Wednesday, July 13, 2016

7/13/16 Report - Scoops and Other Recovery Techniques For Various Difficult Situations.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Alternate Scoop Design For Deeply Buried Targets In Shallow Water.

A couple days ago I mentioned a target that was too deep for me to recover. Deep targets in the water and near the water can be difficult to recover.  Most people live and die by the scoop even though there are other good tools and techniques that can be effective.

The scoop on scoops is that the technology hasn't changed much in decades. There are some that are bigger and there are some that are stronger, but they really haven't changed much.

There are a variety of types of scoops, but they all work pretty much the same.  The scoop can be bigger or smaller and maybe shaped a little differently, but that is about it.

Years ago I described the benefits of having a wood handle and the disadvantages of metal handles. You don't see many scoops with wood handles, but a few manufacturers now offer scoops with wood handles.  I'm surprised more people don't use them.

It can be very difficult to recover deeply buried targets in soft or silty sand especially when there are currents.  Sometimes a scoop just won't work.

One method that will work at times is using your scoop like a hoe and fanning with it.  You can put down your detector, turn your scoop over and frantically hoe with it.  It can be tiring but you can really move a lot of sand that way.

If you are working in loose sand or silt and currents, trying to get too much sand in your scoop can actually work against you.  If you lift a heavy scoop full of sand out of a depression quickly, it will cause currents that suck the surrounding sand back into the hole.  Lifting a full scoop quickly will also cause the some of the sand and possibly the target to fall off the front or top and back into the hole. There are techniques to reduce that effect.  I've discussed those before.

After assessing the situation and getting a good idea of where the target is, you might choose another technique that often works well.   Put down the detector and scoop, get down on your knees and work your hand down through the sand and feel for the target.  This often also works very well on the beach when the target is under the water table.  This technique is not as easy when there is a layer of shells.  Be careful not to cut your hand on glass or other sharp things. You might be surprised by how easy it is to work your hand down to feel the target.

One technique I prefer is foot fanning.   You can move a lot of sand, as well as shells and rocks and other things - even when the bottom is packed rock.  Foot fanning, is one of my favorite techniques when a lot of sand needs to be moved to get to the target in water.  It can be tiring.

Some of the best hunting you might ever find occurs when there is a rock bottom.  Most other techniques can be nearly impossible when that happens.  Fanning will pick the sand up from between the rocks, and then the loosened rocks will come up.

Again you have to be careful.  A fishing lure can pop up and stick in your foot.  Therefore it is best to have some type of foot wear.

In every case, determining the targets location, depth and size, will help a lot.

If you are wading and have a long handled scoop, use the handle to support yourself, and then frantically fan with one foot until you have moved enough sand.

One challenge for recovering deep targets with a scoop in moving shallow water is getting the scoop to penetrate into the sand far enough.  I've found that I can wiggle the scoop as I push it in and continue working the scoop down down through the sand.  It will then be tough to pull the scoop out, but it can be done, and if done correctly can get targets from deeper layers.

Just pushing a scoop into the sand doesn't get you very far.  And the hole can refill nearly as quickly as you dig out the sand.

Rock hounds use another type of scoop.  You can see it here to the left.  These are about three feet long.

These are called treasure scoops, but as you can see, they don't have much of a scoop and aren't made for sifting.  They are good for collecting surface finds, but they would also be useful in other situations, such as reaching in under bushes, roots or rocks.

It is difficult to get a regular scoop pushed down through the sand to deeper layers. The type of scoop shown here will penetrate more easily and deeper, but you really have to pinpoint very accurately to be able to pull a small target out.

I won't discuss things like dredging or air lifts now, since detectorists usually can't use those techniques, but I've played with a few different designs specifically designed for recovering deeper targets in difficult situations.

At the top of the post is a illustration showing a tube, much longer than a typical scoop, that can be pushed down into the sand.  I've imagined a screw type mechanism to move the sand and articles up and through the tube, but haven't worked that out.  Probably a more practical method would be to leave the back of the tube open until the tube is suspected to be around the target, then the back of the tube closed before the tube is withdrawn.  That might pick up the material in the tube.  I can think of a couple other ways to try to make that work too.   I'll have to do a little testing.  I have some other ideas I won't mention at this time.

By the way, a rake or tool with tines can work better than a scoop when the target is a chain.

For now, my best overall technique in shallow water, and one that requires no additional equipment, is foot fanning.  Like with every technique, there are some tricks that you can learn to make it more effective.  It is almost always effective, but can require a lot of energy.


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It sure has been hot.  I'd like to see something change.

Happy hunting,