A small token of gratitude, like offering some of the finds, can open doors. Although most landowners don’t care, and will let you hunt, you need to be prepared. Like I said, most could not care less what you find or do, as long as you take care of the property. If you think you are going to get shut down, play your card. After doing this for a while, you will be able to tell by the look in their eyes what they are going to say before they say it. Heading the “NO” off at the pass will become easier with practice. Practicing on the spots with “less to offer” will help you when the really good spots are found.
Another thing I try to practice is a proper appearance. I NEVER, ever go up to the door with my equipment on or in my hand. The sight alone can kill the deal.
This one is the most successful way I find good spots. When talking to the land owner and you’ve gained permission, don’t forget to discuss the rest of the neighborhood.Who does he know? Or does he have other property? Also, pay attention to other landowners while you are hunting. When the neighbors see what you are doing and the other neighbors are ok with it, then it can ease the tension when you go to ask them.
Another way is to try and connect. Do you know someone they know. Bring them up in the conversation. “Yes, my grandfather Jake said he went to school with your dad and used to play at this place all the time”. Now don’t lie and don’t make stuff up, but being ready to greet a potential landowner can be the key to the yard. Also if you have hunted several well-known homes, be sure to use that. Use the landowner’s name, “do you know i.e. Tom Hagen on the corner? Well I detected his yard Saturday and found some really interesting pieces” in doing this, you are building some familiarity.
Using Ma’am’s and Sir’s especially with the older people you are asking is good. They were brought up to use those monikers. Be respectful. Most of the older generation has some type of military service or background, so using verbiage they are used to can also help.
When asking permission to hunt a property this is how my introduction goes 90% of the time:
'Hello my name is Evan. I hate to bother you, but I just noticed how old your house is. Could you tell me what you know about it?' Then I say, 'I did some research on this house and what I found is...' and I let them know what I found out. I then say 'the reason for my interest is I have a website and YouTube channel called Gonehunting for History. I go around to different places metal detecting for things from the past, whether it be tokens, charms, etc. My favorite things to find are things that are connected to the town.' I then talk about past finds and relate them to the town I am in.
Before they can answer I tell them how I recover the finds. I say 'What I use are nursery digging tools, where I cut a ¾ plug about 5 inches across, I roll back the sod, roots and all and recover the target. When I am finished I replace the dirt and tamp down the turf. Usually after a rain you can’t tell I have even been there. I have been doing this for over 25 years and I have yet to have a landowner not allow me to come back.'
If they look like they may balk and only if, I say, 'What I normally do is if I find any jewelry and you think it’s yours, you are more than welcome to it.' If this is still not working I say, 'if I do find a gold coin I usually split either the value of the coin or I will buy your half or vice versa. Now I can’t guarantee you there is any in your yard, but I have found them. Once, I had a landowner laugh at me so hard, cause he was standing next to me when I found it that he just let me have it. He said I got such a laugh out of how I was reacting to it, it was worth it just to see you find it.' Or use a similar story to help ease the tension, remember to try and connect and get them excited about finding history.
I can’t tell you how many times that little intro has opened up hundreds of yards and properties, some that the landowners had never let anyone hunt.
Have a game plan and practice it, be knowledgeable of the area, be willing to share, presentable, respectful to the property and the landowner, ask about the surrounding land, try and connect, always be aware who is watching, and be courteous to those who say yes and no. These are my keys to success.
I hope this helps and Good Luck!
Gonehunting for History
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