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The 51st Annual ESMDA Club Hunt & Picnic

Updated: Jan 31

The 51st ESMDA club hunt and picnic was last Saturday, September 25th. It was a day full of fun and excitement as club members and others participated in various seeded hunts throughout the course of the day. A seeded hunt is a metal detecting event where coins and tokens are purposely planted or hidden in the ground. The hunt was held at Berne Town Park in Berne, NY. This is the fifth year the ESMDA Club held the hunt at this particular location.

It was a crisp, sunny morning. We turned the coffee pot on at 8:00 am. The smell of freshly brewed coffee filled the air as the cars slowly started to roll in and fill up the parking lot. Check-in began at 8:30 am. The hustle and bustle of checking in for the day's event is always a busy time. Our ESMDA Club Treasurer Marie Fryc checked everyone in with the help of her sister Margaret Simmonds and club member Mary Jane Zanelli. All of the hunters received fancy laminated name tags to wear for the duration of the event. A lot of the hunters know each other and who is who. Many of them return year after year to share in the fun, but the name tags are always helpful.

You can sense the feeling of excitement in the air. Anticipation of the fun the day will bring. People happily greet each other. There are friends there that you might not have seen in a while and new faces. Some of hunters bring along donuts and other various baked goods to share. If your blood is not already pumping well then a little sugar will do the trick. We enjoy a quick breakfast before we start detecting.

Bob Lavoy, from Northeast Metal Detectors sets up shop for the day on one of the picnic tables. If you need a new detector, gear or other accessories they are available for purchase. It's great to have a dealer on site for those moments when your pin pointer unexpectedly breaks or if you forgot to pack your hand digger.

At 9:00 am with check in complete we all posed together for a group photo. It is actually the cover photo of the blog. You'll notice that a lot of the hunters in the photo had all their gear on and were ready to get started metal detecting. After the group photo was the first hunt of the day.

Eager to start detecting, we all headed over to the first field. The first hunt of the day is the Indian Head Cent Hunt. We like to think of this hunt as a warm-up hunt. In the field we toss out a total of 400 Indian Head Cents and 20 Tokens. The tokens are later redeemed for various prizes. Anyone who recovered a token during this particular hunt received some type of Minelab or Garrett merchandise such as gloves, hats, shirts, backpacks, finds cases or other various forms of merchandise. I recovered one token from this hunt and received a Garrett backpack and finds case. This hunt is a lot of fun and a great opportunity to make sure your machine is ready to go for the more serious hunts that happen later in the day. What's also great about this hunt is that all the Indian head Cents and tokens are laying right on the surface. They simply are just hidden from your view by all the grass.

Naturally, some hunters spend more time on the field than others. After about 20-25 minutes or so everyone had wandered back to the pavilion area. There are a few minutes for chatting and showing off your recoveries before the start of the next hunt. Each hunt takes place on its own separate field which makes the planting process and flow of the day run quite smoothly. We are fortunate that Berne Town Park is quite large. We hold two main hunts one before lunch and one after. The first main hunt is held in the upper field. The hunting area is larger than the space where the Indian Head Cents get planted. The field is divided into four quadrants. Within each of the four quadrants we hide a total of 130 coins (25 Barber Half Dollars, 50 Barber Quarters, 50 Barber Dimes, 2 Morgan Silver Dollars, 2 Large Cents, and 1 Maria Theresia Silver Coin) and 8 tokens. The tokens in the main hunts are for various prizes such as proof sets, premium silver coins, metal detectors, a treasure chest full of goodies, and other various prizes.

Before the hunt began, everyone positioned themselves around the perimeter of the field. There is a brief period of time before the hunt actually starts. This when we all turn on our detectors and make sure that we are good to go for when the whistle gets blown. Bob Francis, our current ESMDA Club President stood at the center of the field. He shouted out "ready?” The consensus from the crowd was yes. Next, he yelled out "Detectors in the air". Everyone raises their detector over their head. With a quick look around the field, Bob confirms that everyone's detector is in the air and then the signal to start is given. This is how we begin each of the seeded hunts.

Once the signal is given everyone begins to move. If you were to sit back and watch you'd probably notice that there is an urgency in most of the hunters. There swing is fast and their movements quick. Seeded hunts are a whole different ball game. Instead of slowing down your swing and listening for deep targets, you basically want to speed it up and dig everything that is shallow. The seeded coins and tokens are planted just under the surface, so nothing is deep. The goal for most of the participants in any seeded hunt is to find as many coins and or tokens as possible. In order to make that goal possible you have to be quick and so quick they are.

The hunters move around the field rapidly with their diggers and shovels in hand. In any given seeded hunt, the first 10 minutes are critical. You can't spend much time getting hung up on a target if you want to find a lot of seeded coins and tokens. By 15 minutes in most of the seeded targets are generally gone. People start to trickle off the field after about 20 minutes or so. You can still get lucky though and dig something that someone else missed. And stuff gets missed all the time. I've never really understood why so many people leave the field after only 25 minutes or so. I always figured that if your goal is to find as many seeded coins as possible, you should stay until the bitter end.

At 11:30 am we eat lunch. There were hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill and all sorts of delicious sides. The hunters all bring a dish to share and there is always an insane amount of food. Lunch is always an enjoyable time to converse with others. I always love hearing about all the finds people are making. It's great to know that we are all out there doing are part to save pieces of history from the ground.

After are bellies are all full it's time for the third hunt of the day. Like with the second the field is divided into four quadrants. In each quadrant 130 coins and 8 tokens are planted. We start the hunt with our detectors in the air and quickly move about the field to recover whatever we can.

Following this third hunt, we held the Kids Only Hunt. It's the first year ever that we held a kid's only hunt and I for one am so glad that we did. This was the most enjoyable part of the whole day. The hunt was open to any child 12 years old or younger. We had a total of 6 participants. We hid a total of 25 quarters with smiley faces in the ground. Some children were old enough to detect on their own without their parents help and some of our younger participants needed their parent’s assistance. The Kids Only Hunt was made possible by ESMDA Club Vice President Gino DiCarlo. He did all the work to organize it. All of the prizes for the Kids Only Hunt were donated by Gino, myself, Nicholas August, and Dean Johnson.

We finish off the day by handing out all the token prizes! If you recovered a token from any of the hunts it is during this time that you find out what the prize is that you won. We go through the list of Indian Head Tokens first and quickly get them out of the way. The prizes for the tokens from the Indian Head hunt are already predetermined. Certain prizes are assigned to each numbered token. The way the other token prizes work is a little bit different though. After each hunt, if you found any tokens you head over to the token board and record your name next to the token number or numbers you found. Then when it’s time to give out the token prizes we work off of this list. We start with number 1. The token number and the name of the person who found it gets called out. They make their way to the prize table area where we have a box of 64 sealed envelopes. You get to pick an envelope. We then open the envelope and reveal the prize that you won.

Below are a few pictures of some of the participants’ recoveries from the seeded hunts.

A lot of hard work goes into organizing a hunt like this. The planning and coordination behind the scenes that helps to make everything run smoothly can be contributed to a lot of people. Our board members, Robert Francis (President), Gino DiCarlo (Vice President), Marie Fryc (Treasurer) and myself all do our fair share of course and a lot of the club members help out tremendously as well. We couldn't pull off an event of this magnitude without the help of a lot of wonderful people. We would like to graciously thank all those who helped and all those who donated items for the hunt! Some club members who weren't even able to attend the hunt donated their time with planning and set-up as well as items as prizes. Thank you to the fine folks who helped Robert Francis mark off the fields and set out all the flags on Friday evening. Several people helped the morning of the hunt as well as stayed afterwards to help clean everything up. They planted coins, stocked coolers, helped set up tables. It really does take a team to make it all happen and we are thankful to all the volunteers. So thank you to our club members Nicholas August, Terry Baldwin, Dan Casey, Dan Fancher, Dean Johnson, Angelo Primo, Jan Satterlee, Margaret Simmonds, and Mary Jane Zanelli for their help, support, or kind donations. Also, thank you to Mrs. Waterhouse for taking some lovely photos of us while we were out in the fields detecting.

I would also like to take a moment to thank all of our really wonderful sponsors. Without them, our event would not have been possible. Thank you to Geoffrey Demis from Ferris Coin Company, Minelab, Garrett, Brian Harvey and Stef Tanguay from The Diggers Den, Bob Lavoy from Northeast Metal Detectors, and Collar City Mushrooms!

It was a great day full of lots of fun. All together we planted in the ground 1,000 silver Barbers (half dollars, quarter, and dimes), 400 Indian Head Cents, 16 Morgan silver dollars, 8 Maria Theresia silver coins, 16 large cents, and 84 tokens. We hope to see you all again next year for our 52nd Annual Club Hunt! Have a great week and as always happy hunting!

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