Great place to metal detect at playgrounds

Instructions for the Newbie Metal Detectorist (A shortcut to success!)

So, you’ve got your machine and a shovel.  Time to Dig!!! Hopefully you found this article searching how to get better treasure hunting with your metal detector.  Let Me Help!

First, I suggest hanging out with someone with a little bit of experience.  I recommend doing a search on Facebook or the web and find a club.  You’ll learn a lot more, a lot quicker, from other club members then you would by yourself! You will also find new friends, share your finds, and get support for the hobby. https://www.facebook.com/

How to Get Permission to Metal Detect on Private Land
How to Get Permission to Metal Detect on Private Land

For some people, it’s easier to hunt with a group than by yourself. If you’re looking for someone to pair up with most clubs will let you come as a guest. Visit several to find the right one for you. You can even join more than one if you want to. Check out this article ->The Best Metal Detecting Forums on the Web.

Starting Out Finding Trash and Treasure

Valuable finds are what make this hobby exciting.  Even now after years of metal detecting I still feel like I’m winning the lottery when my detector chirps.  If every time you go out, all you find is a few pennies or just trash, more than likely, your detector is going to wind up in a closet gathering dust!

You will find treasures if you’re really looking. But don’t expect to find good stuff only, you will find lots of TRASH! There’s just no way to get around it.

When we come back from a day of detecting, probably 60 to 80% of what we have found goes right back into the trash can. However, a lot of what you find depends on where you go and how much you know about your detector.

Buying the Best Detector

All of us probably want to have the best metal detector, but many simply can’t afford it, or is just starting out in the hobby, and doesn’t want to spend the bucks to get the best. Of course, having the deepest machine will give you an edge over other hunters, but from our own experience, it’s not that important! And how’s that, you ask?

Metal Detecting Tip: Wireless headphones and a GOOD pin pointer were game changers for me.  Check out what KellyCo has to offer with this link to Pin Pointers at Kellyco

The answer is simple, by doing research and studying your local history, you will find spots that others have never hit, and most likely, the targets are only a few inches under your coil. Then once you get used to telling your signals apart, you’ll be able to graduate more trashy areas that most detectorists bypass because they don’t have the patience to deal with it.

PLUS, if you learn great techniques and how to setup your machine, you’ll find what other detectorist miss.  To important metal detecting settings are Sensitivity and Frequency.

Dig Everything – It’s Practice in the Beginning

The best place to use your first metal detector is on a beach, and just dig everything till you learn the different types of signals. Most detectors are built with some discrimination that helps you bypass most objects like nails, foil, pull tabs, etc. But the more you discriminate, the less depth you going to have. For example, if you discriminate against pull tabs, you’ll miss the nickels or small gold rings. So be careful with it!

Don’t start in an area that is so overloaded with signals it drives you crazy. Take our advice and practice on a beach or field, or even better, your own backyard.

Create a Metal Detecting Test Patch

Take an area free of any targets and bury some coins and trash at different depths. Scan this area for a few minutes prior to going out to make sure your batteries are good and your detector is working properly, and to get a feel for what a coin hit feels like.

Nothing beats knowing you are digging a coin before you break the ground! Another advantage of warming up is that you can’t say you didn’t find anything!

Search PROVEN Areas – Silly?

If you know of someplace that has been well hunted or overhunted, try detecting it after a big rain when the ground is soaked. The wet ground has more conductivity, and you may find deeper stuff. Also, after a hard winter, the ground shifts after it thaws, so there are now targets where there wasn’t any last year when you detected there. Go back and check your old turf again.

Metal Detecting Tip: Re-dig and scan every hole.  So many times, I would have missed another coin if I’d have skipped this. Coins seem to gather…Lets have them gather in your pocket!

Every year I start the season with scanning a local beach.  I’ve searched now over 20 times, why do I keep going back?  I’m nearly guaranteed to find some coins at a spot where folks drop items going down a set of stairs.  It’s like a little money machine.  The best part – it gets me back in the “zone”.  Slow methodic sweeping, strategic digging and overlapping sweeps.

I love old driveways that are no longer visible from above ground. Image your car is bouncing around, and that change in your pocket bounces out.  You hop out of the car and – GONE!  A metal detecting paradise!   You can identify old driveways because the ground will be very hard about 1 to 2″ deep.  Plus it will have a concentration of small rocks in it.

Metal Detecting By Old Driveways
Metal Detecting By Old Driveways

Old driveways hold great targets very shallow as they cannot sink. Once you think you have found one, survey the entire thing with a screwdriver or your shovel to get an idea of how the whole thing is laid out, and hunt it all on low sensitivity. Silver coins and jewelry is common along with lots of odd stuff like an old knife.

Be Over the Top Respectful of Others

Always cover your holes even on the beaches, so people that are walking or jogging don’t twist their ankle, because they rarely look where they’re going! Always take the trash you dig up with you. A lot of times we get home and go through our trash, and discover things we thought was junk and it wasn’t.

Metal Detecting Tip:  I wrote a great article on how to get permission to metal detect on private property. <-LINK I included a couple secrets for getting on great land.

Greet folks when they approach you.  Many times, now I’ve gotten invited to some old private property to help search for a lost ring.  Good deeds begot good deeds!

Love Nosey People

Let’s face it… metal detectorists get a lot of attention! It’s rare that you’ll be going to a place where nobody else is around. The best thing to do, when you get to a site, is to start detecting at the far end, away from the crowd. Then once people have noticed you, watched for a while, and noticed how far away you’re detecting, they’ll go back to their own business, and forget about you. In other words, they’ll get use to you.

Once that happens, you can edge your way closer to a crowd or to a better area. Some may even edge their way over to you, just to chat.

If you don’t want to be bothered with nosey people, try starting your day early, or later after the crowds thin out, or when it’s raining. I’ve even metal detect at night a couple times a year.

Ever notice that aluminum cans give the same signal as a coin? When you pinpoint it, it says 1.5 inches, you kick away 2.0 inches of sand and it still beeps in the hole. Common sense come into play here…it is not a coin.

Metal Detecting Tip: Want to learn more about setting up your metal detector? Check out this article -> Best All-Round Metal Detector Setup

The question is, do you dig up the can and discard it, or do you refill the hole and leave it because your trash pouch is already full? Listen, take extra plastic bags and fill it up.  I was stopped by a park ranger on the way out of a state park once.  I showed him the bag I picked up, guess what happened next?

The ranger pointed me to an old abandoned homestead that few folks knew about.  I thanked him and my next outing on that homestead yielded a table full of amazing items.

Metal Detector Setup
Metal Detector Setup

Researching New Places to Metal Detect

Research your area.  There are lots of ways of finding new spots. You don’t even have to go to the library. This crazy thing called the internet has opened the doors to so many more places. 

A favorite way I research is to google “History of …” your state, province or town and see what comes up. A little bit of reading, and you’re on the way to some new spots.

Metal Detecting Tip: When you hunt beaches and water, you should turn the discrimination off and hunt all metals because the gold ring-to-pull tab ratio is much higher on beaches than in parks. And sand is a lot easier to dig than hard-packed ground.

Another way is to find some old pictures or postcards. Most old postcards have a picture of a significant place, like parks, casinos, important buildings and beaches.

Look for old fairgrounds, old swimming holes and a favorite is where ever canoe liveries end trips.  Folks drinking combined with canoes means money to me!

Old Fashion Library Research

This is by far our favorite way of research. Usually, the reference desk folks have a wealth of local knowledge.  Old maps describing roads long abandoned and where there’s a road, you’ll find houses.  The fun part is digging around and discovering an old map describing the area.  Then doing “recon” by driving by.


If you’d like more articles about metal detecting check out the links below.


David Humphries, Writer and Creator of METAL DETECTING TIPS. After borrowing my son’s detector and finding $.25. I felt like a treasure hunter. FREE MONEY! I was seriously bitten by the metal detecting bug.

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