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Finding Dropped or Flung Lost Items with a Metal Detector – The Wheel and Spoke Method

I’d like to give some advice about finding items that were dropped or “flung” from a known location.  This technique works very well for me, and is the reason I bring a tent stake and string to lost item recoveries.

First, you have to decide on a center point.  Hopefully they will have read my tips page and have made note of where the item was lost/flung.  If the person who lost the item doesn’t know where that was, you’re going to have a hard time locating the item, but I still recommend that you choose a center point, move over and find a new one, repeating the hunt technique.

Hub and Spoke Search Method:

  1. Choose a center point.
  2. Place the tent stake or anchor in the middle, tying the string to it.
  3. Using “reasonable projection” of how far the item could have realistically traveled, stretch the string to form a spoke on a wheel.  This is rarely beyond 20 feet.
  4. Stretch the string from the center to a starting point.  Mark this point so we’ll know when we’ve made our way all the way around the circle.
  5. Put the string down and detect on either side of it until you reach the end.
  6. Move the string around the wheel to form a new spoke.  Move roughly the distance of a detector swing, but overlap a bit.
  7. Detect along the string
  8. Repeat steps 4-6 until you either find the item, or complete the circle.

Finding Lost Items with Metal Detector - Wheel Spoke

This technique accomplishes several goals.

  • It ensures you don’t miss ground
  • It focuses the detecting activity on the statistically most likely part of the location (the center.)
  • It forces your item-loser to think about things systematically.

If you need to, you can move the hub and start over, but always keep the center near where the person lost the item.

PS: If you succeed in helping someone find an item, tell your local newspaper – it can be great PR for our hobby!!

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