Hobbyist metal detectorists “King George” Wyant and his buddy Tim “The Ringmaster” Saylor travel the country looking for lost relics of history on ‘Diggers.’ They understand that every item has a story to tell, and are on a quest to unearth history that would otherwise be forgotten.
A Word From the Diggers, KG and Ringy:
Treasure hunting is a great recreational sport that should be enjoyed by anyone that wishes to participate. It should make you feel like a kid again— like you are on that clichéd quest for buried pirate treasure. The detecting experience should be shared by friends, talked about, and laughed about. In doing so, respecting private property and obtaining permission will go a long way to keeping sites open for detectorists.
Why We Hunt for Treasure
As you know, we all hunt treasure relentlessly and with great passion, and although we have assembled what some would consider awesome piles of coins and artifacts, the truth is that after a lifetime of treasure hunting, the cost of equipment, gas, food, and other expenses outweighs the true value of the objects by a landslide. In other words, we are not in this hobby to make a living off of the objects we dig up, and they couldn’t, even if that was indeed our goal.
We got into this game because we enjoy the thrill of the hunt and the tangible history that comes with digging up, say, a well-worn 1897 Barber dime. While worth next to nothing and easily obtainable at the coin shop for a few bucks, it is precious and incredible to us, because we can hold it in our hands, feel the smoothness of the coin, and imagine who might have lost it and why. Sometimes it’s the small, insignificant find that can be the spark to ignite a lifetime of passion for history, collecting, and learning. Not to mention, being outdoors with friends and family, exercise, fresh air, and being away from the TV for a while is good too.
So with that in mind, here are some tips to keep metal detecting a positive and enjoyable hobby:
1. Get Permission Before You Hunt
Always ask the landowner or homeowner before you hunt a site. This should really go without saying: Trespassing is illegal. If you don’t get permission, you are breaking the law. Note that state and federal lands are usually off limits, as well as national monuments. Some city parks and public beaches are open to detectorists, but you need to check for possible restrictions before hunting on any particular public site.
2. Fill in Your Holes / Clean up After Yourself
Every site is unique. The terrain can vary from loose sand to rocks, yards, lawns, fields, beaches, etc. Landowners are also unique. Some don’t care if you if you dig trenches, while others have meticulously groomed lawns that they don’t want disturbed. No matter where you hunt, go into the site planning to leave it looking better than when you arrived. Take your dug trash, as well as any other trash you encounter with you (whether it’s yours or not). Note that there are many ways to dig an object from the ground. If it’s shallow enough, you can pop it out without even digging a traditional plug. In rocky, dirt fields, you often can’t dig a neat, traditional plug, so you need to adapt to the terrain the best you can.
3. Return Lost Items
If you run across tools, keys, or personal objects specifically lost by the landowner, be sure to return them. Before you hunt, ask them if there is anything they might have lost that you could help them find. It’s just one more way to be helpful to your neighbors, and you will likely be invited back with such behavior.
4. Get Rich Quick Myth
No matter what you have heard, hobby metal detecting is not a sensible “get rich quick scheme” any more than buying a lottery ticket is a sensible retirement plan. By the time you add your gas, food, time, batteries, and other expenses, you will almost always lose money on a day’s hunt, even if you find something interesting or “semi-valuable”. While it is wonderful to find silver and gold, you are bound to be disappointed if you are not out there for reasons beyond financial success. Team ATC rarely sells or trades anything we find, so we are obviously in this for the love of history, adventure, and the general idea of having fun with friends. If we were in it purely for profit, it would make much more sense to go to the coin store and just buy coins as an investment.
5. Archaeological and National Historic Sites
Archaeological dig sites should be left alone. Plain and simple. While most of us have absolutely no interest in intruding on such sites, looting national monuments, or raiding tombs, it’s still worth noting. These sites have been determined to be of particular historical significance, and should be left to professional archaeologists to study. This includes our national monuments and other highly important and/or ancient sites. While extremely unlikely, there is always a chance that you could stumble onto a potentially significant or important burial site or find. If you run into anything you believe is of serious historical importance, please contact the proper authorities so they can determine how best to handle the site. Many hobbyists have made incredible finds that have contributed to our historical knowledge base. And while there are many differing opinions on what should and should not be considered off limits to hobby detectorists, ranging from nothing to everything, please respect the current laws and sites. Only detect where you have obtained permission to hunt. This will help ensure that detectorists will continue to have access to the practically infinite number of yards, fields, and other sites of lesser importance that will never become archaeological dig sites, and to potentially important sites that would never be discovered without us.
6. Coin Cleaning / Coin Scratching
Any coin you believe is extremely rare or potentially valuable should be professionally cleaned, if cleaned at all. Obviously, over 99.9% of the coins we dig up are worth way less than $20, so we are not always as careful as we could be during the excitement of a dig. If we see that we have a wheatie or a rosie, and we know it’s not going to be worth a million dollars, we generally don’t feel the need to treat it like the crown jewels. You, on the other hand, may treat each of your finds as delicately as you deem necessary.
7. Running out of Treasure
The so-called “issue” of popularizing the hobby so much that we will begin running out of treasure to dig up is laughable. There are so many objects in the ground that none of us could ever find them all in 100 lifetimes, and they are constantly being replenished. Even as I write this sentence, someone is unknowingly dropping a coin or a gold ring onto a sandy beach. It has been written that there are more coins in the ground currently than there are in circulation. Do the math. Believe me. You are not going to run out of signals.
8. Detector Choice
Garrett/Minelab/Fisher/Whites/etc. There are lots of different and excellent brands of machines that are capable of finding buried objects. Team ATC uses a variety of brands and models. We have, and continue to use, several different brands. The guys here in Montana can help you with questions about certain Garrett, Minelab, and White’s detectors. For advice on other brands, we recommend you talk to an expert user of that particular brand.
9. Planting Coins
The answer is no. We do not plant stuff. Everything shown in the TV show, videos, and books was really found by someone in Team ATC. Anyone who buys coins and claims they dug them up is starved for attention and needs to find something else to do. If we were planting coins, I would have “found” a gold coin or ten by now! K.G., Bones, T.O., and Ringy? None of us have a gold coin yet. We all want one, but we’re not pathetic enough to plant one and fake it.
For more on responsible metal detecting and the Diggers, visit Anacondatreasures.com
All-new episodes of Diggers are coming soon in 2013! Stay tuned.