Here are some common questions, with answers, asked by property owners considering allowing me to metal detect.
This hobby has been my passion since 1985 – it is NOT a business. Just like hunting or fishing enthusiasts, I have no profit motive – it is simply a way to relax and pursue an intellectually stimulating activity. I meet great people and learn a lot along the way. I have a great reputation among property owners, including farm owners and historians.
“Our property has already been metal detected. Why would you want to come?”
It doesn’t matter unless it has been metal detected 30+ times by different people with different machines. It’s like coloring a sheet of paper with a sharp pencil, using the very tip only! In any pre-1900 site, I can promise you that 80% + of the artifacts are STILL there. I’ve proven this dozens of times.
Why do you do this? Do you sell your finds?
I love history and I’ve never sold one item. This is as much of a “money sink” as golf or fishing! I do it for the physical benefits and my love of historic artifacts. I spend many weekends a year volunteering my skills to help projects or reunite people with family heirlooms. I also meet some very interesting people and have become long-term friends with property owners this way.
Will you dig holes on my property?
It’s nearly impossible to tell I was there after a day has passed. My equipment and method are designed to leave no trace. I am also sensitive to the need to prevent livestock injuries in fields (they’re always filled carefully, too.) Here is a video of a plug recovery I’ve done so you can see the method.
What about Farms with Livestock?
I am familiar with farm environments and the concerns of rural property owners. I avoid all buildings/sheds/barns, respect livestock, avoid farm equipment and leave all gates as found. I remove dangerous sharp metal that could maim horses or cattle with infection or injury.
I’m a private person, will you tell others about my property?
Never without your permission. I keep my hunting activity private. I also turn off GPS on my cell phone camera to make sure that cannot be used to locate your site.
Are you insured?
Yes! I am a very safe person and I’m fully insured while on your property under a State Farm Umbrella policy (I carry a copy with me.) I wear heavy boots and gloves, carry first aid, a cell phone, maintain a current tetanus shot, wear thick gloves and use common sense. In 30+ years doing this, I’ve never had a single injury beyond a wasp sting!
Who keeps the items found?
All finds belong to the property owner. It is very rare that found items are valuable, so please don’t get your hopes too high! Whatever the value, I show property owners everything – including the junk. If we are lucky enough to locate family heirlooms of previous owners, you might consider allowing me to return them to their family (e.g. engraved jewelry, silver, military tags, etc.) and I never accept a reward. It’s all up to you, really. I photograph all finds for my “digital collection.” Property owners often insist that I keep finds – but again, that is their choice and never an assumption.
When will you metal detect?
I am a bit dependent on the weather and would like to have flexibility. I usually metal detect on Saturdays or Sundays, and usually send the property owner a message the day before (in case they have company, or it’s just a bad day for some reason.) I am happy to inform you when I arrive and leave (in person, via phone, or text) even if you live out of town. Gates are locked and I am very security-aware on your behalf.
What about construction projects?
If there is construction or other “destructive” plans at the property, I’d like to get in before the work is done and will coordinate with the foreman/project person in charge to make sure I’m never in the way and safety or schedule is not impacted.
Will you keep track of what you found and where you found it?
YES! The context of all artifacts is important, so I will be creating a PRIVATE map of your property with GPS tools that show every find that is not litter. This data is yours to keep with the finds (I encourage they be kept together for any future scholars to review.) I will NOT share this map with any 3rd party without your specific direction. If you’re familiar with Google Earth, I’ll share the data with you so you can see everything in the map.
Do you find trash?
A lot. I bag and remove all trash and it is disposed of properly. I wear heavy duty gloves and often remove dangerous items, such as this. I sometimes find dangerous items just below the grass and it’s good to get it out of reach of bare feet and kids.
I lost a ring many years ago, can you find it in the yard?
I will be pleased to try! See my lost items page for a bit more information on this. If I find such heirlooms during metal detecting, I’ll talk to you about who the owner might be so we might possibly re-unite them.
Thank you for considering!