Any one else metal detect?

03coloradowrangler

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Mid Michigan
Anyone else into the metal detecting hobby?

About 25 years ago my uncle would be in town vacationing at my grandparents place. My grandparents own an old farmhouse from the early 1900's, probably even earlier as I dont know the exact date of activity. Anyhow while my aunt was visiting with her parents I fondly remember my uncle pacing around the prime yard throughout the week detecting and pulling up all sorts of trinkets.

After a few summers of my uncle being in town, my grandfather finally purchased a metal detector. Both of them would spend the week in the yard sharing tips and findings amongst themselves. Myself at the time was probably about 8 and I remember digging many gopher holes pulling up all sorts of rusty iron with an old spare junker detector.

Years went by and my graduation gift from my uncle was an Ace 250 metal detector. thought it was cool, used it briefly then put it away and rarely got it out. about 3 years after graduation I ended up rupturing a disc in my spine and had time to kill waiting to be released back to work after my back operation. I spent quite alot of the summer browsing through the yard at my mother's house which is a few blocks away from a city built in the mid/late 1800's. the best finds were along the sidewalks in the front and side yard. dug many wheat cents and current day coins & alot of trash foil, shredded pop cans & rusty iron bits (not photographed) with the Ace 250.
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After being released back to work I gave up on detecting, I worked nights and slept all day for the most part. Few years later I changed jobs and worked day shift.. between moving and leaving stuff behind I had the detector packed away & couldn't remember which parents house it was at. Local history and maps have always peaked my interest & I realized there was a homesite from the late 1800's across the road from my father's place in the neighbors field. I ended up locating the ace 250 in storage and ran the flail mower in the neighbors field over the foundation area then spent about a half hour around the perimeter of the cobbled stone remnant foundation I found.
ended up digging up a 1864 2 cent piece.. never heard of a 2 cent coin before and was blown away. coolest find yet in my opinion.
This was my first and last time detecting that spot, though I plan on returning again. last fall I ran the mower through the field again prepping to detect but ended up injuring my tailbone that day and never made it out there to date.
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I had changed jobs again and relocated further north. Local history of the new area, old maps and such, connections with local farmers and a landowner of many large and small parcels within my immediate area & realizing im renting property dating back to late 1800's again peaked my interest in my spare time again :ROFLMAO:. I got out my trusty Ace 250 to start rummaging through the dirt again only to find out my coil on the detector had finally failed. I dont follow the newest and greatest of metal detectors so I reached out to my uncle to see what he would suggest I replace the dated detector with as a new coil for the ace 250 was close to the price of the outdated detector itself. My uncle had insisted he would look through his collection of detectors and give me one of his instead.After a few days he offered me his CTX3030 and I gladly took it in the fall of last year and had a hell of a time with it. in comparison between what I had before to the new detector, I essentially went from basically operating a balsa wood model airplane with a twisted rubber band powered prop to trying to figure out how to operate a military jet. way too many bells and whistles on this thing. dug lots of trash and basically nothing but trash & had not a clue how to operate it.

since the last few weeks have been warm enough to go play in the dirt again and I had time to read up on the machine since I acquired it, I believe ive got the machine dialed in enough to be dangerous with it. Ive been digging more intriguing findings along with actually finding coins again & of course still digging trash.. but thats always been the reality of detecting. you never know what your gonna get when your dirt fishing. to date this year, these have been most of my findings out of my front yard.
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And for those thinking im digging only coins.. this is about 60% of the yet to be thrown out trash ive dug out of the front yard in the same time span this year.. just to show you the reality of metal detecting... dont believe the hype those videos on YouTube show you, them guys get paid for viewership so of course they are gonna seed their hunts. what 95% of them YouTube videos are are all completely made up. I can spend a few hours in the yard and only find trash & nothing else but then the next day pull a few coins or something somewhat interesting in the same few hours.
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This is my main go to detector the CTX3030.. which is very heavy to use for extended periods of time. It actually gives me pretty painful tennis elbow occasionally which I then swap out to my lesser but still pretty good back up much lighter detector once the pain kicks in.
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My much lighter Xterra Pro detector. It's a pretty good machine overall but I have noticed in comparison the discrimination isnt as good as the way astronomically higher priced 3030.. but again were comparing a rubber band balsa airplane model kit to a military jet. Honestly if I didnt have the 3030, I would be perfectly happy with the Xterra . If you're considering the hobby the Xterra is a good entry level detector, I wouldn't go much cheaper than this. currently a good entry level detector is gonna run you about $250 as a ballpark. I have also heard good things of the Simplex BT but have no hands on experience. Have also heard the vanquish 340 is pretty ok if you want to get your feet wet for $200.. but its very basic and the additional $50 of the simplex or Xterra would be worth the expense in my opinion because your gonna get better at detecting and want the settings and options they provide once you get comfortable with the machine.
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A few of my additional tools for ground harvesting :ROFLMAO:
your looking at a predator tools phoenix model 24 shovel, Lesche digging tool, Garrett propointer and a XP MI-4 pinpointer.
the phoenix shovel is great for slicing through roots like butter in root dense areas and also creates a perfect cone shaped plug for neat and clean nearly undetectable holes dug in grass. the digging tool is my 99% of the time go to, basically just what I started with many many years ago & was my late grandfathers.. basically nostalgic for me. and the two pinpointers I use for locating what im after once I dig the hole, they are just a really small handheld metal detector I probe the hole or plug with which beep and vibrate when nearing the item I dug for. basically time saving tools and assist with finer location so im not digging a trench.
Ive had 3 garret propointers over the years and each one I get about 2-3 years of use until they become sometimes unstable and beep for no reason during use. hoping for better longevity ive purchased a XP MI-4 this year to try my luck with a different pinpointer.. no input on longevity yet but it works just as well as the propointer when it worked correctly. the duct tape on the propointer was placed over the speaker hole as the damn things beeping was insanely loud and theres no option for volume control.
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Tips for the newbie.
1. ALWAYS FILL YOUR HOLES once you dug a hole & do your absolute best to make sure it's undetectable that you dug there in the first place. leaving holes or damaged turf is a great argument for anyone wanting to ban metal detectorist from parks.
2. Carry a trash bag and pick up any trash you dig or see and dispose of it, dont just toss it near a tree or leave it behind. Make yourself wanted to be there in the first place by picking up after others.
3. Ask permission or research if your local parks allow detecting within the park or if its only certain areas within said park.
4. Wear gloves when digging if you can tolerate it. I tend to find alot of broken glass and sharp metal. I cant stand working with gloves and have already sliced my fingers twice this year.. also bust my knuckles when working on vehicles because I cant stand wearing them doing mechanic work either.
5. wear headphones in a park.. no-one else enjoying the park is gonna want to hear all the beeping and squealing your detector is making.

My grandfather would wear an old apron around his waist that he used to use when roofing to carry the roofing nails in. worked great to put your finds and trash in while out in the field. also fit a folded up 2x2 sheet of visqueen he would lay out on the ground and set his plug on after digging it out to contain all the dirt so he could neatly pour it back into the hole once he found his target item leaving the dig site immaculately clean once done.

a few noteworthy websites I use for historic research prior to going out detecting.
1. historic aerials - within my areas I can see satellite and stitched airplane aerial imagery back to the 1950's. depending on your location you may have only current, possibly old and sometimes nothing to see at all.
2. vintage aerials - a bit of a hassle to use because very few photographs are actually geo located but I was able to locate the original house that once was in the frond yard of the current house built further back I am renting giving me a better idea of where to focus my detecting efforts in the yard.
 
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Some examples of the research ive done of my location.


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Historic aerials circa 1954.

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Vintage aerials circa 1973. you can tell that something possibly may have happened to the house between 1954 and 1973 when comparing to the first image. The image from 1954 indicated the footprint of the house was more than simply just a square. maybe there was a fire that damaged the original layout of the house? I do tend to find quite a bit of burnt stuff on the left side of the yard where this house once was in the yard. grass also grows like crap the whole year in a square shape out in the front yard too.

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vintage aerials circa 1984. current house shown here. you can make out the crappy grass square in the front yard where the prior image's square house once stood.

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google maps aerial image from last year. the brown square is a area I applied topsoil to and seeded, think there was a swimming pool in that spot at one point, ground was sandy and grass didnt grow. the tan grass spot closer to the road is the location of where the square house was shown from the 1973 image.

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1897 plat map of my general area, the black square dots are houses. ive already nailed down the exact locations of the houses in the select farm fields im open to detect through connections at work... though its been too cold and windy to detect yet without a windbreak out in the open fields im permissible to hunt.

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This is a plat map of the same area in 1914. when comparing the two I have found that the parcel I am on, the original house site had moved from the west side of the parcel to the east side of the parcel between 1897 and 1914. this indicates to me that the earliest site has since been divided off and built overtop of and that would likely mean the home shown in the first 1954 historic aerials image must have been built between the date range of 1897 and 1914. so the findings I am finding in my yard would date back to the latest ballpark of 1900 at the most specific date I can come up with.. nothing earlier. examining the beams within the old barn here.. its been relocated or built with salvage materials at the time. cinderblock walls are newer construction & the beams inside are hand hewn, drilled and carved for the original style of assembling barns with dowel pins but are not utilized and are randomly placed throughout the largest 2nd floor support beams.

pretty cool to do some research, its time consuming and you come to alot of dead ends at times.. but the winter was wet and cold and I had plenty of time indoors to plug away at this.

dont get too hell bent on all this historic research stuff, obviously the older locations will have older findings in the ground which is what ive tuned myself to go out and find, conveniently im right atop of a old site to detect away at. maybe your parents have a old farm site, maybe the local park down the road from you used to be the fairgrounds used for years and years. maybe the beach by you might be a good spot, possibly not too far from the beach there was a little building where ice cream or a soda pop shop was and coinage was exchanged.

you got to remember though, if its a public location im sure its been hit pretty hard over the years, this is where the research comes in handy. maybe go to the park thats a little bit out of town that doesnt get much activity and is a bit more of a hassle to get to if the kids were screaming in the back seat the whole way back in the day. If you want to go out in your own yard, consider if your living in a subdivision the topsoil was likely stripped before construction and what was once there may no longer be there.. but possibly topsoil was also brought in from somewhere else that was under construction, maybe theres something good to find in your yard after all.

The best suggestion I have is to detect your parents, cousins, family or friends yard or even your own yard, dig all the signals to learn how your machine works.. your gonna figure out what the beeps are telling you after some hands on time. once your feeling comfortable and have mastered digging clean holes and good signals, go out to the parks or ask your neighbors around you if you see them doing yard work outdoors. the trick with making it to the better sites others have yet to detect is making local connections.
 
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One of my customers was Major General Sandy Vandenberg, son of General Hoyt Vandenberg whom the air force base was named after. Sandy spent years after retiring with a metal detector all over the Southwest and had floor to ceiling cases of US Calvary items and Native American findings. Even in the garage there were tall cabinets with skinny drawers like map cabinets, all lined with stuff that he found. He read all the books and studied all the battlefields and went to those locations with his metal detector. If you didn't come up with an excuse to leave he would gladly talk about it for hours and he could tell you where each item was found and how old it was and what it was used for.

The last time I saw him was probably 5 years ago and he was having trouble walking, being in his 80's or maybe 90's with a leg injury. This thread reminded me that I should look him up and see if he is still around.

Here is a newspaper article about him: https://tucson.com/news/local/stree...cle_f233d33b-9abc-52b2-99dc-2ff84a7bf73d.html

edit: reading the article I see he was born in 1928 so he would be 96 now if he is still around, and he must have been about 90 when I last saw him.
 
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One of my customers was Major General Sandy Vandenberg, son of General Hoyt Vandenberg whom the air force base was named after. Sandy spent years after retiring with a metal detector all over the Southwest and had floor to ceiling cases of US Calvary items and Native American findings. Even in the garage there were tall cabinets with skinny drawers like map cabinets, all lined with stuff that he found. He read all the books and studied all the battlefields and went to those locations with his metal detector. If you didn't come up with an excuse to leave he would gladly talk about it for hours and he could tell you where each item was found and how old it was and what it was used for.

The last time I saw him was probably 5 years ago and he was having trouble walking, being in his 80's or maybe 90's with a leg injury. This thread reminded me that I should look him up and see if he is still around.

Here is a newspaper article about him: https://tucson.com/news/local/stree...cle_f233d33b-9abc-52b2-99dc-2ff84a7bf73d.html

edit: reading the article I see he was born in 1928 so he would be 96 now if he is still around, and he must have been about 90 when I last saw him.

Thats the kind of guy I could get along with. seems as though he lived a historically rich life and continued living history in his retirement years. I tend to get along better with the older crowd rather than those of my own age.. likely because I understand alot of what they have to say as well as I am also continuously searching for the knowledge they have which you cant just find anywhere online which is becoming lost to time day by day.

The 80 yr old farmer for the land im renting the house on informed me last year they kept hitting a foundation with the plow for years in the field Nextdoor to me. He couldn't remember much about it other than where it was and where they put it after digging it out. Ive never been able to place anything for a homesite when comparing all the maps I can come up with for the area.

Fast forward to yesterday, I had a guy stop and talk when I was detecting and he also informed me he has a old photograph of a old cabin on jacks with horses excavating a basement right in the vicinity if the house im renting but cant place the location himself.

putting 2 and 2 together off old farmer knowledge of the area and a local historian, im now assuming the field next door may have been the location of this undocumented house on a parcel I can date back to 1897 which doesnt indicate anything ever existing there.

these old timers are the kind of people you want to know when your looking for interesting sites to detect.
 
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Todays notable findings.
Indian heads were found this evening in the local farmers field down the road at a long gone homesite & the Wheats I found in the front yard this morning in the same hole all stuck together.

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Site of my Indian head penny findings about 100' off the road on the right.

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Indians as dug. I had to resist the urge to rub the dirt off them in the field. Between the two of them, the value is probably at about $2 at the absolute most.. but they are worth more than that to me. I did the research, took the time & found the history I was looking for. Was a pretty easy site to detect as well, not very many trash metals there. Between the half assed random chirps from the detector I ignore while sweeping the ground, these two were clear loud consistent beeps and only a few inches below the surface.
 
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