree, and, as you pointed out, appearances and perceptions. Cammo, at least here in the U.S., has caused almost as much trouble as $7 Harbor Freight Shovels. I find that carrying a shovel, even the popular smaller metal detecting narrow-bladed implements, to be show stoppers in many cases. The double-sided sword in this situation is that the purpose-built narrow-bladed detecting shovels do a better job that a hand-held digging tool in most cases; cutting a smaller and sharper plug or trap-door excavation making it easier to replace and clean up. My biggest funk is what I mentioned earlier…we always have “old timers” (me included) espousing the “do-it-yourself” end of the coin, whereas bent-screwdrivers, drilled out golf-balls and piano-wire, and the just plain “cheap” way of doing things is the best. Along comes Harbor Freight with their cheap, cheap, cheap tools from China. I’ve seen this in social media more than I can say, whereas someone has a photo of themselves in a city park with a full-sized $7 Harbor Freight shovel, digging practically grave-sized holes in the sod. It is gonna do us all in as our hobby is legislated out from under us and I don’t think it can be stopped, no matter how many blogs, how many “tech talks” or the like. As you said, there will always be that 60% of the greed diggers that are scavenging for anything they can find, the hobby be dammed. They will all move on to robbing trains after the hobby is finished.

    • Jim, I have no problem with using a shovel or wearing camo IF you are in wooded areas. Unfortunately both have become cool and commonplace all over. At least they think it’s cool. Unfortunately I am pretty much done detecting so a lot of this doesn’t affect me now but I’m pretty certain it will come back to haunt many a tekkie in the coming months and years. Thanks Jim for taking the time to share your thoughts.

  5. DougF

    I’ve been hunting a lot in woods lately, so I decided to buy one of those small detecting shovels (31″) figuring it would make it easier to dig with all the roots. I used it a couple times, but went back to my hand digger. First, I like carrying just the small digger in my left hand. The shovel seems too much to carry. Also with the shovel I felt like I couldn’t be as precise with digging the hole, and was afraid of damaging the target. I think a lot of older people are using the shovels because you can dig standing up and the kneeling gets tough as you get older.

    • Doug I’ve thought about the being able to stand up thing with a shovel but you still need to bend down to pick up the find or sort it out of the plug so…. Also can’t imagine lugging the thing around. It’s all I can do lug myself around. Guess I’m just one ole ‘old school tekkie’.

  6. Great post and good comments all. I actually do NOT know how to probe and wonder if I would ever be able to develop that skill. I agree that the purpose-built shovels (both short- and long-handled) allow cleaner plug digging, but their appearance definitely incites more angst on the part of concerned citizens. There’s one park nearby where—every time I go—I know I’m gonna be stopped by the cops, because there’s one old lady who sits all day watching out her picture window for stuff to get excited about, since she has no other life. But at this point, it’s all a big game.
    The cops know us, they know we’re allowed to be there, and they know we’re not doing anything wrong. They roll up in their squads (in view of her house), get out and act like they’re yelling at us, but what they’re really doing is asking what we’ve found and they really like seeing our stuff. When they’re done “yelling” at us (they don’t yell at all, but she’s too far away to hear that), they remind us to hang our heads in shame and walk to a different part of the park for a few minutes. Mostly now it’s fun just to play the game, but it can still be a pain in the tukus.
    And I couldn’t agree more about the camo. In a country that’s becoming increasingly militaristic, unless you’re out in the woods, it just sends the wrong message all around. Thanks for everything you continue to do for the hobby, Dick.

    • Hi Mary, thanks for stopping by. You’d be surprised at how easy probing is depending on the ground/soil. A little practice is all that’s needed. The story about the cops pretending to be angry is funny. I remember knowing most all of the local policemen when I lived in the Frenchtown/Flemington area, and they too were always interested in what I was finding.

      Incidentally I’m now that old lady. I just use a computer instead of a picture window…..

  7. John H

    Dick & Jim:
    The writing’s on the wall – for the US at least!

    The problem is that the future of your pastime is not in the hands of responsible seasoned Tekkies, but those single brain-cell knuckle-draggers (usually dead from the neck up) who are so dim they haven’t got the wit to realise the PR damage they are doing when digging in manicured parks.

    Put another way, you can’t educate dead meat.

    Where’s the US national detecting bodies in all this?

    • “Where’s the US national detecting bodies in all this?” Too busy holding hunts and social events.

      • John, good question. Too many Utoob detectorists busy pointing video cameras at their heads and doing another episode of “Lookie What I Found!” instead of helping organize a US National Detecting Body.and getting down to saving the hobby. Like Dick, I’m getting on and probably only have a few more years in the hobby, if the hobby even lasts a few more years, so I’ve done my half-century of detecting, most in the golden years of the hobby, but I feel for the younger more responsible hobbyist that will never have the chance.

  8. Mikki Gilmore

    Being from Kansas, I have a stupid question to ask… What is the purpose of wearing camo in the woods? I like carpenter pants for all the pockets and they are available in camo, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to purchase camo gear.

    • Mikki I think the feeling is that if you wear camo clothing in the wooded areas you’re pretty much by yourself and not in a more public place like a park or school area. My concern is that wearing it in those places gives the pastime a more harsher look, but I also know I am much older than those who detect today and my opinions don’t really count.

      I never thought of carpenter pants but now that you mention them why not? Thanks Mikki!

  9. Ed B.

    In my opinion there are TWO reasons that camo is being worn by so many of the new generation of “tekkies”. First of all, camo type clothing is “in” nowadays especially for the younger crowd. Secondly, to a certain extent I blame the Detector companies because their ads tend to show guys (and gals) wearing all types of camo gear. As for retrieving some targets with a probe……..a lot of the “newbies” can’t even pinpoint their target with their detector properly and have to dig a manhole sized plug to begin with, so there’s no way they’re going to bother to learn target retrieval with a probe or screwdriver.

    • The probe is now a relic….doubt anybody starting out today will care enough to learn how to use one. Gotta find it before the next guy…..

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