Interview: Unearthing Dennis Grzenia’s Secrets of Metal Detecting Mastery

Dennis Grzenia is an avid metal detectorist in and around Wisconsin. He uses the Minelab Manticore and the Nokta Legend metal detectors. Over the years, he has honed his skills in coin shooting, but his true passion lies in hunting for relics. Dennis also owns the Minelab CTX 3030 and the Nokta Simplex, both of which are excellent detectors. He finds that the Simplex offers remarkable value for the price. With the Simplex, Dennis has made some impressive finds at surprising depths. Below, we delve deeper into Dennis’s passion for metal detecting and gain insights from his experiences. Read on for my interview questions and Dennis’s detailed answers.

Dennis’s Metal Detecting Journey

What initially sparked your fascination with metal detecting? What specific treasures or artifacts drew you into this hobby more deeply?
I’ve always had a love for finding and hunting things, whether fossils or rocks in general. My fondness for coins also stems from my dad. About nine years ago, I discovered a Garrett GTI 3500 at a garage sale for $10. It got me hooked, and I’ve just gone from there. I’ve learned so much from researching items I’ve dug up and learning from them. One of the first cool items I found was a good luck token from the early 1900s that had a swastika on it; I didn’t know they were considered symbols of good luck back then. Finding coins that are far from home really makes you wonder how they got there.

What was the first metal detector you used when you began metal detecting, and what were its predecessors?
As mentioned in the prior question,I bought a Garrett GTI 3500 at a garage sale and started learning on that. Then, the following year, I found a Fisher F2 at another garage sale and got further hooked. Since then, I have bought a Minelab CTX 3030, Nokta Simplex, Nokta Legend, and the Minelab Manticore. I feel each is a great machine.

In the early stages of your hobby, did you seek guidance or mentorship? If so, from whom and where did you receive this support?
I did not have a mentor. Instead, I did a lot of research online and on forums such as the Friendly Metal Detecting Forum, which was very helpful for asking questions and learning. Now, I’ve joined a club and continue to learn from them as well.

A Small Sample of Dennis Grzenia’s Metal Detecting Finds.

Metal Detecting Tips

What are your preferred resources, tools, websites, or apps for researching new metal detecting locations?
I don’t do as much research as I should. I know about historic aerials and OnX Hunt; both are good tools. Mostly, if I’m not detecting in parks, I’ll ask for permission at older houses. I’m not a very outgoing person, and it’s hard to ask strangers if I can dig in their yard, but it’s worth the effort.

Which strategies would you recommend for effectively metal detecting in areas heavily contaminated with iron for coin shooting or relic hunting?
Hunting in those conditions requires you to slow way down. Go slow and listen for deep or hidden targets. You’re still going to dig up a lot of undesirable targets, but you will find more good targets than someone who swings over these areas quickly.

If you have limited time and are metal detecting a park, what areas do you like to hit and find fruitful?
In that scenario, I would start anywhere there is a lot of foot traffic, and I always check the tot lot area. It seems kids lose a lot of things while playing on the equipment. Treat a tot lot like a beach—dig everything, hoping for gold. It happens often enough.

What other advice we haven’t covered above, but you feel is important would you offer to someone looking to enhance their skills in metal detecting?
Don’t get discouraged by digging up trash; it’s part of the hobby. It’s also how you learn what your machine is telling you. You will come to understand the sounds and what the VDI is indicating. And I honestly believe that if you aren’t digging up some trash, then you aren’t trying hard enough.

Choosing between the Minelab Manticore or Nokta Legend

Since you own both the Minelab Manticore and the Nokta Legend, could you provide an analysis of each detector’s strengths? Additionally, could you compare their
performances in various conditions to help our readers determine which detector might be better suited for their needs when considering a purchase.

That is a tough choice. I have complete confidence in both detectors. The Nokta Legend has several advantages. Its price is considerably less than that of the Minelab Manticore. It is a multi-frequency machine that is fairly simple to learn and works effectively. I feel it is more stable than the Manticore. I have encountered places where I couldn’t use the Minelab Manticore because of the EMI, and the Nokta Legend was very stable. The Manticore allows you to create customized programs and is quite sensitive. Both detectors are great. However, if I were giving a suggestion to someone fairly new to the hobby, I would say the Nokta Legend would be a great detector for them, mostly for the cost and ease of use.

Metal Detector Settings & VDI

What are your favorite Minelab Manticore settings for Coin Shooting and Relic Hunting?
I mostly just use the factory settings. I’ll adjust the sensitivity or the recovery speed as needed. The Minelab Manticore can be used as a turn-on-and-go machine for common coin shooting.

For coin shooting with the Minelab Manticore, what VDIs do you dig?
I’ll dig anything above 48 and focus on signals between 24 and 28 when searching for nickels. On a beach or in a tot lot, you should dig every repeatable signal.

What are your favorite Minelab CTX 3030 settings for Coin Shooting and Relic Hunting?
I mostly use the factory coin settings. I have also set up a couple of the programs from Andy Sabisch’s book on the Minelab CTX 3030. They all work well.

For coin shooting with the Minelab CTX 3030, what VDIs do you dig?
Anything above 12-28, and from 12-12 up to 12-16.

CTX 3030 Handbook by Andy Sabisch

The CTX 3030 Handbook contains the information detectorists need to help quickly master the Minelab CTX 3030 Metal Detector and unlock all of the performance it is capabilities. See the best settings and techniques from advanced detectorists for various soil and sand conditions.

What are your favorite Nokta Legend settings for Coin Shooting and Relic Hunting?
I pretty much leave it on the park setting on the Legend.

For coin shooting with the Nokta Legend, what VDIs do you dig?
38-39 and above.

What are your favorite settings on the Nokta Simplex for coin shooting and relic hunting? For coin shooting with the Nokta Simplex, which VDIs do you dig?
I believe I preferred Park 2. The original Park Program required swinging too fast for my liking. Then, they updated it and introduced a Second Park Program, which I really liked because it better suited my swing speed. As for the VDI numbers, I think I would dig everything above 48. Regarding VDI numbers on any machine, I also consider how many targets I’m detecting. In some parks, you hit multiple targets with each swing, and you want to focus on high-value targets. However, in a field where you may go long periods without any targets, you tend to dig everything.

Improving the Hobby of Metal Detecting

How could the online metal detecting community improve? Are there specific topics that need more or less coverage?
I wish the online community wouldn’t focus so much on how much silver you find or how many rings you get on the beach. While those achievements are nice to hear about, it would be even better to hear more tips from experienced people. I get excited about finding a wheat cent, yet there are people who will say something negative about it. We should all support each other.

In conclusion, our journey through the metal detecting insights of Dennis Grzenia reveals a wealth of knowledge and passion that both novices and seasoned detectorists can admire and learn from. Dennis’s expertise, from choosing the right gear to mastering the art of coin shooting and relic hunting, underscores a deep commitment to the hobby. His practical advice on handling different terrains and settings, along with his strategies for maximizing finds in challenging environments, provides a valuable guide for anyone looking to deepen their metal detecting skills. As we reflect on Dennis’s experiences and tips, it’s clear that metal detecting is more than just a pastime; it’s a pursuit of history, adventure, and the thrill of discovery. Whether you’re deciding between detectors or seeking to enhance your detecting techniques, Dennis’s insights
offer a treasure trove of information to help you succeed in your next outdoor adventure.

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