There are quite a few different types of metal detector hobbyists. Seems the types of targets desired determine the types of detecting you do. Naturally, where you live plays a huge part in determining which kind of detectorist you are. Someone seeking colonial relics in Utah is going to have a pretty challenging and miserable experience!
What types of metal targets are out there to be found? Coins, relics, jewelry and ores are what all immediately come to mind. Ohioans are blessed with good opportunities to find three of the four. Not many gold nuggets around here, though I have heard stories of some people panning for gold
Using a metal detector to find coins, or “coinshooting” can be done almost anywhere people have been. Some detector users are content with finding recently lost coins, typically where children play. These detectorists are often called “tot-lot hunters”. Other coinshooters are looking for older coins, ones that are no longer in circulation and may potentially be worth more than their face value.
Coinshooters are mostly spotted in parks, schools, fairgrounds and the lawns of homes. Their prime detecting grounds are turf areas, with occasional forays into wooded areas. Generally these searchers have a large number of potential targets to keep them busy.
Relic seekers are happy to find older items that they can connect with the past. Rusty nails, buttons, buckles, bullets and farm tools are all of interest. These folks are much more akin to archaeologists, researching sites and trying to discover traces of history. From the location of a cabin site dating back before the founding of our state to a battlefield, or even more recent events, these folks seek to make a connection with our history. They often have a vast amount of knowledge about the sites they detect and can tell you the complete history of a site from it’s first use 200 years ago to the present day.
Relic hunters frequent wooded areas and farm fields, occasionally at the sites of very old homes still in use. They may find a farm site littered with 200 years of debris, or a forgotten home foundation deep in the woods that has not been used in 100 years with very few metal targets.
Dedicated jewelry hunters frequent the beaches and the water. There is great potential here for profit, especially with the recent prices of gold. Certainly the beach and swimming areas are where the most jewelry is lost. Some are content to scan the dry sand, while others enjoy getting in the water with a specialized detector. Some try to find old swimming holes dating back to the turn of the century, for a mix of old coins, relics and jewelry. Others are up early Monday morning at a lake beach looking for items lost over the weekend. Many take great pride in returning lost items to their owners when they can be traced. Wallets, cell phones and keys have been known to show up in their sifting scoops as well.
Sun, surf, sand… Lake Erie provides all three, but there are many smaller lakes and swim areas in Ohio. These detectorists keep our beaches and swim areas safer by scooping up a lot of trash (some quite dangerous!) and sharp pull tabs out of the sand.
The last form of detecting is looking for metal ores… such as gold or silver. Mostly this is confined to searches for gold nuggets. In Ohio, pea sized and even seed sized nuggets are very rare. However, gold panning is done in some areas, and panning can produce a few flakes of the precious metal. These gold producing areas are located in the northwest 2/3 of the state that was covered by glaciers at one time.
All types of “treasure” await the metal detector hobbyist in Ohio! Your locale and your personal interests will dictate the type of detector you use and where. No matter what type of detecting you do, it is important to be responsible, have permission, and leave little trace of your presence.