Sunday, April 8, 2018

Metal detecting - my new hobby

Last year I binge-watched the British TV series "Detectorists" (available on Netflix and Amazon) which is a comedy/drama about 2 quirky English mates who share a passion for metal detecting.  Don't call them "detectors" - that is the machine, as you quickly learn!  I highly recommend watching the show and I was captivated by the idea of digging up history, relics, coins and just about anything including "can slaw".  (Can slaw is detectorist slang for a soda can that has been chewed up by a lawn mower.  These and pull tabs are the bane of our existence because a detector sees aluminum as precious metal and pull tabs could be a ring).  

Detector, tools, pinpointer and finds from December 2017
So last fall I bought a metal detector, pinpointer and the related equipment that includes digging tools, too belt and cleaning brushes etc.  I started by practicing on my rural property and quickly found some coins and assorted bits of metal, I was hooked!  Unfortunately the ground froze a few days later and snow covered the ground for most of the winter.  So I was stuck watching other detectorists on YouTube and learning skills from them.  I also joined several Facebook detecting groups.  Basically I was going to Detectorist University all winter!

Now it is April and the ground has thawed I'm starting to explore the historic sites around my small Maine town.  My first day was uneventful but enjoyable, all I found was a few rotted modern penies - known as "clad" to detectorists because they are plated and quarters are not solid silver like they quarters used to be.  Contemporary pennies are copper plated zinc and don't hold up well under ground, but old silver coins tend to come right out of the ground all shiny.  Oooh!

Then on my second day, the second hole I dug turned up an amazing find.  It is a silver flashed brass medallion honoring 300 year of ship building in the nearby town of Bath and dated 1907.  Wow!  I immediately offered it to the local Historical Museum and they were grateful to accept it.

So by now you may be wondering what does all this have to do with living sustainably?  Well it's not all treasure.  There is a code of ethics for metal detectorists that, among other things, requires that you remove everything you dig.  This makes it easier for the next person that might detect in the same area.  On almost every dig you tend to find a variety of trash that includes, nails, rusting steel parts from old farm equipment and fixtures, old beer and soda cans and pull tabs.  Also lead bullets dating back to muskets and lead flashing from roofs.  Much of this can be recycled!  So I plan to store this "scrap" until enough accumulates to take it to a recycling center.

Another basic ethic of the hobby is to leave the land the way you found it.  So all holes on public and private property are filled back in.  And we are assiduous about getting permission to dig on private land.   Beaches are different, and most public beaches allow metal detecting and filling holes is not that big a deal, but we do haul out all the trash - and the occasional gold ring or silver coin!

I have started a new blog called: "Guy Digs It Up" so you can follow my adventures there.