Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Running a Metal Detecting Club - At The Helm

Well, my first blog of 2019, and it's about the Central Florida Metal Detecting Club, and the trials and tribulations of keeping it above water and on course. The CFMDC is the largest metal detecting club in the United States, and is thriving and growing. The club has been in operation for 46-years to date, having been established in the year 1972. Current club officers are President Carolyn Harwick, Vice-President Jim Fielding (yours truly), 2nd Vice President Marc Hoover, Club Secretary Michael McClure, and our new Club Treasurer Vickie Chilla. And along with the New Year, we are facing many new challenges, which we will tackle in the coming months, and most assuredly, the coming years. 
Former CFMDC President Alan James keeping the club in line
Our previous administration worked hard at keeping the club going, as Alan James, a veteran of the previous 8-years at the helm as club president, will attest. At club cookouts, it was always Alan unloading the 12-ton propane barbecue grill from the back of his truck. At the end of a club seeded hunt, while everyone was heading to their cars, it was always Alan wandering the now-deserted hunt fields pulling up marker-flags by the handful, keenly watched by alligators and wild boar from the woods. At our annual open-to-the-public Sunshine Silver & Relic Hunt, it was always Alan in his bright-orange safety vest, for the first 6-years, with a microphone in hand, orchestrating the hunt, prizes and awards like a metal-detecting virtuoso. Since the club board changed in January of 2018, Alan has been acting as an adviser to the board, filling us in on club workings, letting us know where the skeletons are buried. And where to bury the new ones.
Current CFMDC President Carolyn Harwick
Like most clubs, not much was written down relating to the actual operation, and we wanted to know and document as much as we could. One of Alan's most valuable skills was, and still is, "...not-getting-mad," at least not in public or during a meeting, despite occasional tomfoolery. We wanted to know how he manages that, but all he says is "I'm a contractor in real life." and smiles. The mystery continues. At any rate, we have a really great cadre of club volunteers, and almost 300 members, with about 110 to 120 members attended each meeting. We have been trying to initiate more member involvement, and keep it fun. I mean, the whole reason to have a club is to have FUN, right? Sometimes people need to be reminded of that...myself included!

CFMDC Vice President, me, giving a well-thought-out presentation in the field
Our former club president Alan James, besides having originally founded our annual club event, "The Sunshine Shootout and Relic Hunt" (we eventually had to remove "shootout" as part of the event name, given the current climate in the U.S. and inserted "silver" instead...our e-mails to each other would not go through with "shootout" anywhere in the title or text!)  almost 7 years ago, also created the popular "Tech Talks" back in 2014. Alan asked me to give a 10-minute talk each meeting about anything involving metal detecting. I talked and demonstrated electromagnetism, best metal detecting frequencies for silver or gold, the fact that metal detecting coils detect on both sides of the coil, how to tell if a target was in the ground vertically or horizontally, effects of mineralization while metal detecting, targeting skills, pinpointing skills, cleaning out the coil's skid-plate, digging a proper plug, concentric versus wide-scan (a.k.a. DD) coils and on and on and on for about 4-years. When I was appointed club VP in the beginning of 2018, I got way too busy to do the talks any more. However, we now have members giving interesting talks and presentations themselves. Sometimes I think we should have a sub-heading under the club's website banner that says "and public speaking," as many members who feared speaking in front of a group, could nowadays easily give seminars in front of a thousand people without batting an eye. Good stuff!

Example of a Tech Talk
One of the more contentious issues facing the club has always been the infamous "Finds Table" and how to handle this aspect of members who display their finds for judging by other members. One of the original issues, that went on literally for years, was how far away could you dig a find and still place it on the table for judging. What??? you say? What kind of issue it that? Well, a very real one, as some members spent time metal detecting in England and Europe and came back with 2,000 year-old Roman coins, bronze age artifacts, and hammered silver coins about 1,000 years old.

And the members loved it...ancient artifacts and coins were very popular and garnered a lot of votes. But storm clouds were brewing a few feet above the table. Certain members, who were very active hunters themselves, had a lot of local treasures on the finds table and most definitely were not amused. They wanted items from England or Europe banned from the finds table and declared ineligible. The discussion was tabled for a while (no pun intended) while a good deal of grumbling for and against bubbled among the members. Finally, Alan stood up during one meeting, many years ago, and said, in all seriousness (and I'm paraphrasing here), "Just a little announcement that we will no longer accept items on the 'Finds Table' found north of Lake Mary road, or east of Interstate I-95, or west of I-4, or south of State Road 434." You could have heard a pin drop. Finally, in the somewhat pregnant silence, Alan went on to quietly mention that maybe only items found a few miles farther in all cardinal directions would be better? Or maybe items only found in Florida? Or maybe only items found along the eastern seaboard of the United States? The point had finally been made.

The Elephant in the room was that we liked to see all member's finds, from everywhere! That is what the hobby is about...and what many new members find inspiration in...the coins and artifacts returned to the public domain from the very ground beneath our feet. Some examples better than what you would find in any museum, and a joy to view and marvel at. So when you finally decide to become a member of the Central Florida Metal Detecting Club, rest assured that no matter where you found it, you are welcome to proudly place your treasure on our finds table, and wait for the members to vote...good luck!

The Central Florida Metal Detecting Club   


Sunday, December 30, 2018

Metal Detecting Redux - Looking Back

Only a few days left of 2018 before we inexorably move into 2019 as we quickly approach the end of the second decade of the 21st Century. As I look back over the last 50 or so years of being in the metal detecting hobby, I realize the real riches I uncovered were not gold and silver, cash and relics, but friendships and comradeship with people from all walks of life. I've met many people I would never have met otherwise thru the articles I'd written, the events I attended and the clubs I'd belonged to. I've seen the good the bad and the ugly of this hobby from top to bottom, the newbies, the know-it-alls, the boasters, and the wannabes. One thing I've learned, though, is everyone has a dream, and treasure hunting fulfills that dream. And believe it or not, some are successful in finding that chest of gold, and while some are not, many finally realize that what they were really searching for was always theirs to begin with...good friends, a sense of adventure, and a grasp on the past.  Because in the end, all the amazing relics, artifacts, and numismatic specimens have one thing in common; they were touched by another human being at some point in the past, who lived a different and perhaps unimaginable life in a another time and place. When you examine a fresh-dug find in your hand, you erase all the miles and centuries and touch the hand of someone in the past. We humans are a despicable, good, horrible, caring, indifferent, friendly, idiotic, knowledgeable, warm, creative and trouble-making lot. But we are all in this together throughout time through our humanity and the touch of an ancient work of humanity is what links us all together and makes us remember. And that is the covalent bond that holds us all together in this hobby. Happy 2019!

Happy 2019 from Jim & Patti


Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Metal Detecting - Please No Looting & Pillaging PR!

I'm trying to figure this out, and I'm not putting anyone or organization down, but looking for a reason. I'm trying to understand a practice that is pretty much rife throughout the metal detecting community; clubs, metal detecting distributors and the like. Given that metal detecting, in general, is looked upon by the general public as a negative activity, and even more so day by day, and frowned upon by many cities, counties and states here in the U.S., you'd think a bit of thought might be given to improving our hobbies image. And the first place I'd always thought a good first impression would go a long way to promoting our hobby would be the logo, symbol, or club patch of a metal detecting organization, and as we all know, you never get to make another first impression; one is all you get! And with that, as Rod Serling of the Twilight Zone used to say, "...for your consideration...the Jolly Roger!"



Now, there is a bit of history associated with this symbol, and it's fairly involved, but the point of it was to strike terror in the hearts of all that saw it. It basically means, pillage, plunder, murder and death...mostly. Now, pirates were actually more democratic than most navies of the world in the 18th and early 19th Centuries, but not to their victims. So why would you use the skull and crossbones in a logo or design to represent your metal detecting club, organization or product??? Especially given the general negative feeling of the public and authorities on the hobby???

Well, I think it began as a simple segue from the search for "treasure," which was usually the end product of piracy; gold and silver buried in the ground, or sea, waiting to be found by a treasure hunter. Somewhere along the line, treasure hunters and their ilk got sidetracked into confusing the line between treasure hunting and pillaging and plundering. Not a good thing when you need all the good PR you can get. 

Here in Florida, the Spanish fleet was returning to Spain in 1715 when a hurricane literally tore it apart off the central coast, spraying silver and gold coins all up and down the treasure beaches over three centuries ago. As a matter of fact, the Spanish built a few make-shift warehouses, just to the north of the Cape Canaveral  bight, to store the salvaged specie off the wrecked fleet before returning to Spain. Several pirates actually showed up off the Florida coast, and looted the recovered treasure and made off with a large portion of it...their skull and crossbones merrily flying from the mainmast. Do we really want to associate our hobby with THAT?

Poor PR don't end there...social media has done a lot to promote making us detectorists look bad...I recently located a YouTube channel with the word "...Loot" in it, which embodies some of today's problems with the metal detecting image.  What exactly DOES loot mean?


 loot

/lo͞ot/
noun
  1. 1.
    goods, especially private property, taken from an enemy in war.
verb
  1. 1.
    steal goods from (a place), typically during a war or riot.



So putting this word in the name of your metal detecting social media channel is probably not doing the hobby any favors. Additionally, there are many metal-detecting social media channels and metal detecting Facebook pages plastered with pirate images, with the name "...Pirates" in there somewhere. My point is, the pirate characters, skulls, and the piles of sparkling loot plastered all over the metal detecting world in logos, patches and whatnot is a sure sign we are headed for the detecting exit real soon. 

These images and names are the sort of things that makes the general public much easier to convince we are all bad...and must be regulated out of existence or outlawed everywhere here in the U.S.? Archaeologists just love metal detecting operators, organizations, clubs and individuals that shoot themselves, and the rest of us, in the foot with this sort of thing. I've mentioned this to a few acquaintances who thought the subject was pretty funny in itself, and was convinced I was splitting hairs. They may be right, but I've sadly watched this hobby, over the last half-century go from a quiet and interesting low-key hobby, to a rapacious free-for all with some practitioners who could care less about honesty, integrity, or the hobby itself anymore...literally becoming modern pirates themselves. And it is NOT everyone in the hobby...far from it! But I think despite the sometimes-shady underbelly of this pastime, there are more of us that care and want to see our beloved pastime grow and prosper. I think making a good impression is important in our word, deeds and image. And most of us try everyday to do just that. I'm off my soapbox now. Hope ya'll had a Merry Christmas, and will have a fantastically prosperous upcoming New Year!



Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Ruining A Public Beach For Metal Detecting

We have this thing in Florida called beach "renourishment" that the powers-that-be seem to think is required every four or five years to keep soft sand under a tourists chair. It's been happening for a long time, since at least 1968 or earlier, where a special contractor comes in with an offshore dredge to suck tons of sea-bottom sand into humongous, horribly rusted, iron pipes, and spray it like an over-pressured lawn sprinkler all over the local beach. 


This can build up the sand from literally sea-level to almost 12-feet deep along a 15-mile stretch of Central Florida east coast, and literally puts targets more than out of reach as to make recoveries of previous days non-existent. On top of THAT, comes 3 or 4 months of the biggest bulldozers CAT makes, roaring up and down the public beach, spewing diesel fumes and leaving deep, oil-soaked tracks in the sand. 

As if THAT was not enough, the huge iron pipes from the offshore dredge scatters thousands, no, millions, of 1/4-inch to 1-inch ferrous fragments over 15-miles of beach and shallow water. This literally makes the coastal area dang near impossible to hunt. After a week in the wet sand and shallow ocean water, the fragments quickly develop an iron "aura" around them as the increasing rust causes a "deep rusted iron" effect by making the target react like silver or any other conductive signal of various values, so you cannot tune or discriminate them out. Today while detecting an effected beach, I ran into a guy using a like-new Minelab Excalibur, who was a pretty experienced beach detectorist, but was an out-of-town tourist going a a cruise to the Caribbean for the Thanksgiving holiday. He was complaining about how difficult it was to metal detect the beach with all the metal fragments, everywhere. The powers-that-be here in Florida always overlook the economic impact that being stupid about beach policies can bring, with the previous panic brought about by Florida Governor Rick Scott signing a law that lets water-front homeowners block off sections of the previously regularly-used-by-the-public beach; putting the public on the back burner over beach-use for the 9th time. I like to think there is no animosity toward practitioners of the metal detecting hobby by state and county officials, but a short conversation with a county employee makes me think otherwise. A little over a year ago, in late 2017, I was enjoying my solitude, swinging my coil over the wet sand on Cocoa Beach, when one of those stinky, gasoline-powered carts showed up carrying a smiling County guy. He says to me, over the lawn-mower whine of his giant roller-skate, "Enjoy metal detecting while you can...you got a week left before we cover this area with ten-feet of sand!" He waved evilly and departed in a cloud of powdered-sugar dust from the donut in his hand. I watched the guy vanish south down the beach, hoping a Great White would come bursting out of one of the rolling waves and yank the cart and passenger back to the depths, but apparently Great Whites are not as fond of powdered sugar as other monsters are...like Godzilla, or maybe Rodan...or....
Today, less than a year later, pens of restless bulldozers, and stacks of rusty iron pipes litter this same beach again. Some beach regulars, mostly surfers and a few fishermen, were obviously angry and yelling at the people inside the  dredging "compound" about their very unwelcome presence. The process screws up beach detecting, literally muddies the water for months and ruins fishing even longer. I'm off my soap-box now.  

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Hassled Homeowners - Permission Or Else!

As I often write, metal detecting private property depends on getting permission, and then exercising great care excavating targets once you have that permission. I don't metal detect as much as I used to due to declining health, but depending on my blood pressure, the weather and heat index, I still do spend an occasional enjoyable morning or afternoon on a permission site, listening carefully for buried treasure. I also try to be an ambassador for the hobby, keeping an ear to the ground in the general public, keeping the conversation alive in daily encounters. What I DO hear does not bode well for the hobby. As an engineer, I used to work as as a medical auditor for a medical device company, validating other suppliers were in compliance with all FDA regulations required to produce a certain device, a bone drill, for example. I did this for many years, and the very best tool I had for determining FDA compliance was not a clipboard with a checklist, not a flashlight or a magnifier...it was Body Language that always revealed the truth of whatever matter was at the forefront of the discussion.


The De-Evolution Of The Hobby


I'm not going into the intricacies of body language, but, it does work, and I find it a great source of unrealized truthful communication in many situations. At any rate, Patti and I usually drop hints we practice the hobby among the general public at various times and encounters, and mention our organization, The Central Florida Metal Detecting Club, during the discussion. The reaction and facial expressions are priceless. We were is a antiques shop in Sanford, Florida one day, when Patti let the other shoe drop and mentioned we practiced metal detecting for police evidence hunts, lost and found issues within the general public, et al. The shop-owners face literally fell...then she frowned. "I got this guy who calls me all the time and constantly pleads with me to dig up my yard!" She sighed and looked at the floor in anger. "Why do they not understand the word NO!" She looked up again. "This guy calls me several times a week, same request, and I told him to lose my private number a few weeks ago...but he called again yesterday!" 

So here is a random member of the public who went from happy-talk to frowning and angry words in seconds after we mentioned the hobby of metal detecting.  The hobby I started practicing over 50-years ago, has become a contentious, greed-filled pastime in so many areas, the general public looks on people who do participate in the hobby as looters, criminals, trespassers and troublemakers. And we only have ourselves to blame. A large number of dishonest hobbyists nowadays engage themselves in deception; impersonating officials or workers, sneaking onto properties the back-way from waterways and lakes, submerged under someones private dock digging coins and valuables without permission and unknown to the actual property owners, metal detecting the dead of night using night-vision technologies, or just plain trespassing...hoping to liberate valuables before they are discovered and asked to leave...what I would term Day-Hawking  We also think there is a lot more Night-Hawking going on in Florida than was previously proposed.

All detrimental to those of us simply enjoying a harmless, and so far, legal hobby of metal detecting in the search of forgotten items of history, attempting to liberate them from the matrix of time back into the light of day and the public domain. We have had little success in turning this train-wreck of a hobby around because more and more are in it for the supposed profit ("I'm gonna quite my job and buy a METAL DETECTOR, that's what I'll do!") and easy income they think it will provide. Every day we see another comment "We are THINKING of getting into this GREAT hobby...what do you suggest?" Then the same old discussion of not having much money, and what would a good starter machine would cost and WHERE is the best place to find all that gold and silver? 

I've said this before and I'll say it again...I am not opposed to more individuals entering the metal detecting hobby, but I AM opposed to more taking and less giving by people entering the hobby. In other words, several thousand more people hunting the beach with metal detectors is not going to improve the hobby any more than several thousand more fisherman is going to improve the fishing in a small pond that's already been fished out. We need to add more voices to save this hobby and try and roll back legislation intended to limit or eliminate the hobby completely, but I don't see that happening here in the United States...what I do see is more of the general public grabbing a metal detector and digging like a dog in the nearest dune, then angrily walking away if no gold or silver is found, leaving a mess and looking for a fresh flower bed to rut in; one more black-eye on the hobby. The saddest thing is you know who you are...and you just don't care. I'm off my soapbox now.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Haunted Treasure Hunting - Supernatural VLF

Most metal detectorists have met the paranormal once or twice during a treasure hunt, or as a sideline to the search itself. I've recently blogged about a "ghost car" that tried passing me, while I was on a metal detecting run to Cocoa Beach, the driver waved at me, then the car simply vanished, much to my concern and annoyance. I later found the road I had been driving on was considered to be one of the most haunted roads in Central Florida because of the many fatal accidents that had occurred. One person told me that it was "...literally a graveyard from one end to the other!"



In conversation with other detectorists, I have found that they have admitted things can be a little off while hunting certain properties and driving late at night through "possessed" areas...highways and byways of many deaths, sorrows and loss which can take you life too if you are not careful. Beware! Here are several other stories of metal detecting the paranormal...throw another log on the fire!

I'm not going to name names, for obvious reasons...would you? But these are all true...happened as told to me. Our first story involves several friends with a permission to hunt a property in a small, Civil War era town. The house had been closed up for several years, after someone passed away inside. One of our intrepid crew had explored the interior of the property prior to the group...late at night...by herself. She had been live-streaming the video to me while she wandered around a dusty Christmas tree which had been set up for Christmas in 1996 and still stood silently in a musty living room 20-years later. There were unexplained noises, doors moving by themselves and a general aura of GET OUT even coming through the phone. I told her she needed to leave there right away and she finally agreed. When she returned with the group a few weeks later, as they were leaving a blast of wind from inside the house almost blew them out the door!

Back in 1984, one of my regular detecting buddies had joined me metal detecting an old farm near the everglades, west of Ft. Lauderdale...a permission property that the new owner was going to raze before a new condominium was to be built later in the year. It was around 3 p.m. when we finally made it to the decaying farm. The old farmhouse was from the 1890's and was a sad sight...windows broken or no windows at all. The roof had collapsed, and timbers reached skyward like broken teeth. Green mold covered much of the rotting walls. We found a few iron relics, square nails and a few V-Nickles. We were metal detecting on the west side of the house, and it was around 7 p.m. and night was falling...it was getting hard to see. My buddy suddenly started staring behind me, and said "She does not look very happy!" I swung around and in the broken window behind me, stood an elderly woman with white hair in a bun, an old fashioned white apron, and what looked like a gingham blue dress under it. A pale blue glow surrounded her, and she glared at us with disapproval. My buddy yelled at her, "What are you doing in there? It's unsafe...!!!" I looked back and the woman and the glow were gone!
We tiptoed across the rotting porch and pushed open what was left of the sagging water-logged door. My buddy switched on his big seven-cell flashlight and aimed it inside...most of the floorboards inside had collapsed, leaving gaping holes in the floor. A huge spider of some kind, the size of my hand, skittered across the bent wood. We both backed away, but I grabbed the light and pointed it toward the window where we had both seen the woman looking at us. The floor had completely caved in and there would have been no place to stand in the first place...she had been standing in mid-air!!!  A few weeks later, the place was completely bulldozed, and the remains burned. I wonder if she had looked out at the heavy equipment operator with disapproval as the huge steel blade made contact with the rotting porch? 

The last story, which happened just a few months ago, was quite a surprise to another friend who had experienced it. Coming back after midnight, along the famous "Dead Zone" on RT 4, in Sanford, Florida, my friend saw what was initially perceived as a deer trying to cross the deserted highway, but getting closer turned out to be a man wearing an old-fashioned hat riding a farm horse of some kind. My friend said it looked like a TV image...kind of grayish or bluish...and if my friend had not been going well below highway speeds, it could have resulted in a bad accident. As my friend passed this apparition, a glance in the rear-view mirror showed nothing but empty asphalt behind the vehicle.

Of course, these kind of incidents are few and far between, but as treasure hunters, many times we go to deserted places, now lifeless in many ways, but once teeming with people and good times and bad times and every other emotional flavor humans can have. It has been surmised that very strong human emotions, which are basically electromagnetic brain waves, can somehow "imprint" themselves on the surrounding environment; houses, roads, rocks, cars and the like. Maybe the electromagnetic signature of our machines have a disturbing effect on that element...and we see what we see...or maybe not. Happy Halloween!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Cache Hunting Part 1 - A Lost Art

Modern metal detector users...those who hit the beach, the park, and the schoolyard regularly...have one thing in common; they rarely, if ever, search out a lost cache. Many have never even heard of a cache in the first place. Simply put, a cache is a hidden stash of cash, coin, jewelry or anything of value to the person hiding it. Children are known, from an early age, to bury toys and keepsakes in their yard for future retrieval. Schools, at least in my day, would occasionally bury "time-capsules" in concrete, consisting of the many trappings of our daily American life in the early 1960's; Beatles albums, Teen magazine, (prehistoric) 4 or 8-track tapes, newspapers, 1963 school lunch menus, and the like. However, "time-capsules" were usually meant to be opened at a specific time in the future, and were rarely hidden, so they exist on the edge of the definition of a "cache." Nineteenth Century citizens hid caches regularly, as they didn't trust bankers, and wanted their stuff within easy reach and easy to recover if they needed to leave in a hurry...and without a metal detector! The basic assumption is that one in five old homes have a hidden cache somewhere...but they can be hidden literally anywhere. With that in mind I actually have searched out caches, and have friends who have also. I've found some, missed some, and I've stupidly ignored some.


An approximation of Big Chief Demolition's logo, as I remember it
Way back in 1985, my friend and fellow treasure hunter, Kevin Reilly (founder of Reilly's Treasured Gold metal detecting shop in Pompano Beach, Florida) had a good thing going with his friends at Big Chief Demolition, Inc, a now long-defunct demolition company out of Ft. Lauderdale. The cities' popular "Holiday Park" was surrounded by 1930's and 40's era homes that were falling apart, and city of Ft. Lauderdale wanted to reclaim all that land for new condominiums. Big Chief got the contract, and would pull out all appliances and anything else left in these houses, having big salvage sales to the public, before they were torn-down. That short reprieve was metal-detecting time for Kevin and I, with full permission from Big Chief for the entire neighborhood. No hassles, no police or angry homeowners; just weekends of scanning and digging...silver coins, gold rings, watches, you-name-it was coming off these properties by the handful. Kevin's Fisher 1280-X and my Garrett ADS Deepseeker were singing the song of treasure all the way. 

Mid-20th Century South Florida homes were built of cinder-block (called CBS construction) and were like small military bunkers, low and strong to withstand the violent hurricanes that visited the peninsula every other season. And a common feature was a low-slung planter box filled with dark Florida dirt, about six feet long and maybe four feet high, made of cinder block, and usually attached at right-angles to the wall of the house. The more elaborate ones had copper irrigation piping encircling the interior wall of the planter; you could water your plants by simply turning the spigot.

This was what I came upon while we were searching the yard of a soon to be torn-down house. Kevin was in the yard, down on one knee, digging the tons of wheat pennies, toy cars, and stuff. I passed by the planter wall and casually swung the Deepseeker's 8" co-planer coil over the top as I headed for the yard. A loud signal almost knocked my earphones off my head! I stopped and backed up. Once again, a very loud, almost too loud, target signal screeched from the machine. I ran the coil down the sides of the planter wall and got the same signal. I looked over at Kevin.

"Hey, Kevin, I got one heluva' signal here, man...a real humdinger!" Kevin looked over his shoulder at me. "Is that the planter box?" I nodded my head. Kevin shrugged and said "That's just the copper piping in there...don't bother with it!" He went back to digging the yard. I wandered into the front yard as well, picking up a few coins, a few lead toy cars from the 1930's with the Deepseeker. The planter box stared dolefully at my back, whispering and snickering. I finally couldn't stand it any longer, and headed back to the cinder-block planter. Carefully scanning it from all sides, I was getting somewhat of a target separation...several large targets...and copper pipe would not do that. I looked back at Kevin, who was now swearing loudly (he was a died-in-the-wool Irishman) as he'd somehow managed to almost stick his coin probe thru his hand. He was not happy about it! I yelled back at him. "Kevin, I'm getting a big signal here, and some target separation...copper pipe would not do that, right?" Kevin looked at me, his eyes reddening. "Look, Jim, it's the copper pipe...copper is a major conductor...it will create a huge signal...okay?" He was fanning his sore hand, so I figured, what the heck, I'd dug a few inches into the dirt at the top of the planter and didn't find anything, so it's probably the copper pipes.




The next day, I opened the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel newspaper, with a minor headline blaring (as well as I can remember it) "Demolition Workers Strike Treasure!!!" I stared at the large B&W photo of a bulldozer, parked in a field of glittering silver coins, with construction workers filling up their hard-hats with specie. I read the article, the gist of which was that bulldozer "A" demolished the cinder-block planter "B" which contained six large mason jars filled with Morgan dollars which were blown all over the site "C" and were being scooped up by the happy workers "D," which was D for dammit!!! I called Kevin and asked if he had seen the news about the silver dollar finds on the demolition site. He said he had. I asked him if he had anything to say to me at all. He was quiet for a second, then said "It sure looks like they were not copper pipes after all, aye?" First rule of cache hunting...check the target and never take the signal for granted...especially big targets. If I'd gone down a crummy six-inches deeper, I would have hit the top of the Morgan dollar cache. It's been 33-years and I still get angry with myself for not checking it. Don't make the same mistake.

Note: My good friend, and treasure hunting partner, Kevin Reilly passed away in 2012 from cancer, forever leaving a hole that can never be filled in the metal detecting community. Rest in peace my friend.

By the way, this subject was suggested to me by my friend and fellow blogger, Dick Stout and his fantastic metal detecting blog, Stout Standards. Visit him at https://stoutstandards.wordpress.com/