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.

Hunting Trashy Parks with the Garrett AT Pro

The reason parks are never hunted out in terms of old coins is that the average metal detectorists does not swing slow, does not use small coil, does not clean out all the junk in the hole, and does not dig deep deep targets. When the average metal detectorists hunt in a real trashy area, they find the display jumping around like crazy as well as being overwhelmed by all the many tones.

Set your AT Pro set on Pro Zero (other detectors in the all metal mode),  iron audio on, notch out 65 and below. Swings slowly to tease out the high tones. Do not rely on the display numbers. Notching out 65 and below will eliminate the display and sounds of  all the pull tabs and foil and other undesirable junk. We are looking for coins, not gold rings.

You should dig out all the trash out of the hole to eventually get just the high tone target.

If you are getting a high tone, there is a high tone target mixed in with junk. You cannot go by the display, since it jumps all over the place. The same goes for the tones, they jump all over the place. This is why you notch out 65 and below, to eliminate some of the distracting noise. If you hear a high tone, there is a high tone target in the hole. Once you think you have removed all the junk, swing your detector back over the hole to see if you are still getting a high tone. A lot of coins are found at the 4-6″ level, but the deeper signals increase your chance of finding a coin since the average park hunter does not dig that deep or clean out the junk. Notice that when you clean out the junk and pass your detector coil back over the hole, the high tone will be a lot crisper. When checking the depth of a target in a hole with junk or other targets, they can throw off the depth indication reading in the display. The AT Pro depth indicator tends to be more accurate on a single target. I rarely look at the depth display, but listen to the relative volume of the high tone.

Go to the park on the weekend and just observer where the people are located. In my park along the river, I see people playing volleyball, families having their picnic lunches at the concrete tables. The most desirable tables are along the river under the trees. The people are wading in the shallow part of the river near the rocky shoals close to the river bank. There is one trail up river where the majority of the fishing takes place and beside that a youth soccer field that is in use on the weekend virtually all day. So these are the areas of the park that I hunt once or twice each week since it is within 5 minutes of my home and I need to take a break from writing and do some swinging.






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.

Old swimming holes and fishing spots on river

I live near the Chattahoochee River in North Atlanta.  I often hunt along the old ferry and bridge sites that I locate through my research using historic aerials and google earth. There are often old paths to favorite old swimming sites and fishing sites. I hunt in the river and  along the banks at these spots. But one spot I always check for is about 10 – 20 feet away from the swimming or fishing site on the river. This is an area that people likely change their clothes for swimming or wading especially in the trees that are over 20-30 years old. I have found some nice old coins in these not so obvious areas. These spots usually give up more than a single coin due to coin spills.

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.

Why serious beach hunters use the best detectors

View Video

You can usually tell the serious beach hunters from the vacation guys by the hardware they are swinging. Look at this video and pay attention to the last part.

A machine like the Minelab Explorer has the best of both worlds. A double D coil and lots of frequencies being used at one time. So if you are within 2 hours from an ocean beach with lots of hotels and condo’s then seriously consider buy a better beach detector. You can find the Minelab Explorer SE used for about $500 on ebay.

Hunting Creeks for coins, jewelry and old bottles

I have found that the two best areas for hunting creeks is where the creek empties out into a river and within walking distance of an old road. The next good place is where a creek goes under an old road. Look at your topo maps as old as you can find and search for these two places. I usually just take my AT Pro, good hiking books, wear jeans, lots of Deet since these areas usually have lots of nasty and annoying bugs. I take my scoop, and use my gloves because of the fishhooks and broken glass that is often in found in these area. I pay particular attention to bedrock areas underwater as well as clay layers covered with sand. My recent best find was a 1938 14K class ring a few months back. Keep your eyes out for intact old bottles buried in the creek bank, they can sometimes be worth more than jewelry and coins. Just look at the ebay sold listings for bottle and arrange the search by high price first.  I always search the banks for exposed bottles and relics. Often the creek bank erosion exposes a bottle dump. When you see broken glass or  a bottle partially exposed in the creek bank dirt it is a good chance you have found a bottle dump.

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.

Where are the metal detecting drones?

www.metaldetectingguides.com – I am waiting for a new Rube Goldberg metal detecting Drone to appear on Youtube. Searched Youtube for videos of such an animal, and really didn’t find anything credible. You take one modern lightweight metal detector and remove the coil and control box from the shaft and mount it under a drone with video and audio. Set it in the all metal mode and go to the edge of a field you want to detect and fly drone up and down the field and listen for non-ferrous tones. When you hear a payoff tone you can jag the coil back and forth to confirm the find. Then land the drone and walk over and start digging. No longer will you have arm and wrist fatigue. Well you may get thumb fatigue from moving the drone controls. There are a number of drones out there that will carry 15 lbs of payload which will more than handle the coil and brains of a modern metal detector. Flight time is limited to about 15 minutes but 2-3 spare batteries charging while you are drone detecting will solve that problem. Oh, yes don’t forget the six pack of beer and the camp chair.  Comments welcome.

Who was Rube Goldberg?