The 15 Phases of Metal Detecting

There are some things that most, if not all Detectorist’s struggle with when starting out in this hobby.  Whether you’re a newbie, or a seasoned vet, I’m sure you’ll relate to a few:

Phase 1:  WANTING
You see some random guy on the beach metal detecting and the daydreaming begins…  I’ve always wanted to do that… I should buy a metal detector…  I could find treasure… I remember when Aunt Millie lost her wedding ring years back and a guy with one of those machines found it for her…

I wonder if they really work? Hey, I think I’ll just go ask him, he doesn’t look too busy, he’s just walking around—I’m sure he won’t mind the interruption… I’ll start the conversation with “If you find a gold ring, I lost it”, I bet he’s never heard that one before…

I’m going to buy a metal detector. The guy on the beach said they really do work. I’m going to be a treasure Hunter!  Wait, I know nothing about them.  Where do I get one? Which one should I get?  How much do they cost?  Will I like it?  What if I don’t like it?  Will people think I’m weird?

I have a metal detector—this is so cool.  Look at all the pictures of treasure on the box! Oh geez, how do I use it this thing?  Where can I use it?  Where should I start?  I want to find treasure.  I want to be like the guy on the beach.  I’ll try it in the yard first.  This is so cool!

This thing is so complicated.  What do all these noises mean?  Are people watching me?  I want to smash it against a tree!  I didn’t know it involved so much digging.  All I’m finding is junk.  I hate pull tabs & nails.  Where is all the treasure it shows on the box?  I think I need some help with this.

I never realized there was so much involved in this hobby.  Thank God for search engines. Numbers, displays, settings, sensitivity, mineralization, ground balancing, conductivity—Facebook & YouTube make it all look so easy.  My new Facebook friend Chump Change Charlie said I should join one of those metal detecting clubs.  Said it was the best advice he could offer.  I don’t know though, I’m kinda stubborn.

Phase 6:  NO ONE CARES
None of my friends or family want to hear about metal detecting anymore.  My wife thinks its silly, and my friends roll their eyes.  When I show them Facebook posts of what people have found they want to know why I haven’t found any of that stuff.  My best finds so far are a Bicentennial quarter, a wheat penny, and a toy ring.  Everyone thinks I’m odd.

I finally gave in, took Chump Change Charlies advice and joined the metal detecting club.  I never knew there were so many people who did this—and they like talking about it too.  Wow, some of these people are really knowledgeable.  I’ve learned a lot and met some really cool people here.  I don’t feel so weird now.

Phase 8:  NEW GEAR
I’ve been stubborn for too long.  Even after my new friend from the club told me my shovel was too big, my holes were too messy, I needed a pinpointer, a finds pouch was necessary, and that wearing camo would make me a better hunter, I resisted.  I finally gave in though, after the recent club hunt when I realized I was the only one dressed in chinos, a turtleneck, and sporting a Fanny pack for my finds.

I retired my obnoxious 15” wide garden shovel and splurged on one of those T-handles, a pinpointer, and some camo.  My new camo pants have lots of pockets, but I’m having difficulty parting with the Fanny pack just yet.

Wow—this t-handle is awesome! Look at my nice, neat hole. How much time did I lose searching in the dirt for a target before I bought this probe?  And FYI, I think the camo pants really do give me the edge…  who knew?

I’m finally finding stuff—cool stuff.  This hobby is awesome.  I can’t wait until this weekend (and next weekend, and the following weekend…).  I wonder if I can sneak in an hour or so on the way home after work.  I can’t stop thinking about detecting.  I’ve had a few near misses with the car already while scanning alongside the road for new sites.  I just keep wondering what I’ll find next. I love metal detecting!

I don’t care what I read in the forums, or what they said at the club—I know better—I’m going to store my freshly dug state copper in my handy little container of water until I get home.  Hey, the ground gets wet, water won’t hurt it.  Oops, I was wrong, but sandpaper & acid will definitely fix that.  Oops, wrong again.  I wonder if electrolysis will work…  nope electrolysis didn’t help, but I’ve been dying to try out my new rock tumbler…

And why shouldn’t I clean my silver coins with steel wool?  Its fine steel wool, fine steel wool won’t hurt. Hmmm that kind of scratched them.  I bet the brass brush on my Dremel will get those scratches out…

Research is key.

Phase 12:  THE RULES
Wow, there are so many unwritten rules in this hobby; Don’t get too close to another detectorist.  Don’t bottom feed on someone else’s hot spot (especially while they’re still hitting it).  Dig a proper hole.  Cover your holes.  Don’t hunt cemeteries.  Don’t hunt historic sites.  Keep a low profile.  Don’t hunt without permission, and most importantly, if someone takes you to a site–Don’t go to that site later without their permission!

Wish I knew about the site rule earlier. They shared it with me, so I just thought it was a free-for-all.  Now I know why Chump Change Charlie suddenly stopped detecting with me.

My friends, family, co-workers and the guy who works at the coffee shop always ask me what I’ve found, but I can tell they’re not really interested in the hobby, they only want to know what my finds are worth.  They just don’t get it.

I get so excited talking about detecting, that sometimes I can’t stop. I know they all think I’m weird, but thank God for group hunts and metal detecting clubs.  At least those folks get it.

I have 8 machines, 4 shovels, 2 diggers, 3 pinpointers, and a basement of buckets full of copper, lead, brass and oxen shoes.  Containers of dirty clad and rusty relics are starting to take over.  My display cases are full, and I’ve got 2 large display cabinets on order.  My wife has finally accepted my hobby as worthwhile, even though she wishes I would hunt the beach more often, because she likes it when I bring home gold.

I can’t believe I’ve been doing this for X amount of years already.   I’ve gone from finding nothing but pull tabs and nails to a bucket list with only a few items left on it.

I’m a walking encyclopedia of local history, and can identify most coins and relics with ease. I can’t remember what I did with my time before I got into this hobby, but I can remember the exact site, and exact spot at that site where I found a sweet Barber quarter nine years ago.

What started out as a whimsical thought on a beach turned into a fantastic hobby filled with good times, good friends, adventure, and treasure of course. It wasn’t the treasure I had envisioned while watching that guy on the beach years ago, it was the treasure of finding something that truly makes me happy, and that’s the most valuable treasure of all.   So what if people think I’m weird.



10 thoughts on “The 15 Phases of Metal Detecting

  1. I remember feeling weird in the beginning and that everyone was looking at me. I got over it quickly but now feel it again when I go to a park. If there are kids I leave because I don’t want to be that weird “old man” with a detector. It bothers me too but it is what it is. Great post Diva and spot on!!

    1. Yeah, I felt like people were looking at me the first few times, but then I started talking to them, and most were really interested. Of course there are those who stare at you because you ARE the weird person metal detecting, and then those folks who think they are the detecting police and question you about the legality. Thankfully they are few and far between. I’ve learned to keep as low a profile as possible so I don’t get bothered much.
      The bonus to people thinking your weird is that they’ll probably stay away from you—especially if you’re wearing camo

  2. Well done, what phase is it that you’re so obsessed that you write articles about it that only other defective units want to read. 6,13

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