A Q&A with Ed Merrill

I suspect many of you are already familiar with the DetectEd Outdoors videos but if not let me introduce Ed Merrill, a born and bred New Englander whose finds and adventures make me homesick for the east coast.

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

A. I was born and raised in Vermont and lived in a small town called Grafton, which is known not only for its cheese but its incredible history. In my early twenties I moved to Cheshire County, New Hampshire, due to my previous career as a Correctional Officer. I currently reside in southwestern New Hampshire and work for the State of Vermont as a case manager, running a federal workforce program for high risk youth.

I’m not married but have always wanted a family…life hasn’t led me to that chapter just yet. For now, it’s just me and my dog Trixy navigating life together.

 

Q.  Does anyone else in the family detect?

A. After seeing what I have discovered over the years a few have taken up the hobby.  My dad (who recently retired) and brother have started going out together around the town I grew up in.  Most recently I have been teaching a cousin and his 14 year old son what I can and especially how to locate early american sites. Because we live in such a historically rich area it’s often easy to direct people to old colonial sites.

My dad has the bug now

 

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

A. I’ve been metal detecting now for about 10 years or so. For Christmas growing up my parents would always buy me and my brother an item they felt would interest us. One year I got a Bounty Hunter metal detector which sparked some interest but I really didn’t know a thing about the hobby. I would take it out from time to time and find modern change here and there but it wasn’t until I was living in New Hampshire and met a another detectorist that my passion began. That’s about the time when KG and Ringy were on TV and they helped fuel the fire. I have always been interested in history but never realized the connection I could have with it until I started researching more about the hobby and what people were finding.

 

Q. How long did you use the Bounty Hunter?

A. When I got more involved with the hobby I knew I would need an upgrade. The Bounty Hunter was great for a beginner but compared to what other detectors were finding I needed to spend a little more money. I felt that going from a Bounty Hunter to a Fisher would suit me best based on the similarities. I was able to try out a few at a local dealership and I fell in love with the look and feel. I bought an F4 and almost immediately started finding incredible relics and coins. That was when the real addiction began.

A few of my finds

 

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

A. I grew up with folks who owned farms and fields along the Connecticut River and they seemed easier to dig vs. trying to track down old homesites. I was still very green and had no idea about how to locate such areas in the woods. Fields were my go to!

Working the stubble

 

Q. Ed what was your very first signal/find? Do you by chance remember?

A. I wish I could remember but I would have to say probably just some modern change at the local ball field.

 

Q. And what was your first good or decent find, as in keeper.

A. My first “old” find was a Wheat Penny I found on my first hunt with my buddy here in NH. Long before the beard haha.

 

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

A. Honestly it didn’t take long once I upgraded metal detectors. My first silver coin I believe was a Mercury Dime. However by the end of the first season with the F4 I had a lot of silver coins including my first ever Seated Dime dated 1875.

 

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

A. The first ring I found was a costume jewelry ring. I found it near where an 1800’s era home once stood (burned down in the 50’s).  I believed it to be near where the garden once was based on the flowers and vegetation. Definitely got the heart pumping when it popped out of the ground. My first real gold ring came from a field where an old home once stood and to date it’s the best ring I have found.

The first ring & the gold ring

 

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

A. It was hard starting out and in the beginning I relied on friends I had made through the hobby, as well as KG and Ringy on TV and YouTube. Late on, as most detectorists know, the finds sort of guide you. To this day I always seem to find something on every hunt that requires me to research. It amazes me how much someone can learn based on things they find if they put the time into it. This doesn’t just include the history and identification of the finds, it also includes the preservation and cleaning to ensure they’re brought back to life.

On a recent hunt, I found an eagle “pin” I had not been familiar with. After doing a little research I found it was part of a medal that was issued to members of The Grand Army of the Republic who served in the Civil War. The metals used in making these were from cannons used in actual battles. I also found an old hand forged axe head near an old fort location along the Connecticut River. Though I couldn’t get an exact ID or date I decided to restore it and display it proudly at home.

Eagle pin (part of a civil war medal)

Forged axe head, before and after

 

Q. What would you consider to be your very best find after all this time, and yes I know it’s hard to choose just one?

A. Well, previous to last November this would have been a hard question to answer. However the best find of all time for me would have to be my George Washington inauguration button. I had seen others found along the way and always dreamed of finding my own. That dream came true in November of 2019, and I was fortunate enough to capture the find on video. Again, because of the treasure hunting community and experience I was able to get ideas on how to carefully preserve it and I cannot tell you how happy I am with the results!

(left) the day I found the GW inauguration button (right) after cleaning and restoring.

A close second is the colonial shoe buckle frame I found in the yard of a 1700’s tavern site. It was my very first colonial relic and still stands as the best frame I have found.

Colonial shoe buckle frame

 

Q. Okay what is your weirdest find to date?

A. I don’t have any real weird finds when it comes to relics however I am always fascinated by the many stone structures we stumble upon here in New England.  Suspect many were built by the native Americans that once called this region home.

Just one of the many unusual stone structures in the area

 

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

A. My oldest find happened when detecting a freshly turned field along the river. It’s a Native American cutting tool that I have been told could be up to 8000 years old or older. I have found other flakes from points but nothing ever like this.

Native American cutting tool

 

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

A. From the F4 I upgraded to the F75 Ltd. It’s a durable machine that has kept pace with all the others out there. Likewise I’ve never had issues with Fisher products and would recommend them to anyone getting into the hobby – not only for the cost but also for the easy learning curve. I have tried other brands but I’m at home and comfortable with a Fisher in my hands.

I’m very much at home and comfortable with my Fisher F75

 

Q. Can you offer a few tips or settings?

A. With the F 75 Ltd, here are locations and reasons for settings I use that often pay off:

PARKS: If I am hunting a local ballfield or park, I know that there is a lot of trash mixed in. I will use a small coil and place my machine in the jewelry mode. I will set my sensitivity to about 60-65 as I am not going for deep targets and will ground balance the machine with these settings. Low and slow swinging is key.

FIELDS: If I am in a field that’s turned often I will set my F75 to “default” mode (unless recently turned and then into Plowed Field mode). I will set my sensitivity to about 75-80 and like to hunt with the stock DD coil. I will discriminate up to about 17-18 as 10k gold seems to ring just above this around 19-20 on the VDI scale. NOTE: if I am in a new location and trying to find the iron patches, I will go into all metal mode until I locate said area.

If I am in a hay field and the ground is somewhat quiet I will put a larger coil on (or stick with stock DD coil), change my sensitivity to a higher setting (80-85) and place it in DEFAULT mode. Again, this all depends on the signals and ground “pollution”

WOODS: Small coil settings around heavy iron patches. If I know I am in an old pasture area where most of the crops were, I will use my normal field settings. It all comes with experience. Preferences vary from person to person I’m sure. However, I do very well with the basic settings I have listed so I hope others find it helpful.

 

Q. Ed when you do go detecting what accessories do you use?

A. Shovel is a Root Slayer.
B. Pinpointer is a F-Pulse from Fisher Research Labs.
C. Always have a backpack with first aid items, Duct Tape, toilet paper, extra batteries, Lesche digging tool, camera, portable phone charger and extra fluids for those hot days.
D. Summer I carry a camel pack on my back to keep hydrated.
E. Finds pouch
F. Toothbrushes for field cleaning relics
G. Bug Spray and Sunblock

 

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

A.  At times, I’ll hunt alone as schedules don’t always line up for everyone however it’s always more fun with friends. You’ll often see me with my good friend Jim (Montshiredigger) who’s usually with me on all DetectEd Outdoors videos. I also do  a lot of hunting with Kendall (Kendigg.vt) (we’re all Admins for our social media group “All Metal Militia”.

 

Q. How often do you get out detecting today?

A. Hah, metal detecting is an addiction. Once you catch the bug you find yourself out digging whenever you can. The longer days in the summer allow me to get out a couple times after work during the week and on weekends it’s a sun up to sun down affair with my friends.

A few of my relic finds

 

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

A. Those that know me know exactly what it is! I have yet to find a Barber Quarter. It’s my White Whale indeed. I have found some of the most amazing coins but for some reason the BQ has eluded me. Other than that, I would have to say a tree coin (pine tree shilling) would be my number one now that a GW is out of the way.

 

Q. Have you hunted overseas at all?

A. I have not but I have made several friends through the power of social media and I dream of metal detecting in England from all the stories they share.

 

Q. Do you belong to a club?

A. I run a group on social media along with other digging buddies we call the “All Metal Militia”. About a year ago, we created it in hopes of bringing people in the area together and our motto is “Defend History”. We also like to keep it fun and do many giveaways with our followers. I’ve always said the real treasures we find in this hobby are the friendships. 

 

Q. What would your IDEAL detector look like?

A. Not really sure to be honest. I would say one that can’t get caught on branches or brush.

 

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

A. If you are doing something that makes you happy, don’t let others bring you down. In a world full of competition there will always be someone out there that will judge you or not agree with how you do things. It’s hard not letting them get to you but trust me once you learn to move past it and realize not everyone will see the world the same way you do you will go on to lead a happy life.

Always leave the land the way you found it!!

Finally, no matter where you search, ALWAYS leave the land the way you found it and take all trash with you. Too many don’t and it is leaving us with less and less places to search.

_____________________

Ed thank you again and to those of you reading be sure to check out Ed’s You Tube channel…DetectEd Outdoors

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7 Comments

Filed under Metal Detecting

7 responses to “A Q&A with Ed Merrill

  1. Brian Obitz

    Good interview, nice to see someone else is out there hunting with a Fisher, feel like an odd duck at times. A reasonably priced detector even more so now,around $600.00 and more importantly never lied to me or made me dig unnecessary junk,confidence bars quite accurate. Practice at home with iron around non ferrous items does help determine which combo of tone,speed and discrimination produce best signal response.I don’t need a better detector just better sites,not buying into the hype,lol.

    I met ED up at the Chazy,N.Y. hunt last October – was a good hunt. Looking forward to going back there this October and the B.O.N.E. hunt the following week. Look forward to meeting up with some of you again maybe this fall.

    • Ed

      Fisher products always hold up and perform very well. Chazy was a great time. I’ll be back in October for Digstock. Hope to see you again!

  2. Kelly

    Great to know more about Ed, his finds and detector preferences. I enjoy his “down to the earth” videos, his great photography and appreciation of the land. And I just have to say…if I wasn’t married….😉

    • Ed

      Haha.. thanks Kelly! I appreciate the compliments. I just want to share the adventure and the beauty of this region with all that with to see it. All my best to you!

  3. That colonial shoe buckle is a real beaut. That’s what our pastime is about, and in my opinion, it doesn’t matter what make of metal detector was used to find it. We all use what suits us.

    Bloody good article. All power to you Ed.

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