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To Dig Or Not To Dig, That Is The....... Problem

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There is an area of a park that I hunt that I have gone over many times with my CTX, Deus, and EQ 800. I have studiously tried to learn  how to use the many features of each detector to know good targets from questionable ones. Recently friends have expressed an interest in trying metal detecting so I bought a Quest Q20 to loan them because it is simpler than my other machines while still having minimally useful features. Took it out to the area of the park mentioned above to check it out and....you guessed it....found my best find of the past year, a heavy gold plated silver ring. Which got me to thinking.......(always dangerous).

Its been discussed before of course but I wonder how many of us use all the info and adjustments of our machines to find the good stuff but only end up using all that info almost as a reason NOT to dig. Is that why a new detector always seems to "bring hunted out sites back to life"? Is that why, in the face of increasing technology, beep and dig machines are still out there doing well?

Knowing your machine(s) is necessary for sure and it's fun tweaking them to get their best. But just what is their best? We've all seen a good strong signal turn out to be something other than what was indicated. Still, there are a few people who can tell an awful lot about a target before digging it and digging every beep is hardly a viable option. Plus you can't sweep every square inch of a site.

BUT....... I'll bet most of us just outsmart ourselves more often than not. Or is that just me?

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My detecting in general boils down mostly to two methodologies:

1. Dig all targets. This is my default mode for gold nugget detecting and beach detecting

2. Dig all non-ferrous targets. The problem with dig all non-ferrous is that in mineralized ground, almost all targets will read ferrous at the absolute edge of detection depth. Therefore even just rejecting ferrous will cause good targets to get missed. Still, old camps, etc. that abound with ferrous trash demand this level of discrimination. Most of the time when jewelry detecting I also default to digging all non-ferrous.

3. Since I do not coin detect nearly as much as nugget and jewelry detecting I rarely use this third method. When coin detecting more often than not I really am looking for silver dimes, and so may discriminate out everything that reads below copper penny/silver dime.

Other than that it is just rare modifications of the above. When coin detecting I may include the nickel range, but generally nickels don't get me all that excited as a target - I like precious metals like gold, silver, and platinum. On the flip side when jewelry detecting I may tune out zinc penny on up and dig all non-ferrous targets that read under zinc penny. It's like I have a switch in my head, and when hunting coins I tend to hunt high conductors only. Yet when jewelry detecting, just the opposite. That being the case when doing what I normally do I recover more nickels while jewelry detecting than when coin detecting. So I guess it ends up like this for me:

1. Dig all targets

2. Dig all non-ferrous

3. Dig only high conductors (coin cherry picking)

4. Dig only medium and low conductors (jewelry cherry picking)

In general most people hate digging trash, and their entire emphasis is on finding detectors that allow them to basically dig no trash at all, or minimal levels. There is absolutely no doubt that these people leave many good finds behind for those willing to dig more trash. However, it's all about enjoying yourself in the available time you have, and I sure can't argue at all with anyone who prefers to cherry pick and call it good. There is a balance between digging it all and digging no trash at all, but where we all draw that line is an individual decision. As long as people employ discrimination of any kind however you can always hope that good finds remain. It is only when all metal targets have been located and none remain can a location be even close to being called hunted out, and even then a more powerful detector may reveal many more targets. There are lots of sites that might be clean of targets of any sort for anyone running a VLF that will light up with multiple targets per swing with a good PI detector. I've seen it personally.

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Good info. I'm awful smart but cherry picking low conductors has never even occurred to me. LOL.

How easy it is to get in a rut.   :wacko:

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Like Steve said...."an individual decision".  Depends on what you're after and the amount of time you have to chase whatever you're after???  I hunt old coins in public areas.  I've hunted out the 2 tiny burgs near me to the best of MY abilites so the last few years when I used to coinshoot I drove 220mi RT to the big city.  So take 4.5hrs of driving time off a hunt and that takes it's toll on the whole hunt?  So depending on where I hunted, etc. would dictate how I would attack.  Parks I like to focus a lot on old nickels because they fall right in with beaver tails/trash so many don't chase nickels so there always seems to be a lot of old buffs & V's to be had?  In parks, outside of nickels, I also only dig deeper higher tones like copper/silver and leave the zinc and shallow coins for the others.  I might lose a few IH by not digging zinc but I'm against the clock.  Curb strips have little modern trash and few beaver tails so I tend to dig any nickel type signal and even a few zincs hoping for an IH and dig about all good repeatables?  To me it's all about allocating and managing my hunt time which is dictated by travel time, hunt time and the location(s) I hunt.

Bottom line....If I'm digging zinc and modern shallow coins I'm NOT digging the older coins I prefer?...….

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For me right now as I am just learning my Nox 800.....if it beeps , I dig it. I just take note of what the number was so I can refer back in my mind (what little I got ) as to what it might be that I dig.

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The big advantage with my etrac for me is that I know what the target most likely will be. That minimizes disappointment ;-) A bottle cap, foil, iron trash. But I dig it. Because it could be a coin, a gold item, interesting iron item. I found that discrimination is basically useless to me. Using the etrac convinced me of this. The target ID is unstable most of the times too.

Only when you know exactly what you are looking for, maybe a certain type of projectile, a certain coin etc., then ID helps somewhat to save time.

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I dug a Canadian 1903 nickel (silver, about 75% the size of a dime) that was sitting 3” above a rusty steel washer. Why did I dig it? I’m using my Vaquero, so no screen to talk me out of it. It sounded smooth so I dug.  The washer alone was a little raspier.  What would have a display told me? Would the iron have pulled down the tiny silver signal to the point where I would have ignored it? I tried with my ATMax to dig by audio only but I was digging a lot of trash as it had a high tone on even the tiniest shard of canslaw. So what I though would have been deep dimes were not...ever. The ATPro was pretty good at hunting by audio only. I dug almost 300 dimes last year with the ATPro. But I figured that if I’m going to hunt by audio only, I might as well go back to the best audio in the business and return to Tesoro. 

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Part of it for many is a new detector bringing an old site back to life. I say that because with a new detector you tend to dig more targets so it seems your new detector is really awesome while in fact it's really because you are digging more targets. I know I do that until I learn a new detector and start passing over iffy signals. I have went back to parks I have hit hard with 3 different detectors and hunted hard and seriously only to find a few tabs and no more than 60 cents in clad.. That particular park had been good to me but what I learned was if it isn't there you can't dig it. 

I do like to challenge myself in hunted out places because most often I slow down and make sure I cover every inch. The Equinox has taught me there are targets mixed with that iron. I am getting to the point I recognize targets mixed with trash. The target I seek never seems to be the dominant signal by tone or vdi but I learned to  dig them and most often it is clad mixed with junk. 

I use park 1 on the Equinox for clad and Park 2 when I am searching for less conductive jewelry

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