Rookie Corner

by Andy Nunez

'Tis the season, at last! The fields are being harvested, not all have cover crops and the oppressive heat of summer has departed. By the time of the club holiday dinner, rifle season for deer in Maryland will have ended. It's time to get out and swing coils until planting season returns. A lot of you are thinking about new machines for Christmas or maybe machines for children or grandchildren.

I have always thought it best not to buy more machine than you can handle. It's like a car. I decided long ago that the sporty models were just too powerful for me and I needed to forget about them. Also, they were hard to get into and out of. The same thing goes with a detector.

Think about why you want a new detector. If you are looking to upgrade, what features do you want? Do you really need them? Will that $600 detector come close to one over a thousand bucks? What do you really need in a machine?

The basics are very simple. You want a machine that goes reasonably deep, but also one that is good around iron in the ground and mineralized soil. A turn on and go detector can get you two out of three, but there's that mineralization, which, combined with iron, can mask good targets.

You don't always have to pay and arm and a leg for machines with ground balancing. A number of machines have "ground grab" technology which will automatically tune you in. Slightly more expensive ones have the full ground balance, where you pump the detector up and down on a spot with no signals to balance it. For under $600 you can get a reasonable detector from most manufacturers that will ground balance.

Then, there is the matter of meters. Most machines on the market now have a meter and the better ones have a numerical readout so you can get a better idea of what the machine is telling you. However, a lot of the decision making is still in the pinpoint mode, listening to the size of the target, and even to the variation in sound that targets make in pinpoint mode.

I can usually guess what targets are better due to the fact that the high conductors like copper, silver, and gold, make a softer sound in pinpoint mode than iron or aluminum which sound loud and harsh. Coins have that softer sound and the target size dies off quickly. So using an older Fisher or a Tesoro means tuning your ear to listen to these subtle variations. It takes practice.

Which is my other point about your machine. Practice with it. Take the time to learn all of its features. Go on to Youtube and watch videos. Some machines are like thoroughbred horses. You have to handle them just right or they get fussy. What I have seen of the XP Deus, for example, is that in trained hands, it is an awesome machine. Two folks I know paid to go to a Deus bootcamp and learned to master the many features it has. Part of its secret, like Minelab is the multi-frequency. However, tweaking the many programs to suit your environment turns a good machine into a powerhouse.

However, for the kids, the opposite is true. They need a simple, turn on and go machine to learn the basics without them getting frustrated. Kids have a short attention span. If they can't figure out the controls and can't find anything, they get bored easily. I have grandchildren, so I know only too well you have to keep them motivated.

OK, that's it for this column. Have a wonderful Christmas season and a Happy New Year. As always, if I don't see you at the meeting, maybe I'll see you in the field.

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