Q & A with Dan Hughes…

Dan Hughes

Not sure how many of you remember Dan Hughes but his radio podcasts provided me and many other detectorists great listening over the years. Dan stopped doing them about three years ago but fortunately for us he left them out there in cyberspace. Click on the following for the complete list….

Dan Hughes Treasure Podcasts

Dan has pretty much retired from the metal detecting pastime but I did manage to pry him loose from his hundred and one other interests to fill us in on what he’s been up to and to do a Q&A.  Enjoy and when you are done reading be sure to listen to his radio podcasts….they’re fun and a few of them will crack you up!

Q & A with Dan Hughes

Q. Dan, if you don’t mind tell us a little about yourself, i.e., where do you live, are you married, what do you do for a living, where you keep you keep your valuables, etc….

A. I was born in Minneapolis on Davy Crockett’s birthday in 1947. Moved to Indianapolis when I was 4. We moved every couple of years, but always in the Indianapolis area. My father was City Circulation Manager for the Indianapolis Star & News newspapers. With that insider connection, I got a paper route when I was ten.

Graduated from Purdue (Radio-TV major) in 1969, four years in the Air Force in a foreign country called Selma, Alabama. I had a degree in broadcasting, so they made me a medic.

Married Kathy in 1972. We met at Purdue. She had one of the most dangerous jobs imaginable: Art teacher in a middle school. The only class where you arm your students! (Paint, clay, scissors, linoleum knives, etc.)

I was in radio for 40 years, including a stint at the real WKRP (in Dallas, GA; a suburb of Atlanta). Taught broadcasting at a college and ran the college radio station for 26 years. Also created a quiz bowl program for the local high schools; wrote all the questions, produced and hosted the local TV show. (I was the Alex Trebek of east central Illinois for 25 years).

Kathy and I both retired in 2007. Since then, I’ve written two books, one on metal detecting and one on coaching adult slow-pitch softball. We have a daughter, Karen, who teaches high school. Her field is special ed, and for seven years her students were kids who were kicked out of other high schools. Most of them wore ankle alarms so the cops could keep track of their whereabouts. She is also the coach of her high school’s Academic Bowl team, so she works with the highest-functioning kids, and the lowest. No average kids for Karen! She also hangs out with celebrities:  http://danhughes.net/khugged.htm

I started reading the treasure magazines before I started detecting, and I decided to try writing an article for them.  I was doing a lot of wedding photography and newspaper photography at the time, so I wrote a story called Photography and the Treasure Hunter, and submitted it to Western & Eastern Treasures.  They bought it, and I was shocked that they printed it exactly as I wrote it.  (I’d always heard that editors would pretty much rewrite your story, but I never had a word changed in any of the articles I wrote for treasure magazines.)


Q. Does anyone else in the family detect?

A. No. I took my daughter with me once when she was three, but she was more interested in the earthworms I unearthed than in my finds.


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

A. I bought my first detector about 1973; a $39.95 BFO (Jetco Mustang) that had an effective depth of about an inch. I bought it because I saw it for sale in a Woolco store (Woolco was to Woolworth’s as K-Mart was to Kresge’s). First detector I ever saw in person! The first thing I found was a penny by my back door; my second find was a gold ring by my front door. I was hooked. From there, I built a Heathkit TR detector, then bought a White’s Goldmaster (14 batteries! No discrimination!). Then a Compass Judge 6, then a Tesoro Golden Sabre, then a Fisher CZ-6, then a Fisher CZ-5.

I traded the Heathkit for a paint job on my ’63 Corvair. Traded the Compass in on the Tesoro (which had a notch filter, so you could dig nickels and skip pulltabs).

Finally, the Fisher CZ-5 was my ultimate machine. Got it when it came out; late 1980’s I think. I’ve used several other machines now and again (I was a detector dealer for several years). Have to admit I’ve been lax in the hobby; I think the last time I even swung a detector was maybe 5 years ago, when I found a ring for a lady whose husband had lost it raking leaves in their back yard.

Dan’s latest find and the happy owner


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

A. First my yard, then schoolyards, church yards, and parks. Pretty typical.


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

A. My first silver coin? I have no idea. Silver coins were still found fairly often in circulation when I started detecting, I think, so it wasn’t that big of a deal then.


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

A. No. I just had my detector in the car and used it when I could. Once my wife had a job interview in downtown Montgomery, Alabama. I drove her there, and while she was at her appointment I swung my detector around the parking meters where I was waiting. And I found a wedding ring!


Q. What would you consider to be your very best find after all this time, and if that’s hard to do tell us about more than one?

A. My other major spare-time interest is old-time radio – Jack Benny, The Shadow. And one day in about 1974 my two hobbies crossed paths. I was detecting a church yard in Selma, Alabama, and found a 1935 Radio Orphan Annie Decoder Wheel! I knew exactly what I had when I popped it out of the ground. What are the odds that an old-time radio relic would be found by an old-time radio geek?


Q. Okay this one’s off the wall….what is your weirdest find to date?

A. I’d have to go with that Radio Orphan Annie Decoder Wheel again.


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

A. Coinwise, some late 1800 Indian head pennies, I think.


Q. What is your “rarest” find?

A. A CSA belt buckle, found in my own backyard in Urbana, Illinois.


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

A. My trusty Fisher CZ-5, but like I said above, I haven’t been out for quite a while.


Q. Can you offer up a few tips or settings?

A. I like to play this game: Dig pulltabs until I get 25 or 50, then disc them out. When you disc out tabs you disc out gold rings, so you shouldn’t disc out tabs. But when you don’t disc out tabs you get discouraged and are ready to go home sooner. So I like to give myself a fighting chance at the gold.

I was hunting a local park with my disc turned on. I found a silver ring, and I thought, “Hey! If there’s silver here, maybe there’s gold too.” I turned off my discriminator, and my VERY NEXT BEEP was a gold ring! As I ask so often, what are the odds?

Not too long ago Dan received the Bob Hastings Award for contributions to the advancement of old-time radio


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

A. For serious hunting, alone. For recreational detecting, I enjoyed having a partner. That set up a competition, and caused me to work more seriously.


Q. When you do go detecting what accessories do you take with you?

A. I’m a minimalist. A two-pocket nail apron, a rounded-tip electrician’s screwdriver and a hunting knife for digging, and a Tiny-Tec (early pinpointer).


Q. How often do you get out detecting today?

A. I don’t.


Q. Have you detected overseas at all?

A. Never been outside the USA.

Today Dan stays busy today playing softball and along with humorist Dave Barry, is a proud member of the Lawn Rangers!


Q. Dan every detectorist has a bucket list. Care to share yours?

A. Nothing serious. I’d enjoy finding a gold coin but I’m happy to dig a silver dime now and then


Q. What would your ideal detector look like?

A. Again, I’m not too particular. I like my CZ-5; more depth would be nice. And the lighter, the better.


Q. What advice would you give to someone just starting out?

A. Dig your own yard (I found over a hundred coins in mine!) (But I lived in a 100-year-old corner house near a downtown area – the ideal coin bank). Be sure you can retrieve a target without leaving a trace before you hunt outside your own yard.

Also, I did five years’ worth of treasure hunting podcasts. Audio only (remember I was in radio for 40 years), all short (3 to 5 minutes) packed with useful (or funny) information with no empty filler material. They are still on my website, but I need to make them more accessible. Take a listen to one; this ain’t a great index setup, but it kinda works: 



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

A. Don’t give up. Too many newbies don’t find anything of value on their first try and just quit.

Thanks Dan….


Coming soon – Q&A with Steve Herschbach from Detector Prospector!


Thanks to Robert Kerr for the following….it’s number one on my Christmas list!



And finally there’s this….

Woman Beats Elderly Man with Metal Detector



Filed under Metal Detecting

16 responses to “Q & A with Dan Hughes…

  1. That interview has got to be right up there with some of your best. Thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a pity he can’t get out in the field as much as he’d like to, but I’m sure he enjoys it when he does.

    • john taylor

      hi reverend!
      i need to “get educated” about these various quasi-celebrities.
      i thought this gentleman was related to “howard hughes”,and i’ll wager
      he wished he was too!..any way, he is an entertaining individual…for sure!
      i’m just sayin’


  2. Paul Southerland

    Great interview Dick. A very enjoyable read.

  3. Tony

    Dick, I too enjoyed reading that interview, very well done. Thanks again for your efforts.

  4. john taylor

    hi dick!
    already did that! got over 35 years detecting mr. stout! i think i could “teach” him
    a few things as well.his podcasts are quite informative though, and we all can learn from each other,
    regardless of status in life! my pet “pomeranian” piper sends her regards!..i’m just sayin’


  5. john taylor

    i like the way i say things dick! i really don’t give two sh*ts what YOU think!
    also, my pet doesn’t care what you think either! she says if you come to our house, she will
    “bite” you,and i won’t be held responsible.i had to give her a little taste of the “dog”
    to calm her down, after “the way you say things”..dick! ..your beloved yanks are “choking”
    if you haven’t noticed!…ehe! heh! he!..i’m just sayin’


  6. john taylor

    honestly dick! i think “both” of us are guilty of “saying things”
    that can be interpreted as being somewhat “out of character”
    and as the man said: “judge NOT lest ye be judged!”..just sayin’

  7. John Winter

    An enjoyable read.
    Miss Dan’s podcasts. He’s a great communicator.

  8. Ed B.

    Good stuff Dick….thoroughly enjoyed the interview and some of the podcasts.

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