Guest Post: Why do we do this?


It’s funny really, the multitude of reasons why a person would spend the time we do in the field swinging a coil back and forth looking for buried metal items. Some of the reasons don’t seem justifiable but rather personal. Some of the reasons are perfectly understandable and rooted in childhood fantasies of finding buried treasure and sadly some of the reasons seem based upon personality flaws that cause us to do a LOT of things in our lives. But before I go on, let me start at the beginning for me with a brief explaination of who I am and why "I" do this!!

For the last 3-4 years my son and I have played a LOT of catch with a baseball as he plays travel ball and always wants to throw. This means my vehicle is usually loaded with gear and there’s always gloves and balls on hand. Many times while driving to and fro we have stopped at various park and athletic fields for a few minutes of catch and many of those times we ran accross someone who was using a metal detector. The first few times we watched quietly, not wanting to bother the person, but noticed the intense focus and methodical approach they used. We would try and see what they were doing every time they knelt down to dig. Finally (against my son’s wishes) I got up the nerve to approach a few of these people and talk. Walking up slowly as to not surprise them (why were they wearing those big headphones I thought?) I struck up a conversation and twice even had them show me their finds. Lots of change…car keys…SILVER coins!!…and pulltabs and screwcaps.. I was intrigued to say the least, as was my son. Later my son and I talked about it and both decided it looked like a cool thing to kill some time doing.

Fast forward to the Christmas of 2005, just over a year ago. I reached for a fairly large wrapped gift from my son, wondering what it was he spent his hard earned money on…tore off the paper and saw a Bounty Hunter Fast Tracker detector!!. I didn’t know WHAT to say as it was a great gift choice!! Since we had no snow cover at that time, I actually was trying it out in my backyard that evening and quickly socred my first few coins, one of them a Wheat cent. I was hooked!!

It was a mild winter that year leading into my first season detecting. I started researching the hobby in general and found several websites where experienced detectorists posted their finds and was AMAZED at the tiems found! Gold jewelry, old silver coins, older copper and bronze coins, historical artifacts, the list is never ending. I KNEW that if I applied myself like I did bass fishing (another hobby I enjoy and have done very well at) that my turn at finding great stuff was around the corner. I went out detecting as much as possible that first spring and soon wanted a better machine. I ended up buying a Garrett ACE250 based upon it’s low cost and great reputation as providing higher end features in a lightweight affordable package. I handed down the Bounty Hunter to my son and now he joins me in a lot of hunts and has already found his first dozen silver coins too. As I became more familiar with the ACE250 and started looking for better (older) places to hunt both the quantity and quality of my finds jumped accordingly. I began posting my finds because I wanted to share my excitement and found out lots of other folks enjoy reading a well-written post. As I chatted and talked with an ever-increasing number of experienced people I began to be invited to hunt alongside them, but always backed down. I’m not sure WHY I wanted to still go solo, but I still wasn’t over the "image" thing of being seen detecting and thought being seen doing this with others would be even more embarrasing.

One day I talked to a fellow detetcorist who lived in my area who hunted with his 16 yr old son and this guy seemed different. Less "boastfull"…less cocky and very down to Earth. We agreed to meet and hunt and as it turned out I really like the way he worked. He not only showed me some nice spots to hunt, he showed me a lot about humility and respect for the hobby. His son and he were also coin collectors already and soon I was learning more about the coins I was finding…mint marks, minted quantities and how these things affected a coins rarity and value.

Around this time I increased the amount of time I detected yet again as well as time spent researching older areas where the odds were better of finding nice coins. My new friend Bob also showed me a LOT about taking better pictures of my finds to include in my online posts. As I posted more finds I began to get a LOT of positive feedback from other online metal detecting website users that said they really appreciated reading a well written post with clear and well-composed pictures so that fueled me to do better and tell more of the story when I posted. And that’s when it hit me WHY some people’s internet posts are an asset to this hobby and others a detriment!

Why do YOU spend all this time doing this?? And then spend MORE vaulable time posting your finds(if you do post them)?? If you are commenting on other people’s posts where they post their finds, WHY would you ever be anything but positive and supportive?

Is it to try and get rich? (not likely in actuality)

Is it to show off and feel superior? (feeding one’s ego is fun, but short lived, like any addiction)

The above two reasons I feel are the wrong two reasons and yet they seem to be the focus of some people who are firmly entrenched in this hobby. I feel it should be more about the following:

Do you do this to LEARN more? (both through comparing finds and locations through your posted finds)

Do you do this to share in the excitement of the find? (I think this is the number one most valiant, ego-free reason to go public with your finds)

Everyone who enjoys this hobby enjoys it for their own personal reasons and perhaps you the reader haven’t even really taken a moment to examine your own motivating factors. Maybe you have, and are happy with what you come up with as yours. As we become more experienced as detectorists we may go through progressions as far as our personal or yearly goals concerning what we find and how that may be predicated by where and how we hunt.

At first it’s ANY coins (clad-happy!)

Then we taste our first silver and want more of that shiny reeded edge!

Then we break the 1800s barrier and all we want is an Indian Head cent or a Seated coin.

Then we may find a Colonial Era coin or artifact and WHAM…there’s no turning back. Our goals change as our experience level change but one that that should remain constant is the WHY….WHY we are doing it. Your goals may be pre-decided by the limiting factors in the age of the areas available for you to hunt. I know some folks from PA and NY and NJ who routinely find old coppers and right now THOSE finds are fueling for me a drive to find my first Large Cent. Thing is, while there were heavily populated areas in those states with people dropping coins, a lot of the area around me (NE Ohio) was unpopulated outside of Native Americans. I now spend lots of time looking for cellar holes and other spots that date back before the 1850s in my quest for large copper coins (I DID stumble upon a 1792 Irish Half Penny token this year!)

Whatever your reasons, keep the coil to the soil, your plugs small and keep your ego in check. This helps us all in the end.

HH all!!

Author: Dan Byers
46 yrs old N.E. Ohio area Started detecting Dec. ’05 Use ACE250 with all 3 coils Personal detecting goals for 2007: Barber or Seated quarter, Large cent(s)

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No Responses to “Guest Post: Why do we do this?”

  • Mia250 Says:

    Very cool article. You’ve had some amazing finds pictured there. I use Ace250 too!

  • Bob Says:

    Dan, nicely written. Thanks for the compliments. I have learned a good bit from you. Like never to take a break cause you are guarenteed to find a sweet coin the moment I sit down!

  • TBGO Says:

    A great article and a great topic. We certainly see a lot of different personalities on these forums and it does someone a lot of good to analyze their motivations. Hunting for the wrong reasons can burn you out or result in disappointment. Thanks Dan.

  • doyboy Says:

    Way to go, Daniel!

  • Amy Says:

    Were the finds in the first picture found in the same hole or hunt? Truly amazing. I would love to find a Walker half someday. WTG.

  • Dan Byers Says:

    The finds in the first pictures shown were found in the same afternoon, but not in the same hole. In just my first year detecting I found 5 Walker halfs and 1 Franklin half and even one clad Kennedy half!

    Keep at it and do your homework. Look for places lots of people used to congregate but don’t anymore. Look for history records concerning where inter-city railways used to be (a lot of them electric). Near the terminals were a lot of picnic groves and such. A lot of these were abandoned after the advent of modern cars and paved roads.
    Lots of history out there in the ground waiting to be dug!

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