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It really depends on where you're hunting, the grass / turf consistancy, and recovery technique.

April 08, 2019 04:58AM avatar
George, the video you linked of the recovery techniques Dennis Katz uses is OK and I've viewed it a while back. He made that about 8-9 years ago and he's up in the Seattle, Washington area. As we know, it's a large metropolitan area where you can have many parks maintenance people and a lot of the general public viewing your activities. Not all parks are alike in the type of grass that's grown, the compactness Vs looseness of the dirt, the root structure, and whether the sod and dirt are dry, damp or wet saturated.

I'm sure a lot of the parks in the farther-north chunk of western Washington are similar to the grass and soil make-up in and around the greater Portland, Oregon area to the south. While it can differ a bit from site-to-site around there, it can be, and is, quite different from some of the manicured parks and private lawns over here in far eastern Oregon, or Utah or Nevada and many other states I have traveled to for detecting over the years.

In some places, even here in my own yard where I was working with a few detectors last week, using different 'pull-apart' or 'plugging' techniques just did not work very well. We didn't have fancy hand-diggers in the infancy of this hobby like when I started in '65, and through the years we have seen many metal detecting recovery products suggested or be a specialty design like we have today. So from the start I had to learn the best (meaning cleanest as well as fastest) coin recovery techniques possible.

To our advantage back then. most detectors didn't get all that deep on the smaller-size coins we were after. But coins were not all that deep back then, and even today in most grassy areas that are not built-up or comprised of a very porous mixture, coins just are not all that deep. The bulk are still in the surface to 4" range and most of the time a 'deep' coin is in the over 4" to ±7" depth range.

The bulk of my coin recoveries back in the summer of '68, when my older brother Ed and I used one detector and each armed with a rounded-off screwdriver could fill a pint jar in 2½-3 hours, is still the technique I use for at least 80% of my coin recoveries in public areas and private yards. The only difference is those glory days of the latter '60s and through the '70s and very early '80s are long past and the impressive quantities of coins have been found, plucked-up and are only memories for some of us.sad smiley And while those early days were great, the memories don't do a thing to fill my pouch with keepers.

There are some important steps we need to take before we even kneel down to recover a target, and it starts with doing the best we can with our detector to isolate or pinpoint the target to the narrowest spot possible. And keep in mind that nobody can do it 100% of the time because not all coin-type targets are laying flat-to-the-coil. If they are canted to some degree, they can be a little off-line from the center-axis of the search coil. Also, the smaller the search coil used the 'tighter' the pinpointing effort can be. And, a good Concentric coil is generally going to be closer to spot-on than a comparable size Double-D coil design.

The 2nd and often quickest thing to do is master the art of probing straight down with a rounded off screwdriver or coin probe to try and locate the detected target. If the Pinpointing efforts were skilled, you can often probe down 1 to maybe 4 times before you make contact with the solid object. Once achieved, it's then easy to use the screwdriver to 'slit' the grass and 'pry' the target out of the ground. Press the small opening back together, step on the spot, work the coil over the spot again to make sure you didn't miss a 2nd or 3rd coin in a 'spill,' then get back to hunting.

In Dennis' video he showed using a coin probe or screwdriver to try and isolate a located coin. He starts that at about 2:25 min. into the video. As I watched, I think he took ±26 stabs or pokes in the ground to try and locate a very shallow coin. I always try to limit my poking to 5 or fewer because there will be times the solid object you find is a rock. Many people will poke the ground a lot of times, as Dennis does in the video, and not locate the target so they go to the next step of cutting a plug.

But in many, many sod areas I have hunted, if you poke a screwdriver or probe that many times in what looks like roughly a 2" diameter area, and then try to plug, you'll find that all that poking loosened the grass and soil mixture to the point that it falls apart and you don't get a nice clean plug, nor will it all go back into place nicely due to the punctured and loose chunk of over-probed soil / dirt. So I limit my probing to isolate a target before I decide to plug.

Now, let me comment on any form of plugging we have seen or tried:

There was the once popular Hole Hog by PRT that worked, but was a little cumbersome to carry around. It was a cylinder with a plunger that cut a straight-wall hole about 3" in diameter. Then with a twist you removed a very clean 3" plug, and one the target was retrieved, you put the 'plug' back in the spot using the plunger to press it out of the cylinder. Not a bad concept, EXCEPT:

If you were off-center in plugging or dug into the sidewall of the plugged hole, you no longer had a clean, straight-walled hole to put the plug in and there was quite often some gapping all around the nifty plug. Bad sod / soil type made it worse.

If the detector operator didn't fist isolate the target using a screwdriver or coin probe in order to center the Hole Hog, it was not uncommon for people to push and work that plugging device down with a pressing-and-twisting effort to cut through the mix and encounter a coin or ring that was canted and off-center, or run into a 2nd or 3rd target associated with / near the one that might have been properly centered. The twisting and pressing force required to work the Hole Hog in many ground environments resulted in some very ugly, damaged coins and jewelry.

Then we come to using a stout digging knife or not-too-rounded hand digger to plug the area for target recovery. The biggest problem I have witnessed were people who cut in at a 45° angle or less, and in a wide diameter of about 8" or more. Kind of like cutting a pie plate size hunk of sod that was actually severing a lot of grass root structure. That also meant there wasn't much in the way of a depth 'edge' or 'wall' to hold the so-called plug that ended up being more like a pyramid-shaped Frisbee, or what I called 'scalping' an area to more resemble a toupee shaped piece of grass.

Those browned up quickly and were easily picked-up and shredded by lawnmowers and that resulted in an ugly looking chunk of dirt where grass used to be. All plugging should be done with the straightest vertical cut we can make to eliminate that type of problem, which is angle-cutting of grass roots.. But how should we 'plug' a chunk of ground?

The more popular methods, often printed in Metal Detector Owner Manuals, etc. include:

Triangular cuts with two cut sides forming a 'V' shape and then folding back the cut plug.

A 4-Sided plug with 3 cut sides and folded back on the 4th side.

A Round-shaped or Cylindrical plug that is completely removed.

A 3-Sided Plug that ius entirely removed.

A 4-Sided plug that is completely removed.

Most coin and other small target recoveries I make by using a rounded-off screwdriver. The next most used method for me is 'slitting' and 'pulling-apart' the sod ... if the sod has a good hold-together structure to it. That way it easily presses back into almost the same appearance as when I started the recovery. Otherwise, my preferred 'plug' would be the last one I described.

I like to make a 4-sided plug, making the cuts straight down on all 4-sides, about 4" or more, and each side would be about 4" or possibly 5" or 6" in length depending upon the texture and consistency of the grass/dirt make-up. if the soil mixture falls apart easily, I make larger-size plugs. If the soil mix holds together very well with the root structure, a smaller sized plug works fine.

Then I try to gently work the square-shaped plug straight up out of the hole and set it aside to remember the orientation so I can replace it in the same position as removed. Why try to remove the plug straight up out of the hole? Because when a plug is first cut, even straight down, it can't be pried from the whole leaving one side attached because that prying motion damages the grass roots when trying to force it out due to the angled pressure on the root system.

Target recovery should be a rather quick process so a plugged chunk and extra dirt that might need to be removed from the hole can quickly be returned and the site compresses and fluffed up to look more natural. Since recovery time shouldn't take very long after a proper pinpointing has been done, a detectorist can have things finished and cleaned up and be back in operation without drawing too much attention.

Most of my recoveries are handled quickly with a rounded-off screwdriver, but if there is a time when I feel I need to cut a plug, I first take a glance around to make sure no one is within a close distance. Then it is just a matter of cutting a plug, locating and removing the target, then replacing any dirt and sod before a park worker or passerby approaches me.

My own yard, even in the best taller grassy areas, still doesn't make it easy to cut a nice plug for target recovery because the grass root level soil make-up doesn't hold together like some solid clay-type soil. Plugs generally fall apart, are messy, and don't retain a nice 'body' to put back in the plugged hole. It's just that way with some grass / sod type conditions, and over the decades and in travels through many different US States, I have found that to be the case in many locations. Some areas are really great when it comes to plugging, while other places it can be a real challenge to plug-and-restore the spot very well.

In the end it is up to each and every one of us to learn the best detector handling skills possible to Pinpoint a located target first, then master Probing & Recovery before we jump in and start any type of plugging method. Also to learn what the grass-and-soil consistency is where we are searching. Then, master each of those three skills and know when to, and when not to, make it to Step #3 and start plugging away.


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Subject Author Views Posted

Retrieving targets in grass

glabelle 461 April 03, 2019 08:37PM

Re: Retrieving targets in grass

Hombre 274 April 08, 2019 06:07PM

Re: Retrieving targets in grass

WM6 315 April 09, 2019 05:49AM

It really depends on where you're hunting, the grass / turf consistancy, and recovery technique.

Monte 262 April 08, 2019 04:58AM

Re: It really depends on where you're hunting, the grass / turf consistancy, and recovery technique.

glabelle 301 April 08, 2019 06:09AM

Re: It really depends on where you're hunting, the grass / turf consistancy, and recovery technique.

jmaryt 218 April 08, 2019 01:34PM

Re: It really depends on where you're hunting, the grass / turf consistancy, and recovery technique.

glabelle 212 April 08, 2019 03:26PM

Re: It really depends on where you're hunting, the grass / turf consistancy, and recovery technique.

jmaryt 242 April 08, 2019 07:23PM

Yes, those tell-tale signs can bring on some frowns.

Monte 233 April 08, 2019 07:20AM

How Did You Do? Go back and have a look.

UtahRich 251 April 08, 2019 06:19AM

Re: Retrieving targets in grass

NWCindy 296 April 04, 2019 02:14PM

Re: Retrieving targets in grass

jmaryt 266 April 04, 2019 05:03PM

Targets in the grass

UtahRich 245 April 04, 2019 07:29AM

Re: Retrieving targets in grass

glabelle 228 April 04, 2019 07:37AM

Drop cloth

UtahRich 254 April 04, 2019 12:45PM

Re: Drop cloth

glabelle 248 April 04, 2019 04:12PM

Recoveries -

UtahRich 250 April 04, 2019 07:44PM

Re: Recoveries -

Sodbuster 201 April 07, 2019 06:19PM

Re: Recoveries -

jmaryt 225 April 04, 2019 09:17PM

Re: Retrieving targets in grass

jmaryt 268 April 04, 2019 08:40AM

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