1st of all just driving around looking for old homes is fine, but there is a lot more too it. The first thing I did when I decided to canvas my town, was going to the library and doing a little research. Points of interest are the very first homes, parks, and schools.
There are other things I do, but gaining permission is the topic so I will try and stay on it.
I will focus on homes where the landowner is still living there. If the yard has a sidewalk in front of it, all the better. This can be the key to getting your foot in the door. Most cities and towns own/or have easement to the land in between the sidewalk and the street, mostly for utility purposes. Some landowners don’t realize this but most do. First off I gained permission from city hall from the City Manager to hunt any City own land.. This is another great opportunity, but back to topic.
If your location does not have a sidewalk move to some that have and gain a notoriety for taking care of the landowner’s property and then go back with the info that you have hunted a this person’s house or old location. This will sometimes help you get the landowner to open up to you, when you mention someone they know.
So, I have found a particular property. It has a sidewalk, the home is old, and the landowner is home. I don’t ever walk up with my equipment, I have learned that is a turn off if they don’t know what you are doing. I will knock and introduce myself. I tell them my name, tell them I am local. I sometimes will mention who I know or if I have hunted other well known properties. I explain that I have a website(Gonehunting for History) and a YouTube channel. I let them know that I am definitely interested in the Historical aspect of the finds.. Since the treasure hunting shows that have come out, I have been asked several times if that is what I do.. I reassure them that is not what I am about. I never mention Treasure or Treasure Hunting. You never want to give off the vibe that you are in it for profit. I am not. I do from time to time sell some coins/tokens to help with the cost of hunting, but selling the relics, is something I won’t do. This is my passion and hobby, not a means or to make a living. Back to topic.
Once I introduce myself, I ask them if they wouldn’t mind if I metal detected the city property between the sidewalk and the street. I tell them that I have permission from the city, but as a courtesy am asking them if they are ok with me being out there. 10 times out 10 they have let me. I ask them if I start finding relics and historical finds would they mind if I continued into their yard. Most of the time they ask what I use to dig. I will go and get my belt and some of my equipment and explain the digging of a plug. I always try to dig a 3/4 quarter plug or flap. I explain that I never ever leave uncovered holes. I also tell them I will remove all metal and trash that I find.
Now if you are doing this don’t wait till the dead of summer cause you will kill the grass. The best time is in the spring when the ground is moist. Yards with St. Augustine are the easiest to dig a good clean plug, then Bermuda and Johnson grass. If they water their lawn constantly then you should be ok.
I tell them I can demonstrate how I will dig and replace on the city’s side of the sidewalk if they would like to see. This will help.
Most of them will ask what I intend to do with the things I find, and what’s in it for them. This is where the “treasure shows” have hurt me especially. If your lucky some haven’t watched them. 9 times out of 10 the finds that are made aren’t valuable monetarily, and are only good as a historical relic or find. I tell them that if I find something related to the history of the town I will put the find on loan to the local museum if the museum would take it. I also tell them if I find any jewelry that they can identify as their’s, they are more than welcome to it. This seems to put them more at ease. Now if they seem to be on the edge of whether or not they want to let you, I tell them if I find a gold coin I will split the value of the gold or the coin, which ever is the most. This will catch their ear. I, myself have found gold coins in the past and tell them there is always a chance to do so in their yard. You never know.
I also ask them if it is ok if I film. I explain that I will not use film of the location just the ground. This is a big one. Tell them you will NEVER show up when they are not there, and NEVER will you tell someone else it is ok to go and hunt there. IF they have someone show up and say that you sent them, without pryor approval, you tell them to call the police. I have had several landowner’s that has called me upset, that there was someone there hunting saying, ole Evan or Gonehunting has sent them. I actually confronted 2 such rats doing that.. they said “yeah, Evan said it was ok.” I was a little astonished at the audacity of these goons, to my face! They had no clue who I was, but they sure used my name. I escorted them to the street and called the police department. I politely told them, if I was them I wouldn’t do that again.. I’d hate to be in the newspaper for wrapping a detector around their head….back to topic…
Another thing be careful who you take with you on your outings. I hunt with only a few people. I can trust them not only to be quiet but to take care of the property. I used to be free with who I took with me and what I said to them, that has also come back to haunt me several times.
So cover yourself and be sure you get your point across to the land owner that you will do your part in protecting their privacy. I used to take a signed hold harmless document that explained everything that I just told them.. But it is a sue happy world and I thought it best not to give them any fuel. I have never been run off of a property or been threatened after visiting a spot. I do sometimes hand them a business card with my Gonehunting for History info as reminder that we did talk.
Lastly, if you find a lot cool relics and coins, share some of them. It lets the landowner know just how thankful you are that they let you on their property.
Another thing is to watch landowners in adjoining properties while you are detecting. I don’t know how many times I have been hunting and noticed a neighbor watching us. So I will go over to them and strike up a conversation about what I do and what I am finding. This tactic is key into moving down the street and opening more doors to hunt. Most will let you when they see you at other properties..
On a second note, if you have extra detector’s, invite them to hunt with you. Spend time with them and help them make finds. You never know the doors it can open for you. Trust me on that one.
I hope this helps and I will read this I am sure and see something I left out. If I update this post you will see it in the title……thanks for reading! Happy Hunting!
Gonehunting for History