Jokes aside, I never expected to ever find this many rings or this much jewelry in such a short period of time. This particular hunting patch might’ve only been for one month, but the preparation and planning has been a year in the making, as well as the perfect storm of circumstances to have put me in the right places at the right time. I’ll be going through my planning and strategies that I used, as well as some of the unusual tools and methods that led to this crazy month of treasure hunting.
A bit more than a year ago, I started metal detecting and thoroughly enjoyed this amazing hobby. In August of 2020, I purchased my first proper metal detector after learning on a secondhand Bounty Hunter. Over the next nine months, I cataloged 157 separate metal detecting trips with my Nokta Makro Simplex to beaches all along the coast near San Diego. Every single item that I pulled out of the ground was photographed and added to the data of the hunt; every bottlecap, pull tab, foil ball, coin, piece of jewelry, and ring. Individually, this information might seem meaningless, but when overlaid onto maps over a long enough period of time, that data became incredibly valuable. For instance, if I hit a certain beach at different times of the day and different days of the week and was consistently finding large amounts of pull tabs but low coins, I was able to infer that other detectorists were likely cherry-picking their targets and these would be prime spots for hunting gold when the weather warmed up. I built data tables like this for every beach that I hunted, including adding whether or not I encountered other detectorists or signs of being hunted. With all this information, very quickly trends began to show up. And still, I added MORE data.
Watching live surf-cam feeds or even using Google Maps tell me how the traffic at each beach comes into play. I followed beach sporting events and those little flyers put up announcing beach parties. All the while, I was gaining experience with my detector and understanding how it worked, as well as its limitations. This became a complete passion project for me, and every chance that I had was put into figuring out more: listening to other detectorists talk, mentioning pieces of information that I could use to find locations, watching where people gathered at the beaches and locations near hotels, bars, and restaurants.
Social media became an amazing tool after joining treasure-hunting Facebook groups and following Instagram and YouTube detectorists. A lot of people posted pictures of their finds at the beach without mentioning which beach they were at, but because I stalked all the beaches and photographed the sand at different locations at each beach, I could discern the beach by its sand, building a record of color, texture, consistency, as well as black sand content. Quite often I was able to perfectly identify which part of which beach was being photographed just by looking at the sand in photos and videos. Sometimes landmarks were accidentally included, which narrowed down the possible location a lot. Craigslist and many of the places where people post about lost rings were also invaluable in adding more and more information to my huge, custom database. I tried to recover many items and most of the time it was fruitless, but I knew that at least one ring had been lost there.
By mid-April of 2021, I felt that I knew enough about detecting and my current detector to make the upgrade to the Minelab Equinox 800. This was a total game-changer, as with the multi-frequency capabilities, I consistently found more targets at greater depths, as well as the VDI being a lot more accurate and stable. At the end of June 2021, I had already put together most of my hunting schedule for July, taking all my data into account and adding backup plans in case certain beaches had been already hunted before I arrived. I planned a lot around the 4th of July weekend and its low tides, as well as the low tides later in the month. My original goal was to find 14 rings to bring my yearly total up to 50, but by the second week, I had already hit that goal and decided to further put my planning to the test. I had three hugely successful hunts (finding four or more rings), though I did still have hunts that didn’t produce anything significant. However, I played the numbers game by hitting multiple beaches each trip out for many hours. During July 2021, I walked just a little more than 200 km / 125 miles over 37 individual beach hunts and pulled 34 rings out of the sand. Five gold rings, nine silver rings, four tungsten, two stainless steel, and with the rest being costume jewelry (but a ring is still a ring!).
This is all how I used my ever-growing wealth of data to (semi) successfully predict where the best places to hunt would be. I have decided not to keep this pace up, as it was incredibly hard to maintain, especially by developing detecting-lag on my sleep schedules and the toll that all that swinging takes on your body. It was incredibly fun and fulfilling, and absolutely one of the most intense experiences that I’ve put both my body and my incredibly loving family through.