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Shadow Research Center

Tips for Hunting Highly Mineralized Soil (Bad Ground)

Tips for hunting in highly mineralized soil (bad ground) With the Shadow X5

Ground balancing

There are two independent ways to adjust GB depending on the method you plan to search: When searching in all-metal or a combination of all-metal and checking the target in discrimination mode, you want to use a perfect GB. When searching in the discrimination mode, you will want to use a slightly positive GB to reduce ground noise. In other words, you will GB to the mode you choose to search in.

If you choose to hunt in all-metal, you might try setting your GB slightly negative if you want to reduce ground noise. Something else you might try is lowering the threshold tone slightly below the audible level to further reduce ground noise.

A suggestion for starting out is to hunt in discrimination mode to get a feel for the soil, and then make a decision on which mode to hunt in.

It’s important to check your ground balance frequently as the soil can change from area to area.

Coil Size Recommendations

We strongly recommend using one of the three coils in the following order: 1) 10 x 5 DD 2) 7” concentric 3) 5” concentric. You will need to experiment to see which works best for you.

The reason we suggest these coils as opposed to the 9” concentric is because concentric coils don’t work as well in mineralized soil. Plus, the 9” concentric has a bigger footprint and sees more mineralized soil, which causes a masking problem for deeper, smaller targets.

No matter what size coil you use, it is EXTREMELY important to slow your sweep speed way down to about 1/3 of your normal speed so as not to overswing a target. Also, don’t scrub the ground with your coil, as it will cause it to overload from the mineralization. It’s better to swing it about 2 inches or more above the ground.

User Control Settings

The settings for searching in all-metal or disc would be sens control between 5 and 9 and disc control slightly below 3. Don’t be afraid to use the black sand mode and/or the beach mode. The black sand mode is for hunting in all-metal, and the beach mode is for hunting in disc. This type of soil is the reason these switches were put on the X5, as they will help to reduce ground noise. Don’t worry about losing depth because depth is not the name of the game in this type of soil. Actually, you’ll probably get better depth using the black sand mode or beach mode because you’re reducing the coil footprint.

VCO pinpointing will only be useful if you’re using a perfect ground balance. Otherwise, it will most likely scream at you in this hot soil.

Determining Iron Targets

In this type of soil, the Shadow “wiggle” (moving the coil quickly in short sweeps over the target in an effort to make the signal spit or pop) will not work well when trying to determine small iron targets because in hot soil most signals will be iffy to start with. The best way to check the target will be to size the target for iron and/or remove a few inches of soil from above the target and re-check the target in discrimination mode. Of course, large iron targets will still be large, broad signals – especially in the all-metal mode. It’s a fact of life in this type of soil that you will have to dig more targets than usual, but typically you won’t have to dig as deep as usual.

General Tips

If a signal is trying to repeat in the discrimination mode, remove a few inches of soil above the target and check it again. If the signal improves, dig it. If it gets worse, move on.

It is vitally important when hunting in hot soil to slow down your sweep speed. In hot soil, most signals will not be strong and clear like you’re used to while hunting in good soil. You will certainly overswing targets if you use a fast to normal sweep speed if searching in the discrimination mode. You don’t have to necessarily grid an area, but if you do find a concentration of targets you will need to slow down considerably.

Hold coil approximately 2 inches or more above the ground when swinging to avoid overloading the coil due to the high mineralization (this is something you’ll need to experiment with to get optimum performance without ground noise).

Realize that the signals will not sound like what you’re typically used to. Investigate all low-volume signals that are trying to repeat.

Remember that hunting in hot soil is similar to driving a car in heavy fog. Using your brightest headlights won’t be as effective as using your dim lights. When hunting in mineralized soil, a detector set for hunting good ground won’t be as effective as using your “dimmers” - in this case black sand mode or beach mode for seeing through the heavy mineralization. It’s very important to understand that when hunting in hot ground, adjustments need to be made not only to the detector, but the operator must also make mental adjustments requiring a change in typical searching techniques by swinging slower, walking slower and paying more attention to iffy, weaker signals.

One thing you can do prior to searching in hot soil is to practice sizing targets using various sized steel washers, square nails, military buttons, minie balls, coins, etc., and familiarizing yourself with the signal footprint each target produces in the all-metal mode. This can be done by first making sure the ground is clear of targets and then placing each target on top of good soil or mineralized soil. Move the search coil away from the target a foot or two and then move it back slowly towards the target taking note of when the all-metal tone increases in relationship to where the target is located. You will see iron objects will always produce a larger signal footprint than non-ferrous targets such as lead, brass, silver and gold.
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