There is no “written” set of rules that you must adhere to, but there are a few things that you should keep in mind at all times when you are metal detecting. These are not rules. They are more like a simple code of ethics.
There are people in government at the city, county, state, and federal levels who are trying to ban the great hobby of metal detecting. These people have been successful at banning the use of metal detectors in several key places. Let’s not give them any fuel for the fire they are building.
Following these simple basic rules will help preserve this great hobby for years to come.
Where is metal detecting against the law?
As I have already stated, there are several places where using your metal detector could land you behind bars. You could also lose your metal detecting equipment and your vehicle. Always make sure it is not against the law before you start metal detecting.
Times change, and government officials change the rules all the time. At the time of this writing, the following places are considered off limits to metal detecting. This pertains to the United States only.
- Some state parks are off limits. These seem to vary from state to state, and from park to park within each state. It is always best to locate the head ranger at the state park and ask them. You may be required to obtain a permit, or the park may be wide open to metal detecting. Ask first!
- National Parks are off limits. At least every single one I have ever been to is, and I have been to quite a few all over the country.
- Archeological Sites or Sites of Historical Significance are also off limits.
Know the Local Laws
It is up to you to know your local laws as they pertain to metal detecting and abide by them. Failing to follow the laws will not only get you in some serious trouble, but it will also make it much easier for “the man” to outlaw metal detecting everywhere.
Obtain Permission Before Metal Detecting Private Property
This one is pretty simple. Do not under any circumstances think that it is “okay” to hunt an area of land if you are not the rightful owner. If you are not sure if the land is public or private, then you are better off not hunting the land in question. Get permission from the rightful landowner. If you can manage, get permission in writing.
Do Not Destroy Property!
This may seem like common sense, but don’t destroy anything trying to recover a piece of treasure unless you have explicit permission. This includes: trees, shrubs, plants, animals, your neighbor, buildings and lawns.
Fill In All Holes!
The area where you have hunted should not look like a war zone when you are done. The area should look untouched. Fill in all of your holes. This is the most common mistake that people who are new to the hobby make, and it is by far the most common complaint people in government make. For the third time, fill in all your holes.
Avoid Digging Huge Holes!
There are times when digging a huge hole is necessary. You may need to recover a large relic of some sort, but most of the times you don’t need to dig a huge hole. Learn to dig the smallest hole possible, and make sure you use the right recovery tool for the job.
Learn how to cut good plugs. Once you get the hang of cutting a good plug, no one will be able to tell that you where ever there.
Remove All Trash!
You are going to find plenty of trash. It is just part of the hobby. Don’t put trashy items back in the hole and cover it up. Take the trashy item with you, or drop it in the nearest garbage can.
Be Respectful of Other Metal Detectorists
If you happen to see another person out metal detecting, keep your distance while your machine is on. Sometimes your machine will cause all sorts of interference with theirs, and don’t even think about moving into their spot while they are hunting. If you must approach them, turn your machine off first. When your conversation is over, respect their spot unless they invite you to join the hunt.
Leave Gates and Accesses as You Found Them
This one is pretty simple too. If you are metal detecting an area where you pass through an open gate, leave it open. If you have to pass through a closed gate, make sure you close it when you pass through it.
Report Significant Finds
You may be lucky enough to find some treasure that has massive historical significance. It is up to you to report these types of finds to the proper authorities. Not doing so could earn you a tour with the chain gang if you know what I mean.
As you can see, the metal detecting code of ethics is pretty much common sense. You may also notice that everything listed in the code of ethics has one thing in common: respect. Respect goes a very long way, especially when you are talking about metal detecting.