Metal Detecting and Recovery in Surf and Deep Sand

Its a tricky thing to metal detect in heavy surf and large waves and on top of that carefully extract that gold ring from nearly a foot under the sand while attempting to maintain your balance and not loose the spot to dig. More than that you may see a large variety of scoops for sale but you have no idea what would work under those conditions and some scoops are very expensive and you don’t want to purchase the wrong kind. Salt water hunting is a challenge but very rewarding to those who take up the challenge and pursue the gold. Did I mention that the hole collapses as the sand from the sides flows down to fill your hole before you can dig out the target? You certainly have to be on top of the job or you can get blasted from a large wave if you take your gaze away from the waves to look into your scoop or hit by a man-of-war stinging jellyfish that fill the waters here in the spring. Not worth it you say? but you would be wrong, its more fun than you might imagine and you can learn how to keep a watch out and dig rings at the same time. The most difficult thing for me is not losing the spot in strong currents when the undertow is pulling my scoop away from me and may cause me to loose my footing. I use a webbed dog leash to put on my detector belt and attach to the scoop handle so if I drop the scoop I can pull the leash and get it back without swimming underwater or feeling around for it as the current carries it away
It is one thing to read about it and another to experience it. If you live away from the beach you can still plan a vacation where you can hunt in the warm waters and sunny skies but you need to know what equipment to use and what to do to get ready. As I mentioned there are lots of different kinds of scoops and when you are choosing a scoop here is what you need to consider. First you need to get the job done fast and recover the rings without letting the sand collapse back into the hole and you will need a large bucket to do that.

Some scoops may LOOK big in the ad but you discover that the opening of the bucket is only four inches wide and that won’t do in deeper water. You need to extract the object in the first try if possible and you need a big bucket to do that. The bucket should be at least 6 inches across the opening and 8 inches deep and have a long heavy handle that will allow you to use the leverage to pry up the sand without breaking the scoop. One more consideration is that if you have problems with your back the large scoop may be a problem to you and you will just have to get by with a smaller one because you get a bucket of heavy and I mean HEAVY sand and you have to lift it to the top of the water and slop it back and forth to melt it down to your ring it will get to your back quick. In the water many hunters dig everything so you can see that this might be a problem for you. I have used a smaller scoop in the surf and that might be all you can take with you on vacation but the problem is that the sand collapses back into the hole and it takes forever to extract the ring. Once you get a scoop there are several things you must do to prepare it.
Mark the handle on the back side away from the opening so that you can see it in the surf because you may get the scoop backwards under the water and not notice it. Use 1/4 inch hardware cloth, available at your hardware store to insert around inside the scoop and cut a piece for the bottom that will just fit inside it. This does two things, it means that you will not loose the small jewelry and chains and it means that the sand will take longer to melt! I will spend the time to do it right the first time because there is nothing that drives me crazy like digging a deep target only to have it fall through the 5/8 inch holes over and over! Some folks like to glue a small magnet to the middle bottom inside of your scoop to catch the small magnetic trash. However I got tired of the black fuzzy ball of junk there and took it off mine. It only takes about 20 minutes to fit the hardware cloth into the scoop and then I use bread ties to twist around the wire to hold it in where I can remove it if I want to. Once I got a gold ring between the wire and the scoop and almost never noticed it. Next look for the obvious places that are sharp which will tear your hands up when you use the scoop and wrap them up with duct tape so you can’t cut yourself with the scoop.

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I mentioned that you will need a smaller scoop to take on vacations that you can pack in a suitcase and what you need for that is the small galvanized sand scoops that they sell with the 14 inch to 18 inch handles. Get one of these and take the cover off the back of the handle. Get the 1/4 inch hardware cloth and put it inside the scoop just like the large one and then go to the hardware store and find the electrical department where they keep the conduit. Bring your scoop with you because what you want to do is match the handle to a piece of conduit. It comes in long sections but don’t worry because it is cheap. Next go to the bin where they will find you a coupler to fit both ends of pipe together and then you have everything that you need. Measure the length of the original scoop and give yourself another 3 foot or so of the conduit and cut off the piece and join them together with the connector. These will allow you to remove the extension when you are packing. Next the bicycle handlebars handgrip that was used for a handle on the original scoop can be placed on the end of the extension. There you have it the neatest transportable scoop you can get, only don’t abuse it by forcing it into the sand or you might break it while you are on vacation.
If the water is cool or there are stinging jellyfish in the water then you can bring the cheap vinyl waders and a pair of old large tennis shoes so you don’t get stung. I like the creamy cocoa butter (the lifeguards use) for a skin cream and I know that it doesn’t have a SPF rating for ultraviolet but I can hunt with it on all day and never get a sunburn and it doesn’t rub off on your clothes.
My scoop cost me just a little over $100 at Amazon. If you decide to sell your gold items then please do not sell them to a pawn shop because you will not get anything for them. Instead they can be displayed in a nice ring display box with prices and you can sell them like hotcakes at the flea market.
One more thing, when you are surf hunting always face out to sea and never, never turn around. I was hunting one morning when the sea was as calm as glass and I was having fun and not paying attention when I heard something. I looked around and saw a wave that was 3 1/2 to 4 foot high and racing to me and I was in the deep water!! I have no idea what caused it but there was a series of large waves after that and it dunked me before I could get back to shallow water and shocked me that a large wave like that could just come up on a still sea so keep your eyes out to sea at all times you may even see a large black fin cutting the water like I did. The sea is realtime life and exciting but never to be taken for granted.

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