"Treasure hunter" brings up visions of Mel Fisher, pieces-of-eight and the Atocha, but also can make a negative impression when trying to get permission to use our metal detectors on private property.
By using this grandiose term to describe our searching we put the public off in several ways. The first
way is that we imply that there is something of great value on their property when this is most likely not the case at all. There is also the implication is that much excavation and mess will be required to find the "treasure." People will respond to a request for permission to detect by not allowing us on the property to find their "treasure" because they think we will profit by it, or that our search will take a long time and destroy their lawn and flower beds.
Often our "treasure" is a few old coins or relics often of small value - $20 or less, many times much less! How best to convey to others that our pleasure is mostly in the research, search and discovery more than the value of what we find? That the cost of our machines, gear, time and travel expense usually far exceed the cumulative value of our finds?
I suggest we adopt the term "detectorist" as Robert Sickler explains in his book, or even better, "metal detector hobbyist." As a metal detector hobbyist, people get the idea that this is a hobby... something done for fun and pleasure, not for profit.
Just some food for thought - maybe this different label might help open some more doors and make the difference between permission to detect and hearing a "no."