So you wanna be a â€œWater Dogâ€ (or you already are one and can use some help).
Many people treasure hunt to find the treasures of their choice, either old coins, jewelry, or relics, but water hunting can get you all of the aboveâ€¦and if you research well, your rewards will be outstanding.
First, letâ€™s talk about water hunting for just a moment.
Imagine this scenario: Itâ€™s 6 a.m., the air is slightly brisk, but the water is calm and warm from the hot day before.
Both your body and your metal detector feel virtually weightless in the water, as does your long-handled scoop. You slowly wade chest deep through the water, walking slowly, relaxed as you feel a tiny wake of ripples dissipate around youâ€¦and itâ€™s peacefulâ€¦so tranquil that the only sounds you hear are from the birds and other wildlife surrounding you. Itâ€™s like a peaceful nature walk.
You ask yourself, â€œIs this heaven?â€
As you continue to â€œfloatâ€ by, all of the troubles from the day before seem to ooze from your body, but then, all of a sudden, you get that â€œgoodâ€ signalâ€¦your heart starts pounding as you think to yourself, â€œPlease let it be a Rolex, please let it be a Rolex.â€
Your detectorâ€™s pinpointing in on the target; swoosh, your scoop touches ground and itâ€™s that time, the time of truth, what can it be? You are far out enough to know that junk signals are minimal. You are thinking now, â€œNot a penny, not a penny, not a pennyâ€¦YES!â€
What you have just found is a diamond ring, and you know what? Itâ€™s just as nice as the diamond ring you found two weeks earlier.
Next you get back in to hunting mode, though every two minutes youâ€™ve got to check to be sure youâ€™ve still got it; maybe thatâ€™s just an excuse to look at it again.
Either way, as your brain gets your body back into search mode, you realize how glad you are that you purchased your water detectorâ€¦all you can do now is smile and think to yourself, â€œWhat a great hobby.â€
Does this seem far-fetched? Well, Iâ€™ve personally done this every summer (at least two gold rings with diamonds) and several times in the same weekend.
I had a friend, Bill Anderson (who passed away in 2007), who found a heavy, 22K gold chain with three 22K gold rings attached to it.
I would say the best ring that Iâ€™ve personally found was an engagement ring. I saw the same exact ring at 60% off in a mallâ€™s jewelry store that was going out of business. They had it marked down to $2,900 â€œafterâ€ the 60% off, and the one I found also had a gold wedding band attached to it (soldered) which had nine diamonds of its own.
My point is, water detecting, even without research, can be very lucrative as long as you hunt a body of water where people swim. Itâ€™s just basically â€œshow up and detect.â€ But thereâ€™s more.
Just because you metal detect in water does not mean you need to compromise time for coin shooting or relic hunting. Some of your best coins and relics might be found in water.
The majority of treasure hunters metal detect on land, leaving a whole world of unchartered areas to water detectors.
How many battles were fought in or near bodies of water?
The fact is, areas of land with water are the most valuable for any and all people, and this includes animals, too.
Where there were bodies of water you would find animals, hence, these are areas where people chose first to settle.
And donâ€™t forget about early transportationâ€¦this is where many early fur trade exchange areas were located. Water is full of historyâ€¦rust you say?
Remember, before steel, the metals of choice were copper then brassâ€¦that do not rustâ€¦nor do coins.
With some research (and I will give you a great research tip later in this article) you can find swimming areas of old or even diving docks that are no longer in use. These can be jackpots.
My friend, Jason Hillstrom, who is also the co-founder of our treasure-hunting club, R.A.R.E. (Research And Recovery Experts) of Minnesota, found a beach that had been used from the late 1800â€™s through the early 1970â€™s.
The lake has another swimming beach now on the opposite side of the lake, with the older beach still there, but long forgotten.
Well, sadly enough, on the old beach there is a layer of bottle caps, rusty fishing gear and trash, and under that layer is mud, but below that is the sandy beach. We have had some good luck there.
Besides the obvious choice of raking small areas of trash, then detecting that area and continuing in that fashion, we decided for now we will just discriminate heavy and hope to get lucky, and we had some great results.
I found a 14K gold ring, and I mean a â€œclunker,â€ that weighed in at half an ounce. This thing looked so gaudy we both agreed we could easily imagine the late Sammy Davis Jr. wearing it during one of his Vegas shows. It is just â€œso 1960â€™s,â€ the photo doesnâ€™t do it justice.
But hereâ€™s another find. I got a good signal and pulled out an 1893-O Barber quarter with a hole in it, and a sterling silver necklace still looped through the hole.
It was very shiny when we first looked at it, but this necklace was so oxygen depleted that, when I pulled it out of the water, it oxidized right in front of our eyes; we saw it immediately turn purple with (believe it or not) areas of orange, then within a minute the whole thing was black.
It was almost just as neat to see the colors change as it was to actually find the item; it was truly a special thing to witness.
There is another lake in our area where mercury dimes and some Barbers still get pulled out once in a while, and another lake near us where the ice in the shallows hugs the sand, freezing to it, then the ice drifts, floating the sand away, hence, lowering the sand level on the beach.
This, along with the ice thaw pushing some items upwards, closer to the surface, every year makes spring time a buffalo nickel paradise. Drinks could be purchased at the lake in those days for a nickel, and V-Nickels are found there as well as other various coins and memorabilia.
When it comes down to it, water hunting is my favorite.
Now remember this, too, especially you who will be water detecting in the oceans - when an old coin is removed from the ground, itâ€™s gone forever; it canâ€™t be replaced with another old coin; that particular â€œholeâ€ is dead.
But, when hunting oceans, beaches, and their shallows, tides and storms are always bringing in coins, jewelry and relics from its depths to replace the items you have found and removed, possibly only days before.
If you are a certified diver or the owner of a hookah, metal detecting areas surrounding shipwrecks have made treasure hunters extremely wealthy, but that would be an entire different article, so at this time letâ€™s discuss equipment.
You do not need thousands of dollars to enjoy this aspect of the hobby.
My favorite water detector, by far, is the Tesoro Tiger Shark. My reasoning is its simplicity, quality and lifetime warranty.
Also, I have gone head to head against some of the crÃ¨me de la crÃ¨me of water detectors and the Tiger Shark has blown them away when it comes to finding smaller gold, which I have seen some of these thousand dollar machines miss.
I believe this is because Tesoro uses some of the same circuitry in their Tiger Shark detector that they use in their Lobo Super Traq, their gold nugget machine.
There is one thing about the Tiger Shark that I donâ€™t like. Even though it has a salt mode, it chatters in areas with high mineralization, like wet salty sand, but I live in Minnesota (Land of 10,000 lakes) and I rarely hit the oceans.
If I did live near an ocean I might want to look into the Tesoro Sand Shark, which is a PI machine (Pulse Induction).
To explain the technology here would be too lengthy, so letâ€™s just say that being a PI machine, highly mineralized wet sand would no longer be a problem, but you would be digging up every small piece of iron until you learn your machine, and even then would still be getting your fair share of iron.
On a positive note, though, depth on PI machines are fantastic, so if using in areas with other treasure hunters, that extra depth could prove invaluable, and if you own the Sand Shark, you still get that Tesoro lifetime warranty.
Both the Tiger and Sand Sharks are extremely reasonably priced.
But, if you are metal detecting in the ocean and that wet, highly mineralized sand, the machine of choice comes from the same company in which I feel puts out one of the finest metal detectors for land huntingâ€¦Minelab.
I have been a Tesoro fan for years (and a Fisher fan, too), and I still am, but if you can afford a thousand + dollar price tag for a land-detecting machine, I feel the Explorer II is unchallenged.
I have seen some amazing, and I mean amazing, feats of discrimination and depth from these machines when they went head to head against many different topnotch machines (once again, that would be another article), but letâ€™s stick to the water.
The Minelab Excalibur series is just phenomenal in your heavy mineralized saltwater situations; it will dominate the Tiger Shark hands down in these situations.
The Excalibur truly is the machine of choice if you hunt â€œthe breakers,â€ wet sand, etc.
At this point I also would like to add that I am not being paid to endorse anyone; I love this hobby and would never try to steer you wrong.
Fisher also makes fantastic water machines, but, if shopping around, consider them for a comparison against the Excalibur series for saltwater, for I stand strong on my choice of the Tiger Shark to dominate all other machines for the reasons I listed earlier, for freshwater hunting.
To get some excellent views on Fisher machines, visit Thomas Dankowskiâ€™s website forum. He is a friend, and an engineer of NASA and has helped in the designs of many Fisher detectors, as well as the T-2. His web address is http://www.dankowskidetectors.com
If you are planning a trip to the Largo area of Florida, members of the SunCoast Research and Recovery Club have been known to show visitors great places to water hunt.
Their club president, Wally Schwartz, who is also the FMDAC Southeast VP, can easily be contacted through Dankowskiâ€™s website or atÂ his clubâ€™s website at http://www.srarc.com Â
Wally told me only moments before I finished this article that members of his club are always happy to hunt with treasure hunters visiting southern Florida, especially readers of Lost Treasure Magazine.
Back to where we were - Whiteâ€™s, Garrett and other companies manufacture quality water machines, too, but I will stick to the choices I have mentioned here as being my top choices, with one exception.
There is a detector named Hybrid Cobra Beach Magnet, which is one name brand water detector I have never used, so I cannot comment on it, though I heard it is a very good machine with tone ID, and tone ID in a water detector is a nice feature, so please research this detector as well; it might be the one for you!
When detecting in water you will need a scoop, which is a very personal choice to makeâ€¦it depends on what feels right to the user, but just be sure to buy a long handled scoop that will break down shorter if you plan to use it during SCUBA or hookah use, and be sure your detector will break down as well for these uses.
Now earlier in this article I said I would give you a good tip on finding great places to water hunt. Hereâ€™s one for you:
Find a large body of water in your area, a bay, ocean or lake that people swam in for many years.
Go to eBay and type the following in the eBay search area: postcard, old, â€œname of lake/bay/oceanâ€, and â€œstate it is in,â€ then look carefully at any results.
You might find that long ago people swam on an entire different side of the lake than they swim at today. Also, look for diving platforms that are no longer around, and some photos might even show that same lake had an amusement area with rides close to or even â€œin the water.â€
These are phenomenal places and have helped me many times in the past find excellent places to hunt. For a true example of this tip, on your computer find a present day photo of White Bear Lake, which is a city lake in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. It will show you only several beaches and a couple of boat launches.
Then go to eBay and see if you can find an old postcard from White Bear Lake.
You will find Ferris wheels and other rides that actually were over the water back in the early 1900â€™s, in an area that is now hardly utilized at all.
Detecting these areas of old have helped me and my friends find countless silver coins, jewelry and relics.
Remember, water detecting is not just about finding jewelryâ€¦old coins and relics are just a beep away.
From only ankle to chest deep, there are lots of areas of water that still lay virgin to a metal detector.
Authorâ€™s personal experiences.