Q & A with Stef Tanguay


I’ve never met Stef Tanguay but she somehow feels like an old friend. Her name and her finds are all over social media. Likewise Stef Digs, her YouTube channel boasts 2.82K subscribers. Thank you Stef for the taking the time to share your story.!!

The Q & A

Q. Stef, tell us a little about yourself, i.e., where you’re from, where you live, are you married, kids, where you keep your valuables etc.. Tell us as well about your YouTube channel and any other online ventures you’re into. 

A. I’ve lived in different parts of Connecticut for the majority of my life with a brief stint in Boston (which I wouldn’t recommend… too many people everywhere and not enough land to detect!). Currently, I live in Hebron, CT with my partner of 7 years, our 2 dogs, 2 cats, and a bearded dragon.

When I’m not digging or spending more time on Facebook than I care to admit, I’m usually editing the coming week’s YouTube video; my channel is called Stef Digs, and I upload new videos every Friday night. You can also find me on Instagram @stefdigs247. Additionally, I sell metal detecting equipment for The Diggers Den, and l always recommend that customers reach out to me directly for sales. Oh… and the valuables? Nice try!

 

Q. Does anyone else in the family detect?

A. My partner goes out a few times a year but isn’t as into it as I am, which I suppose is a blessing in disguise… leaves more for me to find! My mom thinks detecting is fascinating, but she doesn’t quite see the appeal in spending 8 hours in the woods for a few buttons and crusty coppers, so she won’t be tagging along any time soon.

 

Q. When exactly did you start detecting and what was it that got you interested?

A. I bought my first detector in the Fall of 2016 after watching metal detectorists dig colonial finds in New England on YouTube. Unfortunately, I didn’t like my first machine very much so I didn’t go out a lot. I decided to upgrade to the next best model the manufacturer had to offer a few months later, and on the 4th of July in 2017, I trekked out to an old mill in town to see what I could find.

After digging nothing but trash directly beside the mill, I looked up to see a ray of sunlight peeking through the trees and shining down onto a small section of a trail I hadn’t noticed on the way into the woods. I crossed over the stream and climbed up the hill to swing in that exact spot, because hey… maybe it was a sign, right? Let’s just say that if I hadn’t swung there, we might not be doing this interview. I got a mid to high tone reading 6-8” down, and I pulled out what could only be a buckle. At the time, I had no idea how old it was or that it would be the find responsible for igniting my passion to dig. As it turns out, I had found an exquisite example of a circa 1690-1720 shoe buckle frame. The rest is history.

The find that got me started – circa 1690-1720 shoe buckle frame

 

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

A. I spent a lot of time “researching” the hobby on YouTube, and it just so happened that many of the most popular YouTubers at the time were swinging Garrett machines. Not wanting to break the bank, I opted for the Garrett Ace 250. It still has a place in my home and comes in handy when I need a loaner for a friend.

 

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

A. I spent almost all of my time in the woods, either wandering or concentrating on a particular site. Around the time I started, not everyone knew about a certain mapping software to find those sites, so I had some great digs. Every little piece of history was such a thrill. I miss the days where a simple flat button made my week!

 

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

A. Oh, I remember! It was a bent roundhead nail in my yard. To be honest, I wish I still had it… who knows? Maybe it’s floating around the relic room somewhere.

 

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

A. Well, there was a time when I thought ox shoes were super exciting, so I was thrilled with the first one I found (which I still have). My first really good find, though, has to be the early shoe buckle frame I found on the 4th of July. Digging that buckle marks the moment that everything started (not to mention, I’m a bit obsessed with shoe buckles).

 

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

A. You know you’re interviewing someone with the memory of an elephant, right? Seriously, ask anyone, it might just be my super power. My first silver coin was dug on January 27th, 2018 (so, that’s about 6 months from when I started getting serious about digging).

I was out with a couple of friends and after not finding more than a spoon handle and a musket ball all day, we were on our way out of the woods. My friend Melissa was in front of me and had her detector over her shoulder, while I kept mine to the ground. I tripped over a deep and unwavering 83 signal, so naturally, being that Melissa was a lot more experienced than me, I asked her to swing over it. I’ll never forget the look on her face or what she said, which was, “I would dig that s**t!”

She immediately lit a cigarette and started filming my recovery (unfortunately, the footage was lost, and I’m pretty sure she was more upset about it than I was). After what must have been about 10 minutes of digging through semi-frozen ground, I pulled out an AU 1875 Seated Liberty Dime. Naturally, I screamed, “it’s SEATED! WOOOOOO!,” which probably startled the hikers nearby. I will never forget that day – it always makes me smile.

My AU 1875 Seated Liberty Dime

 

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

A. I found my first ring just a couple of months into the hobby, which was a tiny sterling Claddagh ring with a blue glass center “stone.”

 

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

A. Old timers will understandably shake their heads here, but most of my research was initially done on YouTube. I learned a lot from a few channels that focused their hunts in the woods of New England, and eventually I began researching the items they found. As it so happens, not every piece of information coming through YouTube was correct (shocking, I know), so I made a point of reading as much as I could about Colonial America and the relics our forefathers left behind. Today, I’m able to identify almost everything I dig as it comes out of the ground, which makes the hobby that much more rewarding.

 

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. It’s hard to choose, for sure, but the first one that always comes to mind is my Spanish reale spill (which I’ve mentioned in just about every interview, podcast, and livestream to date, but the story is just so ludicrous that it never gets old).

On March 16th, 2019, I was hiking out of the woods feeling pretty dejected as I’d found literally nothing but bullets and casings all day. This was the first weekend of Winter where the ground was thawed enough to dig, so naturally, I was disappointed that I hadn’t found anything noteworthy. I stopped to text my partner and vape for a minute, complaining that, “I NEED to find something!” I stuffed my phone and vape back in my pocket and got back to swinging after a few minutes of deep sighs and choice words.

About 10 feet from where I’d been standing and taking a break, I tripped over a 29/30 signal on the Equinox. Apprehensively, I cut a very large and deep plug. Waiting in the plug was a silver coin ball, and I could not have been happier. Before I even knew what the coin was, I whipped my phone out again and snapped a picture of it in situ. After I popped the dirt off of the large silver coin, a familiar face with a massive schnoz was staring back at me – I’d finally found some BIG Spanish silver! The 1779 2 reale was in outstanding condition and I couldn’t have been happier.

I quickly took a video (where I’m audibly crying) and posted it to Facebook, then hiked out of the woods as the sun was going down. Well… this is where the story takes an embarrassing turn. As it so happens, I may have forgotten a thing or two out in the woods. All week, I had a nagging feeling that I didn’t recheck the hole; in my excitement, it just didn’t even occur to me. Thankfully, I had marked exactly where my plug was because I intended to go back when I had a full day to explore the area, anyway.

Cut to March 26th and I’m back out in the woods revisiting my 2 reale plug. I swung over it and got a 22 signal, which was a half real practically on the surface. Not wanting to make the same mistake twice, I swung over the hole again and received the same signal, which was another half real. Although I had mixed feelings of elation and embarrassment, I openly shared my story (and HUGE initial mistake) on Facebook. To this day, I still receive messages every so often thanking me for sharing that mistake because someone rechecked their hole to find additional coins. I guess in hindsight, my dingbat move was 100% worth it – both for the great story, and due to the fact that it served as a reminder to the community to always recheck your holes!

The Reale spill

 

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

A. Easy one – I found a casket handle at a permission in town in the middle of a field. At first, I was tickled to death because I thought I’d dug my first cane topper… unfortunately, the ID ME group on Facebook was quick to tell me I’d dug something on the macabre end of the spectrum, and I felt awful for having dug it – did I really disturb a grave? What’s a grave doing in the middle of my permission? Thankfully, I was able to later confirm with the property owner that the gentleman who maintained the graveyard across the street occupied their home many years ago… but it still makes me wonder how on earth part of a casket ended up over 150 feet from the graveyard.

 

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

A. I have to go with 3 finds here, because I can’t be totally sure about 2 of them. My oldest coin is a 1655 French Liard, but I’ve also found 2 kettle points which likely date to right around the same time frame. I’ll never know exactly how old they are, but they’re definitely some of my oldest (and favorite) finds.

1655 French Liard

My two kettle points

 

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

A. I’m using the Minelab Equinox because the recovery speed and depth can’t be beat. It’s an outstanding all-purpose, all-terrain machine that’s served me well since the day I bought it.

 

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

  • My settings don’t vary much from site to site – I only make a few minor adjustments to the sensitivity and recovery speed when need be.
  • To whomever is reading this, bear in mind I use the 600, but I’ll translate where it’s needed:
  • Detect mode = Park 1
  • Frequency = Multi
  • Iron audio (horse shoe) = ON
  • Sensitivity = varies, but generally between 20-23
  • Perform a noise cancel
  • Ground balance = 0
  • Volume = 25
  • Threshold = 0 if the iron audio is on, 10 if it’s off
  • Tones = 5 or 2, depends on the site. If I’m having a lot of difficulty picking out targets in the iron, I’ll use 2 tones.
  • Recovery speed = 2 (equates to 4 on the 800)
  • Iron bias = 1 (equates to 2 on the 800)

 

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

A. Besides the obvious pouch, pinpointer, and shovel… definitely my phone, my vape, a full 3 liter water bladder, and toilet paper (some of us can’t pee on a tree…).

 

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

A. I definitely prefer hunting alone, which may come as a surprise to a lot of people because I’ve got several videos on my channel documenting group hunts. I like to take my time and enjoy being outdoors versus racing around to compare a copper count at the end of the day. While I do enjoy the camaraderie, it can be distracting.

 

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

A. Around this time last year, the top of the bucket list included two items of equal historic value, at least as far as I’m concerned; a tree coin (any denomination) and a George Washington inaugural button. I checked one of those off the list (by a survey of rarity, I’m sure you can guess which one). The other remains firmly planted at the top of the list, followed by an 8 reale, a gold coin of any kind, Draped Bust silver, Capped Bust silver, a Continental Army button, and a Luckenbooth brooch. I’ve got way more, but those are the first ones that come to mind. Oh, and I checked a Fugio off the list twice this year, which would still be near the top if I hadn’t dug one (well, two).

My two Fugio cents and my GW button fresh out of the ground

 

Q. Have you hunted overseas at all?

A. No, and that’s also a bucket lister for me – hopefully next year, but we’ll see what happens.

 

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

A. Yes, I belong to Awesome Relics New England Metal Detecting Club based in Brooklyn, CT. We meet on the first Tuesday of every month and it’s a lot of fun – tons of raffles, a multi-category Find of the Month contest, and plenty of great stories about item/ring returns from the club members (not to mention, we always have enough food to feed an army, so that’s a plus).

 

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

A. Well, I love my pets… does that count? Honestly, though, I have a “bad” habit of getting locked into one hobby at a time, and metal detecting has been an all-consuming force in my life since I dug that early shoe buckle I’ve mentioned a few times. I do enjoy photography (of my finds… so, that’s still detecting-related), and I actually collect gems, minerals, and fossils when my wallet allows.

Does loving these guys count?

 

Q. What would your IDEAL detector look like?

A. That’s a tough one… but hey, can I get my hands on a machine that will tell me with absolute certainty when I’m wasting time on an 18” deep bent square nail with a mysteriously unbreakable halo? That would be a superb time saver.

 

Q. Finally Stef, 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. I’m going to give the same advice that Todd Hiltz unknowingly gave to me when I began watching his channel years ago: If you’re patient, persistent, and think outside of the box, you will be successful. I still hear those words running through my mind when I’m having a slow day, but then I hear my own, too, which are a bit simpler: “just keep going.”

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A recent Stef Digs offering

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5 Comments

Filed under Metal Detecting

5 responses to “Q & A with Stef Tanguay

  1. John Taylor

    terrific interview dick! she’s definitely a player! love to pop one of dem big ass reales! exquisite coin. piece of art actually! I’m just sayin’

    (h.h.!)
    j.”two-stabs” t.

  2. Another great interview. More significantly it shows that our hobby/pastime is a gender level playing field, a facet that ought to be exploited. Good luck to Stef in the future.

  3. Tony

    Stef, I love your answers – especially “Thinking out of the box” ! Bravo! Thanks for the interview and best of luck!

  4. Nice interview Dick and Stef.

  5. Great interview and great answers! Steph is good people!

    Have a great day!

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