Relic hunting with the White's Vision/Spectra V3i metal detector.

I had my White's Vision Spectra upgraded to the V3i last fall. Since then I have been dying to get down to Fauquier County, Virginia to dig civil war relics on my uncle's property. That time finally came in March. I saw on the forecast five straight sunny days for Monday through Friday. I called and made all of the necessary arrangements.

I couldn't wait. I got up at 4:00am and by 5:15am I was on the road. I arrived at my uncle's at 9:45am. By 10:15 I was swinging my detector with the "i" upgrade. The first thing I noticed was that it would no longer stay ground balanced using the AutoTrack* feature. It did before the upgrade. The ground there was extremely mineralized (hot ground) and very moist. I am not sure if the ground conditions had anything to do with it or not. I changed the detector from AutoTrack to LockTrack. Problem solved. When I got back to the hotel that night I called White's and spoke with Todd, one of the White's technicians. He stated that he had seen this problem with his own V3i and spoke to engineering about it. It appears that the V3i cannot maintain an AutoTrack ground balance in extreme mineralized ground. The "fix" was to switch to LockTrack.

After switching the detector to LockTrack everything was back to normal. I was hunting the same area in the article Civil War Relic Hunting Part VII. I had barely walked ten feet and got a hit that I knew was a bullet. Digging down to 8 inches I was rewarded with a nice .52 caliber Sharps bullet. They were still more bullets. I was a little surprised to find the bullet where I did. I had been over the same piece of ground time after time. I was hunting the property at a diagonal to what I hunted last fall. But again, I've been over this property every which way. The day was a good one as I finished out with 26 bullets. Five .58 caliber three ringers, ten .52 caliber Sharps, three .54 Merrill's, three .50 Smiths (rubber cartridge), one .50 Smith (paper cartridge), two .44 caliber Colt pistol, and two .36 caliber Colt pistol. A very good mixture of bullets.

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.50 caliber Smith carbine (paper cartridge) civil war bullet.
.50 caliber Smith (paper cartridge)
26 civil war bullets found on the first day of relic hunting.
26 Civil War Bullets
.52 caliber Sharps carbine civil war bullet.
.52 caliber Sharps

On the second day I hunted with a relic hunter named Buddy Andes. Every relic hunter in Virginia knows Buddy Andes and his reputation for finding relics. There is an article about Buddy in the North South Trader's Civil War magazine Vol. 35 No. 1/ 2010. The first place we travelled to was a mountain where General Lee commanded his forces from. Buddy had hunted all over this mountain and thought we might still pull some relics. Well, time and progress put a stop to that. There were houses built all around the mountain. Permission would have to be granted from each landowner. We moved on. The next stop was an artillery camp that Buddy had hunted years earlier. He stated that he had hunted it to death but we might still find something. We obtained permission to hunt the land. We stopped in the middle of the pasture and got our detectors out. Right away I could see evidence of previous hunters, sloppy hunters who did not respect the landowner. The holes were filled in but large rocks and clumps of dirt were still around where they were digging. To make matters worse, if it was junk, they left it beside the hole. Nails, tin can lids, etc. Better clean up your act fellows!

Right in the middle of all of this "carnage" I got a solid hit of around 75vdi. Digging down around 7 inches I found a large cent. Could not make out the date but when rinsing it off I could see that it was a Draped Bust type. A little further on I found a large flat button about 9 inches deep. A harmonica reed also was found at only three inches deep. Not finding much Buddy decided to take me to a field where one could always find a few bullets. He was right. In half an hour I had four perfect civil war bullets. Two .52 caliber Sharps and two .44 caliber Colt pistol.

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Flat buttons and large cent found relic hunting in Virginia.
Flat buttons and large cent.
.52 caliber Sharps and .44 caliber Colt civil war bullets.
Sharps and Colts.
Civil war harmonical reed.
Harmonica reed.

Day three found me back at my uncle's property hunting the same piece of ground. Bullets and lead were flying once again...out of the ground and into my pouch! I even found two .50 caliber Smith's in one hole, a first for me since hunting the property. I found a total of 40 bullets that day and they were a good mixture. Ten .58 caliber three ringers, ten .52 caliber Sharps, eight .54 caliber Merrill's, five .50 caliber Smiths (rubber cartridge), 2 .50 caliber Smiths (paper cartridge), one .54 caliber Burnside, two .44 caliber Colt, and 2 .36 caliber Colt. The weather was perfect (in the 60's) and the ground was nice and soft for digging. While I was out in the field I got a call from Buddy. He could not hunt the next day but I was welcome to hunt the cornfield where I found the four bullets.

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20 civil war bullets.
20 Civil War Bullets
Another 20 civil war bullets.
20 Civil War Bullets
Lead cast offs and brass found while relic hunting.
Lead and Brass

My last day was spent at the cornfield. Buddy was kind enough to let me drive his jeep to the site and he loaned me a brand new pair of rubber boots. What a terrific guy! The corn stubble was 18" to 24" high but every ten rows was a break about twenty feet wide with no stubble. This is where I hunted. The bullets here were ranging from on top of the ground down to about a foot deep. In one small area I recovered six .52 caliber Sharps all about nine inches deep. A small pistol bullet was found right on top of the ground. Also recovered was a harness buckle and the tip of a rifle cleaning rod. The last bullet I detected was almost passed up. It gave a shallow reading and I figured it for trash and left it. After going about ten feet I decided to go back and see what I had left behind. I am glad I did. Down about four inches was a nice .44 caliber Colt pistol bullet. I left it in the original dirt where it has lain since the civil war. I found 22 bullets that day. Fourteen .52 caliber Sharps, one .58 caliber three ringer, two .54 caliber Ringtail Sharps, three .44 caliber Colt, and one .36 caliber colt.

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21 civil war bullets.
21 Civil War Bullets
Cast off lead and iron objects.
Buckle and cleaning rod.
.44 caliber Colt pistol civil war bullet embedded in the dirt it was found in.
.44 Caliber Colt Pistol

* The detector would ground balance properly in AutoTrack. The problem came after a target was detected. After pinpointing the target, I would lay the detector down and then dig a plug and flop it over. Next, I would grab the detector to see if it was in the plug or the hole. This is where the problem begins. I would have to re-ground balance the detector to check the plug/hole. After determining that the target was in the hole, I would lay the detector back down and remove more dirt from the hole (placing it on a ground cloth for easy clean up). Again I would grab the detector to see if it was in the dirt on the ground cloth or still in the hole. I would have to re-ground balance the detector again. After switching to LockTrack I could metal detect as normal, digging multiple targets without re-ground balancing.