Allan Cannon Q&A…

Not too long ago I was perusing social media and a name from the past popped up – Allan Cannon. Last time I saw Allan was in the mid 80’s when I was with Garrett.  Allan was in sales and marketing for Compass and we’d run into one another at various events throughout the country. Anyway we re-connected and I discovered that the old guy is still swinging a coil and has been busy searching for and socking away as much gold as he can.

Thanks Allan for taking the time to share your story.


Q. Allan it’s been a long while since we’ve talked so tell me and those reading this a little about yourself, i.e., where you live, are you married, where you keep your valuables and if you don’t mind, about your past involvement in the industry.

A. Howdy and greetings. I am back in Washington state and working for a company locating underground utilities. I was married and have 2 grown kids and 2 grandkids. All my stuff is buried in back yard! (just Kidding).  I store my good stuff in a safety deposit box though over the years I’ve sold off a lot my collection.

In 1981 after leaving Garrett Electronics I was offered a position with Compass Electronics  and moved to Forest Grove, Oregon.  My official title was Dealer Coordinator/Sales and Marketing.  I spent  25% of my time on the road attending trade shows, treasure hunts and visiting our dealer network.  

Manning the Compass booth, Treasure Expo, late 80’s

From day one Compass set in motion what was needed for our new generation of detectors and handed me the reins for the new X-70-80 Challengers. The controls and functions for these models had a better range than any other detector out there at the time.  Next I moved on to the X90-100 and Scanners units.  I also had a lot of field testing prototypes in various stages of development. I spent 16 years working for Compass Electronics and was very sad when the company was sold.

In 2015 I arrived back from a six month overseas trip and was in contact with Vince Gifford at Tesoro. I drove to Prescott, Arizona and few days later I started working for Tesoro. I was with Tesoro for 1.5 years and was in technical  support. The  Mojave detector was a sweet little detector and my final accomplishment with them. I returned back to the pacific northwest after the release of the Mojave.  It was another sad day when Tesoro closed it doors.


Q. Does anyone else in the family detect?

A. Yes most everyone in my family has one or 2 detectors but things change and today they just do not have time. Times were different when growing up and my family was immensely helpful in my hunting needs and always supported my interest. I still run across other detector users in the field and they often comment and thank me for getting them started in detecting.


Q. I know it was in the stone age but when exactly did you start detecting and what was it that got you interested?

A. Great question.  My grandparents always had great stories of the past and my father was constantly searching for treasure. About 1965 or 66, when I was just a young kid, my father and I came across a guy detecting at an old town site and he had a Fisher T10 detector.  He handed it to me to try and also gave me his digging tool (a long, sharp bayonet). My very first target was an old horseshoe (and a cut finger). I was hooked that day and knew I had to get a metal detector.


Q. What was your very first detector and what made you purchase that particular brand/model?

A. Wow, it was all about money at such a young age. It was a treasure probe that cost around $20 back then and it was not much more than a toy BFO. In 1969 I purchase a Whites’ S63T BFO with a 4” &10” coil. The 4” coil was intended to find gold nuggets by the bucket full along the salmon river in Idaho (I’m still looking, LOL).


Q. In the beginning Allan where did you concentrate your time? What sort of sites did you search?

A. starting out it was my front yard, the older houses in the area and the local parks. I also vividly remember an old Grange hall that  produced a lot of coins, many of them silver. Today? I go wherever I can find the yellow!


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

A. As I said above, a horseshoe and a bloody finger.


Q. And by chance do you remember what your first good or decent find was, as in keeper?

A. No sorry. Just that coins were plentiful back then and the more I found the more I realized there was a lot of money lost and a lot of fun ahead. 


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

A. Detecting in neighbor’s yard I located a 1939 Mercury dime (about 1968).


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

A. In the same yard along with Merc I found a 14K wedding band with a diamond.


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

A. I always liked history and where I lived we had the Plummer gang and Lewis & Clark expedition camps. Most of what I learned came from talking with others who had years of knowledge about the area.

My first Civil War hunt, Mansfield, Louisiana, organized by Dorian Cook & Garrett, Electronics, early 8o’s


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 all of them.

A. Coins would be hard because I found so many but one of my favorites is my 1877 Indian head… found in a city park.  Best foreign coin has to be a 1936 Dot Canadian penny found in Winnipeg Canada.

I was also contracted to locate a cache of gold coins that was buried on a hill side. Long story short – owner had died and wife told me that they were about ready to log off  the area and mountain beavers might dig it up. Hmm, really?  Anyhow I hiked about ½ mile and there was an old growth tree that been cut long ago and the stump was his marker. She said her husband made her sit on the stump and he would drop over the hill side. About 100 yards down the hill was a short 2 foot diameter log that looked out of place. I ran the coil over log and a foot down was a six inch PVC pipe with caps on both end. Inside? 32-1oz Krugerrands wrapped in zip lock bags.

Arrowhead shaped nugget about 16 inches down. Always dig those “reverse signals”.


Q. Okay Allan what is your weirdest find to date? Everybody has at least one….

A. It was an old town site where all the houses were removed. Standing alone was a large tree and it had this protruding branch that came horizontally from the tree. I started thinking that would be a great indicator to a cache. Using my Garrett BFO  I got a rather large signal directly under the branch about 12 feet from the tree trunk. I dug a wide hole and at about 2.5 feet was a metal box. I thought I had finally hit the big one! When I pried open the box it  contained a multi-color blanket and the remains of a small dog. I reburied the box rather quickly .

Not weird but funny (above)- my entry for the “biggest nugget of the day”. It’s a dried cow chip with foil from a salt block (they don’t remove the foil). These treats are real screamers when detected.

One more “different” find – a football size chunk of quartz that had no visible gold but held some promise. After washing it at camp everyone wanted to see was inside and they brought out the sledge hammer. I refused and wanted to keep it it’s original form and not know what was inside. Well after a day of teasing I finally gave in, took a pinpointer to the one side that had the strongest signal and cracked it open. A chunk came off and guess what? No Yellow!  It was a purple and sliver looking matrix. Afterward everyone says “sorry mate, it’s NOT gold”.

Well long story short!  Took a trip to the Kalgoorlie gold brokers, they tested a sample with a electronic meter and the purple was palladium, the silver was platinum along with copper. To think I almost left this behind thinking it was just a weird oddity of mother nature.  Australia does produce platinum. 


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

A. Well when I was young and still learning to detect I always disposed of my trash items in trash can. I remember I found this odd jet-black rock about the size of a soft ball and it looked like somebody took a blow torch to it.  It was heavy as well.  As I learned more about detecting I read an article about meteorites and realized what I had found. I am sure it’s still out there under a few tons of trash at the local dump. Oh man, if I had only known!


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

A. That’s a hard one as I have many detectors that are current and from the past. I currently use an Equinox 800 for coin shooting. I use my old Compass Yukon around nail infested areas and a Tesoro Bandito Umax II for trashy areas. I also own a White’s Vision and MXT Pro. For chasing the gold it’s the Minelab 7000, 4500 and maybe the new 6000.


Q. Can you offer a few tips or settings/programs?

A. That is a tough one. Each and every location and type of hunting will vary. Whether coin hunting in a park or detecting a salt water beach, each can bring new challenges. Most important is that you need to learn your detector, you need to have patience and persistence is a given. If I’m detecting and I run into problems or having a hard time I stop, take a break and evaluate the situation/circumstances. Often times I will start over with basic functions and controls to get me back to a more normal operation. And finally, when in doubt dig it!

Gold nuggets with character like my fang nugget above can bring an extra bonus. It was found one foot down in a dry stream bed.


Q. When you do go detecting what “must have” accessories do you take along?

A. Good quality headphones are a must.  I mostly use the Sunray Pro. I use a Hori Hori potters knife and it’s the same one I’ve been using for the past 20 years.  Also, I use a proto gasket scraper that has the 1.5 wide blade that about 12” long, a Samson shovel for field work and a Walco miners pick from Australia for digging gold. Lastly a Garrett carrot pin pointer.


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

A. Both.  I like the companionship of others in the field and always enjoy seeing what others are finding. I also do a lot of hunting alone, when I know I need to do  it without a lot of interruption.

Some of the best and successful nugget hunters in Australia. Kevin Heller in this picture was the one who found the Hand of Faith in the Golden triangle in the 1980’s.


Q. Allan everybody has a bucket list. Tell us about yours?

A. What can I say – it’s a big one!

Here’s my bucket!!


Q. Have you hunted overseas at all?

A. Yes, I been to Australia two times and the last go around was 6 months ago, living and prospecting in the outback. Waiting to go again this year but the virus has dampened my plans. My friends from the outback are great and I apricate their friendship and comradery.

The 14″ GPZ coil with over 500 smaller nuggets. A lot of work for each and every one. Found about 40 KM north of Kalgoorlie western Australia


Q. Do you belong to a club?

A. No. It has been a spell and I always enjoyed the clubs. Currently they’re a long ways from where I live. I did help start the Oregon Treasure Trail (O.T.T.S) back in the 1980’s.


Q. Allan do you have any other hobbies or interests?

A. Rock hunting is a lot of fun and I do a bit of photography. I also enjoy hunting and fishing.

A variety of rough nuggets and a quartz specimen with gold 


Q. What would your IDEAL detector look like?

A. Well that is a tough one. I would like to see a good gold detector like a Pulse induction that would be able to scan though different timing settings simultaneously. If a pulse induction gold unit could have this full range of timing marks all at once it would not matter if the gold was large, small, deep or shallow.


Q. Finally Allan, if you could pass along one or two words of advice to beginning detectorists or for that matter any detectorist, what would they be?

A. Learn your detector and it doesn’t matter if it’s a top of a line or lower end model.  Understanding each and every sound can be very confusing at times so scan different angles over the target. Remember too you do not have X-ray vision and the only sure way is just to DIG it! Good example: I located a wide iron response and my friend asked me why I was not digging it.  I responded it was iron. He said I should dig it any way. I was going to show him I was correct about it being iron and started digging. Down about 10” was an old Prince Albert tobacco can and a 1900-s half dollar laying on top… you just never know.

Best in hunting

Allan Cannon




Filed under Metal Detecting

10 responses to “Allan Cannon Q&A…

  1. john taylor

    hello Alan! an interesting life for sure! I have but one “burning question” to ask! your final project with Tesoro was the development of the great little “Mojave” can you truthfully say “how many “Mojaves” were actually produced before tesoro went out of business? I own a Mojave,and I believe it to be a “classic”
    there has been some ‘scuttlebutt” on the forums as to how many were actually built,and the number referred to is ”150-200″..please advise!..thanks!



    Hello John
    The initial release of the Mojave was slowed due to parts and rod issues. Over the time I spent with Tesoro I would guess that close to a few hundred Mojave’s were made. When I left I don’t think many more were produced. When I found out they were closing their doors I was lucky my good friend Rusty Henry had a demo, a new one in the box and he did sold me his last Mojave. So I have a new Mojave in the box and it’s not for sale. It’s one tough little detector. The Mojave was a simple but very effective detector for the price.

    It was a shame too as I was looking forward to the new Tesoro Apache that was to be released shortly after the Mojave. It was scuttled and never happened. It would been a real killer on deep stuff. Oh well! I enjoyed my time with Tesoro.

    Enjoy your Mojave. I guess it was the last of the Mohicans
    Thank You

    • john taylor

      ok! thanks Allan! apparently the guesstimate on line was accurate! can’t find ’em. occasionally one will come up for sale, but usually they want “tall” money for it! good luck with your quest for the “yellow!”


  3. Tony

    Allan, very interesting life around this crazy hobby. Thanks for sharing a small part of it! Best of luck chasing nuggets.

  4. Hi Alan:
    That was a great read mate. Treasure hunting at its best, and I just love those nuggets. I used to have a Tesoro ‘Golden Sabre’ fitted with the small coil and it cut through iron nail infested Roman habitation sites like a hot knife though butter. Best machine I’ve ever used on a Roman site.
    Kind regards

    • A CANNON

      Thank You for your kind words and keep my Tesoro near by as they are one detector that will cut though the iron and capable to pull out the good stuff. I keep my Compass Yukon’s handy for same reason.

      • Alan:
        In the early days, a lot of Tekkies used the Compass 77b on habitation sites over here in the UK. Have you ever used one, and what did you think of it?

  5. Packrat

    Hi Alan I remember you coming to our hunt and others around the Pacific Northwest. You even won our first NWTHC Men’s hunt in 1973. Also remember the year you hunted in a full leg cast and still did very well. Hope you can make our 50th hunt in 2022

    • A CANNON

      Howdy Packrat. It has been a long time and good to here from you. The Spokane Treasure Hunt was always best of times and friends from all over came to the hunt. I sure miss the river and camping was wonderful along the river. I will look forward for 2022 hunt and that quite a mile stone for the NWTH Club.. I would be game for this hunt as I might have of slowed down some.. Keep me updated and and thanks for your time.
      ALLAN C.

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