Detecting Dish - 1st Interview

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04-26-2014, 12:47 PM
Post: #1
Detecting Dish - 1st Interview
(This post was last modified: 04-26-2014 05:51 PM by NjNyDigger.)
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Diggers, as I've mentioned recently, I'm implementing a new feature here in our community. It's an interview series to be called 'Detecting Dish', and will feature Q & A's with some of the most visible, knowledgable members within this hobby. These interviews will be informative & fun, and will allow us to get inside the brains of the best of the best. On that note...

I'm very pleased to introduce our first interview subject. Aside from being involved with metal detecting since he was a young boy, he's since grown into one of the most recognizable names within this pursuit. An engineer, author of numerous treasure hunting books & articles, and detector reviewer for Lost Treasure magazine, Mr. Andy Sabisch.

*Andy, first, thank you for taking the time to do this premier interview, in an ongoing series for our Treasure Classifieds members! If you can, please tell us how you got started in metal detecting, and what initially drew you to the hobby itself?

I always enjoy telling people what got me started in the hobby, and how it turned from what was expected to be a passing fancy, to a life-long passion that has truly been an exciting adventure since day one. When I was still a kid in the 1960's, I remember looking through my father's Popular Mechanics Magazine and saw an ad in the back for a metal detector. In those days there were literally dozens of companies building detectors - with very few actually worth taking into the field. The ad that caught my eye was for a Viking metal detector that touted its features (which were quite limited with only one knob on it) and lured me in with the offer of a free headset with an order. I showed my parents the ad and said that was what I wanted from Santa for Christmas. After all, the ad said I could get rich with the buried treasure I would be recovering with this detector...and with the $19.95 price tag one can just imagine what I was in store for!

Well, Santa made good on my request and I could hardly wait for the New York winter to come to an end so I could start digging up all those coins and other treasures I knew awaited me. As soon as the snow melted my brother Chris and I were out almost every day with that detector and despite our pitiful results, we stuck with it. Almost a year later, with less than 100 coins to show for our efforts, I put some neighborhood leave raking and other chore money into the pot and bought a Jetco detector which allowed my brother and I to find more treasures, and from that point on I was hooked.

I tried virtually every detector out there at the time and was always able to find enough to pay for the next detector I wanted. Brands that are still in operation including White's, Garrett, Fisher, Bounty Hunter as well as many that have fallen by the wayside such as Gardiner, D-Tex, Relco and the original Bounty Hunter to name just a few accompanied me on my searches and my collection began to take shape.

I've looked back fondly at my start and the hunts I have been on over the past 50+ years and even my parents shake their heads in amazement when they see what that original $19.95 investment turned into. My father, who's currently pushing 90 still has a pair of detectors, both of my kids remain interested in the hobby and go out with me whenever they can, and I am continually introducing others to this great hobby. My travels and adventures have literally spanned the globe and the friendships I have made over the decades are priceless. Some of my best hunts have not been based on what I found but rather the excitement and adventure experienced and shared with fellow treasure hunters. I feel that with the right approach, a simple metal detector, and a few accessories, this hobby can and has for me unlocked a lifetime of discovery that can't be equaled!

*Based on your extensive experience, what are some of the biggest changes - good or bad - that have transpired in the hobby over the years?

Obviously the technology changes that have taken place over the years is the biggest positive change that stands out in my eyes. When us ol' timers started out, Beat Frequency Oscillators (BFO's) were the only type of detectors available and to be honest I am always amazed that we found anything with the performance those old detectors provided. While silver coins were still in circulation, a coin buried more than a few inches deep in even mild soil was a tough target to find. I remember talking to other treasure hunters in the 1960's and saying "can you imagine if a detector could tell you if something was trash or not" or "could you imagine a detector that told you what was in the ground before you recovered it?" Well, as we know, these all came to pass and as new technology continues to emerge, more treasure comes from sites that have been heavily hunted for decades.

As far as the biggest negative change that the hobby has experienced, I would have to say that the huge influx of new people has made the small percentage that give the hobby a bad image more visible and as a result, our very existence has become an uncertainty. When I started in the 1960's no one knew what a metal detector was and I was often asked questions such as was I spraying for bugs or was that an electric lawn mower. Over the years that has changed and now thanks to the Internet and TV shows, people come up to me and ask if the detector I am using is the latest from company XYZ or have I tried some other specific brand.

More people have entered this hobby hoping to find instant wealth and often purchased their equipment from a source that offered no instruction on how to use the equipment or recover targets. Then, these people go out with shovels and leave gaping holes in public areas, which in a number of cases have been closed to future detecting as a result. So, the influx of new people is great in the short term, but having scores of new treasure hunters out in public areas without utilizing the proper techniques will in the long run, result in fewer areas for the rest of the hobby's participants to explore.

*I'm fascinated with this question myself, and have pondered it many times. In your opinion, would you say we lose out on more good targets from masking, or, from targets being too deep for conventional detectors to find?

Great question and one that has been bantered around since before I got into the hobby some 50+ years ago. The correct answer is that both are right . . . . and that is not an attempt to dodge answering the question.

I have recovered old coins and relics - pre 1900 here in the United States and far older overseas - that were literally a few inches deep but were in areas that also contained other metallic objects; i.e., were being masked by adjacent targets. On the other hand, I have hunted areas that were either in wooded areas with heavy leaf build-up or near waterways that flooded frequently that contained targets that were close to a foot deep yet dated back a mere 50 years or less.

I think the best way to answer this question is "It Depends." There are countless coins, rings and other valuables waiting to be recovered that are 6 inches deep or less but are laying in areas that are littered with trash targets. This is where smaller coils and some of the newer technology that allows the detector to reset or recover much faster than even detectors that were produced a few years ago could will make these areas produce as if they had never been hunted before. Recently I have gone back to sites that were extremely trashy that I had hunted as long as two decades ago and was amazed at just how much remained.

On the flip side, in areas where targets are in fact extremely deep be it the result of sediment buildup from flooding or erosion, soil being trucked in to fill or level uneven areas, or simply the type of soil allowing targets to sink faster, depth is the key factor driving one's success. Here, a combination of larger coils combined with circuitry that can punch through all types of soil to reach those deep targets is what is needed to recover what has gone
undetected for years.

Unfortunately current detector technology often makes the two problems - target masking and detection depth - almost mutually exclusive when it comes to selecting a detector. When you add the desire to have accurate target ID AND discrimination to the wish list, there are very few choices to select from. That is why many serious hunters have more than one detector so that they can switch off as conditions dictate...or in my case, several closets full...each detector stands out in its own right for specific applications and unfortunately there is no one detector that does it all, although manufacturers are working on making that a thing of the past.

*Two part question - What do you think is the next major step in terms of detector technology? What would you like to see, or feel is the most important thing manufacturers should be developing to further the evolution of the hobby?

Without divulging designs that I have been privy to seeing in the development phases from several companies, there are a few areas that I can see as being the focus of manufacturers located both here and overseas.

If you look at the power of cell phones today, you realize that detectors that weigh 5+ pounds are not the direction consumers are expecting things to evolve in when it comes to electronics. More computing power can be crammed into smaller "boxes" and this is where the industry will be forced to migrate to. High-resolution color screens are expected on even the cheapest of cell phones and tablets, so seeing them move to detectors with graphic displays and even touch screen capabilities simply makes sense. Wireless technology is available on a handful of detectors and after one experiences hunting with a wireless detector, it is hard to go back to the old hardwired models...regardless of the performance they might offer.

Weight and balance are areas that can be easily addressed, but it does require redesigning equipment and retooling factories so there is an investment associated with providing that creature comfort. However, people are starting to expect that, especially with the newer companies producing detectors that fit that mold, so I would expect to see more ergonomic design work showing up on future detectors.

Battery systems are also an area where current technology is not being fully utilized in detector design. LiIon batteries provide better performance with less weight yet very few detectors offer that even as an option. Being able to get 30+ hours of use on a charge, and recharge a battery in under 2 hours will become the norm in coming years.

Finally, for those that require detection depth but want the ability to identify what they have detected, improved discrimination or target ID on PI or similar detectors is an area that will garner further attention by the engineers.

It will be interesting to see what the detector of tomorrow will I mentioned before, the detectors of today are beyond what we could have hoped for in our wildest imagination when I entered the ID, discrimination, waterproof coils, rechargeable batteries were all features that one could only dream of seeing on a detector, yet today can be found on detectors that cost a mere $200!

*Do you think we've reached the furthest advancements in VLF detectors, or, is there still room for progress?

Clearly, the bar for VLF technology has been raised pretty high, and advancements are going to be less dramatic than they were in say the 1970's and 1980's when features such as Ground Balance, automatic ground tracking and target ID were introduced. Have we reached the limit of what VLF technology is capable of? No, I think that with the advancement in micro-computers and the power of what can be put in a package that weighs mere ounces that we will see new variations of the VLF circuit unveiled that offer marked advantages for specific types of hunting. Specialty detectors will become more prevalent, and as they do, the finds they will be able to produce will likely make even the most jaded of hunters shake their head and wonder how the engineers did what they did. So yes, I see more advancements on the horizon and am anxiously awaiting them to see what might remain in sites that I and others have given up on.

*I see more and more hunters using PI units nowadays. Why do you think that is?

Again, an interesting question with what I see as having a two-part answer. Obviously the big advantage PI circuits have over other designs is that they are virtually unaffected by ground mineralization. The more mineralized ground becomes, the more detection depth is lost on circuits - both single and multi-frequency models. What relic hunters and electronic prospectors have found is that if raw detection depth is what is needed, PI detectors can provide that level of performance. There is no doubt that in the right area, a PI detector can punch down deeper and find targets that would otherwise be undetectable, and those detectorists that understand the limitations and advantages a PI detector can provide have made some amazing finds using these detectors in recent years.

What is interesting however is the number of people that are buying them simply because of what others have reported finding, without fully understanding what the PI brings to the table. If ground mineralization is low, the depth advantage over a quality VLF detector is much less than it would be in a highly mineralized area. Since VLF detectors offer discrimination at depth, which the PI detectors lack, the scale starts to tip towards the VLF in terms of being the detector of choice in these conditions.

I have been out with others that were using PI detectors in moderately mineralized ground and after a few hours, I had considerably more good targets in my pouch than they did since they were digging more ferrous targets such as nails at depths that were pushing a foot or more. They may have had a slight edge in detection depth, but the discrimination capabilities on my detector allowed me to ignore most of what they were forced to take the time to recover.

On the other hand, I have used PI units in areas such as the infamous red clay regions around Atlanta or throughout Virginia and clearly was able to make finds at extreme depths that I could not have made with a VLF, BBS, FBS, etc. detector.

PI detectors have their limitations, yet many people do not fully understand that when they buy them. Pure detection depth is the obvious advantage, however, a lack of discrimination, and often increased weight, are negatives that can make one question their purchase, especially when the price tag is factored into the equation. I know several people that "knew" the ocean beaches near their homes were carpeted with gold rings that were just out of range of their usual detectors and bought PI detectors costing $1,000's. They went out and it only took a few hunts to realize that while there may be rings at 24", there was also a huge amount of trash, and after digging 50 nails from that depth with little of value to show for the effort, the idea of using a PI detector for that application was quickly shelved. Again, using the wrong technology for the application resulted in a great deal of frustration and an expensive lesson.

So I know this has been a long winded answer to a short question but in summary, I think more PI's are being used in the field by knowledgeable hunters due to their performance in bad ground, but also by those that think they need the detection depth a PI can provide but do not fully understand that the limitations of a PI don't tip the scales in their favor. These are the people that buy a PI, try it a few times and post it on one of the forums or E-Bay and often take a huge financial hit after the realize that the PI was not the magical detector for them.

As with any detector choice, buying a specific model based on what others are finding in areas 100's or 1,000's of miles away is never a good idea. If it will give you an edge in your area under the conditions you search, and find the type of targets you are hoping to recover, it is the right detector for you, and if not, you will probably be back in the market for another one in short order.

*There have been an abundance of new detectors within the past few years that have been designed/manufactured overseas, yet, have taken the US market by storm. Is this a trend, or do you see this pattern continuing?

For decades, the US manufacturers owned the metal detector market on a worldwide basis. Minelab was really the first non-US company to introduce technology that was not simply a rehash or repackaging of existing technology, and the US hobbyists saw that it would help find more in sites that had been depleted with other technology. In the ensuing years, new companies started to design and build detectors in countries that had been under Soviet control or had not previously allowed the use of metal detectors.

Having had the opportunity to meet and work with many of these companies over the years, I equate the detector industry to the automotive industry of the 1980's. For decades, the US auto industry dominated the market, and while there were some new designs unveiled, for the most part each new model was simply a tweak to an existing model...maybe more chrome, a new fender style, plusher interiors, but nothing earth shattering. Then, the foreign auto makers started ramping up production. They had the advantage of starting with a blank slate, and looked at what the US companies were producing, combined with what consumers were interested in having when designing their models. It is far easier to build from scratch, than trying to redesign an existing platform and modify a production facility, which is what the US auto makers discovered. Suddenly the foreign car companies were taking market share away, and we all know where that led. Quality and innovation is coming back to the US companies, but the foreign companies took and have kept a share that will likely never be recovered.

Metal detectors are in somewhat the same boat. In the 1980's and 1990's, companies came up with a new circuit or feature just about every year, that virtually required anyone that was serious about detecting to upgrade to the newest model or risk being left behind in the field. Over the past decade, there has been limited advancement in terms of performance by most of the US manufacturers. Some models have remained in production unchanged for 10 years or more. This leaves foreign companies with an opening to try and develop a "better mousetrap" and capture market share in the U.S.

The key point to remember when looking at foreign detectors is that they are designed for different challenges than what we face in the States. Coin hunting is the most popular form of treasure hunting in the U.S., however, elsewhere in the world it is more on the lines of relic hunting since they are searching for items lost 100's or 1,000's of years ago which can read all over the spectrum in terms of target ID's. Many of the non-US detectors have proven to be excellent detectors for relic hunting, beach hunting or prospecting since that was what they were designed for. However, if you are in a trash filled park or other site that is still in use, using a detector that has limited discrimination and no target ID will likely result in more frustration than finds. There are some non-US models that are excellent all-around detectors such as the XP Deus, which offers a number of unique features and top-notch performance. In fact, this detector was designed by XP out of frustration when the owner and engineers were not able to find a detector that would do what they wanted it to, and designing one that did was the only option that remained for them to get what they wanted - and we all benefited from that effort.

As far as this being a trend, I think that until the U.S. companies step back and define a new direction that they can head into, or, change the technology that is currently available to produce better performance in the field, and not simply add "bells and whistles" that really don't put more in your pocket at the end of the day, the number of non U.S. companies that capture market share here will continue to increase. In the end however, competition is always a good thing as the consumer benefits from new technology. The US companies still make some "killer" products and as they see what is coming from outside the US, new designs will emerge and hopefully raise the bar others will strive to meet.

*As many of our readers know, you've authored several successful books on treasure hunting. Are there any 'insider' tips, tricks or techniques you can share that will lead to more/better finds?

There's a tough one...trying to narrow down a few tips that cover the interests of your members, be it coin hunting, relic hunting, beach hunting, electronic prospecting, and, with them living in areas containing a wide range of ground conditions. I'll see if I can answer this question on a generic basis.

The one recommendation that everyone has always hate to hear is research. Hunting the same places that 100+ people before you have already been over is not the best way to bring home those first-rate finds on a regular basis. Before you cringe and jump to the next question, computers have greatly simplified research techniques for today's detectorist. Much of the material that was once only available at a local library, and then only on microfilm, is now readily available on the internet from the comfort of your home.

If you do not know how to start searching this material for sites that have a good chance of being unsearched and holding the type of targets you are looking for, stop by your local library and make an appointment to sit down with one of the librarians. They will almost always go out of their way to help you conduct research and will be able to show you what techniques work best for the material you are combing through. On occasion I have brought back some of the finds I have made as a result of their assistance, and that further fueled the fire within them. They offered to do additional research for me - and the great part is that this service is provided at no charge! So if you want to try and find a few virgin sites this year, get past your aversion to conduct research and you will be amazed at how many sites in your area remain to be discovered and searched.

The other tip that really applies to any type of detecting is to construct and actually use a test garden. You will be surprised at how different a specific target will react when ground conditions change or a different coil is used and without a test garden, you will most likely miss what might otherwise have been the find of the month based on the unexpected response you received from the target. A little time set aside on a regular basis will enhance your understanding of what your detector is telling you and that will pay off in the field when you are coming across unknown targets. This is a simple tip and one that has been repeated many times in various forums; however, most detector owners never follow through on it...take a few minutes to set one up and see how your results change in short order.

*What's your feeling on these televised detecting shows. Good for the hobby, or hurtful?

The growth in the number of television shows that focus on treasure hunting have captured the attention of a large segment of the population, and the number of questions I get now when people run into me in the field attest to the fact that they are being watched by many, many viewers. So, the question is, do I see them as being good or hurtful to the hobby...well, I guess I can climb up on that soapbox one more time.

In terms of getting more people into the hobby, the shows have been a boon...and the manufacturers and dealers can validate that based on the increased sales they have experienced. The big problem this has created however, is more and more people simply jump on the internet and order their equipment after watching an episode or two. They receive a box a few days later with little or no instruction and head out in search of lost hoards of gold and silver...and then wonder why that does not materialize.

Having provided technical input on some of the shows, as well as knowing several of the treasure hunters that star on others, it quickly became clear that the producers want the WOW factor to gain ratings, and do not always show the true story of what we experience in the field...after all, how many times have you gone out for a full day and found very little to write home about - do you think this would hold a viewers interest for 30 minutes? Talking to a detectorist that was on one of the shows, he said that they were told to "make the excitement happen" and he commented that in each episode, the best part of the film from a hobbyist's perspective wound up on the cutting room floor.

Some shows are more balanced than others, so I do not want to paint them all with the same broad brush. There have been some that made seasoned hobbyists cringe with the content the episodes contained, and the way landowners were hoodwinked when permission was requested. These are the shows that have hurt the hobby, as landowners now see all of us in that light.

Shows that reveal what a real hunt is like - including hours of not finding anything to speak of - along with how to recover targets and other treasure hunting etiquette, would better serve the hobby than some of what is currently running or was over the past few years. To be honest, I find many of the self-produced You-Tube videos to be far superior in terms of production quality, content and engagement than many of the cable-TV based shows. It is great to see that a number of these You-Tube videos are being produced by younger treasure hunters and the spark that they exhibit bodes well for the future of the hobby.

*As I mentioned, aside from being in charge of metal detector reviews for Lost Treasure Magazine and an author of countless detecting articles & publications, at heart, you're a detectorist just like us. So, spill the beans. What's one of your favorite finds from over the years?

Ahh, the infamous "What is Your Best Find" question - it always seems to come up. Often the question is "What is the most valuable thing you have found" and I always illicit a questioning look when I say the most valuable thing I have found is peace of mind in the escape that metal detecting provides me. I can literally turn a bad day at the office into a great day instantly when I see a silver dime at the bottom of a hole or a Minnie Ball in a clump of dirt on my shovel. I truly believe that this feeling is the best part of the hobby and in talking to many other veterans, I am not alone in that sentiment.

But in terms of finds, here are a few that stand out over the years:

In 2001, my son Paul, daughter Leigh, and I, had the opportunity to spend 10 days in Spain hunting sites that dated back to the Roman period. We recovered many artifacts that dated back as far as 200BC but some of the finds that stood out included a bronze Roman ring I found in an olive grove, two silver Roman coins my son found, and a bag full of Roman pottery my daughter collected from the edge of the hunt site, which made the rounds in several classes as they both progressed through middle and high school. The biggest treasure was the time I was able to spend with both of them searching a site that had been lived on for 1,000's of years and actually touching the past with our recoveries.

A number of years ago I found a U.S. belt buckle at a Civil War battle site with a name carved into the lead on the back of the buckle. I spent a great deal of time researching the find, and now have a collection of papers associated with the person that lost the buckle, including his enlistment papers, and documentation detailing his death at a battle that took place a few months after the one where I had recovered the relic. Framed, it is one of the centerpiece items in my collection.

In 2009, my son and I went out on New Year's Day as an annual ritual to set the stage for the coming year. He received a signal that registered as a pull-tab but the depth was 7"+. We recovered a class ring that, after contacting the college, were able to return it to the daughter of the women that had lost it in 1946, and had in fact never returned to the town where the college was located and the ring lost. The woman had passed away weeks before we found the ring and being able to return the ring provided an indescribable experience for both my son and I.

I could go on for pages detailing finds and stories associated with them; however, the message I wanted to leave with you is that it is rarely the monetary value that dictates what makes a find memorable. The story behind the find and the memories it can evoke is really what makes this a hobby unlike any other. I need to move on to the next question because there is really nothing I like more than providing narratives of some of the finds I have made over the years and the adventures behind each one.

*As I'm sure you're aware, detecting is being prohibited more & more across the country on many fronts, why do you think this is?

Wow, here's a question that will get me I mentioned earlier, as the number of hobbyists increases, our visibility to the general public grows. It comes down to pure math, in that if we say that there has always been a small percentage of hunters that do not respect the areas we are allowed to search, that if the total number of detectorists increases, so does that number of people that turn the public against us. I have been to more and more areas that as soon as I got out of my truck, I could see signs of someone else having been there - half-filled holes, trash left next to holes or tossed against trees and fences when relic hunting, etc. I have also seen many people coin hunting in parks and schools carrying a shovel rather than a small hand digger. Even if one can make a clean hole with the larger shovel - which in 99% of the cases I have not seen anything even close to a clean hole being made - the perception left with the general public when they see this is one of treasure hunters destroying the area.

Some of the TV shows have not helped our cause as people now see us as a group in search of $$$, rather than, for the most part, enjoying a relaxing day in the field where the actual finds are secondary. It is becoming harder and harder to gain access to private property as a result of the publicity the hobby receives and in fact, on more than one occasion, I have been asked for a payment or split of the finds based on what people have seen on the TV shows, which I had never experienced in the past.

We as a group have really not helped ensure that the hobby remains viable into the future. Sloppy recovery techniques, disregarding posted restrictions on historic sites and reacting after the fact to restrictions are counter-productive in the effort to maintain areas open for exploration. There's a saying that goes "We are our own worst enemy", and in the case of metal detecting or treasure hunting, that unfortunately has often proven to be the case in many instances over the years. We need to take a page from the play books of organizations such as the NRA, Sierra Club and others who are proactive in getting their message out to those that could implement laws and other restrictions down the road BEFORE they are even proposed. When we take up a letter writing campaign to repeal an ordinance or fight to keep pending laws from being enacted, we are really being "a dollar short and a day late." There have been some success stories in the efforts to fight laws, but just think how much more effective we would be if we took the time to educate the lawmakers as to what we are really about BEFORE any law or restriction was proposed.

Offer our services to find lost items and historic artifacts. Promote these success stories when we are not looking for something. Then, when another group proposes restrictions to suit their personal agenda, the lawmakers will step back and question them since they already have a positive impression of the hobby. This has been proposed by myself and others many times over the years but unfortunately it repeatedly falls on deaf ears and inaction is the result...I guess it is easier to put off the effort when things are going well and then when laws are looming, we are fighting an uphill battle against the opposite side that in fact did just what we did not - pitched their side long before they proposed implementing restrictions.

If we want to maintain the viability of the hobby for years to come, we each need to play a role in promoting a positive image of what we do and if we come across someone damaging the perception of the hobby - leaving open holes, damaging the site or sneaking into areas that are off-limits, etc. - take action and let the authorities know if engaging them does not correct the behavior. Simply expecting an organization to keep areas open is not going to work and the track record of the organizations that started with great expectations leaves a great deal to be desired.

There are new organizations that are pressing this effort, rather than spending their time organizing hunts, which only benefits those already in the hobby, and hopefully they will have better success than those that were formed decades ago. It is going to be an uphill battle but if we each put in a little effort and think about how our efforts are perceived by John Q. Public, our grandkids will be able to enjoy a day out in the field with the latest metal detector years from now. OK, I'll get down from my soapbox now.

*What do you feel the best solution is to help ensure detectorists rights?

To boil this down, I would give the following two points as advice on how to protect our hobby from being legislated out of existence.

First, we each need to police ourselves. We need to make sure that when we are out hunting that that we are being ambassadors for the hobby and presenting a positive image to those that we come across. Don't think this is limited to only those that stop and talk to us as often local residents will watch us from afar and impressions tend to become reality in their minds. Think about what your reaction would be if you saw someone walking across your favorite park carrying a shovel...probably the same one that someone else would have of YOU, regardless of how careful you plan on being with it.

Carrying the policing tip one step further, if you come across another hunter that is leaving open holes or otherwise making a negative impression, stop and talk to them. If they are not willing to make some changes, call the authorities. I have done just that when I approached someone that got defensive, and said he could do what he wanted. As I saw him being escorted off the site by the local police, I felt vindicated in making the call.

Second, we need to promote the hobby, and it does not have to be anything elaborate. Offering to assist local law enforcement when they need to recover evidence, conducting an archeological dig for a historical society, returning a lost ring and having it covered by the local newspaper...they are all effective tools in forging positive impressions of the hobby BEFORE we are fighting to have a rule overturned or prevent one from being passed.

*In terms of turf hunting, do you think we'll ever reach a point of diminishing returns? Meaning, the beaches will constantly replenish themselves for infinity, but, once an old coin is taken from the ground, or a nugget, it's gone forever. Do you think we'll hit a plateau where there's just very little left on land, or detector technology won't be able to reach whatever IS left, depth wise?

There's no doubt that hunting the same old sites will produce fewer and fewer targets as years go by. People are not losing silver coins, Wheat cents, Indian Heads, Buffalo nickels, Civil War relics, etc., so when one is recovered, that site has one less for others to find. Some of us take it as a personal challenge to pull one more keeper out of a site everyone else has given up on as being worked-out, but most detectorists do not feel like spending 3 hours to find that one elusive coin, relic or gold nugget 100's have missed before.

I had the luxury of getting into the hobby in the 1960's when silver coins were still in circulation and most relic sites had never been hunted. My brother and I hunted the local elementary school which had a section that dated back to the early 1800's and on the hill behind the school, we recovered more than 300 silver dimes along with countless other finds. With each new detector we rehunted the area, and while we did recover more targets, the number found per hour of hunting dropped notably over the years. Not long ago I mentioned where I grew up to a fellow hunter and he said that was where he lived. When he said he was hunting the school my brother and I cut our teeth on but was disappointed with the meager finds he was making, I simply smiled and remembered back on the amount of treasure that we had recovered more than 30 years earlier - once it was gone, it was simply not replenished.

Where the future lies for those willing to put in the effort is finding sites that have not been heavily hunted for decades and yes, they do still exist. In late 2013 I was invited to an old picnic grove in central Georgia that a friend of mine had located and obtained permission to hunt. In a single weekend we recovered more than 100 coins dating from the late 1870's to the mid 1930's along with three gold rings and other interesting trinkets.

These sites exist but it takes some research to find them and then the right finesse to gain access to them...and it is harder now as I have mentioned thanks to the TV shows that are not always painting us in the best light.

So as far as sites becoming depleted, that is a fact when you focus on the old standard sites that everyone goes to when they get a detector. Private property is the next frontier that holds the finds we once made in schools and parks. Do your research and put on the charm when you talk to the land can keep yourself busy digging great finds even in areas that have a high concentration of detector owners!

*In a general sense, where do you see this hobby in, say, 10 years time?

I think we are at a crossroads in terms of the overall health and direction of the hobby. If we are not careful, we will find that the only type of hunting that we will be allowed to do is searching for recently lost coins in playgrounds, beach hunting and seeking permission to hunt private property. All too often we focus on the technology and project where that will take us in years to come, but if there are no sites left open to hunt, the best technology will be of little use.

If each of us provides a little towards promoting the hobby in a positive light whenever the opportunity arises, the future looks bright. If we simply sit back and expect others to carry the flag and keep sites open, well, there will be a lot of reminiscing about the 'good old days' where we could hunt countless sites that have been placed off-limits. I am not trying to sound overly melodramatic, but the number of regulations that have been passed in the past few years and sites that have been closed or severely restricted has increased at an exponential rate, and as they say, closing the barn door after the cows have gone out, or in this case, taking action after the rules have been enacted, will likely be too late.

*In closing, can you tell us how you got into the writing aspect of this past time, and give our members a rundown on some of your available books & training materials?

While I would love to be a full-time treasure hunter, I am an engineer by trade and a portion of my activities has always involved writing reports of one type or another. Early on I was recognized for my ability to take dry technical subjects and put them to paper in a way that made them easy to understand and engaging for the readers regardless of their familiarity with the subject. Many of my fellow engineers did everything they could to avoid writing, but I found it an enjoyable part of my job.

During the 1970's I penned a number of articles for metal detecting and Scuba diving club newsletters that were well received. In 1982 I was asked by Keene Engineering to put a story together of my use of their equipment in dredging for coins. My partner and I had modified one of the 4-inch dredges when I was living in Louisiana and it was one of the first attempts to do that. Drafting a story detailing one of our hunts, they had it published in Treasure magazine and as they say, the rest is history. I have been writing for Lost Treasure Magazine since the mid-1980's - nearly 30 years now - and have really enjoy working with Lee Harris, John Housley and the rest of the staff over the has become a second family to me.

Mark Twain once said it was easier to write a book than a newspaper article due to the word limitations, and I often feel that way when writing an article for the magazine, where there is a strict word limit due to space constraints. In the late 1980's I wrote my first book on water hunting, which is probably my favorite form of treasure hunting. It was well received and I have revised that title a few times over the years, and in fact a new book on the subject is in the works.

In the 1990's I started to be heavily involved in detector development and testing of prototypes, and that intense immersion in the equipment gave me the knowledge to put together how-to guides for specific models that have been extremely popular worldwide and have helped countless people get the most out of their investment.

As far as my literary resume, I have penned more than 3,500 articles over the past 40 years covering all facets of treasure hunting; scuba diving, artifact preservation and collecting, as well as more than 15 books with several in the pipeline. Starting in 2014, I will be making several of the titles available in eBook format so that people can take them into the field or read them while commuting, traveling or simply away from their personal library. The electronic media option will allow me to include options such as hyperlinks to additional information or vendor websites, color photographs and even interactive videos that can help demonstrate a specific technique far easier than the printed word could.

In terms of training, I am a strong advocate of ensuring that those in the hobby are trained so that we are not legislated out of existence due to actions tied to lack of experience or knowledge. I am working with a few veteran hunters that have the ability to effectively share their knowledge and skills with others, in developing training programs the we are planning to offer across the country in the form of a hunt/seminar format. Operating under the Historical Preservationists of America banner, I feel it will offer opportunities for newcomers to get started with a solid foundation, and experienced hunters to hone their skills and reach that next plateau in terms of in-field success. If you are interested in seeing what we have in store, visit and click on the HPA link.

This material may not be copied, transcribed or duplicated in any manner, without prior consent from Andy Sabisch - April 26, 2014.

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NjNyDigger, proud to be a member of Treasure Classifieds Forum since 2013.

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04-26-2014, 01:05 PM
Post: #2
RE: Detecting Dish - 1st Interview
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Guys, I'd like to open a dialogue on this interview, where we can discuss thoughts, feelings, opinions, etc. on what you've just read. There's some very heavy stuff in here, and if we can use the information to make us into more enlightened hunters, that's what it's all about. So, have one of these Beer, and fire away...


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04-26-2014, 10:46 PM
Post: #3
RE: Detecting Dish - 1st Interview
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First off, great idea for the forum and what an awesome first guest. I am currently reading Andys book on the Quicksilver CZs and his Etrac book. He is great asset to the MD community. I think Andys emphasis on being a responsible detectorist is crucial to the future of detecting. I was approached recently by a local park host who asked me if I had been detecting there previously which I hadn't been. He said that a detectorist had been there digging holes and leaving a trail of destruction. I demonstrated the process of probing and plug cutting and also invited him to look around to see if he could see any evidence of the 20+ targets that I just retrieved before his arrival and of course he couldn't. Since my initial encounter with the park host we have had many conversations and he has given me several tips on which areas of the park he thought would be productive. Rambling now....point being, the careless/lazy actions of one individual almost ruined it for everybody else. 
Good interview, thank you.

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04-26-2014, 11:10 PM
Post: #4
RE: Detecting Dish - 1st Interview
(This post was last modified: 04-26-2014 11:16 PM by Ohio Dirt Fisher.)
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First off I would like to say thank you Joe for bringing us, in my opinion, an interview with one of the top men in this hobby and field of metal detecting. And of asking some of the most pertinent questions of our time in this endeavor.

Mr. Sabisch' writings have brought about a great deal of understanding and knowledge to the serious detectorist as far as equipment, its' use and limitations, in a very down to earth and familiar way. Seeing what he sees as a future for detecting, and what the past has been, gives us all some very important insight into how to make our "sport" more viable to the public at large, and at the same time holds us to a personal shield of honor in that our own integrity within the hobby becomes the "blood" of the sport. I too worry that the detectorists of the future will be looked upon as "reapers" in some instances, instead of historical hobbyists. This could be a sad epitaph for detecting in general.

In reality there are a very small number of us statistically that are serious about the hobby, compared to population density and areas to detect. I agree that landowner privilege will be the next step for our group. The hype that the MSM has brought to our hobby has been negative for us. The truth be told, we are just a curious bunch, looking for a find, for the day, and nothing less. If we as individuals respect the property as if it were our own, then our hobby will survive.

Eventually, not in any of our lifetimes I fear, there will be a device similar to what Captain Kirks Star Trek Science Officers carried that will be able to portably tell you whether it's really a pull tab or a gold ring. Until then, we wait for the tech, keep swinging the coil, and give our honor to the sport.

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04-27-2014, 12:51 AM
Post: #5
RE: Detecting Dish - 1st Interview
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Nice! That was a very thorough interview! Thanks Andy!

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04-27-2014, 07:32 AM
Post: #6
RE: Detecting Dish - 1st Interview
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Great questions and covered very well by Andy.   I think the one disturbing thing for our hobby now is the diminished hunting locations.  One person i know said it very well.... its easier for the person in charge to say NO to detecting and post a sign based on one persons complaints than to support a hobby that he has no real knowledge of.   There are a lot of people who are members of the large federation of detectors.... ive always wondered when we would see a more active visible roll from them to help preserve the hobby. 

Its also getting very difficult to have local clubs.  The internet has far superior hunters who are more skilled and better prepared to answer our question and keep us informed of new equipment and laws.   Finding locations to support more than a half dozen members is difficult.  Lets face it .... showing your finds and guarding your locations is an individual thing.  With the rapid growth in the hobby some groups has come to realize... they may have to limit their membership.

I tend to find more pleasure in talking to people on the beach now days than i ever did when i did mostly relic or dirt hunting.  Andy really hit it on the head with the answer of WHATS YOUR BEST FIND.   Its not always the most expensive, but the ones that most often keep us in the hobby.  Taking the time to locate a person for a return, helping someone find a lost object on the beach, and talking about hunts you had with a buddy who found an amazing target. 

There are still lots of detectors out there at a reasonable price.... but those of us serious hunters are finding the prices rapidly jumping for nothing more than those bells and whistles.  In the beach area i find it amazing that some of the guys have taken on themselves to improve existing equipment.  We all understand its business.... but sometimes listening to your consumers pays the best dividends.  Just like the American auto companies didnt.  Profits are important, but so is making reliable equipment that dont break at the end of what seems to be shorter and shorter warranties.   Thats my soap box Andy.

Again congrats on an outstanding piece you guys.


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04-27-2014, 08:16 AM
Post: #7
RE: Detecting Dish - 1st Interview
(This post was last modified: 04-27-2014 08:19 AM by NjNyDigger.)
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Before I go on, I want to thank Andy again for giving us the privilege of both his time and vast insight into this hobby Yes

While I can't speak for others, I myself found his answers to be quite revealing...minus the 'puff' factor. Case in point...

His thoughts on the detector manufacturers. Yes, they are putting out decent product, and are increasing their bottom lines, yet, is it cutting-edge product, or, simply rehashes of existing items, with the addition of a new feature or two? To be sure...

Again, most of the major manufacturers put out able products, however, at least from what I see in the field & online, there are basically 3 or 4 detector models that are responsible for maybe 80% of the finds. Point is...

A LOT of what's out there is geared more towards the entry level crowd (of which most of us are not), or, offer the same detector technology wrapped in a new box. Now...

I've never used a Deus. From all I've seen and heard though, they are exceptional units! Think about what that machine represents Yes Wireless, feather light, super fast processor, yadda, yadda, yadda. Is it the perfect detector? No, I don't think such a thing exists, but, to be able to release a unit like that - which is LIGHT YEARS away - from what the other guys are doing, is truly astounding. Of course, the CTX is another example. It too is wireless, and better yet, is waterproof, too. You basically have 3 machines wrapped all into one - coin & jewelry, relic and prospecting. The heart of the matter is this...

I'm a BIG proponent of having separate units for specific tasks. I'd say each hunter needs a depth unit, a quicker machine for iron work, and something that can be used on the beaches that can triumph over bad mineralization. That the CTX can do ALL of this, is quite astounding. THIS is the direction the manufacturers should be heading in.


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04-27-2014, 12:07 PM
Post: #8
RE: Detecting Dish - 1st Interview
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You've set the bar pretty high with this interview Joe , it's going to be interesting watching you try to come up with someone to top yourself on the next one.

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04-27-2014, 01:13 PM
Post: #9
RE: Detecting Dish - 1st Interview
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The one other enemy I think we will be facing more of is the archelogical group. They see us as a threat,instead of an ally. I often wonder if its smart for us to post some of our finds. The way this country is headed nowadays (liberal kooks gone mad) I have the feeling feds may come knocking on our door soon...I already know one guy whom this has happened. Throw the enviromentalist into that enemy list too!

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04-27-2014, 07:59 PM
Post: #10
RE: Detecting Dish - 1st Interview
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(04-27-2014 01:13 PM)deathray Wrote:  The one other enemy I think we will be facing more of is the archelogical group. They see us as a threat,instead of an ally. I often wonder if its smart for us to post some of our finds. The way this country is headed nowadays (liberal kooks gone mad) I have the feeling feds may come knocking on our door soon...I already know one guy whom this has happened. Throw the enviromentalist into that enemy list too!

I agree! But...

Someone's gotta try and bridge the gap with that community soon. They have a LOT of pull. They can snap their fingers and get spots banned if they choose. So...

Better to make love, not war. Yes, it's a bitter pill to swallow, but, it's to everyone's benefit.


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