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Shadow Research Center

Beach Hunting Techniques

You asked a very good question, Greg, and one that would require several books to answer. I've been beach hunting for over 20 years, but it's only been in the last several years, since the Internet has come about, that my knowledge and understanding of beach hunting has taken a major leap, and I still consider myself green as far as this type of hunting goes. I used to think I could park my car anywhere, start walking the beach, and luck would dictate my success, but there are many ways you can tip the scales in your favor. Detecting the dry sand IS about luck and where the most people congregate, but serious beach hunting is about tides, wind, lunar phases, conditions, "hot spots," and hunting the wet sand and water.

As with any other metal detecting specialty (i.e. relic hunting, coinshooting, etc.,) there are techniques that will maximize your results. Some of the great beach hunters like Tinfoil and Seaweed are consistently successful because they put their time in, study, learn and plan. There is far more going on under the seemingly peaceful beaches than meets the eye, and they know where and when the the time and place is right. A beach hunter checks the tides, wind direction and beach conditions before heading out so their time is not wasted. Betty and I always plan to hit the beach at least 2 hours before low tide, and we check out different hotspots we've found by trial and error before unloading the car and gearing up. Our hunt yesterday turned out well because the conditions were right. A northeast wind takes the sand off the beach, so we're always happy if the wind is blowing from that direction.

When hunting the wet sand, if you're sinking in with every step, that means the sand is too "loose" and targets will have sunk too deep to detect. You want to find sand that is hard-packed with the presence of gravel or black sand. If you're digging pulltabs, zinc pennies, aluminum, and a lot of trash, move on because the heavier stuff is too deep. If you get into an area that's producing nickels, quarters, sinkers and heavier targets, stay right there because the gold should be there too. And speaking of gold, here's a tip from Tinfoil: Unless the beach has history such as offshore shipwrecks, Tinfoil is not interested in digging coins - he's looking for GOLD, so he ignores the high conductive targets, and only digs the lower conductive targets. Sure, he digs a lot of trash, but digging on the beach is easy, and he doesn't waste his time going after pennies, dimes and quarters. Remember also, when hunting a saltwater beach to keep your discrimination on your Shadow set at 4. That way you will cancel out the effects of the salt, yet still find gold.

There's so much more, but this post is too long already. I guess my best advice for when you go on vacation is to plan to hit the beach at least 2 hours before low tide, and stay along the water line or in the shallow water. If you find an area that's producing, stay there, grid it, and go over it several times, as the the signals will change with every wave. If you move on and then try to return later, chances are the "window" will be closed. There's no guarantee you'll be successful, but land sites don't come with guarantees either :). Hope this helped!

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