Low Disc Rick
By: Richard Angelico
Rick Hervey is what I'd call a low disc hunter. He got that way very simply- he started metal detecting with a machine that was little more than a toy, and dug everything that went beep!
Rick joined our club a little over a year ago because he wanted to learn more about metal detecting, which machines to use, and how to use them. As it turned out, he wound up teaching us a few things about coin and jewelry hunting.
When Rick showed up at the first meeting after joining, he had a jaw-dropping bucket of coins... hundreds of them! Nobody was even close, except one member who is retired and hunts almost every day. In the meetings to follow, Rick consistently showed up with buckets of coins, silver rings, and charms. You name it, Rick found it. However, he also complained to me privately about digging enough trash to fill a garbage truck!
I finally asked Rick to give a talk to the club on his hunting technique, and his method was simple: he dug it all. There was good reason for that, too. The machine he was using provided little in the way of real discrimination, no target check feature, and marginal depth. Rick told me that he did a lot of his hunting at the beach or in playground sandboxes, and most of what he dug was very shallow. He knew he was missing a lot of targets and wanted a machine that could hit a lot deeper, had better discrimination and sensitivity, was simple to set up, and provided some kind of target ID.
Since Rick is primarily a coin and jewelry hunter, I recommended the Shadow X3. It's easy to use and features fixed ground balance, discrimination and sensitivity controls, and a nickel and zinc penny target check. I gave a demo unit to Rick to use, to see how he would like it, provided him with some hands-on instruction, and asked for an honest appraisal of the detector as a coin and jewelry machine.
Well, Rick did more than provide an appraisal. He gave me 13 pages of meticulous notes on what he found and how he found it! In his first four outings he dug a 1901 Indian Head cent, 1911 Wheat cent, silver dolphin toe ring, heart-shaped gold locket, man's silver wedding band, 10K gold cross, silver letter "M" medallion, child's costume jewelry ring, silver earring, necklace with silver letters, beaded necklace, earring with a green stone, and 255 other coins!
Here's a sample of the reports he was sending me:
"I went out at 6:00 a.m. and hunted until 11:00 a.m. in my favorite summertime spot. Wow! What a day! I not only found my first diamond ring, I found three diamond rings, and seven rings all together. I found a solitaire diamond in a silver setting, a ring with five big diamonds in 14K white gold, and a ring with small diamonds all the way around the ring in a platinum setting. This was also my first platinum ring, (8" in sand) I also found a man's silver designer ring, a lady's 14K gold ring with blue stone, (8" in sand), a silver toe ring, and an "M" monogram ring (9" in sand), as well as an assortment of broken earrings, rings, and jewelry, and 92 coins."
While I am a relic hunter, Rick's finds were about to convert me into a Jewelry hunter! In the weeks to come, Rick literally filled a wooden treasure chest with jewelry: gold chains, heavy medallions, and everything in between. And of course there were other items, including pocketknives, wristwatches, even a retractable dog leash (which he kindly donated to my dachshund, Lady), and the usual assortment of aluminum trash.
I asked Rick to put together some tips on his Low Disc Method, and he wrote the following, which can be applied to almost any detector.
"I like to start hunting an area in low disc. If I start running into trash, then I use the X3's Nickel/Penny switches to help me determine if I am hitting a good target or not. I also use the disc knob, turning it while I am swinging, to see where the target drops out. If it is a penny, dime, quarter or silver, it will stay in up to 7.5 or more. But some aluminum bottle caps and large pulltabs do also. If the target drops out at 4 or below and drops out on Nickel, it could be a nickel or gold.
"If you have the chance to hunt an area often, I recommend that you 'cherry pick' the area by hunting in high disc (about 6.5 to 8 on the X3) and picking up all objects in that range: pennies, dimes, quarters, bottle caps, and large trash. After you have completed this scan, lower your disc to about 4 and vary it to 6.5 while searching. You should now start finding nickels, some gold, and smaller objects, but also more trash. It is to your advantage to pick up the trash as it may be masking something good underneath.
"If it is a one-time opportunity, I will set the disc to 3.5, sensitivity to 8, use the penny/nickel switches, and move the disc knob while swinging to help identify targets in high trash areas. This works very well for me. I have found lots of gold rings, nickels, and smaller targets by using this method."
Rick's meticulous hunting style has really produced for him. In a little over a month, he recovered well over 2,000 coins and dozens of gold and silver rings. I am blown away by the diamond tennis bracelet and diamond ear studs that he found, and may give some serious consideration to doing a little jewelry hunting myself!