Hunting Public Places
By: Ben High
Public places, such as parks and recreation areas, do not usually top my list of where I want to coin hunt. Even if they have been around for a long time, public places typically are trashy and heavily hunted, making the going tough. However, there are times when conditions arenít appropriate for yard hunting, permission canít be obtained at the sites you had hoped to hunt that day, or only a few hours of hunting are available. At moments like these hunting public areas, if not the best option, is the only option.
I have exercised this option many times. I coin hunt year-round, and nothing excites me like recovering a silver coin that has been lost for over 50 years. Many of these sites are close to my home and offer a large expanse of hunting opportunity. Therein lies part of the problem: so much ground to cover, and so little time to do so.
I concentrate on hunting the oldest areas, especially around entrances, grassy parking areas, and gathering spots. In the midst of all this I focus on hunting small areas which I will mark off. Initially I hunt with a lot of discrimination, removing all the trash. Iíll search in one direction and then again in a perpendicular fashion. Slow, deliberate overlapping sweeps of the coil are essential. It is the soft whisper of sound that reveals a deep coin that I am hoping for.
This is not an endeavor for the meek of heart. Success requires removing the superficial trash, followed by the deep trash. I will hunt an area repeatedly, gradually decreasing the discrimination. Once an older coin is recovered, Iíll get a feel for the depth at which others may be found. After Iíve hunted an area to my satisfaction, Iíll move on to another small area, usually adjacent to the one I have just searched.
This technique is very labor intensive, but to be successful where others have failed requires serious time and effort. At the end of the day my trash bag is always full and the coins recovered are few, but even one silver coin constitutes a successful outing.
For some reason areas where the dirt is packed firmly and roots are numerous have been the best producers. It makes recoveries difficult, but often one must venture where others shy away.
The biggest advantage for this type of hunting has been the technology that many of the newer metal detectors possess. I bought a Fisher F75 Special Edition metal detector almost two years ago, and Iím finding coins at depths previously unheard of. The combination of better technique and better equipment has made deep recoveries possible.
In the last two years while hunting public places I have recovered 30 silver dimes, four silver quarters, some sterling silver jewelry, and my best find so far in 2012, a 1918 Denver Walking Liberty half dollar. The half dollar was detected 8" down in the center of a large play area. It gave a very solid but well localized signal. Over the years countless detectorists had walked around that coin, but slow, methodical searching made it mine.
So, if you are up to the task, give this option a try. In most public places one can hunt from daylight to dark. If you tire out or have to leave, just come back another day and pick up where you left off. Again, focus on searching small areas well rather than large areas quickly. Site selection is crucial, as many times Iíve found several old coins in one area and nothing in adjacent areas. As expected, there is always an element of luck involved.