Iced In & Brain Dead!

Well I’ve just mindlessly Netflixed through three days of freezing rain, sleet and a helluva lot of ice. Winter it seems is trying to compete with the endless hot summers here in Texas and doing it with an exclamation mark. On the plus side I haven’t lost power and that’s a big ____ deal. Today? The temps “should” start rising, the ice melting and my mood improving. At least I’m hoping for that. I hate this crap!

I’ve perused the metal detecting stratosphere looking for something to ponder, something to share but no deal, same ole, same ole. So, since it’s Thursday here’s a throwback from December 2015 that reinforces my last update


…might make us a little more palatable.

About two months ago I got an email from someone named Brad.  Brad lived in central New Jersey, my old stomping grounds, and he had recently received a White’s Coinmaster for his birthday.He had one of my books, found my blog and asked if I might suggest a few places for him to detect.

Brad lived in Somerset county, and while I didn’t hunt a lot in that area, I did suggest a few places that used to produce a few old coins in Hunterdon county, just a few miles South.  I offered them with two caveats.  (1) I had not lived there for 28 years, had no idea what the sites/areas were like now, and (2) if they were still available, I had no idea what regulations and/or restrictions there might be now, if any.  The sites I offered were town parks, picnic areas, carnival sites, athletic fields and schools.

A couple of weeks ago I heard back from Brad. He had gone to one athletic field I had suggested in Lambertville, New Jersey, and had just started to detect when a city maintenance worker tapped him on the shoulder, and told him that metal detecting was not allowed in that area. He left and then drove to another athletic field I had suggested, just across the bridge in New Hope, Pennsylvania. There too, after about fifteen minutes of searching, a policeman drove up and asked him to stop.  On a more positive note, Brad did say he was able to detect an old school I had suggested in Ringoes, New Jersey, and came away with a couple of silver dimes, so his excursion was not all bad.

He went on to say that since his first email he had purchased a pinponter, a Lesche shovel, and while finding places to detect was somewhat difficult, he was having a lot of fun. I asked if he had the shovel with him when he was in those areas that he was asked to leave, and he said yes.  Now I suspect he would still have been asked to leave, no matter his choice of recovery tools, but I reminded him to think twice about this is in the future. Both of the athletic fields in question were in residential neighborhoods.


Understand that back in the 70’s and 80’s detecting was not as popular as it is today, and if there were ten detectorists within 30 miles, that was a lot. In fact if and when you did run into one, it was an exciting moment. One that almost necessitated a hug, and surely a long talk about all things metal detecting.  For me, in one instance, it resulted in a new club, the (Mid-Jersey Research & Recovery ) and eventually the formation of the FMDAC.

Back then you also could walk on to most any town park, school or athletic field and not be bothered by anyone. If anything the local gendarmes would stop, and walk over to you just to see what kind of goodies you were finding.  I remember quite a few leaving, saying “I need to get one of those”…..

Today the competition is keen, and many of the areas that used to be available are nonexistent. I also suspect that those that are still available are not producing the finds that they once did, which is understandable with the influx of new hobbyists.  What I don’t understand, and often wonder about, is how many areas have been closed because of our negligence and inability to present ourselves in a good light.  By that I mean, in the rush to beat the competition, did we completely forget to think about how we might appear to others?  Did we bother to find out the rules or restrictions, if any, before we stepped foot on that property, and in our haste to take home “all we could” in the limited time we had, did we sometimes leave unsightly holes or dead spots?  Were there times when we were asked to leave a site and got a little testy?  While I don’t know the answers to these questions, I’m guessing it just might be a little of all the above.

So is there a way to fix this?  Personally,  I don’t think so. Maybe John, Bill and Jim Bob will give it some thought and change their ways, but will Bubba, Jack and Willy?  Sadly there are just too many tekkies out there who just don’t care about anyone else but themselves, and once an area is closed to metal detecting, it’s very hard to turn it around.

So a few suggestions, or spoonfuls of sugar….

1. When detecting small town community parks, maybe search in the early morning hours.  I personally loved Sunday mornings.  Hardly anyone out and about, and it was peaceful and quiet.

2. If you are searching a park or athletic field, leave the shovel and camo apparel at home.  You won’t be digging land mines.

3. If you are searching a manicured area (one that is extremely well landscaped and cared for), use a probe to recover your finds.  If you don’t know how to probe, LEARN.  If you can figure out how to use that $2,500 metal detector,  you can learn how to probe a target.

4. While it’s fun to hunt with a lot of  friends, save it for the rural areas.  Nothing attracts attention like a gang of tekkies invading a town park.

5. You might laugh at this one, but if you like to take a break for lunch, think about where you are. Nothing shouts out trouble like popping a beer on the tailgate of your truck.  I experienced that here in Texas when I first arrived and went detecting with a few tekkies from a local club. I wanted to crawl under a rock.

6. Be polite to police, city workers, and others who might ask you to leave even though you know you are in the right.  Arguing is not going to help your cause. Think over your options and if and when you return be sure to have a print out of the park regulations in your pocket.  You can almost always find them online. No need to visit city hall and bring up the subject.

7. Dress as inconspicuous as you can. Maybe leave the camo belt at home, and just bring your detector, headphones, pouch and digger. You might even like the simplicity of it all.


You might consider these suggestions a waste of time but that’s okay.  I am old school, old hat and just happen to care about how we look to the masses.




Filed under Metal Detecting

15 responses to “Iced In & Brain Dead!

  1. I’ve never used a shovel like these yahoos all use today. I haven’t gone detecting in 4yrs, because of health reasons, but I could never fathom why anyone need a post hole digger to find coins or jewels in a park. I was a youngin’ of 14 when I started detecting. I didn’t know much but I was lucky, some 60yr old guy, a respectable old timer saw me one day in a park and for some reason took me on as my mentor. I learned how to dig a plug without destroying the grass, learned how carry & use a drop cloth for the dirt, how to pinpoint with my coil, take time to research, and how to ask permission. I’ve kept those teachings with even to this day. I’ve hunted ghost towns, old farm fields, old homes, parks, beaches, regardless of where I was I use the same techniques. Only big difference was in 2015 I bought an electronic pinpointer as I could see how it would help me when digging my targets. My current machine is my classic Whites Prism 4 (I bought it new in 2004) it’s 18yrs now. I hope to get out detecting this year finally. As I’m in Michigan winter will keep hanging on until mid April. Maybe I’ll finally get myself a Simplex which I’ve wanted for years but didnt have the extraneous cash. I will always remember & cherish the sage wisdom of my elders. Thanks Dick for the reminder. Maybe just maybe some of these yahoos will learn, but I doubt it. 🙂

    • Luke I don’t have any problems with shovels in rural farm fields, wooded areas, etc.. In fact they would be considered necessary there. I’m afraid however that they are becoming the “preferred” digging took for every situation. JMO.

      Hope you’re able to get out digging this year…

      • I guess I miswrote, yeah I will use a shovel in the bush (helpful when digging around an old privy, but being careful about not breaking bottles) or on a farm field. But don’t see the need for anything beyond a basic 6 inch digger for a park or a person’s home lot. I have 2 Wilcox all pro stainless steel trowel diggers one that is narrow and a second one that is a bit wider and with a basic serrated edge. I did buy a whites digging knife a while back similar to ones made by Lesche, which is great for cutting plugs.

  2. Randy Dee

    Thanks Dick you are still full of hold good suggestions.

  3. Also the shovel I do use for wooded areas, in the bush, and for farms, is one of those folding army surplus style, I modified it with a slightly longer handle. But I keep it in back of my SUV when I don’t need it for beach, schoolyard, park or permission homesite.

    Another that has helped me is I purposely went out and volunteered for local parks & rec department for park/beach cleanup and also with local fire/police whenever they’d do Halloween treat checking. Got to know many local officials who knew I was into detecting. Might not be as doable post-pandemic these days, but used to be a big help when I was avidly detecting from 2004 thru 2018.

    • “I purposely went out and volunteered for local parks & rec department for park/beach cleanup and also with local fire/police whenever they’d do Halloween treat checking. Got to know many local officials who knew I was into detecting….”

      Did the same years ago. Always good to be on the good side of local officials when you are a detectorist.

  4. john taylor

    ahhhh! the “classic” tool for parks, the “inimitable” Wilcox small digger! been around forever, and one “sweetheart” of a digger. still have the one I started with back in ’78. any “fool” who uses a “Sampson” in a park deserves to be “pitched” and fined. tearing up real estate in well kept areas with an improper tool is tantamount to a permanent death sentence for the hobby.

    j. (getting overwhelmed with free covid tests) t.

    • JT I believe the majority of “knowledgeable” detectorists know better but there are many novices who don’t and I know of a few who just don’t give a flip. I’m also pretty sure that the shovel now replaces the hand trowel as he digger of choice and that can’t be good IMO.

  5. john taylor

    I agree dick! the ones that don’t “give a flip” are an ever present danger to the ability to continue to access public spaces.disdain for the common good,i’m afraid is common these days.very disconcerting.


  6. I see where you’re coming from, but isn’t it all a matter of appearance. Wielding a spade looks bad, but, in expert hands hardly leaves a mark. However, in the hands of a knuckle dragger…ya follers ma drift?

    You could try hiding in plain site by wearing a builder’s hard-hat, fluorescent yellow slip-over marked on the back ‘ Utility Inc’, or ‘Special Recovery Unit’. Me? I just say what I’m doing is part of a special Single Malt abusers rehab programme. Never get any probs.

  7. john taylor

    believe the reverend howland has, unfortunately, gone to the well once to often
    in that “initial impressions” is what causes the “grief” to begin with. appearing in a “well kept”
    Park with a “shovel” raises concern from the beginning. doesn’t “make two sh*ts” worth a difference “how “you cover your holes, the damage has already been done. “black & whites” should soon be on scene to “discourage” further adventures….just sayin’

    j. (now into “orange” mad dog!) t.

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