Here today, gone tomorrow.

I found a 1940’s hold home that became vacant due to new construction of a park area. Three weeks went by until I could find the perfect Saturday morning.for the hunt.  The night before I imagined or dreamed of the silver lurking beneath the surface.  I get up at dawn, have some coffee and then head out to search the site. Only to find they had leveled the home and moved in about 3 feet of dirt to landscape for the new park. Ugh! The day before I drove by and the house was still there and the soil untouched. So next time I spot a home that is the target of new construction, I will hunt it ASAP.

 

Getting Skunked

I have been metal detecting since the mid 1980’s. Started first with the Fisher Gold Bug and the Garrett Coin Hunter.  We always did pretty good with the Fisher gold bug up in the hills and gold bearing streams. Took a few years off  from metal detecting and then got back into the hobby and learned some more about metal detecting.  But it wasn’t until about 10 years ago when I started really learning this great hobby. Spent much more time hunting and researching for sites and learning from others.

So I consider myself an adequate metal detectorists. If the target is there, and even in a junky park I will find it. Why? Because I have put in the hours learning from hunting in very trashy parks. Once you learn in this environment other areas like home sites and beaches are not so hard.

I used to complain about the junky park near home. The areas around the concrete picnic tables were loaded with foil, pop tops, bobby pins and bottle caps at all depth. This was a rather old and very popular park on the weekend. So it is getting loaded down with even more trash every weekend and yes even with some dropped coins. A good friend who is more experienced than I am, told me to look at it another way. He said, “You have the best training area for metal detecting within 1/2 mile of your house. You are pulling targets out among all that junk. You should be able to hunt anywhere and be successful.

So that brings me up to the times when you get skunked and don’t find silver. If you can reliably pull clad out at 4-6 inches hidden under, near or even above junk targets, you can pull silver coins out from the same areas. But with one qualifier. The silver has to be there. Yes I do get skunked and find no silver. Some days I even get doubled skunked and don’t even find clad. Not getting double skunked is somewhat rare for me, but it happens when you are hunting an area that has no clad or silver. This is the time to move on to another hunt site. Even when you get skunked, you have spent the day outdoor away from your work, so what is so wrong with that?

Old Home Sites – Dig that Iron

When first arrive at an old home site start looking for iron nails. this will give you an idea of the age of the home site. Also searching for iron will often reveal old hinges, locks, keys etc. When you start finding this stuff, you should start intensifying your deep coin hunting efforts.

 

Old home sites in the woods

Finding old home sites in the woods is a good source for relics and old coins. You should do your rainy day research using Historic Aerials and Google Earth. Mark your home site GPS locations and plan your trip and hike before you go trekking through the woods with your gear. If possible plan your hunt after a good soaking rain. This will give you a few inches of extra detecting depth. It is a good idea to take your larger stock coil, but in your back pack also have your 5 x 8″ or other small coil. Sometimes you will encounter a lot of overgrowth of trees and vines right in the area of the home site where you want to search. In that case it is time to switch to your smaller coil. You should have a good stainless steel digging tool like a Lesche Pro Series or Ground Shark. You will often be digging among roots and rocks.

On your hike to the home sites keep an eye out for home site markers. This is because you can stumble on other old home sites that you may have missed with your research on the way to your target home site.

These are fence posts, old farm equipment, beds of flowers especially daffodils. Cedar trees and yucca plants that stand out among all of the deciduous trees. These are often  planted, not natural to the area.  Look for foundation rocks that are often laid out in a square or 2 or 3 of them in a row. Most home sites are located near water, most often a creek with clear running water. When you find old sawed or square wood that is often a sign of human habitation. Locating squared nails is a good sign as with other relics like belt and harness buckles.  Always eyes peeled for signs of a bottle dump. Old embossed bottles can often be more valuable than silver coins. Unbroken bottles really don’t deteriorate. Old coins found buried especially copper ones are often corroded to the point they are not valuable to the coin collector. Silver coins fare much better when lost in the dirt for 40 – 50 years.

Once you locate your home site, you should do a slow and careful search of the area. If you find relics and no coins you may just save this home site for another day. Some times old home sites in the woods are either hunted, or maybe were homes of people who did not have a lot of coins or was very careful with them and were not in the habit of losing them. Also keep in mind that deep coins will give you an iffy numbers on your VDI and rarely give you a solid coin tone. The minerals in the soil and junk will rarely give you a clean tone on a coin like in your air tests.

In this video there are almost all of the indicators that I described, but the guy did not find any coins. This can happen, but remember he did have fun and got a lot of exercise out in the beautiful outdoors without paying a gym membership fee.

 

Revisit the sites you hunted six months ago

If you are continuously learning about metal detecting and your meta detector then use your new skills on sites you have hunted in the past. I have found that when I have perfected a new skill like hunting deep coins, I go back to some of the sites I hunted before I picked up these new skills and put them to use. You will be surprised at some finds you overlooked in the past because you were early on your metal detecting learning curve.

Image is of metal detector used in WW1.

Hidden keys to finding old home sites

One of the best  indicators of old home sites are big old oak trees with an open space.  In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s people located home sites based on large oak trees. This is because there were nature’s natural air conditioners and heaters. In the summer the oak had leaves and shaded the home and front porch keeping it cool. In the Winter the oak trees lost their leaves and allowed the winter sun through to heat the home.

I have developed a second sight where when driving around I just notice big oak trees on empty lots. Nine times out of ten when I use historicaerials.com to go back in time on the old topo maps, I find that there was indeed an home at this location.  You would be surprised that even in the suburban area of a major city like Atlanta you can find quite a few old home sites just by looking at the large trees on empty lots. This one in the picture was confirmed using historic aerials and also finding beds of daffodils and several peach trees which both items are planted and do not grow wild.

Metal Detecting Hazards – snakes, spiders, wasps, yellow jackets and poisonous plants

We often forget that when we go metal detecting whether in the woods or even in seemingly safe neighborhoods we are at the mercy of poisonous snakes, venomous spiders, wasps and yellow jackets and the ever present tick which can cause lime disease. And then there is poison ivy, sumac and ok to worry about.

 

I always spray on insect repellant that contains 25% deet around my boots, feet and ankle areas and any other areas of exposed skin. More than  once I have forgotten to spary and found some ticks up in my groin area where they seem to particularly fond of. My dermatologists told me you must get a shot when you find a tick on your body to prevent lime disease. Good advice is don’t stick your hand anywhere you cannot clearly see. Don’t put them in holes (your dug holes are ok), under boards, in rock nooks. You may surprise a snake or spider and they may do more than surprise you. Using good gloves is a good practice. I once was digging a hole and felt a sharp bite and it was a spider in the ground. It got my finger but other than the brief pain, not harm was done. I was lucky that time. I always wear good gloves at all times when digging for finds.  In the south we have to be especially careful of yellow jacket nests. They have a tendency for all of them attack a person or animal when you are near their nest. I have experienced this three times in my life (all when just wearing shorts and tee shirts) and found it to be very painful. Had to take some Benadryl capsules to lessen the pain. When you see more than one yellow jacket flying near you, be aware that you might be close to their nest. Avoid that area at all costs. Save that area to hunt in the dead of the winter. If you get bit by a snake and don’t recognize it as a poisonous snake, then look at the bleeding holes. Water moccasins, rattle snakes and copperheads have fangs and will leave two evenly spaced puncture marks. You need to seek treatment ASAP! Non-poisonous snakes leave small multiple puncture marks with their many teeth, not just two fang marks. Be aware of lakes, rivers and creeks, they are the favored by the snakes because of the fish and frog they eat as food. The non-poisonous snakes have a chemical in their mouths that make you bleed more. This is really nothing to worry about. In the south you don’t have to worry as much about these hazards during the late fall and winter. But come spring and summer you have to very much aware of these dangers when metal detecting. So be aware and be safe in your metal detecting hunts.

Metal detecting remote home sites

Some of your best old abandoned homes and home sites are found in the woods requiring a mile or two hike in to the site from your car. One reason they are the best sites to hunt, most detectorists won’t do the research or make the hike. So do your research with historic aerials and google earth and prepare for your hunt. These longer treks require you to be more prepared. When hiking in and out you may come across some different type of hunting areas. You might find that the home has an interesting but real trashy area or some tight areas between rocks in a creek. Here is what I do. I take a back pack that has my small 5×8″ coil, extra batteries for my AT Pro and pin pointer. I always take my cell phone and use commander compass app to mark the home site GPS coordinates on a aerial map picture of the home site for reference. I also pack my bug spray with 25% deet, some snacks and 2-3 bottles of water. Of course take my gloves, pin pointer and my 4′ digging tool. It is better to be prepared than to have left something important back home or in the car. Oh yes, I always use a check list and check it before I leave the home and leave the car to start the hike.

Getting permission to hunt a property

Taken from metaldetectingguides.com – For a number of reasons, getting permission to hunt a property was always difficult for me. Many experienced metal detectorists will tell you to just go up and knock on the door and ask for permission to hunt a property. They can only tell you no and they probably won’t shoot you. Others have suggested that the younger and older property owners seem to give permission to search more often than middle aged property owners. I found a relative new and painless way to get hunting permissions on some choice old homes nearby. This is with posting a short note in nextdoor web page. This is a new local neighborhood discussion group that seems very active. Every month or so I post a notice that I am retired and enjoy metal detecting as a hobby and am willing to search any older home property for free and will share my finds with the owner. This almost always brings in 1-3 offers to search some homes built between 1900 and 1970 that have never been searched. Note: nextdoor web page is kind of exclusive since you must prove you live in the area by submitting a copy of one of your utility bills or be recommended by a neighbor. This keeps the web site under control and not out of control like craigslist. It is a trusted web site for this reason by neighbors. “There comes a time in every rightly constructed boy’s life that he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure.” – Mark Twain.