Asking Permission on Private Property (Terry Barnhart)
Hello, my name is ______________________ and my buddy and I have a hobby of metal detecting.
We enjoy looking around older homes like yours for old coins, tokens, buttons, relics and just about anything old and interesting.
Would you mind if we detected your yard?
(That is it! I keep it short and simple, and say the EXACT thing every time.)
Q - What do you do if a homeowner is having a hard time saying yes, or they are acting like they are gonna say no?
A - The first thing I do is to explain to them I am very neat at what I do, explain how I cut a U shaped plug, flip it back and retrieve the item.
Tell them I lay down a towel to lay loose dirt on, so there is absolutely no mess left in their yard.
I also tell them when I am done, you cannot even tell I was there.
Also one tip to remember. Never use the word DIG, use “cut a plug” and retrieve the item. The word “dig” puts pictures in their head of shovels and messes.
You want to steer them away from anything negative.
Why do you do this? Do you sell your finds?
I love history and I’ve never sold one item. This is as much of a “money sink” as golf or fishing! I do it for the physical benefits and my love of historic artifacts. I spend many weekends a year helping historical societies as well.
Will you dig holes on my property?
On lawns, all retrievals are “surgical” and the hole is filled, turf-up, preserving the ground using special tools. It’s nearly impossible to tell in just a few minutes. I am also sensitive to the need to fill holes to prevent livestock injuries, so even far afield, things are neat.
Will you tell others about my property?
Never without your permission. I do not bring anyone with me without your advanced permission. As you know I do write about my hobby, but I refer to sites generically. I also turn off GPS on my cell phone camera to make sure that cannot be used to locate your site.
Who keeps the items found?
First of all, it is very rare that found items are valuable. But I consider all finds your property and anything I keep as a “donation” for my sweat effort in finding and retrieving them. Most property owners allow me to keep the majority of what I find, but that is never “expected.” Family heirlooms are of course a different story, and I always try to return found items to the family to whom they belong (e.g. engraved jewelry, silver, military tags, etc.) I photograph all finds for my clubs “digital museum.”
When will you hunt?
I’d like to have flexibility to come in daylight when the weather is nice, almost always on weekends. I am happy to inform you when I arrive and leave (in person, via phone, or text.) Of course, I’ll work around any restrictions you might have on the property. I try not to disturb your normal daily activities.
Why did you choose my property?
I love history! I use all kinds of maps, books and sometimes just intuition to choose places. Frequently I hear of properties from neighbors.
Do you find trash?
Yes. I bag and remove all trash and it is disposed of properly. I wear heavy duty gloves and often remove dangerous items, such as this. I sometimes find dangerous items just below the grass and it’s good to get it out of reach of bare feet and kids.
I lost a ring many years ago, can you find it in the yard?
I will be pleased to try!
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