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Winter Weather Detecting...The Struggle is Real!

Updated: Jan 25


Unfortunately, the cold winter weather and snow has arrived in Upstate New York. This type of weather certainly presents it's challenges. Detecting ground covered with snow and ice isn't easy. Plenty of people who metal detect call it quits this time of year. I have learned that metal detecting, in Upstate New York, during the winter requires quite a bit of creativity and some preparation. A lot of the regular spots you detect at such as parks, schools, and people's yards will most likely be frozen or simply covered with just too much snow. So, you will need to think outside the box when picking spots to go detecting during the winter months.

This time of year it's a good idea to look for spots in the woods to detect. The thicker the better. Wooded areas usually have less snow to contend with and they are better insulated from the chilly, windy weather. All the leaves and pine needles help to prevent the ground from freezing so digging isn't too difficult. It is also a good idea to head for higher ground within the woods. Higher ground will have less moisture and more sun exposure.

If you have a waterproof detector, unfrozen bodies of water can be another great place to detect during the winter months. Just get yourself a pair of insulated waders and waterproof boots and you should be good to go. If wading seems a little too intimidating you could always just hop in a creek bed. I went out detecting with a couple of friends the other day. We arrived at the spot to discover that a good portion of the ground was covered with about 3 to 4 inches of snow. Rather than get frustrated by all the snow or call quits, I decided to detect the creek adjacent to an old cellar hole. The day wasn't a total loss. I still had fun and ended up finding an Indian Head Cent and a couple of flat buttons.

Winter gathering spots are another place you could detect this time of year. Check out those sledding hills and ice skating rinks for clad coins or jewelry. You don't need to worry about how much snow there is or whether the ground is frozen since, the targets you are hoping to find would have been recently lost and are just buried in all the snow.

Wherever it is you choose to go detecting, you'll need to make sure you are properly prepared for the adventure ahead of you. Everyone knows the importance of dressing in layers. You will want to try to keep as much of your skin covered as possible. It's also really important to try and keep your hands and feet both dry and warm. Wearing a pair of waterproof gloves would be ideal. I know my gloves always seem to end up getting wet after a while so I usually try to have a second pair with me. You'll also want to wear a pair of warm socks and comfortable, waterproof boots. A hat can help to protect your head against the cold wind and keep precious heat from escaping from your body.

In addition to dressing warmly, you will also want to make sure you have a good quality shovel and other proper supplies so that you will be successful. You will without a doubt need a strong, sturdy shovel. Something that will be able to easily break through the top layer of soil. The ground is generally quite firm during the winter months and digging can be difficult. A hand held pick can also be a useful tool when trying to retrieve targets from the hard ground. It seems that when it's really cold outside batteries tend to drain faster. It's always a good idea to carry spare batteries or your detector's charging cords with you. There's nothing worse than having to call it quits early due to battery issues. Also, don't forget to stay hydrated and bring plenty of water along with you.


I see no reason why we should have to give the hobby up during the Winter.  Just use caution and choose where you detect wisely.  Watch out and try to steer clear of slippery ice.  If the ground freezes you will have to wait until it thaws out.  If the snow begins to pile up too much and you are not able to get your coil close enough to the ground to make it worth your while, you will just have to wait for most of the snow to melt.  If the weather simply becomes too cold with below freezing temperatures, I suggest you wait for a warmer day.  No amount of treasure is worth the risk to your health and safety. It's always smart to take a friend along with you.  If you end up going into the woods alone you should at least let a loved one know the location you will be at.   


Metal detecting during the Winter isn't easy. It requires more thought and preparation for sure. It certainly can be rewarding though. I have found that when you have to work harder in life to accomplish something, you end up appreciating it all that much more. You might even end up finding a few treasures that would have been much more difficult to have discovered during the warmer months.




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