By STEVE HATHCOCK
Special to the PRESS
Joseph bought a Garrett Infinium metal detector and is planning a camping trip up the beach. “What are the rules on bonfires?” he asked, “And can you give me some tips on my new detector?”
While fires are no longer allowed on the beach within the city limits they are allowed on county beaches to the north of E.K. Atwood Park. Be careful when selecting firewood. Experienced beachcombers know the hazards of sitting downwind from a bonfire built from driftwood. Treated lumber for instance, contains many toxins including arsenic that can produce harmful fumes when burning. Certain trees shrubs also produce deadly gasses such as the common oleander.
It’s an attractive flowering shrub, and no fence would be complete without its bright flowers. But looks can be deceiving for the oleander is one of the most poisonous of all commonly grown garden plants. Most people are so uninformed of the danger lurking behind its brilliant blossoms that it is often planted in school yards; even though it’s especially toxic to children who are more inclined to touch or taste the leaves or stems.
It’s important to plan your metal detecting trip well in advance and a simple check list is imperative. There is nothing more aggravating than trekking through towering dunes and across grasping, mosquito infested mud flats to reach a good treasure site only to find out you forgot to bring batteries for your metal detector. OK, so now you know that batteries are at the top of the list, right under mosquito repellent. You get the idea. A list that you physically check-off will ensure that you don’t short yourself on water and snacks. Interestingly enough, I include a bar of soap that I carry in my back pocket. Wet the bar and rub it into a mosquito bite, as the lather dries it acts as a poultice and draws the poison out and the sting goes away.
Be sure to bring your metal detectors instruction manual with you. We have highly mineralized sand on Padre Island so you need to know is how to set the sensitivity. A good way to cover lots of ground in a hurry is to walk back and forth between the high-tide line and the edge of the surf. (Establish a pattern shaped like an M or a W) I like to use Garrett’s Double D coil when doing this kind of detecting as it cuts through the ground clutter and covers a wider and deeper swath of ground.
The Infinium is a very versatile machine, so don’t pass up a chance to do some water hunting. Watch the current and the direction of the waves. There are three very distinct rifts or sand bars that run parallel to the Island. Run your search pattern down the shallow valley that runs between these bars. You’ll want to change coils when hunting in the water to a smaller, heavier mono coil that can be easily maneuvered against the force of the current flowing through these valleys. The moving water carries heavier jewelry along at about 4 miles an hour, that is, until the object rolls into a deeper hole where the current no longer affects it. These little glory holes exist in certain secret spots along the surf and you’ll spend a summer locating them, but the payoff is there.
One couple I know are professional musicians who tour the Branson Nashville circuit during the season and spend the rest of the year traveling along the Texas Coast. She is an accomplished surfer and he is a rabid metal detectorist. By the end of the summer he will usually have found more than enough jewelry and other treasure to pay for their trip.
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