Quick and efficient recovery of targets is a key part of being successful with a metal detector. Simply put, there are so many metal targets in the ground that you need to be able to recover items quickly so you can get them out of the ground and move on. Over the course of a day, quicker target recovery will make a significant impact on the total number of items that you dig.
For gold nugget hunting this is particularly important. Most goldfields are littered with both historic and modern trash. Things such as bullets, wire, nails, boot tacks, and a large variety of other rubbish are out there. Among all this trash are gold nuggets, but you have to dig it all if you are going to find the gold! While in some cases you may need to use some sort of discrimination to pick and choose which targets you want to dig, most of the time it is best to just dig everything.
Here are a few tips that will help you get metal out of the ground as quickly as possible.
Use a Smaller Coil
Using a smaller coil can speed up target recover in a few different ways. For one thing, they don’t detect metal as deeply, you more targets will be closer to the surface. You may miss some deeper gold nuggets with a smaller coil, but you will certainly recover targets more quickly.
Use an Elliptical Coil
Metal detector coils come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes. Most prospectors prefer an elliptical shaped coil to the round ones. They allow for better ground coverage and still get good depth. The elliptical shape allows you to use the very tip of the coil to essentially pinpoint the target. It may take some practice, but once you have gotten use to a particular coil it can be relatively easy to extract a metal target from the ground.
Use the Edge of Your Coil to make an “X”
One you have dug down to where you know you are close to the target, or you have removed it from the hole and it is somewhere in your dirt pile, use the edge of your coil to locate the target. Approach from one direction and move the coil along until you get a target response. Next turn your coil 90 degrees and approach from the other angle. When you get a target response, you will basically make an “X” that marks where your target is.
Remove the Target from the Hole
Make sure you get the metal out of the hole before you get serious about pinpointing its location. You want the target to be located in the loose material that you have dug out, not still buried in the hard ground.
Use a Quality Pick
A good quality pick will seriously improve your target recovery speed. Especially in deep or hard-packed ground, a heavy pick will seriously improve the speed that you dig holes.
Use a Handheld Pinpointer
Some would consider this optional, but a small handheld pinpointer can help you to recover targets more quickly. Years ago, prospectors considered these to be pretty much worthless for nugget hunting, but some recent models like the “Garrett Carrot” pinpointer handle mineralized ground quite well, and have become very popular in recent years.