Brandon Neice, a.k.a. “Dr. Tones”…

Pretty sure I don’t have to introduce Brandon Niece to anyone here but if so think “Dr. Tones” or maybe “Dirt Fishin America”. Brandon is also the author of “The Metal Detecting Bible” and if it’s not in your treasure hunting library it should be.

Thanks Brandon for taking the time to answer the following questions….


Q. Brandon before we get started I know you are called Dr. Tones and I’m curious how that came about?

A. When I started interacting on detecting forums, I noticed everyone had clever screen names. I chose Dr. Tones because it was a play on Dr. Jones (Indiana Jones) and metal detecting tones.


Q. And while we’re at it tell me about Dirt Fishin America… whose idea was that and when did it all start?

A. Dirt Fishin America started when I received a GoPro for Christmas in 2012. By early 2013 I was recording my own YouTube videos and attempting to document my hunts. I had heard the term dirt fishin and thought it might a fun name for the YouTube series. I wanted the series to feel like its own TV show and thought that having a creative name consistent with the content might help it feel a little more organized and purposeful.


Q. Okay, now tell me a little about yourself, i.e., where do you live, are you married, what do you do for a living, where do you keep your valuables, etc….

A. I currently reside in the Boise, Idaho area with my wife of 15 years Katie and our five-year old son Abel. I’ve been a fulltime Firefighter Paramedic for 10 years. Our unique 48 hrs on 96 hrs off work schedule has afforded me the opportunity to detect quite a bit. I keep all of my valuables in Fort Knox. 

Brandon with wife Katie & son Abel

Brandon & fellow Firefighters


Q. Does anyone else in the family detect?

A. Occasionally my Dad comes along on detecting trips but usually only when we’re nugget hunting.


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

A. I first started detecting in 2003. It was primarily for gold nuggets. My first detector was the Garrett Scorpion Gold Stinger.


Q. What was it that made you purchase or use that particular brand/model?

A. At the time, that machine was the best that I could afford and offered decent sensitivity to the small gold our area produces.


Q. In the beginning where did you concentrate your time? What areas did you search?

A. For the most part, I didn’t start searching for coins and relics until 2012. I concentrated on nugget shooting. The old saying goes, “If you want to find gold, go to where it’s been found before.” So that’s exactly what I did. I started coin and relic hunting to pass time after I sold my gold dredge. When gold dredging started to get banned in neighboring states, I decided to sell my dredge while there was still a market for it in my state. With that money I bought the Minelab CTX3030 and started hunting for coins and relics close to home. I concentrated on older homes at first but soon became bored with finding wheat pennies and mercury dimes in town. I’ve never been one for shooting fish in a barrel and I my love for adventure took me in search for older finds in remote, hard to find locations that haven’t seen detectors.


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

A. The first signal I remember was a very larger ore cart spike in the historic gold-bearing area of Idaho City.


Q. And what about your first “good” or decent find, as in keeper?

A. My first keeper was a small gold nugget found in the Boise Basin. My first coin keeper was an 1898 V nickel that I found with my Minelab X-Terra 70.


Q. Another brain test….how long did it take you to find your first silver coin and what was it?

A. It took me almost a whole year to find my first silver coin. It was 1964 Roosevelt dime found with my X-Terra 70. At the time I was only hunting about once a month or so.


Q. Okay, more of the same…how long did it take you to find your first ring and what type of ring was it?

A. I actually found a gold ring the first time out with my X-Terra 70 (2007). Which doesn’t surprise me because it’s typically the new hunters that tend to find gold rings. New hunters aren’t yet familiar with what coins sound like on their machines and are forced to dig everything repeatable until they figure out what different items sound like and what numbers are associated with certain objects. I’m not a big jewelry hunter, so once I figured out what sounds and numbers were associated with coins, I usually just cherry picked those. The only rings I find these days are the occasional gold ring that sounds like a nickel or a silver ring mistaken for a coin. Unless of course I’m on vacation at the beach… Then I actually look for rings.


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

A. I did a ton a researching and I still do. I attribute all of my success to good research, lots of leg work and failing more than I succeed. Almost all of my research thus far has been internet based. I search for old maps to overlay on google earth. I pin points of interest and import the pins into my GPS. My GPS offers a subscription based property owner map overlay. Once I find out who owns the property I ask for permission, drive to the sites and hunt, hunt, hunt. Most of the places are strike outs that offer little to no coins and only a few odd relics. But every now and then I get lucky.

Me with a Tudor era buckle


Q. What would you consider to be your very best find after all this time, and if it’s hard to choose just one tell us about a few.

A. I have a few favorite finds including a 1901 S Barber quarter, a 50BC Celtic gold stater, a Meteorite from Arizona, US 1853 a Norman era Gold and enameled brooch and recently I was part of a group who discovered a scattered hoard of medieval hammered silver coins dating from 1199-1216. Of the coins discovered my most cherished was a King John short cross with the moneyers name “Abel” written across the top of the coin in old English. That coin is most prized because my son’s name is Abel.

My 1901-S Barber quarter

Freshly found meteorite


Q. Okay what is your “weirdest find” to date? 

A. Without a doubt it has to be my Roman phallic symbol brooch. You can imagine what that looks like.


Q. And your “oldest” find to date?

A. Oldest find to date is my 50 B.C. Celtic Gold Stater.

50BC Celtic gold stater


Q. Brandon what would you consider your “rarest” find?

A. My rarest find would have to be the Norman era gold and enameled brooch/Mount. I would have said the 1901 S Barber quarter but the brooch is such a unique and one-of-a-kind piece.

Norman era gold and enameled brooch/Mount


Q. What detector are you using at the moment and why?

A. Currently I use the Minelab Equinox 800 because I feel it offers me a multitude of options in one compact, lightweight design. Having a hand in the development of the machine, I was able to offer input on what specs I felt a “perfect” machine would offer. Among those… multi frequency similar to the CTX, the ability to switch into a single frequency of my choice, fast recovery speed for hunting in trashy/iron infested sites, wireless capabilities affording the option to use a Bluetooth headphone/ear bud of my choosing, fully submersible without having to modify, light weight, 3-piece shaft for traveling and a true prospecting mode. Usually I’m not a fan of multi-purpose machines because you typically have to sacrifice performance but I feel like the Equinox has really set the bar for performance/affordability in a lot of categories. For the occasional yard/park hunt I still prefer the CTX 3030 because it has a wider TID/tone spectrum. This makes it ideal for cherry picking coins with more accuracy.


Q. Can you offer a few tips or settings?

A. I’m not a big settings guy. I use discrimination for iron only. I run my machine with the sensitivity a little high but not so high that it’s a chatter box. I use ground tracking on the CTX and 0 ground balance on the Equinox. This is due to the multi frequency configuration of the machine. Multi frequency machines are able to ground balance themselves better than I can balance them. I get questions all the time about settings and what I like to tell people is, use 10% of your efforts to set the machine up to run properly in the environment you’re hunting in and 90% of your efforts on finding WHERE to swing it! The best settings in the world won’t find anything if you’re not looking in the right spots.


Q. When you do go detecting what accessories do you use?

A. I’m a “less is more” kinda guy. I use a Predator Tools piranha digger, and a Lesche tool trowel. I also use a Minelab Pro-Find 35 pinpointer because it has the ability to tell iron from non-iron targets.


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

A. I would LOVE to find a bronze age axe head, a medieval hammered gold coin and a US gold coin $5 or larger. I know… I don’t ask for much 😉


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

A. I’d much rather hunt with a group of friends them by myself.  It’s a lot more fun for me when I get to see my friends saving history as well. 


Q. How often do you get out detecting today?

A. These days I really try to make it out detecting once a week. But sometimes life gets in the way.


Q. What would your ideal detector look like?

A. A pair of glasses that allow you to see metal targets in the ground. Different metals would be assigned different colors and you could also see the general shape of the object. I think the form factor of the modern detector has pretty much reached it’s peak unless a new technology comes along.


Q. I know you’ve detected overseas…tell us where and do you have a favorite (country)?

A. I’ve been lucky enough to make it England 3 times. I have detected in Kings Lynn, Burford and Oswestry. All of the locations offered amazing experiences with equally amazing finds. I haven’t had the chance to travel to other countries as much as I’d like but I have had the chance to detect in quite a few locations throughout the greater US, Canada and Mexico. I like to think that all good finds are relative to the location. For instance, In England you can find coins from the 1700’s all day long with ease. Those would be amazing finds for us here on the East coast of the US and even more amazing if you can track one down on the west coast. I’m always searching for the oldest possible finds given the specific location. Not to say that finding 1700’s coins in England isn’t thrilling! It is! But knowing that there’s potential for BC coins and artifacts excites me more. I mentioned earlier that I do like to ring hunt when I’m at the beach. Some of my most relaxing and enjoyable hunts have been in Cancun and Hawaii. Even though I didn’t find much, the environments were definitely some of the most beautiful I’ve seen. Adventure is a big part of why I love detecting. Even on the worst days when all you’re finding is garbage, you can still look up and just take in the scenery. From the rolling green hills of the UK, the tropical beaches of Hawaii, the high deserts of Nevada, the pine forests of the North West to the Maple trees of the North east. They’re all beautiful in their own way. To me that’s what hunting is all about. Seeing new places, meeting new friends and just getting out.

Collection of finds from my first trip to England


Q. Do you belong to a club ?

A. I used to belong to a club. For the most part the folks were all great and I loved sharing info with them and also learning from their experiences. It was also a really great opportunity for me as a noobie to learn about the rules regarding where we’re allowed to hunt and about detecting etiquette in general. Just like all noobies I learned the hard way once when it was brought to my attention that I was hunting somewhere I wasn’t supposed to have been. It was a hard lesson to learn but I’m glad I was able to make it right and continue to educate others new to the hobby about the importance of always knowing where you are with regard to where you’re hunting. It’s important for us to do things by the books so we can all continue to enjoy the hobby. That being said… Being a YouTuber AND a detectorist has come with its own unique set of problems. A few of the club members didn’t agree with the attention I was bringing to the hobby. Even saying that I was giving away too many secrets on how to find old locations and that I was hunting in “their county”? To my knowledge we’re all free to detect wherever we have permission regardless of what county it’s in? I asked if they only went hunting or fishing in their own county and if not, why? It was after this that I questioned the goals of the club. Was it to grow and to educate? Or simply to show off finds with the same group of good ole boys month after month without sharing actual knowledge about how or where to find cool stuff? It’s unfortunate that a few members made me and several others feel uncomfortable enough to leave. Like I said though, the vast majority of the members were extremely welcoming and are genuinely amazing people.


More finds from England


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

A. Research is the key to finding what you’re after. Always have permission. Always know where you are (geographically). Be diligent. Be patient. We all dig trash! But most of all… HAVE FUN! Don’t get caught up in comparing your finds to others. Set reasonable goals that are difficult to achieve for your area but not impossible. Get out! Have an adventure and make some memories with those you love. We can’t take any of the treasure with us. The true treasure is the journey.


I highly recommend Brandon’s book “The Metal Detecting Bible”…

Thanks Brandon…great answers and great finds!!




Filed under Metal Detecting

5 responses to “Brandon Neice, a.k.a. “Dr. Tones”…

  1. Tony

    Another great interview, thanks for doing this one. Brandon sounds like a real down to earth guy.
    Get out there and have fun, don’t worry about settings – do your research and ask permission.
    All good information we all need to go over and over until we all get it right.

  2. Dennis Wynne

    Great interview. I’ve been a fan of Brandon’s videos for several years now. He has such a great passion for our hobby and just like you Dick, he tells great stories in his presentation. Thanks for another blog brother. Keep ‘em comin!

  3. DougF

    Thanks for the interview – I remember when he found that 1901S quarter. I’m mainly a coin guy and I don’t know if I could sell one of my finds. But when it’s a high value coin like that, it would be hard to resist selling.

  4. Brandon Neice

    DougF- It was a difficult decision to sell it but in the end, it allowed me to pay off my Jeep and ultimately allowed for more traveling to hunt places I’d never been. I honestly don’t regret it. I’d rather have the memories and adventures than a dusty coin on a shelf. But, that’s just my opinion. There are things that for some reason I would never sell… so they sit on a display in the house.

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