Monte Berry Q & A…

When I think of Monte Berry the word “sage” comes to mind, as in “wise through reflection and experience”. In fact Google Monte’s name and read all the good things detectorists say about him.  Best of all Monte Berry is always ready to share his knowledge and experiences with others. His contact information is included below….

Thanks Monte…

Q. Monte, the last time I spoke to you was in the late 80’s and at that time you were the marketing rep for Compass Electronics. If you don’t mind, tell me and everyone else what you’ve been up to since…

A. Dick, I believe that was the 1987 FMDAC festivities and hunt in Atlantic City, N.J. so it has been a while. My time with Compass was a little less than two years as they soon sold and were entering their final era, as had many other detector companies in that ’83 to ‘95 era. Since then I tried to keep busy in marketing and management outside the metal detecting industry until an on-the-job injury in June of 2010 moved me into ‘retirement’ status. All the while, however, I did stay active on the side doing metal detecting seminars, since 1981, evaluating prototype and new-release models from a half-dozen manufacturers, dealing in or working for dealers doing GPAA and other shows, but most of all just getting out detecting and having fun.


Q. Can you also share a little personal info, i.e., where you live, are you married, kids, etc., snd if you’re married does your wife detect?

A. A little over three years ago I moved to the small, quiet town of Vale, Oregon which typically gets very little rain or snow, and it’s a drier high-desert region that provides easier access to older sites where I enjoy relic hunting here in Oregon as well as detecting jaunts into Idaho, Utah and Nevada.

I’ve been married twice, have six children and fourteen grandchildren from my first marriage. My second wife had worked at Compass Electronics years before we met and I had my hopes up. After we were married she did join me in some very occasional detecting at out-of-the-way older sites but it wasn’t a regular thing and she lost interest in it.

To be honest I’ve always wished to have a wife who had the enthusiasm and spark to enjoy this sport with me. Through the years I have noticed too many males seem to be more ‘competitive’ when afield whereas most of the gals are easier going and tend to get as excited about others finds as they do their own.

I do however have my faithful Miss Rikki who loves to get out to any old site and explore with me so who knows, maybe I’ll chance upon a gal who might enjoy putting up with this falling apart old phart as I enter the sunset of my detecting days?

Out with my faithful Miss Rikki


Q. Going way, way back what exactly was it that got you interested in metal detecting?

A. I like neat old stuff, and I grew up loving western movies and studying the history of the settlement of the western USA. I was tilling our garden area in the fall of ’64 and kept getting rocks caught in the tines so I’d shut down and remove the obstruction. On one of those occasions I tipped the tiller over only to find not a rock but an old coffee pot with a patent date of 1862.

I was pulling the tiller backwards as I got a deeper dig and could see the surrounding area appeared to be an exposed campfire pit. That got me wondering what was taking place back then, and if there might be anything else of interest around the site.

I was fifteen at the time, loved the outdoors, and that tiller-find was too mangled to keep, but it stirred my interest in all the ads we used to see in magazines about metal detectors and how to build them from a kit. Did they really work?


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

A. My older brother, Ed, was also curious and bought a “Metal / Mineral Locator Kit” for $18.95 that required my cream-colored transistor radio as a receiver. It was a simple BFO type locator. I buried a 3 lb. can in the back garden covered with a little dirt and about 3” of wood chips thinking that would simulate the mangled coffee pot I had found.

Ed was 5½ years older than me but obviously not too terribly talented at simple electronic assembly and coil winding. Once assembled we checked the performance on the buried coffee can and …. Nothing! $18.95 seemed like a lot in early 1965 and he muttered a few things an angry 21-year-old might and tossed the contraption to me saying “Here, you can have this piece of junk.” I used it as my electronics class project, found his cold solder spots, remounted the search coil wires on thin wood rather than cardboard like the instructions said and had my first home-built Metal / Mineral Locator.

1972 – Hunting with my first Fisher (Orion 121)


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

A. I sure do remember! It was the buried coffee can.  I remember saying “by golly, these things really do work” and wondered what else might be found of smaller size so I started learning how to use it in in our back yard. I was able to locate coins and other smaller-size junk metal but it definitely was not a deep-seeking detector, struggling to get a common coin more than 2” deep. BUT it worked!


Q. Okay another brain test…what was your very first good or decent find, as in keeper.

A. It wasn’t one specific target, but all of the dimes, quarters and two half-dollars out of our yard those first few days as they were all shiny silver coins.

Hey, it was March of 1965 and there wasn’t any ‘clad’ coins yet to be found there.


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

A. Although anything would have been interesting, coins were the primary findable targets for me.


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

A. That first day. After ‘finding’ the coffee can I had buried I turned around and started searching our yard and coins were there in number, and my first silver was a dime, but I don’t remember if the first one was a Roosevelt or a Mercury.


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

A. That I can’t remember, but it probably took a few months as at first I was only searching my yard and the neighbors.


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

A. Actually, I was researching old sites before I had a detector. I loved the outdoors and spend any time I could get away from home hiking into the canyons and such were we lived, or out in the woods or desert areas when we went hunting or fishing. Things I had done as a very young boy with my Dad, and as I aged into my teens so did my interest in western US history and the pioneering settlement era. I had been compiling notes and maps of old military camp and fort sites, pioneer encampments, early settlement sites, stage stops and other interesting places to go look around. Then came  metal detectors to help me do my ‘looking.’


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

A. I don’t have a problem getting out hunting on my own but I do enjoy sharing the “thrill of the hunt” with others who have an equal desire to enjoy this outdoor sport. From 1981 up until about eight years ago, I hunted with many others but my ‘Top Five’ favorite hunting friends were females. They all were less competitive than most guys, and they also enjoyed researching old sites and sharing information. So while I don’t mind doing things alone, it’s good to have friends to share both detecting time and research time.

Explaining the White’s XLT to my good friend Gregg…


Q. Do you belong to a club and if so can you tell us about it?

A. As a detector dealer I hosted monthly meetings in Kaysville Utah in ’81 to ’82 and from that we formed a metal detecting club, ITHA for Intermountain Treasure Hunters Association. A good friend, Dave Stuart, and I decided to start another detecting club in Ogden Utah in ’85, and I came up with the name and patch design for TWAS, which is Trails West Artifact Society. In late ’91, if I recall, we merged the two clubs together and retained the TWAS name. A small handful of us who were original club members from the earlier club are still around and TWAS is still an active club that meets the 2nd Monday of the month in Ogden, Utah.

Currently I am trying to establish a meeting location in Ontario, on the Oregon/Idaho border, to try to organize a metal detecting club in this region. There used to be quite a few clubs around the country, but like hobbyists and independent dealers they have really dwindled. Hopefully we can get one started for the benefit of all of us.

By the way, anyone can get in touch with me at anytime wish questions or suggestion at either e-mail: … or …


Q. What would you consider to be your best find after at this particular moment?

A. Wrapping up my 54th year make it tough to narrow down one particular ‘best find,’ but here’s my favorite oldest US silver coin, an 1836 Capped Bust Half-Dime takes top honors for a single coin. I found it in my all-time favorite, best-producing ghost town. Not my oldest target or most valuable, just my favorite ‘best coin’ discovery.


Q. A tougher question….what is your “oldest” find to date?

A. Back in the ‘70s I found a Byzantine coin in one of the older inner-city parks in Portland, Oregon that had been there for some time. I’m sure that qualifies as my oldest ‘coin’ find. My oldest US minted coins would be a few 18-teens and twenties Large Cents which, coincidently, I also found in the greater Portland Oregon metro area.

Monte Berry, cover of Treasure Search/Found, 1990


Q. What detector are you currently using and why?

A. Humm, let me think out an answer for ‘What’ detector and ‘Why.’

Okay, here is ‘What’ I own and use. I very seldom make use of a ‘standard’ or ‘larger-size’ search coils because I spend most of my time hunting trash infested sites where I also encounter a lot of dense brush and building rubble, therefore I use smaller-size coils most of the time and ‘mid-size’ coils at other times.

I spend most of my time Relic Hunting old, iron debris contaminated sites but I still try to put in all the Coin & Jewelry Hunting I can when I don’t have the time to get off to a favorite site. I do have several other detectors in my arsenal, a few of which I will be thinning out in coming months, but here are my favorite Top-Seven models that I will be using the most as weather allows:

Nokta FORS CoRe w/’OOR’ DD &5X9½ DD and FORS Relic w/5” DD & 5X9½ DD, and used for anything, but my primary picks for serious Relic Hunting.

A modified White’s Classic ID w/5½” Concentric coils for all types of hunting.

Fisher F44 w/7” Concentric coil, primarily used for Coin & Jewelry Hunting.

Teknetics Omega 8000 w/5” DD or 7” Concentric coils, used primarily for Coin & Jewelry Hunting.

Tesoro Bandido II microMAX & Silver Sabre microMAX used for both Relic Hunting and Coin & Jewelry Hunting.

‘Why’ do I use these detectors? They are very light weight and comfortable, and provide me with excellent in-the-field performance for the types of applications I chose them for.

In short — They Work Quite Well.


Q. Can you share a few settings or tips?

A. Tip #1.. Determine what works for you. Consider other’s suggestions, but be comfortable with your personal-choice settings.

Tip #2.. MY preference is to start with the highest Sensitivity and lowest Discrimination I can tolerate, then adjust if needed to gain stability.

Tip #3.. Seldom, if ever, do I use a Discrimination setting greater than to just barely reject iron nails, and with some models I set the rejection point low enough to just barely accept iron nails.

Tip #4.. Most of the time I encourage using a slow-and-methodical sweep speed, with a short-length side-to-side sweep path, and work the coil 2 to 3 times along that path to check from both directions, then advance the search coil slightly to ‘Overlap’ 50% of the prior coverage. This will vastly improve site coverage and lost target detection.

Tip #5.. Be patient; never rely on visual Target ID to make a Dig / No-Dig decision; learn to Pinpoint more precisely and make clean target recoveries with a rounded-off screwdriver or other smaller-size hand-held tool; leave a hunt site blemish-free and remove all recovered trash


Q. What accessories do you carry in the field?

A. A recovery pouch for trash and a secured plastic bottle of ‘keepers,’ a rounded-off screwdriver, hand-held digger for appropriate use when needed, a Pinpointer, a knee pad, and all the gear is mounted on a sturdy belt. Also in the pouch’s zippered compartment is a small magnifier, chap stick, a few band aids, and a set of replacement batteries just in case.


Q. How often do you get out detecting today?

A. As often as I possibly can. My health and impaired mobility might limit the duration I can last on any given day, and I can’t travel about afoot like I used to and cover vast amounts of land. But I’ll take any amount of time I can muster, be it minutes, an hour or two, or stretch things out to make it through most of a day, my plan is to do all the detecting I can possibly fit into my daily life.

As a Compass Electronics rep, FMDAC event, 1987


Q. Curious how do you go about finding places to detect.

A. Research sure comes in handy. Naturally I do have quite a number of places I have hunted over the past 5+ decades that always seem to grasp my interest to hunt again, especially when I have a newer and different detector, but today I continue to research, fortunately have friends I hunt with who also put in some research time. And I am always alert for any spur-of-the-moment opportunity such as encountering renovation work, building tear-outs, or perhaps I chance upon an old picnic site, etc.


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

A. One at a time I have been able to scratch different ‘Like-To-Finds’ off my Bucket List to where I want to find any and all older dated US coins and other desirable keepers, but I do have one remaining US Coin left to find. That is a Silver US 20¢ Piece.


Q. Have you detected overseas at all?

A. Nope. To get there it takes a plane or a boat. If I can’t drive somewhere, I’m not going. That leave the only two ‘foreign’ countries left for me to visit being Canada and Mexico. Maybe, just maybe I’ll work a trip northward into my schedule.


Q. What would your ideal detector look like?

A. Exactly like one of my personal favorites that are on my den wall right now just awaiting detectable weather. Fourteen models (with four being duplicated) that have a most-used search coil mounted. 1 w/‘OOR’ DD, 2 w/5” DD, 1 w/5½” Concentric, 3 w/6” Concentric, 2 w/6½” Concentric, 3 w/7” Concentric and 2 w/5  X 9½ DD coils, all ready-to-go. No standard coils mounted, no larger-size coils mounted, and none are heavy and awkward packages.


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

A. Do research. Be patient. Hunt slowly and methodically. Enjoy this great sport, and value time spent with others who enjoy it with you.




Filed under Metal Detecting

10 responses to “Monte Berry Q & A…

  1. Dominique Da Silva

    Very enjoyable interview. Monte sounds not only like a great detecorist, but also like a great person.
    Thank you for the read!

  2. Ah, here’s another guy after my own heart. Great interview Dick, more please. I seem to remember Monte saying to me in AC something about making sure I got $20 back. What could he have meant do you think?

  3. Tony

    Dick, that is a good interview, thanks I enjoyed reading it. I love reading about the early days of detecting and the folks attributed to this crazy hobby. Thanks again for filling part of that void.

  4. Joe Patrick

    I always enjoy reading Monte’s posts online. He’s been around and knows his stuff! I totally agree with his choice of a Tesoro Bandido II uMax as a great metal detector and I too do not like large search coils preferring those in the 5″ to 8″ size most of the time. Currently, my Bandido II uMax is mounted with a Tesoro Precision 7″ coil. It’s sweet! Great interview!

    • No question Joe that Monte knows what he’s talking about. I would like to think that a lot of newcomers take his (and yours) advice but I somehow doubt it. Seems everyone is wrapped up in the here and now, as in social media, YouBoob, and the like. Then again this is the “get the hell off my grass” me talking…

  5. Monte’s advice is right on the money…”Do research. Be patient. Hunt slowly and methodically…” An amazing metal detecting expert…love it!

  6. Ed B.

    Excellent interview……I had no knowledge of this man until reading your interview. I’d have to say that he is definitely from the “old school” of detecting.

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