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The Digger :Your Metal Detecting Newsletter
March 30, 2022

False Detection, Ghost Holes

How often have you received a signal from your detector, dug a plug, and found nothing?

You run your coil over the hole multiple times and then over the dirt you pulled from the hole, and you receive no signal.

Now you dig the hole deeper, and wider, remove the dirt and swing your detector over the hole, and the pile of dirt again. You still do not get a signal or see a target.

“Okay,” you say to yourself. “I have my trusty little pinpointer here, and I will wave it in and around the hole and pile of dirt. My pinpointer will find whatever it is.” So you do that, and once again, you receive no signal nor do you see any item.

By now you’re scratching your head and cursing at the detector and pinpointer for not working correctly. Perhaps your conversation with yourself continues and goes something like this.

“I had a nice signal at first, it sounded like it was a coin. This can’t be a ghost hole. Why can’t I find it? This area is producing old coins. It’s gotta be a coin. Let me try again.”

After multiple attempts, and a hole that is now large enough to bury a Komatsu, you reluctantly kick the dirt back into the hole, and before walking away from it, you pass your detector over it one more time. And low and behold, there’s that signal again.

By now, you’re so frustrated you’re frantically pulling dirt out of the hole and talking to it simultaneously. “Damn it. I know you’re in there. Where are you?”

Again, you find nothing, fill the hole, and walk away without any luck in finding the target.

Yes, I have had the same situations during my fifty years using metal detectors from every manufacturer. And what I have learned from those experiences is this. Often, when digging a plug where a coin is present, the coin will drop deeper into the hole and land on its edge. If a coin is on its edge, it will be more difficult to detect because of the small surface. Likewise, objects like tin cans or bottle caps that have completely rusted can be hard to see but will give off a signal. Tiny pieces of tin foil are another culprit that will give off signals but is sometimes difficult to see.

Carrying a small magnet to use by rubbing it into the hole or dirt pile is a good way to determine if tiny iron particles are present. However, the problem with ghost holes or false detection is sometimes mineralization.

To solve this problem, you need to fine-tune the adjustments on your detector. This is one of the reasons why I have stated many times, especially to newbies, you need to learn your detector. You need to know how it reacts to all kinds of targets and how it works in every type of soil condition.

With a non-motion detector, or if you can switch to non-motion with your detector, and then tweaking the ground balance to eliminate iron particles in the ground, you will reduce the amount of time you spend on ghost holes. Although more challenging to use, non-motion detectors ground balanced correctly, offer a better way to avoid false detection.

Another critical adjustment to make is the sensitivity of the detector. Combined with proper ground balancing, you may need to dial up or down the amount of sensitivity to control the false signals from mineralization.

Again, if you are not familiar with how your detector works in all kinds of soil or when it signals a target, you will have a more difficult time when a ghost hole haunts you.

Their Baaaaaaack!

Many years ago, I posted brief narrated stories from the comical adventures of my two friends, Clem Digger and Clyde Loop. I stopped posting their stories because I was busy researching treasure hunting sites and writing another book. As a result, I also stopped publishing "The Digger," where their stories appeared. However, as fate may have it, I've been contacted by people who want to hear from Clem and Clyde again. So, in this edition of "The Digger" I am reintroducing Clem Digger and Clyde Loop.

The Metal Detect’en Ventures of Clem and Clyde

By Clem Digger

Hi there, my names Clem Digger. I figured I’d write someth’en ‘bout my love of treasure hunt’en and metal detect’en. I been kinda keep’en this here journal in hopes that someday maybe a few others would read it. I’m guess’en now’s a good a time as any. And my friend Frank was kind enough to put my story in this newsletter he calls “The Digger.” So here goes.

First, I gotta say, that I been look’en for treasure nigh on ‘bout 50 years. I ain’t never found no big stash, just lots a junk’n stuff. But I like get’en out in the fresh air with my detect’en buddy ‘ole Clyde Loop.

Clyde’s bin detect’en with me as long as I can remember. He ain’t never found much neither. Ole Clyde is good at find‘en pull tabs though. He saves every last one he found to. Clyde’s got more pull tabs than brains. Course ‘ole Clyde’s got a reason fur being dumb. When he was younger, he was kicked in the head by a horse he was try’en to shoe. He ain ‘t been right since. Anyway, I keep tell’en Clyde them pull tabs he saves ain’t worth noth’en. Butt Clyde’s stubborn. That’s why he ain’t married no more. Ole Clyde’s gone through four wives cause he’s set in his ways some. He says he ain’t got time for wives cause they mess up his detect’en time.

Course I ain’t married no more neither. My wife kicked the bucket when she fell in the well. The ole well’s been on my property for generations. We never used it, and it still had water in it. I used to tell my wife Nellie to be carefull when near that well. Anyway, it took us a while to get her out. I called the neighbors but they was all busy work’en and with chores. Anyway, after a few days gone by, we finally snatched her outa that well. We had to fish her out using one of those large hooks they use to snag gators with.

What happened was I was look’en all over fur her when I decided to look in the well. God almighty! There she be, stuck halfway down the well, head first. She drownt what she did. She musta sucked in half the well water before she kicked. We had a helluva time gett’en her outa there to. She was wedged in pretty good. If it weren’t fur the neighbors help’en me pull on the rope with the hook, Nell stilt be stuck ‘n the well. Anyhow, now me ‘n ole Clyde have lots a time to go detect’en.

Me ‘n Clyde like search’en for ghost towns. Usually, we jump in Clyde’s red pickup truck Calamity and drive into the woods look’en for’em.

Calamity’s been with ole Clyde nigh on forty years. Clyde says he ain’t fix’in to buy no new truck cause their all junk. Instead, ole Clyde just keeps repair’en Calamity whenever she breaks down. And it seems like Calamity breaks down ever day. Clyde’s got himself used truck parts thrown all over his lawn. He just keeps repair’en the darn things.

When ‘ole Clyde ‘n me go look’en fur ghost towns I usually read the map. That’s cause Clyde don’t read too well. He also caint hear too good neither. So, when I talk to him I gotta yell real loud.

One day ‘ole Clyde ‘n me was travel’en in Calamity to a cellar hole when we come to a railroad crossing. I seen the train come’en on my side and I hurd the train whistle blow’en. Butt ‘ole Clyde kept a drive’en straight across them tracks as the gate come down. That ole gate just missed Calamity. Then the train ingineer done flipped the bird to me an Clyde as the train went by. I yelled at Clyde and told him he was dummer than a box a rocks. He just thanked me and kept on drive’en. He didn’t hear noth’en.

I’m gonna tell ya in this first story I’m a write’en ‘bout the time me ‘n ‘ole Clyde went search’en for a ghost town on private land. God almighty, ‘ole Clyde almost got us kilt again.

We was drive’en Calamity down a dirt road and I told Clyde the map I was read’en weren’t just right. I told Clyde to turn around and head back in the other direction. It was a rainy day and we was in the middle of a corn field.

I yelled again at ‘ole Clyde to turn Calamity around and he just drives straight into a manure pile. Then I sees the farmer coming at us in his big green john dear tractor. Ole Clyde was git’en nervous try’en to back Calamity outa the manure pile. She was buried knee high.

I kept yell’en at Clyde to git us outa there cause that farmer was point’en a shotgun at us.

We was try’en to unstick Calamity and that farmer was steering that john dear and point’en that double barrel at the same time.

I figured we were gonna be dead soon. So, I told ole Clyde he’d been a good friend and all. That’s when Clyde started to pray. I ain’t never seen Clyde pray before, and out there in the manure pile with that angry farmer come’en at us, ‘ole Clyde was pray’en up a storm. He kept mumbl’en someth’en I ain’t never heard before, and likely I never will again. His mumbl’en was spooky. Sent the jeebies down my spine it did.

The farmer come right up to Calamity and pointed that big double barrel shotgun right at Clydes head. ‘Bout that time was when I commenced to pray’en too. I told God that if the farmer kilt ‘ole Clyde first that he’d give me the strength to run away.

By now Clyde was cry’en like a scart baby. He was look’en right down both barrels of that shotgun. That’s when the farmer spoke fur the first time.

When he asked us why we were on his property ‘ole Clyde says that it were my idea cause I was the one read’en the map. Clyde says he was just follow’en orders. That’s when the farmer pointed the shotgun through Clyde’s window right at me. Now I figured that God was bout to take me. So I did the only thing I could think of. I told the farmer he had a nice farm and that I liked the way he situated his manure pile and asked him to please let me live.

Clyde began pray’en them funny sound’en words again. He was stilt cry’en to. The farmer told Clyde to shut up or he was gonna kill him and mount his head on the wall above his fireplace. That’s when ‘ole Clyde started to twitch and shake all over. The farmer got scart and asked me what Clyde was do’en. I told the farmer that Clyde was kicked in the head by a horse and his brain was not right and that ever once in a while ‘ole Clyde would become crazier than a rabid animal and attack things. That’s when the farmer decided to pull Calamity outa the manure pile with his john deere. After that, we was too shook up to go detect’en so we decided to call it a day.

Anyways, Clyde twitched all the way home. I had to drive Calamity cause ‘ole Clyde was shak’en so hard his dentures come out. I kept tell’en him not to worry ever thing was fine now. And when I pulled up to Clyde’s trailer he was still twitch’en. Finally, after an hour or so, my ‘ole buddy Clyde calmed down enough to eat some dinner I’d fixed up fur the two of us.

Clyde had some porcupine meat hang’en on a tree out back a his trailer, so I fixed us a stew. ‘Ole Clyde was much bedder after he ate. I stayed fur a while to make sure Clyde weren’t gonna twitch again, and then I went home. However though, we did plan on go’en out the next day look’en fur that ghost town we’d set out to find. Hopefully, that’ll be the next story of mine Frank will put in his newsletter.

Bye fur now,

Clem Digger

A Piece From The Past

“In St.Joseph County, Indiana, in 1977, workmen on an office construction site on the Dougdale estate found a broken fruit jar containing old coins. Upon investigating, they found 30 additional jars that eventually filled nine 5-gallon buckets with coins that were estimated to total $50,000.”


Thomas P. Terry

The Ring Finders: Sonoma County

“When I tell Woodrow Engle I’ve secured access to search for treasure at two old wineries in Sonoma County, it feels like we’re embarking on a “Raiders of the Lost Ark” sequel. ‘I’ll see if I can find some old maps of the area and do a little research,’ he texts.” Ring Finders Sonoma County

Stockport Couple's Lost Engagement Ring Found by Metal Detectorist

“A couple who spent the first hours of their beach engagement searching for the ring after it fell into the sand have thanked a metal detectorist for saving the day.” Stockport Couple's Lost Engagement Ring

Ontario County Man Searches for Buried Treasure,

and Sometimes Succeeds

“For Joe Miller, it all started with a coin. According to the Honeoye resident, his foray into the world of metal detecting began about a year and a half ago at a friend's house. He had just purchased a new metal detector after admiring some of the ones his friend owned, and wanted to try it out.” Ontario County Man

Duck Dynasty Star Films Metal Detecting Show

“Jase Robertson, of ‘Duck Dynasty’ fame was recently in Vicksburg on a hunt, but it wasn’t for ducks.” Duck Dynasty Star Films Metal Detecting Show

We Want Your Stories and Pictures

One of the excitements we get from metal detecting is seeing what kind of “stuff” others are finding. Not only do we enjoy seeing the items found, but many of us like to hear the stories about how those finds were located. So, let’s see your “stuff.”

Many have posted pictures and brief stories of their finds at my website. It’s easy to do. You basically create your own webpage with a picture or pictures, and a brief story of how you found the items. Once your page is posted, others will be able to view your page, and make comments. You will also have your own url link to the webpage you built. Use that link to post to Facebook, Twitter, or Pintrest and share with others.

So show your “stuff.” We want to see the goodies! Stories About Your Finds

Back Issues

If you’re new to “The Digger” and you’d like to see back issues, or if you know anyone that may be interested in “The Digger” you can direct them to the “Back Issues” page for their review. The Digger back issues

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