I stood at a safe distance watching the dirt and rocks fly as he hacked away at the stubborn red ground with his pick. Dave, who was in the process of retrieving a buried target, was a fellow prospector I met while traveling through the gold fields of Western Australia.
The ancient soil he labored in had hardened over the eons taking on a consistency which was amazingly similar to concrete.
Although his hole was growing, it had taken him the better part of an hour to reach the 15 inch mark.
As he stopped to catch his breath, I asked, Do you want me to recheck the hole before you dig any more?
He shrugged, No mate. Ive come this far, a couple more inches wont kill me.
After a few more minutes of back breaking work, he wiped the sweat from his eyes and said, Okay, have a listen now and lets hope its still in the hole.
I turned on my metal detector and slowly eased the coil into the waiting hole. I think both of us were expecting an ear-splitting signal, instead we were greeted by silence.
I quickly swung over the pile and got not one signal, but two. I glanced his way and took a guess, Strangemaybe there were two nuggets in the hole.
Much to his disappointment, after recovering one of the targets, we knew that wasnt the case.
He had wielded his pick with such force that he actually pierced and cut in half what would have otherwise been a very attractive half-ounce nugget.
Dave swore and kicked at the dirt, but there was no undoing it. He still had the gold which could always be sent to a refiner, but any collectible value had been destroyed.
This was an unfortunate, but not uncommon event. I would venture to say that most detectorists have at one time or another damaged a target while retrieving it from the ground.
I have never cut a nugget in half, but Ive had my fair share of scratches and dings. Target damage occurs when a persons digging tool accidentally makes contact with a buried metal object. This usually results from an inability to accurately pinpoint the location of the object with the detector, careless digging, or a combination of the two.
The problem is further worsened if a large diameter search coil is being used, or if the target is deeply buried.
Modern metal detectors are fairly good at determining target location, but even they are not exact and can be off by as much as several inches.
Experienced detectorists are aware of this. They know that the sharp edges found on picks and trowels have the potential to cause permanent damage to their finds, which is why most of them carry a pinpointer.
The Pro-Pointer is the latest creation from Garrett; a Texas-based manufacturer that has been building quality metal detectors since 1964.
This hand-held device which operates at 12 kHz is incredibly easy to use and completely takes the guess work out of pinpointing.
It features One-Touch Operation with 360 detection along the entire shaft and tip. It incorporates both audible and vibrating alarms, which increase based on the targets proximity.
There is also a built-in LED light to assist in low light conditions and it carries an IP 66 standard water-proof rating.
Another bonus is that the unit will operate up to 30 hours on a single 9-volt battery!
When I pulled the Pro-Pointer from the box it made a great first impression.
It fit my hand nicely and had the feel of a sturdily-built product. It was obvious that as far as quality was concerned, Garrett didnt cut any corners. If this product is treated properly I have no doubt it will last for many years.
I appreciated the fact that a woven belt holster was included, which allowed the device to be worn on the hip where it was secure and out of the way.
The weight was also impressive; at only seven ounces I barely felt it on my waist.
The Pro-Pointer is intended to be used in conjunction with a metal detector to aid in the recovery of metallic objects.
Although it could be used on its own, it wouldnt be very practical since the amount of ground a person could cover in a day would be minimal. It is better suited for scanning the hole once a target has already been identified with the detector.
I knew this product would be great at locating coins and relics, but, since my true passion is gold prospecting, I wanted to see how it would perform on nuggets.
After visiting several sites in Arizona, I found that the Pro-Pointer could not only find gold, but it could find incredibly tiny gold. In fact, one of the match head-size pieces I located weighed a mere 0.2-grams!
As I had hoped, it proved incredibly useful for prospecting, especially when working narrow bedrock cracks and crevices. Unlike a standard search coil, the slender tip of the Pro-Pointer easily fit into these tight spaces and allowed targets, even multiple targets, to be pin-pointed in a matter of seconds.
Some of the features I liked best were the ease of use, audio and vibration response, water-proof design, and versatility.
The microprocessor inside the Pro-Pointer allows it to be operated at maximum sensitivity without having to be adjusted by hand, making it ideal for recovering targets from both highly mineralized ground and salt-saturated sand.
I found the signal clarity of the internal speaker to be more than adequate, and the Vibrate Alert a nice addition, especially for those with hearing loss.
The IP 66 waterproof rating means it can be operated around running water and in the rain without fear of damaging the electronics inside.
The Pro-Pointer will not only pinpoint the exact location of coins, relics and gold nuggets, but can also be used for searching within walls and as a utility locator for finding metal pipes, conduit, rebar, nails, and metal wall studs.
If I had to make one complaint it would be the fact that the LED and vibrate alarms cannot be turned off to save battery life. Aside from this, I have nothing but praise for this new Garrett product.
Any metal detectorist that would like to speed up their recovery time, greatly reduce the chance of target damage, and save themselves the hassle of unnecessary digging will most definitely want to give this product careful consideration. It carries a suggested retail price of $149.95 and is made right here in the USA.
For more information on the Pro-Pointer and other metal detecting products, contact Garrett Metal Detectors at 1-800-527-4011, or visit their website at www.garrett.com. Dont forget to mention you read about it in Lost Treasure!