Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Get Yourself a Metal Detector

By Christina VanGinkel

Living out in the country as we do, my kids have always been keen on hobbies that do not need a bunch of people together at a time to participate in the chosen hobby. They do enjoy team sports and activities, but they have also been quick to choose tasks that they can do on their own. Scouting with a metal detector is one such hobby. Our youngest son actually became interested in this fascinating piece of equipment a few years back when he and I stumbled onto an old dumping ground on our own property. We were out walking our fence line, looking for one of our dogs that had strayed way out of his normal area. We did not want him getting into the swamp next to our property, as he was a young dog, and we were fearful that he might get into trouble. So, as we walked the fence line that day, we ended up wandering away from it, towards the edge of the swamp. It was here, in a tall patch of overgrown grasses and bushes, that we discovered what must have been someone's dump many years back. The first items that we found a metal detector would not have been useful for, as they were glass. However, they did help us date the pile of debris. Several bottles actually had dates stamped into them, and they were all dated prior to 1925.

We were both excited by the find, so we marked the patch with a piece of broken log, and then left it to go and find our pup. We did find him, and after returning him home, my son asked if we could go back to our discovery. It was getting late, so I responded that we would first thing the next morning. That evening, we were telling my husband about it, and he replied that the area we were talking about sounded like it might be where the original homestead was on the property. He went on to suggest that we borrow a friend's metal detector the next day to make the scavenger hunt more worthwhile, as after all these years, it was likely that the glass debris was being pushed to the surface, but who knew what else might be back there that we could not see.

We ended up unearthing all sorts of interesting things on that site, and when we have nothing better to do, we often head back there again, just in case mother nature has prodded a few more items toward the surface where a metal detector or even the naked eye might be able to now find it. From that first time, I must admit that we were all a bit smitten with the idea of a metal detector, even though much of what we did uncover was glass and found without the help of the metal detector. There is something quite pleasurable about taking out a simple machine, which can help you 'see' beneath the surface.

Some metal detectors are much more advanced than others. The first one we borrowed years back would just give a little blipping sound when it found something, and no idea of the depth or what it was. Now, you can purchase ones that will tell you how deep the item is in the ground, what metal it is made up of, and even models that show you these facts on an LCD screen or by different tones to clue you in to what possible treasure you might be about to find.

People use metal detectors on beaches, at parks, at sports fields, even their own back yards. If you are looking for a hobby to get you outside, maybe help you find a hidden treasure, and have a bit of fun in the process, then metal detecting may be just the hobby for you. With some models conveniently priced well below a hundred dollars, you are sure to find a model to get you started. Then, if you become as hooked by this fascinating hobby as we did, there are just as many more expensive, and more feature filled models that you can trade up to once you know that this is something you will want to do every chance you get.

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