A Treasure-Hunting Prepper, by Greg R. in Indiana

If you have been following the precious metals market lately, and you either have been or are considering the idea of investing in silver or gold, you fully appreciate the degree of value both metals have increased to. Market volatility is sparking renewed interest in precious metals as a means of protecting investments. Historically, civilizations understand the value and rare properties gold and silver offer. Regardless of what Ben Bernanke thinks, gold is money, and has been a form of currency, more so than the fiat currency that he continues to run off the printing press. The problem is that the increasing value of precious metals is making investing much more difficult. What most people don’t realize is that they are walking on or near small treasures everywhere!

In a TEOTWAWKI situation, where our fiat currency is used for toilet paper, finding these small treasures would be a godsend. After the Schumer splatters off the fan blades, it will still be possible to have a continuous supply of gold and silver to barter with. “How”, you may be thinking? The opportunity to prepare for the ability to do this would be now, not later, by purchasing a metal detector today. Buying a metal detector and adding it to your supply of tools will give you the advantage of finding money with very little effort. This money could be used to barter for food, ammunition, and many other items during a survival period lasting much longer than anticipated. Using a metal detector today will also help you store up more silver and gold in your cache without disturbing your current income to invest in tangible goods. That is a huge benefit considering the current cost of metals.

I have been metal detecting for about 20 years now, and find the hobby to be more rewarding than ever. This is mostly because the value of the pre-1965 halves, quarters, and dimes are worth so much more today than 20 years ago! When I began detecting as a hobby, the coins found were only worth a few times face value. Today, they are approaching 30 times face value, and will be sure to continue, possibly exponentially if TSHTF. In terms of investment, the cost of a well-made metal detector is easier to justify when evaluating the climbing value of silver and gold.

Metal detectors can be purchased at your local Big Box Store and Radio Shack, but understand that these Chinese-manufactured detectors are cheap and worthwhile only for finding lost keys. They can only detect a few inches below the surface because the sensitivity is so poor. Companies such as Fisher Laboratories and Whites, are two American companies that have been developing the technology for decades, and build solid, sensitive instruments that dominate the field. Another company that I have heard good reports about is Bounty Hunter. Two other companies that are popular are Garrett and Tesoro, although I haven’t talked to anyone about their personal experience with these detector companies. What I can tell you is that in this business, you definitely get what you pay for. Purchasing a metal detector can be costly, but the extra expense of buying a quality unit is something you will not be remorseful about. When deciding what brand and style of detector to buy, you will need to do some market research. Besides the internet, there are specialty stores that sell detectors. Check your Yellow Pages for companies in your area that sell them. There, you will most likely be able to handle the units, and ask about company experience such as customer complaints and return issues for particular models. Most small dealers will also usually have a patch of ground to hand test the different models before buying them. This test drive experience allows you to see how different models feel and sound. It also allows you to test features such as ground rejection and discrimination of trash. Another source of knowledge are testimonials. You can research the internet and ask dealers for information on metal detector clubs. These club members are often the nicest people you’ll ever meet, and are almost always eager to share their experience and opinions. Also, don’t hesitate to approach someone you see out detecting. Don’t start out by asking them what they are finding, but jump straight to the point and ask them about their detector.

Understand that metal detecting can be a time consuming adventure that requires research and patience. Don’t think that you will turn it on and find a pocket full of coins and rings in ten minutes. It seems that I dig three holes with trash for every hole with a goody. Depending on the situation, a metal detector’s discrimination can be increased to avoid the pull tabs and tin foil, but then gold and nickels can be lost. If you are searching at a public park, higher discrimination levels should be used, but just understand that fewer trash targets are dug at the expense of possibly leaving that gold high school ring for someone else to find. At almost $1,900 an ounce, it’s a risk you’ll have to negotiate at the cost of sore hands and a bucket full of pull tabs! Some identification detectors utilize an LCD with the ability to display the likely contents of a hole (and other information), but it doesn’t completely eliminate trash. Non-ID detectors can be purchased that don’t utilize an LCD feature, and last several more hours per set of batteries, but more than likely you’ll find more trash and treasure. I own both types, and see the advantages of each. Just understand that patience can pay off big time.

Research is another way that you can increase your odds at finding hot areas for treasure. Awhile back, some local construction was happening in an area that used to be home to a county fair in the late 1800s to early 1900s. Since the dozers were pushing around a lot of dirt, some detector buddies and myself took advantage of the worker’s weekend absence and spent a few hours of searching to discover some really nice finds. It takes opportunity and research to reveal some hidden areas that decades of detecting have overlooked. It seems that most of the obvious and easy targets (like city parks) have all been searched over time and time again. It is a wise investment to purchase historical references on the area surrounding your future retreat as well as your current area. These books and maps sometimes reveal things long gone such as old churches and one room school houses in the country. Your local historical society and library should be able to provide these. I once spent some time searching around an old school house that had been abandoned in the 1950s. The elderly lady that gave me permission to hunt there also told me about the location of another country school that she went to as a little girl. It also was the property where the early pioneers came to draw drinking water. The land was simply a farm field in the middle of nowhere. That ground revealed coins from the 1800s along with other items like marbles and buttons that the rain had washed off the plowed dirt. Do yourself a favor and get your experience detecting around your home town now, but also put some materials like old maps away for your rainy day of detecting around new targets of opportunity near your retreat after TSHTF. Don’t let the dust settle on your new detector. Get out there and use it!

You will also need to prepare yourself for OPSEC both now, and in the future. When you have permission to detect and keep what you find on a property, don’t show the valuables you find to strangers or to the land owners. I once read a story about a gentleman that detected around an old farmhouse. After he was finished, he decided to thank the owner for permission and show what he had found. The lady of the house was very impressed with the money he found, and sorted out and kept the pre-`65 silver in the pile. That left the man standing there dumbfounded that he just let his day’s efforts be taken away. When detecting, use one of those aprons for nails found at hardware stores. This can hold your knife for hole cutting/digging, and also your trash. A double pouch allows a few pennies to be left on one side and the trash for disposal in the other. If approached, the pennies could be presented as your finds while your silver or other treasures are nestled in your front pocket. I’m not suggesting that you lie, but rather only present part of the finds. If you are asked if that was all you found, just present the other pouch of trash!

Another item to invest in is a good pair of headphones. I’m not necessarily talking about those foam covered cheapies, but rather the old fashioned kind that surround your ear. This enables two things. First, it allows the deeper and fainter signals to be heard well. It also prevents the loud beeping of the detector from being heard and drawing unwanted attention. In a TEOTWAWKI situation, there will be people who recognize that a detector is for finding money. Should silver be worth hundreds of dollars, they could just wait for you to finish the task, and then violently take your detector and precious finds. Wearing headphones partly prevents you from being aware of your surroundings. In this situation, a second person should be available to accompany you on your day of treasure hunting while looking out for any zombie opportunists. Of course, both of you should be armed!

The detector is a sensitive instrument, and should also be protected from EMP threats. The large round disc on the detector that is swung is called the coil for a good reason. It is a coil of copper wire containing possibly hundreds of feet that becomes an effective antenna and will amplify an unwanted large current caused by EMP to sensitive electronics. Some detectors like the Whites may be housed in metal, but the coil and electronic body should be disconnected and stored in a faraday box if possible. It should also be mentioned that it would be a good idea to store a dc powered battery charger for the detector batteries and a small solar panel for the charger.

I will conclude by saying that the ground around us contains millions of lost coins and jewelry. Most people blindly walk over it on a daily basis without the knowledge of how to find it. Being able to find it can be a way to sustain a constant supply of silver when it may be the bartering currency of choice in our dim future. It also has the possibility of elevating yourself to a position of wealth if the precious metals market continues. Of course, nothing beats the value of faith in our lives, and I hope you trust more in the God that has provided everlasting life than your entire storehouse of beans, bullets, and Band-Aids. Grace cannot be destroyed, burned, rusted, stolen, or be eaten by moths. It is absolutely free, yet the most valuable thing I have ever been given.
Happy digging!

JWR Adds: It might sound odd, but old outhouse sites are ideal for metal detecting, if you are willing to sweat some, to dig. These sites are safe and non-odiferous to dig if they’ve been disused for at least 20 years. (The feces have long since decomposed into soil.) Some of my friends have found an amazing number of coins in their outhouse digs, all the way up to a $20 gold piece!  The very best of these sites was an outhouse in Nevada that they later determined had been behind a saloon.      

Here in the Western United States, you may find that the synergy of GPS navigation (with WAAS), Google Earth imaging, and modern metal detectors can help you find virtually forgotten and “lost” ghost town sites.

Most of my metal detecting experience was with a Minelab brand detector looking for gold nuggets. But I can relate from my friends’ experience that one quite good “coin shooting” metal detector that is reasonably priced is the Bounty Hunter Discovery 3300.