We are responsible for keeping public lands open.
As the independent detector shop dwindles in the era of e-commerce, we have lost a critical link in the education of hobbyists on the ethical use of detectors. They used to be the front-line: Getting permission, filling holes, writing your congressman… these were all responsibilities of our hobby – and you were taught in many cases that the community needs you to be active in order to keep hunting grounds open.
But now, the responsibility has shifted to us, the detecting community, to earn access and build trust and educate our new members. We must teach not only how to use the machines, but how to become part a unified effort to earn the public trust/respect for our hobby. We should shame those who violate the rules and cheer those who use the hobby to make the world a better place. Every ring find, every trash cleanup, and every site discovery should have a press release and stories all over the world. As it stands, you can search Google news and find a few stories a MONTH about our hobby. A MONTH!
It’s all to easy to group together the destructive pot-hunter as the typical detectorist, and because we’ve not taken the time to develop our own PR story or to develop productive relationships with these folks, the assumption of our intent and attitude is what is used during discussions. The most visible evidence right now may be the reality shows…Rick Savage and company, for example, are doing grave damage as well, not just in their digging techniques and lack of site data collection, but in the profiteering and posturing. They are “de-hobbyfing” the hobby by making it smell like a scam.
I strongly feel that detectorists need to extend the hand of cooperation to the archaeological and historical interest groups. There are many ways to work together, and such activities could begin to change the way they portray us. It’s hard to call someone a pot-hunter when they’ve just spent their weekend helping you!
Make sure and read Dick Stout’s Guest Post responding to this article.