If your metal detecting goal is to load your goody bag with coins, jewelry and other valuable and historic items, you can start right in your own town, your own neighborhood, and maybe even in your own backyard.

Following the eight tips outlined in this article, you can increase your finds around older homes, abandoned or occupied.

Before we get to the eight strategies for successful metal detecting at old houses, there are a few ground rules to follow before you start scouting out locations.

Most important, get permission before you start your quest for finding treasure under somebody’s lush green lawn (or even if the lawn is nothing but bare dirt). Many homeowners will agree to let you hunt, but some would rather not have anyone digging in their yards, no matter how careful you are about not damaging their greenery.

In the spring or summer, it’s probably best to pass up the well kept lawns and stick to abandoned homes or yards where the landscaping is not an issue with the owner. In all cases, of course, always do your best to leave the ground the way you found it.

ring dated 1853

To avoid any unnecessary digging, use the least invasive tool possible. Often, a simple screwdriver with a wide, flat head or a hunting-style knife will do the job. You can also use the screwdriver as a probe to help pinpoint your find before you actually dig it up, and a knife can be used to cut out a flap of sod, which can then easily be fitted back into place like a puzzle piece, with most of the root system intact. Make sure you cover up any holes and leave as little evidence as possible of your treasure hunting endeavor.

With all the preliminary caveats in place, let’s look at eight simple tips for increasing your finds around old homes.

  •     Look for the bulldozers. Any place you see a bulldozer demolishing an old house is a great possible metal detecting location. This is an effective strategy that gives you two distinct advantages:
    - the owner isn’t worried about the lawn and
    - the bulldozer has already done part of your work by scraping away the top layers of earth and exposing the more deeply buried, older, and often more valuable, items for you to find.

  •     Turn down the discrimination. If you discriminate out the foil and pull tabs, you might also eliminate gold rings. No matter how expensive or high-tech your metal detector, gold, nickel and foil are still in the same, or near the same, conductivity range.

  •     Establish a search pattern. Whether in your mind or by using strings and stakes, develop a method to systematically cover the entire search area. Keep your metal detector’s search coil level and close to the ground and sweep in overlapping strokes from side to side instead of erratically swinging your detector in an arc.

  •     Concentrate on the clothes line. Before electric clothes dryers, everybody hung their clothes outside to dry, and nearly every home had a pair of clothesline poles in the back yard with their wash hung on lines strung between them to dry. If you can locate the old clothesline, you are almost ensured of finding coins that fell out of wet pockets.

  •     Go where the occupants would have gone. Check for signs of outdoor buildings, large trees where children played, mailboxes, concrete slabs where a water pump may have once stood and evidence of water wells where people were active. Investigate the paths that would have led to these areas, focus directly around structures, and pay special attention to the areas directly under any trees that may have been around in times gone by.

  •     Cover the areas immediately around and just under (if possible) any porches to find coins and jewelry that may have tumbled or rolled off the porch and fallen out of sight.

  •     Check out sidewalks and walkways, being sure to use a thorough search pattern, and pay attention to the edges where the concrete, brick or rock meets the grass.

  •     Dig the deeper, weaker signals. Take some extra time to check out those weak signals that many treasure hunters may ignore because they’re too much trouble. Your best find may a small gold ring or old silver coin buried several inches underground by time and the elements.

Following these simple steps, metal detecting around old homes in your area can reveal a treasure trove of coins, artifacts and jewelry


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