Beach & Water Hunting The Best Target Recovery Sand Scoops
When beach and shallow-water hunting, the sand scoop is the most important piece of equipment that you will use in your searches, second only to your metal detector. Selecting one that doesn’t meet your needs will only lead to frustration and missed targets. The purpose of this product report is to provide you with an assessment of several models available from two top-notch suppliers – Reilly’s Treasured Gold and Finch Products.
SHALLOW WATER HUNTING Sand Scoops
For wading, a long-handled scoop is preferred by most hunters. While several plans have been published showing how to build your own scoop, a “store-bought” version using a field-proven design will last longer and save you hours in construction time. My experience has shown that buying a scoop made of materials that will hold up under even the most demanding conditions is the only way to go. A heavy gauge steel or stainless steel is recommended. The bottom of many abandoned and even some in-use beaches will be comprised of rocks, shells, clay, and other debris. While a lightweight scoop may work fine on a sandy beach, it will quickly become bent and damaged under these conditions. Even sandy beaches such as those in Florida will ruin a scoop due to the depth most of the new detectors are capable of finding targets at. The better scoops will have a strong bucket which will allow you to push it into the bottom with your foot without damaging it (the bucket that is.) One thing to balance however is the weight of the scoop versus the durability. You want a scoop that you can use for extended periods of time yet will hold up over time. There are some scoops that are virtually indestructible; however, they weigh 10+ pounds. Add in a full bucket of wet sand and you need to be a weight lifter in order to recover a target!
Closeup of magnet at rear of scoop
The two long-handled scoops evaluated as part of this product report include the RTG Stainless Steel Water Scoop from Reilly’s Treasured Gold and The No Frills Water Scoop by Finch Products. Both of these scoops were designed based on the experience of the company owners and feedback from their customers. Kevin Reilly, owner of Reilly’s Treasured Gold, has been a professional treasure hunter for the past 20 years, with most of that spent on the beaches of Southern Florida. In addition to his treasure hunting activities, Kevin operates a full-service detector shop in Pompano Beach. Among the many products he stocks is a complete line of scoops for the beach and shallow water hunter. Doyle and Ruth Finch, owners of Finch Products, are long-time treasure hunters themselves having started in the late 1960′s. The in-field experience these individuals possess contributes to their products effectiveness.
The RTG Stainless Steel Water Scoop from Reilly’s Treasured Gold is built to last. It’s heavy duty stainless steel bucket has a six-inch opening and measures almost 10 inches deep. Attached to the top of the bucket is a 40-inch stainless steel handle. The handle has been welded to the bucket with a sturdy bracket at just the right angle to help get the scoop to dig in and recover those deeply buried targets. The upper end of the handle has a rubber hand grip which not only aids in lifting the scoop to the surface when loaded with sand, but also allows the user to make sure the scoop is positioned properly; i.e., open end facing forward, when searching in murky water or at night. The bucket is strong enough to take the abuse of pressing on it with your foot when digging into the bottom. The RTG Stainless Steel Water Scoop retails for $89.95.
The No-Frills Water Scoop from Finch Products was designed to fill a niche in the scoop market. Many of Doyle and Ruth’s customers complained at the choices that were available in terms of water hunting scoops. The inexpensive scoops wouldn’t hold up to the rigors of water hunting and the high-quality scoops were too expensive for the recreational water hunter to buy. With the goal of providing a quality scoop at a reasonable cost in mind, Doyle proceeded to develop the No-Frills Water Scoop. Featuring a heavy gauge cold-rolled steel bucket and a 48-inch oak handle, Doyle’s confidence in the overall quality of the scoop shows through in the lifetime warranty that it comes with. It retails for $49.95.
To test the scoops out “in-the-field”, I decided to head over to a small pay-to-swim beach in the North Georgia mountains. The owners of the beach dump new sand in each year and as a result, most of the older targets are quite deep. Exchanging greetings with the owner when I arrived, I drove down to the beach and got out my equipment. Opting to try the No-Frills Water Scoop first, I waded out into the swimming area and started hunting. Based on the number of signals I was getting, I could see that the beach had not received much pressure so far this season. Recovering the targets was quite simple. Placing the bucket next to my foot after pinpointing the target, I pressed down on the back of the scoop and easily dug down a good 6 to 8 inches. The only point you need to keep in mind is that with the open top on the scoop, the material can fall out if you tilt it back too far when lifting it to the surface. I found the wooden handle to be a plus in that it would float when dropped making it easy to find it again. On scoops with metal handles I often find myself looking for the scoop with my detector when I inadvertently let go of the handle. After an hour I headed in to switch scoops. I checked my goody bag and found that in addition to the usual clad coins and trinkets, I had a nice gold ring and a sterling silver dolphin charm. While several of the targets had come from depths of 8 to 10 inches, the No-Frills Water Scoop had worked quite well in recovering them. One minor addition I would make to the scoop however is a paint mark or a notch on the top of the handle to help identify where the open end of the scoop is. As mentioned above on the RTG Stainless Steel Water Scoop, being able to position the scoop quickly will help increase the speed at which you can recover a target. The RTG Stainless Steel Water Scoop proved to be a true work-horse in the water. Even deeply buried targets were usually recovered in the first try. The design of the bucket and handle were ideally suited for digging straight down into the bottom and keeping the target inside when lifting the material back to the surface. The holes on the sides, back and top allowed the sand to quickly drain from the scoop leaving the target in plain view. Even when fully loaded with sand and gravel, the scoop was not so heavy that one couldn’t lift it even after having been hunting for the better part of the afternoon. I spent almost 2 hours using the RTG scoop and recovered some targets that were at the extreme edge of my detector’s detection capabilities. All in all, the RTG scoop was one of the most comfortable and efficient scoops I have ever used for shallow water hunting.
BEACH HUNTING Sand Scoops
For recovering targets in the dry sand area of the beach, a hand scoop is by far the best piece of equipment for the job. The hand scoops evaluated as part of this product report include the Deluxe Beach Scoop from Reilly’s Treasured Gold and Quick Drain Scoop by Finch Products.
The Deluxe Beach Scoop is a light-weight metal scoop with a mesh basket and an adjustable handle which allows you to recover targets from the dry sand areas without bending over. It adjusts from 13 inches to 39 inches. If you are planning on searching for extended periods of time then this design will be mush easier on your back than other designs. It retails for $59.95.
Finch’s Quick Drain Scoop is a high-quality, durable scoop that comes in your choice of two materials. For the salt water hunter, the stainless steel version is recommended as it will never rust. If you want to save a few dollars or plan on hunting primarily in fresh water, the anodized steel version will fit the bill. Both are identical in design featuring square holes throughout the entire basket for rapid flow-thru action and a comfortable rubber hand grip. The stainless steel model sells for $49.95 and the anodized steel model is $34.95.
To test these scoops out I took them along on a family vacation to the Florida coast. The sand on most beaches in Florida is extremely fine which makes it ideally suited for a hand scoop. My 7-year old son Paul wanted to tag along so grabbing both scoops, we headed off in search of buried treasure. He opted to try the Deluxe Beach Scoop and the nice thing about this scoop is that it easily adjusts to users of any height with the push of a button. At the shortest setting he was able to “swoop” the basket into the sand and quickly recover targets – usually in the first attempt. The wire mesh allowed sand to quickly empty out while still catching even small targets such as the wing off a pull tab. Adjusting it to the fully-extended position I was able to use it with the same degree of success my some experienced. Having used hand scoops which required you to bend over before, the ability to recover targets from the dry sand areas without bending over was a welcome change. After 30 minutes or so we switched off and used the Quick Drain Scoop. It worked extremely well for both of us, especially when recovering some of the deeper targets which were in the damp sand layer. As we approached the surf, my son discovered a trick that worked quite well in recovering the targets we were finding. After I would pinpoint the target’s location, he would dig a scoop-full of wet sand and move the scoop aside. I would check the hole and if the target was gone, he would take it into the surf which would wash the sand clear leaving the target laying in the scoop. Overall, both scoops proved to be effective in both the dry and wet sand areas of the beaches we metal detected
. Even my son was able to use them for extended periods of time without becoming fatigued or getting blisters which I’ve gotten on more than one occasion when using some other brands of hand scoops.