Treasure Hunting as an artform


“Fighting with your fear is not less than an adventure and finding yourself is not less than a treasure hunt”
― anamika paliwal

Treasure hunting  is a form of art. It allows people to express their own personal values and belief systems. No two people will look for anything the same way. From love to chestnuts, we all have our own way of looking for things. That’s what makes treasure hunting so interesting and fun, and most of all, rewarding.

Your personality and character will shine through your treasure hunting. Look at the treasure hunters of old. We think of explorers and pirates, chivalry and danger. All with a whole bunch of personality thrown in to make it interesting for those who don’t understand treasure hunting.

There are many forms of treasure hunting. It has become a lot easier since the turn of the century. It used to take a lot of people working together to find treasure. That usually meant trusting people you normally wouldn’t, which has led to many a great story and much lore.

I’ve personally been in treasure hunting situations that led to greed and subsequently pulled me out of my true character. Nowadays we can go treasure hunting all by ourselves, just you, your metal detector and a beautiful day.

The invention of the metal detector has truly changed the way we can go treasure hunting. It only takes a minor investment and a little time to get yourself involved and then addicted. The basic science behind detecting metal is simple and well-tested.

The first metal detectors where very simple, they detected all types of metal. The practical part was that it could pin point where the metal was. This was the value in the machine. It would get you close enough that you could find it with just a little digging on your part.

Roosevelt Silver Dime - Treasure Hunting

Image Courtesy of: Heritage Auction Galleries

That was easy enough, however when you spent most of your afternoon chasing tinfoil and pop tops it could get a little frustrating. About the time you had enough treasure hunting, you would find a nice wheat back penny, or even better, a silver Roosevelt dime. That would keep you going for another hour.

Then there’s the health benefits of the exercise. The walking and bending down and the walking and the bending down and the walking… It really is good exercise. The endless possibility of what might be at the bottom of that hole your digging can keep you interested in hunting treasure for a long while.

There are many techniques to hunting treasure with a metal detector. Most people have their own style. That’s where the art part comes back into treasure hunting. I’ve seen people go in circles and spiral down towards a center, some cut corners and work in a square pattern. I’ve seen people walk in a straight line, or run in a zig-zag. Walk forward or backwards, move to fast, to moving to slow. Again it’s all about personal style and preference while treasure hunting.

My Father had the best technique I ever seen, and I have never tried anything else with as much success. He always walked backwards, moving the search coil from left to right, always keeping himself on a straight path. Overlapping the sweep before by just about half. It worked like a charm. I’ve seen him go behind other hunters and pick up signals they missed.

Another fun and interesting part of treasure hunting is deciding where to hunt. Just when you figure you know all about your hometown, some research into local places will surprise you. I lived in Shawnee, Kansas growing up. A little down the road was what was left of a small town named Holiday. After a little research I found out the reason it was called Holiday. It was named after the Sheriff that was there for a while, Sheriff Doc Holiday.

So never underestimate the benefits of a little historical research to start your treasure hunting. On an easier note, we all know the obvious spots. Local school yards, sports fields, parks, beaches, and sand boxes. Swimming pools are a favorite spot of mine. I’ve some great treasure hunting stories around swimming pools. Old homes are a favorite of mine also.

People spend a lot of time around their yards. Kids are always playing in the yard losing things. We have to remember that a little toy a child lost 50 years ago can be considered a collector’s item today. I’ve got many a thrill digging and partially uncovering a small pistol, digging excitedly faster, only to find it’s a child’s cap pistol. So old homes can reveal all types of treasure.

Metal detectors have gotten a lot easier and lighter to use in the last twenty years. As I stated earlier, pop tops and tin foil could almost ruin a day’s hunting. The invention of the discriminator was a revolution in the treasure hunting industry. The discriminator was just as it sounds, it discriminates metal types.

No longer did you have to know your machine so well that you could tell by the sound it made what metal you where about to dig. The machine does it for you. Set it for only detecting precious metals and you will only get signals for gold and silver. Goodbye copper, nickel, zinc, steel, lead, and so on. This will narrow your treasure hunting finds, however it greatly increases the target value. Again it’s all up to the individual and their preferences, just like art.

Discrimination is the compromise between digging the most good targets and ignoring the most junk targets.

Lets look at how to dig your target. Now that your machine has indicated a good find, how do you get to it. Some new machines will actually indicate how deep the target is. This makes retrieving it a lot easier. There are many tools out there now days. When I first started my Father gave me a screwdriver to probe for the target, an ice pick was deemed to sharp for me.

My Father used an ice pick. He would pull the grass back where the metal detector indicated the target was, then probe with the pick gently, until he would hit something. Then he would slit the grass and dirt open and pop the coin out of the hole. It took a little practice, however it wouldn’t tear the ground up too bad.

Now if the target is large then it’s a whole other process. That’s where a trowel or small garden spade comes into play. Again personal preference plays a major role. What tools are you comfortable using to accomplish your task. Just like any artist.

Treasure hunting with a metal detector is a fun, healthy, and rewarding hobby. It has brought me many hours of enjoyment and relaxation. I’ve even found some treasure. Most of all it has been and continues to be a favorite way of expressing myself.

Good Digging!

  1. Emma Madison
    • John Brunelle
  2. Hans Kollman
    • John Brunelle
  3. Steve Frankel
  4. Cindy Elliot

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