I am now sixty three years old, and have enjoyed the metal detecting pastime for almost thirty years. I have also been privileged to meet hundreds of detectorists during this time, and stay in touch with many of them today. I have detected in many different areas of the United States as well as in Europe and whenever I remember the best of my finds, or the best outings, it almost always was the result of information I found from talking to people. In particular....older people.
If you've been a regular reader of WET you know I am a big advocate of very detailed research when it comes to detecting. I would much rather find one silver coins in three hours than 100 clad coins. As a result I put a lot of time into researching every single area I detect. I may not get out as much as you, nor do I necessarily find more coins than you do, but I feel somewhat certain the coins I do find are older, and probably more valuable than yours. No, I don't throw the clads away, but I do put them into a box that will eventually buy a semi-key or key coin).
I am writing this article to encourage you to take the extra step, to spend your time more wisely, and ultimately to make your time in the field more profitable....
Obviously you like treasure hunting! Otherwise you wouldn't be reading this magazine. So what is it that attracted you to this pastime? What is it you hoped or wanted to find? Better yet, what have you done to meet those needs? Other than buying a metal detector, what do you do when you head out in the field to insure you will come home with the treasures you so badly wanted? Stupid questions? Perhaps, but if you answer them honestly then you will understand what I am getting at. Ever heard the expression "you are what you eat"? Well if you are a detectorists, "you are what you find". To be a treasure hunter you better be finding treasure.
While I do not detect that much anymore, I try and make the best of my time in the field.. I will not drive to the local schoolyard anymore, unless of course, it happens to be "at least" fifty years old. I will not detect the local park or the town square, unless of course they happen to be "at least" fifty years old. I am finicky in my old age, and extremely particular. While I enjoy downtime and relaxing, I do not enjoy wasting time in the field. I like to know that each and every time I head out with my detector, it's with the knowledge that I have a very good chance to come home with something interesting of something of value. It makes detecting much more fun, and it's something that you can incorporate into your ideology as well, if you choose to.
With the advent of the computer we now have limitless resources when it comes to research the best place to spend your time detecting. You are only limited by your enthusiasm or lack thereof. Even the local library is now available to you at home. I will tell you however that today, as it has been over the years, my major source of information has been the old timer....a.k.a., senior citizen...a.k.a., retiree. I hate using the label senior citizen because I am now in that category, and it reminds me of how few years I have left. Think about what I've said however....older coins, older places, older finds, older treasures, older people! Make sense? Of course it does!
Old town folk, or elders are everywhere, but if you procrastinate and delay talking to them you may lose out. The more you wait, the more they pass away, and as a result the information you receive will be newer and newer, as will the treasures you find. The senior citizens you see at the local cafe, the Dairy Queen, the feed store, the town meetings.....introduce yourself. Be upfront. Tell them you have a metal detector, and want to find older coins, relics and can they steet you somewhere where you might find such items? From past experience you will probably be bombarded with ideas and locations.
Where did they play when they were kids? Where did they play baseball? Where was the local swimming hole? Where did they attend school, church and where was the local carnival, rodeo, medicine show and revival held? Was there a town picnic grove or preferred area? Where was the train station located. The farmer's auction? If you live in the northeast or midwest, where did they sled in the winter? If they were scouts, where did they spend summer camp?
The questions you can ask are many, and actually the easy part. Do write down their answers, and follow up on each and every lead. If you don't you will be ignoring the most factual treasure information available to you today. Memories of years ago are today's treasures.
As I get older I try to find ways that I can lessen my burden, my stress and my worries. I don't always succeed, but I at least make the effort. Part of this growing old thing is reminiscing about the good ole days. The good ole days when there was nothing at all on my mind. When all I had to do was get up in the morning and bike to the field so I could play baseball. When all I had to do on those snowy days was take my sled to Clawson's hill and sled with my friends. When the summer meant the annual carnival, the swimming hole up the creek, the football games at the high school field every Saturday, and the fireworks down in the meadow.
Do yourself a favor and sit down with the seniors in your area, town or city. Make friends and learn from them in so many ways. Even if you don't find the treasures you seek, you will come away a much person.