If you talk to any longtime detectorist, you’ll find we all have our dream hunt – a place where, if there were no access issues, we’d head to before any other place to start detecting.
And so, in this article, we’re going to talk about these dream treasure hunts. Namely, we’re going to discuss some of the very best places you can go metal detecting. Not only will we talk practical locations, we’ll also talk about key national and international regions where metal detecting would be most ideal—should you ever be fortunate enough to make the trip.
And if you’re a relative beginner that is looking for a new detector, be sure to check out the interactive table below full of popular detectors currently on the market:
|Bounty Hunter Gold Digger||2.2 lbs.||$||7" Weather Resistant Coil|
|Fisher F5||3 lbs.||$$$||4-Tone Audio ID|
|Bounty Hunter QSI Quick Silver||4 lbs.||$$||8” Waterproof Coil|
|Garrett Ace 400||2.9 lbs.||$$$||8.5 x 11" DD coil|
|Minelab E-TRAC||4.8 lbs.||$$$||Has USB Functionality|
|Garrett AT PRO||3 lbs.||$$$||10.5 Search Coil|
|Pyle PHMD72||4 lbs.||$$||7.8'' inch, Concentric Coil|
|Tesoro Compadre||2.2 lbs.||$$||8" Search Coil|
|White’s Beachhunter 300||5.7 lbs.||$$$||Salt and Freshwater|
|Treasure Cove TC-3050||2.5 lbs.||$$||10” Waterproof Coil|
Prepare for Your Dream Trip
Until the day you get access to your dream spot, you need to build your skills by detecting in all different kinds of conditions – beach, heavy mineralization, streams and woods. Learn the ins and outs of detecting so you’ll be ready to make the most of your dream spot when you finally get to go.
In the meantime, find some great spots locally that you can hunt, or splurge for a weekend get-away to a place a few hours away where you can get some digging time in.
Where Can I Dig?
Finding a great place to detect means going where people once were. Look for old schoolhouses, old town halls sites, and former gathering spots in your town.
One of my favorite places to hunt are old parks – sometimes existing parks are popular spots for detectorists. But not every detectorist is willing to put in the time researching old park sites to find where people of yesteryear congregated. If you can locate a section of land that was a former park, you’ll find a veritable goldmine.
People hung out in parks and they often dropped coins. I’ve been to parks hunting for an hour where I’ve dug out 10 coins. And the good thing about hunting in an old park is that the dates of the coins will be older than they will be in a current park.
Below, feel free to take a look at some of the most popular metal detectors available on Amazon:
Old Houses a Treasure Trove
If you can get your hands on an old property where you can dig, you should jump on it. Old houses have been good to me, especially ones with bigger properties.
Look for a house that was built before 1900 if you can. That ups your chances of finding truly valuable things, like old coins or whole intact bottles that you can keep for your private collection or sell.
If the property you’re hunting on has an old outhouse and you’re willing to put in the effort to dig several feet down, you won’t regret it. You stand to find some old and potentially valuable items.
Digging the Past
If you want to target a specific type of relic, this is where your detective skills come in handy. Make a list of every historic happening that you know went down in your city and start with that.
Or you can tailor your vacation locations to the type of relics you want to find, and put in the research so you have a game plan when you get there.
If you want to find gold nuggets, go to where gold has been found, both in the past and in the present. You’ll need to make sure you have the proper equipment for that type of detecting.
Civil War Detecting
Civil War buffs can tell you exactly where battles were fought. If your dream is to find Civil War artifacts, make sure you do your research.
If you live in Pennsylvania, for instance, was your town a battlefield site during the Civil War? If you live in or around the Gettysburg area, you already know you are in the heart of one of the key battle sites for the Civil War. You may know people who will let you dig on their property, or you may own property yourself.
But you don’t have to be at ground zero of a battle to find Civil War relics. You can read historical accounts to see what path soldiers traveled on their way to battles. You have a chance of finding relics at any point of the path they traveled.
Follow the Circus and the Fair
State fairs and traveling circuses were a big thing throughout U.S. history. It was huge news when a circus came to town and everybody tried to find the money to go. Former circus grounds can give you a great opportunity to find relics of the past.
Crowds gathered in tight quarters both at circuses and state fairs. The sky is the limit as to what you will find, and you stand a great chance of scoring some old targets that have been long forgotten throughout the decades.
If you want some treasure that went down with a specific historic shipwreck, you’re going to have your work cut out for you. People like the late Mel Fisher dedicated their lives to finding specific shipwrecks and sparked an interest in treasure hunting for many people. I was inspired watching news footage and reading articles about Fisher recovering the Spanish shipwreck of the Atocha in 1985. Many of us don’t have the time and resources to spend decades searching for a single treasure, however.
If you don’t care which shipwreck you find artifacts or coins from, go to coastal beaches and start searching. Florida’s Vero Beach region in particular has proven itself time and again as a great spot to look for treasure from shipwrecks.
My Dream Hunt
No doubt on my list, however, would be a trip to Oak Island in Nova Scotia, where there has been a treasure hunt going on for more than 200 years. I first read about the famed so-called Money Pit when I was a kid, and it helped inspire my lifelong fascination with treasure and adventure.
While I don’t know if I’ll ever get my shot at Oak Island, and if I do I will need a good deep search metal detector, I think all detectorists should have a list of hunts, both near and far, that they hope to make a reality one day. You never know when the opportunity will present itself.
I’m a firm believer that people who set goals for themselves stand a much better chance of targeting and achieving what they want out of life.
How to Be a Great Detectorist
There are certain qualities I think many successful detectorists share. By successful, I don’t necessarily mean someone who has gotten rich off the hobby. It can also mean someone who has made a great historical find, or someone who has simply spent a lifetime pursuing a hobby they love.
Here are some of the qualities shared by top detectorists:
- Habitual: If you want to be successful at something, you have to make it a habit. That same theory applies to anything you do in life – budgeting, physical fitness and even metal detecting. If you don’t make it a habit, you lower your odds of success. Yes, we all hear the occasional story about how a newbie goes out on his first hunt and scores a rare historic piece that is worth more than my home. But generally, the ones finding the great pieces are the ones who show up day in and day out.
- Smart: Great detectorists know how to find the information they need. They research the Internet, stop at the library, talk to locals and read old maps so they can find the best hunting sites in their towns and cities.
- Patience: Metal detecting can be a brutal hobby sometimes. You open yourself up to a bit of ribbing from your loved ones who don’t understand, or even pretend to understand, the appeal of detecting. You can go on hunt after hunt without finding anything better than modern coins dropped by people who aren’t any older than you are. But the best detectorists don’t get frustrated. They remain patient knowing they’ll find something worthwhile eventually.
- Passionate: Detectorists who are passionate about history and the discovery process tend to be the most successful because that deep love of detecting keeps bringing them back for more. Detecting becomes more than just a hobby to them. They think about it when they can’t be out there, and yes, sometimes it even invades our dreams.
- Dreamer: I think the best detectorists are dreamers who believe that anything is possible. You have to think every time you go out there that today could be the day you find your jackpot. You have to be able to imagine what lurks just below the surface. When it comes to metal detecting, believing in yourself is half the battle – the other half is putting the time in and simply imagining what you’ll find.
- Boldness: Unless you own a lot of property or don’t mind hunting at picked over public places, you need to have a bit of boldness as a detectorist. To find spots to hunt, you’ll have to ask family members, friends, acquaintances and even strangers if you can hunt on their property. Sometimes you’ll get rejected, sometimes you’ll be allowed. But if you don’t ask, you’ll never gain anything.
- Respect: A good detectorist shows respect, both to others and the land. You show respect for the law and others by heeding regulations regarding trespassing. You never hunt on protected grounds. You fill in all the holes you dig. You try to be a good steward of the land, and you try to help reunite people with their lost property whenever possible.
- Prepared: Detectorists need to know all about different hunting conditions and the type of equipment they’ll need to have success. The best detectorists will often have a variety of machines and accessories for metal detectors they can use for the different hunts they’ll encounter. If they’re gold prospecting, they’ll have a machine that is specifically made for that. If they are doing a beach hunt, they’ll have a detector that can handle salt water conditions. They’ll have all the heavy duty shovels they’ll need, as well as a quality pinpointer to speed up their hunts.
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