In The Beginning...
By: Lanny J. Heaney
I have always said, "If it's honest and fun, go for it." So, over the years, I've enjoyed frequent updates from my son Rob about his metal detecting adventures. He owns a variety of detectors and assorted digging accessories, and has amassed an enviable collection of coins that date from the mid 1700s to the present, as well as relics of the War of 1812, including a fine assortment of military buttons. Rob's detecting territory is in northern New York State, near Fort Covington in Franklin County, on the border with Quebec, Canada. There he has steadily added to his inventory of military relics, unearthing such items as a massive flintlock hammer with a flint still in its jaws, an elongated trigger guard complete with its trigger, various calibers of musketballs, and the usual odds and ends found at old campsites.
Northern New York is a very old region, going back hundreds of years, with a diversity of history and research interests- a true adventure region for detectorists. I have always been interested in detecting, but work, time demands, and sudden health problems took their toll for the better years of my life. Now I'm retired, my health problems have stabilized, and I'm at last able to enjoy the hobby. So, when Rob invited me to join him on a hunt in Churubusco Township in Clinton County, New York, at a site that I had previously obtained permission for him to search, I accepted. This would be his second trip there. The first had netted several Wheat cents, two silver coins, and a few clads.
My part? "Dig, observe, and don't spill the Pepsi!" As a result, many more Wheats found a new home, as well as countless snap caps, nails, and foil pieces. Rob's earlier trip there had added a very nice 1929-S Mercury dime to my own collection, as I had told him kiddingly that my obtaining him permission to detect there had one stipulation- that I got the first silver coin he found, with my promise to keep it always. His second silver coin on that day was a 1943 Walking Liberty half dollar, as well as the other coins previously mentioned.
Some weeks later, our schedules again allowed us to get together, as Rob joined me on a successful deer hunt below Hudson, New York, at a very old apple orchard. This time I used one of Rob's detectors, a lightweight Minelab Sterling, and did we ever have fun the Sunday afternoon before deer season opened. I found countless foil pieces, snap caps, bottle caps, flattened soda cans, and old nails until I thought I would need a license to recycle such a hoard- yet the fun was worth it. Suddenly, the Minelab sounded off like a piccolo, and there it was... my first coin, a 1965 clad dime. Only a few feet away, Rob found five more clad dimes, all in the same hole. Evidently, someone had a hole in his pocket.
Now time was running out, and here is where my story really begins. Below the plateau on which the orchard stood was a cornfield of about four or five acres, all stubble now except for piles of chaff here and there. Our plan of action was to pick out a tree on the opposite side of the cornfield and scan a 4' wide path toward it. As I swung my way in the fading light, about halfway across the field I got a rather odd signal, totally different from any of the other hits I'd had. Wondering what I'd found, I asked Rob to check it with his Sovereign.
As he passed his coil to and fro, listening intently, he said, "Dig carefully, Dad." I did... but on this occasion he suddenly decided to "assist" me and take over for good 'ol Dad. Wow! Not only had I found my first silver coin, but it was a 1788 Spanish half real. I searched, and Rob seized... all part of the fun! I told Rob on the spot that it was his, as in silver for silver, in exchange for the Mercury dime he had given me.
Darkness was now setting in, so we reluctantly called it a day. Conclusion? Silver is good... lots of fun working together... no Pepsi spilled... and more fun anticipated- soon!
Stay tuned. I now live in Powell, Wyoming, also very old country. I also now have my own gift detector... a Tesoro Cutlass II uMax. Who knows what adventures await us- and this is just the beginning!