Friday, February 19, 2016

Book Review -- The Metal Detecting Bible

Hi everyone!  I recently had the opportunity to read and review a new book, The Metal Detecting Bible by Brandon Neice.  Some of you may know Neice by another name, Dr. Tones from the popular YouTube channel Dirt Fishing America.  I'll just say up front, I love DFA's videos, so I jumped at the chance to review his new book.

It is primarily an introductory text, but I was very impressed with the variety of topics covered.  All the "newbie" questions are covered well enough to help you cut through some of the hobby and technical jargon, and start getting the most from your detector on day one.  For someone just starting out, or in the first few years of detecting, I would highly recommend it.  For those of us that have been around the detecting block a few times, you might not get quite as much out of it - but the humorous tone keeps it fresh and interesting, and it was still a fun refresher course.

Niece's background shows through in the book, with a definite emphasis on "treasure" - namely old coins, and prospecting.  There's nothing wrong with that, and in fact the prospecting chapter and discussion of prospecting gear was more thorough than I have seen in previous introductory texts.  I would love to see a follow-up book from the author with the same engaging style of writing, and a more in depth look into the prospecting niche of the detecting world that many of us know little about.  The flip side, of course, is that the author's background in treasure hunting provides less information for aspiring relic hunters (vs the other various subsets of detecting).  I would like to have seen a nod to us Civil War guys and gals, with a few leads for research (regimental histories and the Official Record, for example), how to identify and dig out huts and fire pits, and a using the terrain to look for potential camps.  The discussion of coinshooting, jewelry hunting, and prospecting are all sufficiently detailed, and the techniques discussed are applicable to all hobbyists.

No matter what area of metal detecting you're interested in, there's a lot of good stuff in The Metal Detecting Bible.  In particular the first three chapters (basic principles, tools, and techniques) should be required reading for anyone picking up a detector.  If you're new to the hobby and want a head start, or you've been considering a detector and want to know what's involved, it would be worthwhile to give this one a read.  Happy hunting, y'all!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Meet me in NC -- GPX Seminar and Salisbury Civil War Show

Hey everyone!!  I'm coming home to the Old North State once again for two events next week!

Interested in learning about Pulse Induction metal detectors for relic hunting (or Civil War detecting in general)?  I'll be giving a talk at the monthly meeting of the Triangle Relic Recovery club meeting this Tuesday, Feb. 23.  The meeting will be held at the Ridge Road Baptist Church in Raleigh at 7:30.  The main focus of my talk will be the Minelab GPX series of detectors, including practical use and setting for various conditions.  I will also have special deals available and some giveaway prizes for a few lucky attendees.

Ridge Road Baptist Church
2011 Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC 27607
(in the Fellowship Hall)
7:30 PM

Then I will be back next weekend for the Salisbury, NC Civil War Relic Show Friday and Saturday, Feb 26-27.  This should be a great show, with some fabulous relics on display.  I will have detectors and equipment available for purchase from Fort Bedford Metal Detectors, and to answer any questions about the hobby.  I'd love it if you could stop by and say hello!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Pewter Roundball Mystery

Hey y'all!  I got out for a short hunt today at two spots with my friend Dustin.  One was brand new, and we spent a good while searching only to end up skunked.  But we did get a good lead from the landowner about where the site we are looking for might be located.  Maybe next time!

We also spent about an hour pushing the boundaries of the "cow field" site I've been working.  The cows were occupying the camp and refused to budge, so we stayed on top of the hill that had given up a few dropped and fired round balls before.  Dustin found a dropped roundball today, and I found a flattened three ring bullet and fired pistol bullet.

The big mystery for the day, though, is the odd round ball that appears to be made out of pewter or some other lead alloy.  This is the second such pewter round ball I've found in the field, and Dustin recovered a third this afternoon as well.  They are all about 44 caliber.

I'm wondering if they may be some sort of CS field made bullet, cast out of pewter or a poor lead alloy.  I suspect Confederate in nature, as their supply chain was much more fragile than the industrialized North, which was well supplied with standardized lead bullets.  It is possible, although I haven't yet found documentation, that the poorer Confederate troops may have needed to cast bullets out of a less effective alloy if lead was in short supply.  I have seen a few references to pewter alloy bullets used in muskets excavated from revolutionary war archeological sites.

Could these be CS pewter bullets?  Or something else entirely?  I'm really not sure, but I'll update when I know more!  Let me know in the comments or by email if you have any insight!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Two Incredible Days

Wow, I'm a sore puppy!!

Thursday I went out with my friend and coworker Keith, and we almost immediately started hitting Sharps carbine and pistol bullets, indicating Federal cavalry as we expected for the site. They were all over in that field!  Even though we took an extended break in the middle of the day, we both cleaned up in bullets. I got three buttons for the day, all cuff size. One was just the back, one a terrible condition GS, and one eagle Infantry with a little gilt still on.

I'm also happy with four percussion caps, as I've never dug those surface hunting before, so that was fun. The percussion cap is a very small brass cup filled with ignitable material.  The cap is placed on the nipple of the gun.  When struck by the hammer, it lights the gunpowder and sends the bullet down range.

Yesterday I went out with a forum friend, Joe aka Spectra1.  We headed out in the cold wind to a spot that's been good for some deep bullets in the past. He started out with the XP Deus and I had the GPX, and then we switched part way through the day. We spent a lot of time comparing signal resonse on the two machines.

The bullets were all fairly deep, and the ground somewhat mineralized. Not "Culpeper bad", but in that direction. The deus was barely able to squeak out a signal in some of the bullets found with the GPX, and not at all on others. We did find one of the bullets with the deus first, and it was considerable shallower, maybe 6 inches, and finally gave a solid response at that depth. The ground was just too hot for that machine to perform to its best ability.  The rest of the bullets all came from the GPX, whosever hands it was in at the time. I was happy to see Joe find a couple of Williams cleaners, a bucket list item that he hasn't been able to check off despite his laundry list of rare CW recoveries.

But the find of the day went to the deus! I got an iffy type signal, better in that ground than iron and worth digging, but not ideal. I flipped the plug, and brushed away the dirt on the bottom and my eyes were met by a beautiful block "I" Confederate infantry button staring back up at me! Woohoo!! It's my first confederate letter button, pewter/white metal one piece with full stand up shank and awesome condition. They don't come out too much better.

So how did this Confederate button end up in the middle of the decidedly Union camp?  There are many possibilities.  It could have come from a captured soldier, of been taken as a souve of the war.  The most likely explanation comes from the land itself.  It lends itself strongly to a camp area along the old road, so it is probable that it was used as a camp or brief stop off for both sides.  There may be more Confederate relics to find, or this could be the only evidence of a short detour off the main path.  But I do know I intend to search it more thoroughly to find out!

All in all, two great days in the fields sharing history with friends. That's what it's all about. But I'm tired and sore, so I guess it's time to relax with the family for the weekend and the big game. If you made it this far, thanks for reading and happy hunting!