If you’ve ever dreamt of unearthing hidden treasures right in the comfort of your own backyard, then “Discovering Buried Treasures: A Guide to Backyard Metal Detecting” is the ultimate read for you. This captivating guide takes you on a thrilling adventure into the world of metal detecting, providing you with expert tips, techniques, and tricks to help you uncover valuable artifacts, coins, and relics right beneath your feet. Whether you’re a seasoned enthusiast or a complete beginner, this article will equip you with everything you need to embark on a treasure-hunting journey that will leave you amazed and exhilarated. So grab your metal detector and let’s dig into the fascinating world of backyard metal detecting!

Choosing the Right Metal Detector

Consider Your Budget

When it comes to choosing the right metal detector, one of the first things you need to consider is your budget. Metal detectors can range in price from quite affordable to quite expensive, so it’s important to determine how much you’re willing to spend before making a purchase. Keep in mind that a higher price tag doesn’t always equate to a better metal detector, but it may offer more advanced features and functionality.

Types of Metal Detectors

There are several types of metal detectors available, each with its own advantages and applications. The most common types of metal detectors are VLF (Very Low Frequency) detectors, which are suitable for a wide range of detecting conditions, and PI (Pulse Induction) detectors, which excel in highly mineralized soil or underwater environments. Additionally, there are specialized metal detectors for gold prospecting, beach hunting, and relic hunting. Consider your intended use and the types of environments you plan to detect in when choosing the right metal detector for you.

Features to Look for

When selecting a metal detector, there are certain features you should look for to ensure the best possible detecting experience. Some important features to consider include target discrimination, which allows you to distinguish between different types of metals, depth indicator, which shows how deep a target is buried, and ground balance, which helps adjust the detector for soil mineralization. Other useful features may include waterproof capabilities, adjustable sensitivity, and built-in pinpointers. It’s important to prioritize the features that are most important to you based on your detecting goals and preferences.

Understanding Metal Detecting Terminology

Target ID

Target ID refers to the ability of a metal detector to provide an indication of the type of metal it has detected. Different metals can produce different target IDs, allowing the detectorist to determine whether the target is likely to be valuable or not before digging it up. Target ID can be displayed as a numerical value or through a visual icon system, depending on the model of metal detector you’re using.


Discrimination is a feature that enables a metal detector to ignore certain types of metals or materials while detecting. This is particularly useful in areas where there may be a lot of trash or unwanted items, as it allows you to focus on the targets that you’re most interested in. By adjusting the discrimination level, you can choose to ignore targets like aluminum foil or bottle caps, for example, and only focus on valuable metals like coins or jewelry.

Ground Balance

Ground balance is an important feature for metal detectors, especially when detecting in mineralized soil. Ground balance helps the detector distinguish between the minerals in the soil and the actual metal targets. By adjusting the ground balance, you can reduce false signals caused by mineralization and ensure that you’re effectively detecting only the desired targets. Some metal detectors offer automatic ground balance, while others have manual or preset options that you can adjust based on the soil conditions.

Preparing for a Metal Detecting Adventure

Research Your Own Backyard

Before heading out on a metal detecting adventure, it’s a good idea to research your own backyard. By learning about the history of your area, you can identify potential hotspots for finding buried treasure. Look for areas with a rich history, such as old homesteads, parks, or even beaches with a lot of foot traffic. Check historical records, old maps, and talk to local historians or long-time residents to gather information about potential treasure sites in your area.

Obtain Permission

Metal detecting in certain areas may require permission from the landowner or relevant authorities. It’s important to obtain permission before detecting on private property, such as someone’s backyard or a historical site. This not only ensures that you’re abiding by the law, but it also shows respect for the property owner and helps maintain positive relationships within the detecting community. If you’re unsure about the rules and regulations in your area, reach out to local metal detecting clubs or do thorough research to ensure you’re detecting in authorized locations.

Check Local Laws and Regulations

Metal detecting laws and regulations can vary depending on your location. It’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations in your area before heading out on a metal detecting adventure. Some areas may have restrictions or permits required for metal detecting on public land, while others may prohibit metal detecting altogether in certain locations. Check with local authorities or metal detecting organizations to ensure you’re complying with all relevant regulations and respecting any cultural or historical sensitivities.

Choosing the Right Accessories

Digging Tools

When it comes to metal detecting, having the right digging tools can make a significant difference in your success and overall experience. A good digging tool, such as a shovel or a hand trowel, is essential for retrieving targets from the ground. Look for sturdy and durable tools that are designed specifically for metal detecting, as they often have features like serrated edges or measurements on the blade to assist with target recovery. Consider the type of soil in your detecting area, as different tools may be better suited to different soil conditions.

Protective Gear

Metal detecting often involves spending extended periods outdoors, so it’s important to protect yourself from the elements. Depending on the weather and terrain, you’ll want to invest in appropriate protective gear. This may include items such as a hat to shield you from the sun, sunscreen to protect your skin, bug spray to ward off pesky insects, and sturdy footwear to ensure comfort and safety during long detecting sessions. Additionally, if you’ll be detecting near bodies of water or in wet conditions, waterproof boots or waders may be necessary to keep you dry and comfortable.

Carrying Equipment

Having a reliable and comfortable way to carry your metal detector and accessories is essential for easy transportation and accessibility. Look for a sturdy backpack or carry bag specifically designed for metal detecting equipment. These bags often have compartments and pockets to keep your detector, digging tools, and other accessories organized and protected. Consider the weight and adjustability of the bag to ensure a comfortable fit, especially if you plan on extended detecting sessions or long hikes to your detecting sites.

Operating Your Metal Detector

Basic Functions and Settings

Before taking your metal detector out in the field, it’s important to familiarize yourself with its basic functions and settings. Read the user manual provided by the manufacturer to understand how to turn on and calibrate your detector, adjust sensitivity, and navigate through the different modes and settings. Practice in your own backyard or in a nearby park to get a feel for how your detector responds to different targets. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different settings and make adjustments based on the conditions you’re detecting in.

Proper Swing Technique

The way you swing your metal detector can greatly affect its performance. A proper swing technique involves keeping the search coil close to the ground and moving it in a smooth, even motion from side to side. Avoid swinging the detector too quickly, as this can result in missed targets or inaccurate signals. Additionally, be mindful of your arm and wrist movements. A relaxed and consistent swing will not only help you cover more ground efficiently but also allow the detector to accurately detect and analyze targets.

Understanding Signals

Metal detectors use audio or visual signals to communicate the presence of a target. These signals can vary depending on the type of metal detector and the settings you’re using. It’s important to spend time understanding and familiarizing yourself with the signals produced by your detector. Practice with different target types, such as coins, jewelry, and nails, to learn their corresponding signals and how they differ in tone, volume, or visual display. As you gain experience, you’ll become more proficient at recognizing valuable targets and distinguishing them from unwanted objects.

Identifying Common Metal Detecting Finds


Coins are one of the most popular finds in metal detecting. They can range from modern-day currency to historical coins from different eras. When identifying coins, pay attention to the details such as the size, shape, weight, and any visible markings or engravings. Research the history of local currency and coin production to better understand the significance and potential value of any coins you find. Be sure to handle coins with care to avoid damaging them, and consider consulting with experts or experienced coin collectors to further analyze and appraise your finds.


Metal detecting can also lead to exciting discoveries of jewelry. Rings, necklaces, bracelets, and other adornments are often lost or misplaced, presenting excellent opportunities for detectorists. When identifying jewelry, consider factors such as the type of metal (e.g., gold, silver, platinum), gemstones or diamonds attached, and any distinctive designs or markings. Jewelry finds can hold both monetary and sentimental value, so it’s important to handle them delicately and seek professional opinions if you suspect you’ve found something particularly valuable or historically significant.


Relics refer to objects that have survived from past civilizations and can provide valuable insights into history. The types of relics you might find can vary depending on the area you’re detecting in and its historical context. Common relics include items such as buttons, buckles, military artifacts, and tools. Identifying relics often involves researching the time period and historical events associated with the location. Study books, visit museums, or connect with local historians to learn more about the relics you find and their potential historical significance.

Searching Techniques for Maximum Success

Grid Patterns

Grid pattern searching involves systematically covering a specific area by moving in parallel lines, just like mowing a lawn. This technique ensures that no portion of the area is missed and increases the likelihood of finding buried objects. Start at one end of your search area and work your way across in straight lines, carefully overlapping each pass. Maintain a consistent pace and give your detector sufficient time to process signals before moving on. Grid pattern searching is especially effective when searching large areas or exploring locations with known historical significance.

Swing Speed

The speed at which you swing your metal detector can impact your ability to detect targets accurately. Swing too quickly, and you risk missing potential signals or not giving your detector enough time to respond. Swing too slowly, and you may not cover enough ground or waste time on non-valuable targets. Aim for a smooth and consistent swing speed that allows your detector to effectively analyze the signals. Practice adjusting your swing speed to match the sensitivity, ground conditions, and target depth to optimize your chances of a successful detection.

Target Recovery

Target recovery refers to the process of locating, retrieving, and properly replacing the targets you find while metal detecting. After receiving a signal and locating the target with your detector, it’s important to dig carefully to preserve the integrity of the surrounding area and minimize potential damage. Use your digging tools to excavate the target carefully, keeping the soil in a pile nearby for easy replacement. Avoid unnecessary disturbance and ensure you fill the hole back in once you’ve recovered the target. Proper target recovery not only preserves the environment but also helps maintain a positive image for the metal detecting community.

Recording and Documenting Your Finds

Importance of Documentation

Recording and documenting your metal detecting finds is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, it allows you to keep track of the locations where you’ve detected, the types of targets you’ve found, and any significant details about your discoveries. This information can be valuable for future reference, research, or even legal purposes. Additionally, documentation helps you maintain a detailed inventory of your collection, organize your finds, and share your experiences with others. Whether through a digital database or a traditional logbook, make it a habit to document your metal detecting adventures regularly.

Record Keeping Systems

There are various record-keeping systems you can use to document your metal detecting finds. One popular method is to create a digital database, either using spreadsheet software or specialized metal detecting apps. These systems allow you to input relevant information such as the date, location, target type, and any additional notes or photographs. Another option is to maintain a physical logbook, where you can record all the details of each find chronologically. Choose a record-keeping system that works best for you and is easily accessible for future reference or sharing purposes.

Photo Documentation

In addition to written documentation, taking clear and detailed photographs of your metal detecting finds is highly recommended. Photographs serve as visual evidence and can help with identification, analysis, and sharing your discoveries with others. When photographing your finds, use good lighting and include relevant scale markers, such as a ruler or a coin, to provide a sense of size. Capture multiple angles and close-ups to capture the unique characteristics and details of each find. Properly labeled and organized photographs can enhance your documentation efforts and create a visual record of your metal detecting journey.

Cleaning and Preservation of Metal Detecting Finds

Basic Cleaning Techniques

Proper cleaning techniques are essential for preserving and maintaining the condition of your metal detecting finds. Regardless of the specific material, it is generally recommended to start with gentle cleaning methods. For coins and other metal objects, you can use mild soap and water, a soft brush, and a gentle patting motion to remove dirt or debris. Avoid abrasive cleaners or excessive scrubbing, as this can damage the surface or remove important patina. For fragile or valuable finds, it may be best to consult with experts or professionals to ensure the proper cleaning methods are utilized.

Conservation Methods

Conservation is crucial for preserving the integrity and longevity of delicate or historically significant metal detecting finds. For items with corrosion or decay, conservation techniques such as stabilizing, coating, or desalination may be necessary. These methods require specialized knowledge and equipment, so it’s important to consult with professionals or experts in the field. Proper conservation ensures that your finds remain in good condition and can be enjoyed by future generations, whether in personal collections or public displays.

Storing and Displaying

After cleaning and preserving your metal detecting finds, it’s important to store and display them properly to maintain their condition and showcase their significance. For smaller items such as coins or jewelry, consider using acid-free coin holders, gemstone cases, or display boxes. These containers protect the items from moisture, dust, or excessive handling. Larger or unique finds might require custom-made display stands or cases. Store your collection in a cool and dry environment, away from direct sunlight or extreme temperature fluctuations. Organize and label your findings for easy identification and retrieval when you want to admire or share them with others.

Joining the Metal Detecting Community

Local Metal Detecting Clubs

Joining a local metal detecting club is a great way to connect with other like-minded individuals, share experiences, and learn from more experienced detectorists. Local clubs often organize regular meetings, outings, and events where members can socialize, exchange tips and tricks, and explore new detecting locations together. These clubs may also have access to exclusive detecting sites or offer training programs for beginners. By joining a metal detecting club, you’ll gain a sense of community and tap into a wealth of knowledge and resources that can enhance your metal detecting journey.

Online Forums and Communities

The internet has revolutionized the metal detecting community, providing opportunities for detectorists to connect and engage with others from around the world. Online forums and communities, dedicated websites, and social media platforms offer platforms for sharing finds, seeking advice, and participating in discussions on various detecting topics. Engaging with these online communities allows you to learn from experienced detectorists, stay up-to-date with the latest techniques and technologies, and find inspiration from fellow enthusiasts. Participate actively, help fellow detectorists, and build virtual friendships that can enhance your metal detecting experience.

Participating in Events and Competitions

Metal detecting events and competitions are exciting opportunities to challenge yourself, showcase your skills, and connect with the broader metal detecting community. From organized hunts to treasure festivals or competitions, these events offer a chance to meet fellow detectorists, learn from experts, and potentially win prizes. Participating in these events not only adds an element of excitement to your metal detecting journey but also allows you to learn new techniques, try different detecting environments, and connect with manufacturers and retailers who may offer special promotions or discounts during the events.

Metal detecting is an incredibly rewarding hobby that combines adventure, history, and the thrill of uncovering hidden treasures. By following this comprehensive guide, considering important factors when choosing your equipment, understanding the terminology, preparing for your adventures, using proper techniques, and engaging with the metal detecting community, you’ll be well on your way to discovering your own buried treasures and enjoying this captivating hobby to the fullest. Happy detecting!