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A Metal Detector: How I Come to Think I May Need One for RVing

A metal detector may soon find its way into my cache of RVing tools and toys. While visiting southern Texas for this winter, my friend, Everett, offered to take me along with him metal detecting.

A Friend and His Metal Detector Get Me Started

Everett had a spare metal detector. Like many metal detecting enthusiasts, he had a second machine and extra equipment. He was willing to let me learn with it.

We went to the beach on South Padre Island. We set up a time. I asked what I should bring. Everett said not to bring anything. He picked me up at the agreed time. I did take a cap, to protect my balding head, and a bottle of water.

Bob with Metal DetectorBob with His Friend's Metal Detector

It was a pleasant drive from the RV Park, across the causeway to South Padre Island. We drove north to a beach access road. The beach is part of the county park system. Everett frequents the beach often to search, and already had a monthly pass to access the beach. We drove up the beach past campers, fishermen, people tanning, people reading books, people flying kites, and people searching the sands with metal detectors. I really didn’t know what to expect, but it was a nice day and we were at the beach. I don’t know how Everett picked a spot, but he pulled off the driving path and parked.

He pulled two metal detectors from the back seat of his pickup and set them on the tailgate. “This one’s yours,” he said, pulling a Garret AT Pro out of a case. He had an older White’s DFX, which he would use. He explained he had used the White’s DFX more and was more familiar with it. He said the Garret AT Pro is a very good machine and cost about $700.00. He also had two sand diggers; one with a long handle for him, and one handheld one for me.

Bob's Friend Everett with His Metal DetectorBob's Friend Everett with His Metal Detector, Showing Bob How It's Done

Everett did his best explaining the different search modes, iron discrimination, ground balance, and a lot of things that were way over my head. He then adjusted the settings to where he felt they should be set. He taught me to swing the metal detector coil level with the ground, not in an arc like a golf club.

He handed me a pin pointer. Sometimes your target is encrusted with soil and minerals to the point it is not recognizable. This little hand held device will beep and vibrate when it finds your target.

Outfitted with his equipment, Everett set me loose!

I found lots of signals, and I dug them all. That day I found pop tops, bottle caps, beer cans, all kind of screw tops, an iron plate, an all metal coffee can, a pen knife that was rusted to the point it was nearly beyond recognition, and a quarter.

I was also learning to look at the read out of the machine and see what it was telling me. Everett told me to feel free to readjust the machine as I pleased, and I did. Many of my adjustments yielded poor results. I usually returned to the default settings programmed into the machine at the factory. I did learned what some of the adjustments did. 

We hunted about two hours. Everett was disappointed with his finds, feeling he might have done better. That made me feel I hadn’t done so bad.

Metal Detecting Tools - Sand DiggersMetal Detecting Tools - Sand Diggers

The second time we went out, about in the same area, I felt a little more at ease with the Garret AT Pro. I still didn’t understand all the adjustments, but I had used it for a couple hours and was a little more familiar with the sounds and readouts. We worked the area about two hours that day. We both did a lot better. Everett had a handful of coins, including several quarters, dimes, and pennies, a few nickels, and a Susan B. Anthony dollar. I had some shell casings, a large solid brass #1 house number, and a smaller handful of coins.

I also came away with enough interest to sit down with the owner’s manual of the Garret AT Pro and read it. It confirmed some of what I was learning by trial and error. It gave me a better understanding of what terms meant and what the adjustments should do.

I also started to look at getting my own metal detector. I found numerous different brands including, Garret, MineLab, White’s, Fisher, Tesoro, Bounty Hunter, Teknetics, and others. I found prices from about $150.00 to well over $4000.00. It seems a respectable machine costs $300.00 to $400.00, and a pin pointer is $50.00 to $180.00.
I’m not ready to make a metal detector purchase, yet. But it is fun. I was surprised at all the coins we found out on the beach. And, if I do decide to buy a metal detector, I can go treasure hunting most anywhere we go RVing.


Editor's note: My husband, Bob Nilles, wrote this article. He seldom turns down the opportunity to learn about new tools and machinery. That's especially true if the learning is hands-on, and if there's a chance he could find a treasure in the process. I wasn't surprised when he came home from his metal detecting excursion and started researching new metal detectors and related metal detecting gear.

Read Bob's follow-up to this article.

More of Bob's articles.

Go to the RV Life and Travel home page to find more articles about RVs, RV camping, and full-time RVing.

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