FREE Treasure Hunting Tips
Treasure Hunting (Metal
Detecting) is the perfect hobby for RVers.
People loose things, that is a fact.
People scurry around camp and kick up dust, that is a fact. Add some
rain and you have a buried treasure. Being an RVer you have a new
source of treasure at each new location. Once you have acquired the
equipment this is a FREE hobby that makes money.
While searching campsites
I have found wedding rings, class rings, and more rings. I have found
silver dollars from the 1800’s, coins from all over the
planet, and tokens for just about everything. Some of the oldest coins
were found at abandon campsites. Some of the foreign coins are found in
remote fishing spots. Why?
Searching in the water at
beaches I have found the strangest things that people take swimming.
The watch I wear is one I found in the water near a popular swimming
I have enjoyed this RV
life style for over 35 years and during that time have come up with a
lot of tips, hints and advice to pass along. Living the RV life has
changed dramatically over the past 35 years. The basics are still the
same, but boy have the tools and gadgets come a long way.
I have had my Tesoro
metal detector years and still use it on a regular basis. While the
newer metal detectors can tell you all about your treasure before you
begin to dig, my old Tesoro metal detector suits me fine. I have spent
1,000s of hours finding the strangest things as well as nothing at all.
Many of those hours are at campsites or points of interest.
Were ever you find
people, you will find treasure. Here are some hints to help you find
Basic Equipment You Will Need.
don’t need the fanciest
metal detector on the market to find treasure if you have one now, go
ahead and use it. The best metal detector is one that is comfortable to
use; you will be spending thousands of hours using it.
If you are looking for a new one decide
how you are going to use it before start shopping. Many metal detector
have features you will never use so why pay more for them (do you
really need a metal detector that will find a gold nugget the size of a
pinhead?). Do your homework, see what is available and try it out for
size. You will be spending 100s or 1,000s of hours with it so make sure
you are comfortable with it.
Many people purchase a
metal detector and get discouraged with it and give up immediately.
Therefore look on Craig’s list or eBay for a like new used
metal detector. If you have done your homework you know what you want
and what they are worth.
Important: Know how
to use your metal detector.
You can spend days
searching for treasure and not find a thing if you do not know how to
use your metal detector. Read
and Thoroughly Understand the
owner’s manual. Experiment with known objects in different
environments to get the feel of your metal detector. Each outing you
should take reference objects and adjust your metal detector for
maximum efficiency. There is a fine line between trash and treasure and
you don’t want to confuse the two.
Headphones are a must:
Headphones allow you tell the difference between trash and treasure.
Once you are familiar with your equipment you will be able to pinpoint
your target using headphones.
One fine day I was searching a beach
area in a drained reservoir when I noticed two well seasoned searchers
watching me. I thought maybe I was encroaching on their territory.
Eventually they walked over to me and asked why I was waving my trowel
over the metal detector coils. I replied; “To see if the
target is in the trowel”. Their reply;
“Doesn’t that setting off the detector?”
I said; “No I’m using a plastic trowel.”
They looked at each other
like I had just invented sliced bread. I do some gardening and have
known about plastic garden equipment for years. The first thing I
purchase when I bought my Tesoro metal detector was a plastic trowel.
It was obvious to me if you use a metal trowel you would have to dump
out the contents to find any metal object. Waving the plastic trowel
over the metal detector search coils will immediately alert you to any
metal objects in the trowel. This
is a real time saver.
The downside to using a
plastic trowel is that they will wear down faster and need to be
replaced every few YEARS.
Unfortunately not all search areas are
easily dug up with a plastic trowel. Grassy areas and hard packed
surfaces will take more energy and a different tool. I have used a
screwdriver for so many years it can no longer be called a screwdriver.
The idea is to find a
tool you are comfortable with that can get underneath your target
without damaging it. In grassy areas, I insert the probe under the
target and run the probe around the target removing a cone shaped piece
of sod. If done correctly the target should be on the bottom of the sod
and easily removed. Then I replace the sod and move on.
In some cases you may
need to chip away at a hard surface. In this case take your time you
don’t damage your prize.
have found your target you will need a convenient and secure pace to
collect them. There are a lot of lost coins out there and your pants
pockets will fill up quickly. Besides you really don’t want a
pants pocket full of muddy coins, do you? I use a utility belt with two
large pockets in front, a hammer holder and a battery pouch.
One pocket is for the
treasures I collect the other for the trash I collect. I believe that
if I went to the trouble to dig up a bottle cap and have it in my hand
I might as well put in the trash pocket and dump it later. I use the
hammer holder to carry the trowel when not in use. The little handmade
pouch carries an extra battery. There is nothing worse than being miles
away from a fresh battery when you have found pay dirt.
Of course any real
treasure goes in my pants pocket.
Specialized Tools for Unique
Please note: When using any device that
sifts or separates your over burden for your target you will loose
small finds such as studded earrings and some chains.
This is a tool I make from hardware
store odds and ends. It is handy for sandy situations only as it lacks
the cutting edge and leverage needed for more dense material. If you
plan on doing a lot of beach searches a sand sifter will save you
hours. Invest some time in making one of your own or purchase one.
This tool can also be
used in water to a depth of your arm’s reach.
How to make a Sand Sifter
I built this sand sifter from parts
found at my local hardware store. I wandered around the plumbing,
siding and gardening departments until I found this setup. If you take
the same walk through your hardware store you might find a better group
of components. This sifter is made without any metal parts so that I
can wave it over the metal detector search coils to determine if the
target is in the sand sifter before I begin sifting. That saves a lot
of time in the field.
- 4 inch
- 4 inch
debris guard (I’m not
sure what its called)
inch gutter mesh
- 6 inch
fiberglass trowel handle
glue or fiberglass resin
sander for drill or belt sander or
to mix the glue
as many evenly spaced hole in the
“T” joint as you can. Spacing is not critical and
we’re not trying to win any contests. I have about 40 holes
the hack saw remove the base of
the “T” so it looks like a splice joint (see
the ends of the handle to the
contour of the “T” using a drum sander or sand
paper to make a strong glue joint. To make the glue joint stronger, I
used fiberglass cloth to even out any irregularities in the fit; any
cloth will do the same.
two pieces of fiberglass joint
cloth if used.
your epoxy or fiberglass resin.
the debris guard with the gutter
mesh and insert it into one end of the “T” with a
dab of glue.
the handle to the modified
“T” using epoxy glue or fiberglass resin and your
the glue set before handling.
the scooping edge using a belt
sander or sand paper. This will make it easier to dig. This edge will
need to be sharpened from time to time.
Floating Wire Basket
Each year In Oregon the Army Corps of
Engineers drain the reservoirs to prepare for the upcoming rains and
spring snow melt. That gives the treasure hunter easy access to the
swimming areas. As you can imagine the completion for the treasure is
fierce. Each morning you will find searchers chest high in the water
determined to be the first to search the new depth limit. This search
method requires specialized equipment and techniques.
I have used this searched
method for several years and it is very productive even if you are not
there at first light. The things that people take into the water with
them will astound you.
If dropped on land these
items would be easily noticed and retrieved, but in water they are lost
for you to find.
One year I designed and
built a floating sieve which worked very well for me. I do not use that
search method any longer and lack storage space in my 5th wheel;
therefore I can not provide you with photos. A diagram will have to
suffice. The technique is to locate the target with the metal detector,
scoop it up in a small shovel, empty the contents in to the wire basket
and let the water wash away and debris. Because you can’t be
certain you retrieved the target you must recheck the area with your
metal detector before moving on. In sandy areas your prize will be
apparent almost immediately, but in clay or mud some work will be
necessary to wash away the debris.
I found that tying a
tether (a bit longer than the water’s depth) from the shovel
to the basket works well. You can let go of both and the shovel anchors
the float and the float marks the shovel’s location. I also
tie the metal detector to my arm so I can use both hands without
dropping the detector in the water.
Add chest waders and warm
clothes and you are all set for an adventure.
to make a Floating Wire Basket View Image
fabric (wire mesh) ½
inch (or smaller if desired)
cage building clips
snips, wire cutter or heavy duty
tool or pliers
buy purchasing a wheelbarrow tire
the inner tube until it is
taught but not over inflated.
the inner circumference of the
inner tube for the wire mesh. The basket should extend 8” to
10” beneath the inner tube when attached to the thickest
portion of the “doughnut“.
wire mesh (or metal fabric) for the cylinder portion of the basket and
the bottom. Purchase more than you need as you will use addition
material in the construction.
the cylinder overlapping mesh
a minimum of 2 squares. I used clips designed for building wire cages
and a crimping tool.
the bottom about 1 square larger
than the basket (all the way around) and fold the excess up at a 90
the bottom INTO the basket and
secure it with clips. Inserting the bottom into the basket reduces the
number of exposed sharp edges.
safety purposes and to protect the
inner tube and waders, smooth all sharp edges with a file.
the basket to the tube
using 4 or more pieces of nylon cord. The cord should wrap around the
top square of the basket (2 horizontal wires) and the tube. If you
allow the basket to protrude above the thickest portion of the
“doughnut” debris will collect between the basket
and the inner tube.
another cord to the inner tube for
a tether and you are ready to go treasure hunting.
to Search [Top]
The first thing to
remember is that you are not the first treasure hunter to look in the
obvious locations. Yes you will find something but usually recently
lost items. I use to methods.
The first is just fooling
around camp picking up a few coins and an occasional ring.
The second is serious
business searching a remote swimming hole, abandoned homestead, logging
camp or hunting shack.
the obvious areas around fire
rings, picnic tables, gravel parking areas and tent locations.
first thing a tent camper does is
to sweep the ground pitching the tent. Be sure to check the perimeter
of any tent site.
for trees that would make a great
clothesline. People in a hurry to shed wet clothes don’t
empty their pockets.
of the current campgrounds have
been relocate a short distance from the original site. Look for
clearings, flat areas, nearby hill tops and areas that the USFS may
have found unsuitable for today’s use. That’s where
the older coins are.
for remote sites accessible only
by boat or long hikes. These sites are not frequented by casual hobby
treasure hunters (remember spare batteries).
be afraid to get wet.
Campers select campsites by the water so they can swim or cool off.
That’s how jewelry gets lost.
trails along lakes and rivers.
Stop and check near the fishing holes.
My metal detector equipment is
permanently located behind the seat of my pickup truck. When traveling
the backcountry unexpected treasure hunting opportunities always arise.
very interesting. Years ago it was common to dump trash out a window so
the sites are very trashy but with interesting stuff. Old coins are
hard to come. You will need a lot of time and sift through a lot of
trash, by but worth the effort if you collect older coins.
Fire rings are
everywhere. Hunters use the same location for generations. These remote
campsites are another good source for older coins. They can be trashy
and expect to find a lot of shell casings.
Fundraisers are a
source. Churches and other groups have fundraisers with vendor booths.
Any time you have an area where money is exchanged you have a source of
lost coins. After one October fest event I found a cluster of small
rings. Obviously the location of a jeweler’s booth. Also
other rings were found in the eating areas. Some where quite deep and
had been there for years.
So in your travels treat
your self to BBQ at a fundraiser and return the next day to search the
grounds. Ask for permission first. Tell them you will be digging but
will replace the sod as you go.