When I saw the ads for the Bounty Hunter Land Star metal detector, my mind flashed back to the late 80s when I first discovered the Big Bud Pro. The Bud Pro was an economical, deep-seeking, lightweight machine, and I found my share of treasure with it. In fact, it remained in my stable of detectors until 1996 when I gave it to an old friend in North Falmouth. Now, looking through the new ads, my curiosity was piqued as to whether or not this new machine was of the same quality as its ancestors.
When the detector arrived, I began to assemble the machine. The control unit, upper stem, and armrest come assembled in one piece, and the coil and lower stem as the other. I just unpacked the box and put them together, connected the coil and the batteries and the metal detector was ready to go.
As I was familiar with the Bounty Hunter Bud Pro and Bud Pro SED detectors, I immediately took the Land Star into the yard for a quick test. By the way, if you arent experienced in the use of metal detectors, I advise reading the manual first. It will save you a lot of time and grief. After digging a few memorial pennies and a couple of clads, I was ready to take it out in the field. Later that evening I sat down and read the Bounty Hunter manual thoroughly. Its well written and easy to understand.
In some ways, the Land Star metal detector is very similar to the Bounty Hunter SED, but the Land Star truly has an identity all its own. It features five push button controls, including an all metal automatic ground tracking push button and three control knobs.
Push the all-metal button and you are in the all-metal mode. In this mode you will read all metal targets and it can also be used to detune and pinpoint targets. The all-metal ground tracking push pad monitors and adjusts the Land Star to compensate for subtle changes in ground mineralization while hunting in the all metal mode.
The ground balance control adjusts the all-metal mode and can be adjusted for just about every condition you will encounter, including saltwater beaches. I found the all metal mode in all cases to be stable and very sensitive. Im not a big user of this mode for several reasons, most of them relating to the fact that I hunt mostly on private land, but I did use it at one beach and found a couple of very corroded Large Cents.
Pressing the Disc pad puts you in the regular discriminate mode that you then adjust via the disc/notch switch. The Discriminate mode is set by pushing the disc button and then adjusting the disc/notch knob. Pressing the Notch button puts you into the adjustable Notch mode (in this mode you can adjust your detector to notch out troublesome items, from nails to pull-tabs while still detecting most good targets). Push the auto-notch button and the notch window is automatically set to reject most pull-tabs while at the same time you set the disc control to reject as much or as little trash as you desire.
In the notch mode, the discrimination control is the notch adjustment. In this mode, all targets except those that fall into the notch window will be detected. If the discrimination control is adjusted to the pull-tab position, small rings, nickels, and higher conductivity coins will be accepted, but most pull-tabs will be eliminated.
At first glance, the face plate and dual LCD meters appeared to me to be too small. Targets are indicated by a small black arrow that points at the colored target labels (iron/nickel, etc.). I anticipated having to wear my glasses on every hunt, but as it turned out I never did need them. (There were times when I needed to shift the detector to the right or the left so that I could make out an exact meter reading, but I never considered it a major hassle.)
The three tone audio ID system was like an old friend. In the discrimination mode, a target will sound off with one of three distinct tones based upon its conductivity. Nickels emit a low tone, pull-tabs and early date I.H. cents sound off with a medium tone, and copper pennies, silver and clad dimes, quarters and half dollars, etc., respond with a high pitched "sweet" tone.
Through the entire test it was obvious to me that the visual target ID readings were very accurate. By using a combination of sound and meter readings its possible to spend an entire day just digging coins.
The accuracy of the LCD depth meter has been vastly improved over the S.E.D. and I found it to be as accurate as the other major manufacturers models over good targets. Targets read at odd angles will not be properly I.D.d with any detector.
The Land Star came equipped with a different coil than the Bounty Hunters I had previously used. The 7-1/4-inch solid coil is gone and in its place is an 8-inch spider coil. I had used the 10-1/2 inch coil almost exclusively with my older Bud Pros and I wondered if there would be any loss of depth caused by using the smaller coil. What I found was just the opposite - the new coil seemed to enhance the depth capabilities of this machine.
The Land Star has a low battery indicator that is located at the center of the face plate and comes on when batteries are low. The Land Star is designed for extremely long battery life and I never did change my original set of alkalines in the 25+ hours I field tested it. This is a very welcome improvement over the 9-12 hours that I used to get with my original Bud Pro. By the way, always use alkaline batteries!
I took the Land Star to a beach that has a history of turning up mid-40s silver coins in the spring and is a gold ring magnet in the summer. Here I found a couple of small, hand-made silver rings, two gold-plated rings, and a few corroded clads, but at this time of the year on Cape beaches you dont expect a bonanza. The beaches had been pretty well vacuumed by detectorists throughout the mild winter and about the only thing that would have helped me on this day was a surprise Northeaster. Unfortunately, the day was bright and clear. At dusk I headed for the car determined to do better the next time out.
This time I was hunting a beach just a day after a classic Northeaster. Not too many folks in this area are aware of just how productive this beach can be after a storm. Its a lot tougher to hunt, as its full of black sand and rocks, but after heavy storms it will usually produce a lot of old coins.
The first three hours there I spent working the top and middle of the beach in low level (iron reject) discriminate mode and accumulated a handful of miscellaneous objects, including sinkers, lures, leaders, and .22 shells. I was becoming worn out from digging all that junk, but one find kept me going. A 1952 Ben Franklin Half. It was found at mid-beach level and underneath a large rock. I wasnt about to call it quits after finding that, so I decided to work down near the water line. I set the Land Star to all metal and adjusted the ground balance for salt. Within 15 minutes I had mucked out of the wet sand two coal black Walking Liberty Halves, two nearly unrecognizable Large Cents and a few large sinkers. Even though this is a black sand beach, the Land Star was amazingly quiet near the water line. This wasnt totally unexpected, as the older Bud models I had owned also ran silent close to the water. Some of the sinkers were extremely deep, up to a foot and a half or more down in the heavy, wet sand. I recall thinking at the time that this was very good penetration for an 8 coil. This is where I first began to realize that the Land Star gives you plenty of bang for your buck.
A few days later I took the Land Star to a local football field that had been used for recreational pursuits since the mid-1800s. It was a warm spring day and the ground was very moist from weeks of rain. Ideal conditions for finding silver.
I started out using very little discrimination, relying on the Land Stars versatile trio of tone I.D., visual target I.D. and depth meter for target identification. About an hour into the hunt I received my biggest surprise of the field test - a 1921 Morgan Silver Dollar. It was just 5 down and slightly tipped on its side. The Land Stars meters and high pitched tone read it dead on. Though not a rare find by any means, it was the first Silver Dollar I had found in many years. That day I also dug a dateless V nickel and several other silver coins, including a couple of Mercury Dimes and an 1899 Barber Quarter. At the end of the day I was stiff and sore from all the digging, but I went to sleep with a smile on my face.
I put the Land Star to a much tougher test the next time out as I worked a multiple use relic site that is plagued with corroded iron. After several hours of work, I had unearthed a few buckles and buttons that varied in size and condition, a couple of nice old locks and a 1788 Massachusetts Copper that was badly worn. I was really getting the feel of the Land Star as the day ended. The Massachusetts Copper was about 8 down in an area that had been heavily hunted. When I quit for the day, there was no doubt in my mind that this was a very serious, deep seeking machine that is adaptable to just about any situation.
After the productive day at the last relic site, I was primed and excited to hunt relic site #2. This one is a little different from the other. There is very little trash at this site, mainly large, twisted and broken iron nails that can fool many detectors. In the Colonial era this was a fishing camp on a bluff by a river.
My wife and I had taken many fine buckles, buttons, and State Coppers from this site. I hadnt hunted it in two years and I wondered if I had missed anything. I remembered this site with fondness, as we were the first (and only) relic hunters who have ever worked it. Its an incredible thrill to find an unworked, Colonial fishing camp and this site had produced well for us in the past. This time out, it didnt deliver any coins or buttons, but what it did produce were several fine colonial buckles and 10 thimbles. Thats right, 10 thimbles. All of these thimbles were of different shapes and sizes. All were found in the same area we had hunted many times before. In over 30 years in the field, Ive never found so many old thimbles at one time or in one place.
In terms of its depth and discrimination capabilities, I found that the Land Star is pretty much equal to most of the other high-priced units. The Land Star is very sensitive and is a quiet, smooth-operating instrument. Do I advise you to buy this machine? Well, if you are looking to buy a deep seeking, stable, accurate, target I.D. discriminator and dont want to take out a second mortgage to do so, take a look at the Land Star. Then with all the money youve saved, you can take your wife out to dinner and explain to her where youll be every weekend for the next two months.
The Bounty Hunter Land Star, sells for $349.95. For more information on the Land Star metal detector, contact: Bounty Hunter Metal Detectors, First Texas Mfg., Co. 11900 Montana Ave. El Paso, TX 79936 1-915-855-4206 or Fax: 1-915-855-2657.