The months of August and September 2011 in Pennsylvania was the wettest on record. A record setting 26 1/4" of rain. That averages out to almost 3" per week. Needless to say I did not get out detecting very much. Sunny days were spent mowing grass or cleaning up after floods. But the first week of October was more forgiving. The first few days were all forecast for rain, but from the 4th on it was all sunny days in the forecast. I made plans to make a run down to my uncle's in Virginia the minute I saw the sunny forecast. I made my reservations and on a Tuesday (leaving in the rain) I headed for Virginia. When I arrived it was only cloudy. After spending some time with my aunt and uncle, I got my V3i out and started hunting for civil war bullets.
When I was down the last time I found out that you could not use the V3i AutoTrak feature. I had switched to LocTrak and saved that as my relic program default. On about the third target I dug up a .52 Sharps. I was hunting the same piece of land that I had previously hunted on the last trips and had found about 130 bullets. Well, the bullets are thinning out a little. I hunted for about six hours and had nine bullets to show for my efforts. I left the side field and decided to hunt the back of the property closer to the house. There is quite a bit of trash in this area and I could not use custom relic program. I switched to White's relic program but changed the program to LocTrak. In a short time I found a nice .52 Sharps. Then another one. Then a beautiful eagle coat button with a "C" in the shield (for Cavalry). About six inches from the button I dug up another Sharps. All together I found 8 bullets and the button in about an hours time. The first day I finished out with a total of 17 bullets.
The first full day of hunting was not very productive as far as finding bullets. I hunted from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. and found a total of 12 bullets...a dirty dozen! I did learn more about the V3i and how to run it better than what I had it set up for. The previous night I read an article from Bob Canaday who is a White's V3i engineer. I made two changes to my custom relic program that really made a big difference. First I set the SAT (Self Adjusting Threshold) setting from default 20 to 10. This is used to stabilize All Metal modes. The ideal setting is one that maintains a steady threshold considering your average search coil sweep speed and ground conditions yet continues to detect metal targets at your slowest search coil sweep. The second setting I changed was the Trac Offset to a +1. This will enhance some of the signals received and made the sound come in a little stronger. It also made nails "chirp" which meant less digging. The V3i operated much more stable and more depth was obtained. I hunted an area that I had pounded hard over the years. I received a nice signal and knew it was a bullet because when you go into pinpoint mode the target area gets larger compared to a junk target which is smaller. Digging down 8" I retrieved a .44 Colt pistol bullet. This may not sound deep, but when you are in EXTREME mineralized ground (Fauquier County, VA), 8" on a pistol bullet is good depth.
I also found a lead item that was most likely carved out of a bullet. I am not sure what it's intended purpose is. It looks like a tool, although lead is pretty soft to use as a tool. Some type of gauge? Most likely it is a chess piece. The rook?
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I was now getting behind in the bullet count. I decided to go next door and asked the neighbor if I could search on his land. Permission was granted as it has been in the past. Before he bought the land and built his house, I used to hunt the property as it was a corn field. The next day was my last and this was going to be my "Hail Mary" move.
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The last day I arrived at my uncle's before 8 a.m. After a cup of coffee and conversation with my uncle I got down to business. Armed with my new program I began hunting the property next door. If you have read my previous stories you know that Jeff Herke and I have hunted this area very hard and did extremely well. Since I was getting more depth out of the detector I was hoping for some missed bullets. I started out next to a rail fence that separated the backyard from his "field". The first hit I dug was a .50 Smith carbine at about 8 inches. Good, there were bullets we had missed. I continued and picked up a few more bullets in areas we had previously hunted. Most were the Smith's and Merrill's carbine along with a .36 Colt and a .69 round ball. Hunting a tight pattern I found a total of 21 bullets ranging in depth from 8 to 12 inches. I found a solid chunk of cast off lead from a measured 12 inches and it sounded off loud on the detector...there was no missing that target. This property borders a field where an old cemetery is located and in the past I had always picked up a few round balls next to the fence which separates the two properties. Not to be disappointed, I picked up a .69 round ball. I also picked up a .36 Colt pistol bullet that was impact damaged. I weighed the .36 bullet at .29 oz. and the impact bullet at .31 oz. The extra weight could be dirt although it is within tolerance. The diameter of the Colt is .377 and the diameter of the impact is .35.
Click pictures to enlarge.
The last hour of the day I had crossed back over to my uncle's property. I re-checked the area where I had picked up the button to see if I had missed anything and sure enough I picked up another .52 Sharps. I finished the day with 22 bullets. All total for the 2 1/2 day hunt was 51 bullets, one button and pieces of cast off lead. Yes, the bullets are thinning out but I believe there are bullets closer to the house. There is lots of junk up near the house but with a smaller coil I should be able to pull some bullets and brass out of there. Well, that will be the plan for the next trip.
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