I started detecting back in the early 70s with an early Heath-kit model I borrowed from my scout leader. I grew up in 2 neighborhoods in Des Moines, Iowa. Until I was 10 years old, the neighborhood was full of 1920 homes and then we moved to a neighborhood that was a mix of 1920-1940 homes. My neighbors back then wouldn’t care if I looked in the parking lot or their yards as I was there afternoon paperboy. I got out of metal detecting for decades and got back into it 5 years ago. I still to go back to the old neighborhoods that I grew up at but most of the neighbors that I remember have passed on now, but still some of their children live in the homes.
So first, The door knock comes with a friendly smile, and your first reply is that “I used to live in the neighborhood” or “How you doing I’m Len and I’m out saving history today” and please don’t be standing there with your “death to all” shovel in your hand!
This will at least start the conversation and you can tell them where you
lived and reminisce on how it looked and how it has changed. Explain to them you were driving by and decided to stop and ask for permission to look thru their yard as you’re a seasonal metal detectorist and it’s a great hobby. Tell them you want to save history that was lost or just dropped and you get your exercise metal detecting on your few days off of work each week. This usually gets you into the yard and I also throw in a spiff by saying that “I will give you all the money I find in your yard from the last 50 years!” Some people won’t even care to see what is found! Tell them you would like to return any inscribed rings or sentimental pet tags to them you gain there trust with you.
Don’t forget to tell them this might take several visits to accomplish, explain to them about closer to the surface objects masking deeper items and you might have to return a few times in the future to recover the deeper silver coins and relics that still remain. Show them how you make a plug after you find a target and how the depth doesn’t affect the roots to the turf. Make sure there is a seal from returned plug to original position and it’s airtight to the rest of the existing turf so it’s less likely to die. Don’t leave excess dirt around your plug as this looks like someone sprayed a can a black spray paint around it especially after it rains.
This should build your confidence up as you go from door to door because you can tell them “I was just two doors down at Helen’s home and I still have time can I look through your yard while I’m here” and offer the same deal as you offered Helen. Remember 2 story older homes had children and your percentage of good finds goes up with more people living there.
Now you can strategically access on your cell phone the counties assessors’ page. Look the address up! See the year of house you’re looking at! Know the owners name before you even knock! Use the same sales pitch as I do metal detecting as a hobby and for exercise on my days off and would like to look through their yards and I would gladly return all money found from the last 50 years I find. So there’s nothing for them to lose in the deal. Usually you can get some referrals from doing their yard, when you’re completed show them what you found and they become somewhat excited and I sometimes return dog tags to the owner which shows you have sentimental feelings. I return all inscribed jewelry also back to the homeowner. And I always leave one of my hobby cards with my contact information for them to refer me more of their friends in the future. Take a picture of the owner with something you found that they lost as a child like an old pocket knife or Tootsie metal car they once played with.
Door knocking for some detectorist can be a complete nightmare! But the worst they can say is no. Don’t feel bad there are tons of places to get on. If you use your same sales pitch, state you like to save history, and are careful not to damage their yard, your percentage on being able to hunt the yard is quite high. Carry a yearly calendar book when you go up to the door, make notes of the homes address, owner’s name and phone number.
So if you’re out driving down an old street and someone’s out mowing or raking or just taking the garbage can out, pull over curbside get out and start up a conversation and you’ll usually get the yard to find your treasure!