code of ethics

15 Metal Detecting CODES of ETHICS that you should Know !!

metal detecting code of ethics

Like any outdoor activity, Metal Detecting has a code of ethics that should be respected! Otherwise, this won’t only give a horrible image about us as passionate people about this hobby …

… But also, it might cause in some extreme cases to legal trouble!

In this Post, I’ve put together 15 codes of ethic that you should follow at all times!

1. Learn & respect the law of the current state, city or country

If you are new to this hobby or if you are planning to use your machine in a new country or state or even a new city, then it is of utmost importance that you learn about the laws regulating this activity.

Before you begin digging anywhere, you need to be sure that you won’t be breaking any laws. Indeed, not following the law could very well get you into trouble.

Plus, it will give a bad image about other hobbyists in general …

If you have not gotten the required permit for digging at your selected site, then you could be looking at a hefty fine, a felony offense, or even land up in jail.

Furthermore, you also cannot plead ignorance as if you are smart enough to learn about the related laws.

2. Get Permission for Private Properties

It might be difficult and awkward to ask for permission from a total stranger to detect on their private property.

However, it is still essential; as otherwise, you would be trespassing on their property. This can also get you in trouble with the law. Plus, this will make you give a bad reputation to other practitioners.

Furthermore, knowing that you have permission and are not trespassing will make you enjoy your detecting even more.

These obvious and simple steps are all what you need to follow:

  • Find the owner
  • Make a good first impression
  • Ask for permission politely
  • Offer to share whatever you find
  • Be prepared to hear lots of ‘No’ as responses or even having doors slammed in your face.

After all, not everyone is comfortable in allowing a total stranger to dig around their property.

Also it is totally worth it! I mean, the targets you can potentially find in private properties are more valuable than locations where everybody could explore.

3. Help beginners

If you are an experienced detectorist, then you should feel proud that you have the knowledge to pass on to those who are just starting out.

In Many occasions due to a lack of techniques and knowledge beginners tend to not find anything! Thus, they get discouraged which lead them to give up on this hobby!

So, if you have the expertise, you should try to look for ways in which you can pass on your knowledge to beginners.

By the way, if you are a beginner and you are looking for some hacks to pick up the right detector or upgrade your current one! Then you really should have a look at these tips to select your next metal detector! I share some pro tips in there!

4. Return people finds

While exploring new places it is important for you to keep in mind that if you knowingly keep something that does not belong to you, it could be deemed as an offense in many parts of the world.

However, if you do not know who it belongs to, then one can still understand keeping the item!

But, if you are aware of owner, then you should make the effort to go and return it.

This is especially true if you are detecting on a person’s private property.

5. Return archeological finds

This is a code of ethic that, unfortunately, not many hobbyists are committed to!

In fact, it is pretty common for detectorists to come across archaeological relics or artifacts that are not just valuable but also holds great historical value!

In such cases, instead of keeping the find to yourself, the proper thing to do would be to inform the local authorities and hand over the item to the correct department or authorities.

6. Don’t disturb regular people

If you are detecting in a public place, then your priority should be that regular people do not get disturbed.

Keep in mind that everyone values their privacy, regardless of whether they are present at a public place.

So make sure that you maintain a proper distance from the crowd present, do not have your metal detector beeping all the time!

Instead choose to use a headphone so that no one gets disturbed by the noise and preferably choose to metal detect at a time when there are not a lot of people around.

Finally, if you are looking for some good headphones you can check These:

But as far as I am concerned, the most reliable headphones out there are the Gray Ghost Amphibian (Check it Right Here on Amazon!). They are really Robust!

7. Don’t disturb other detectorists

If you are detecting in a beach for example, then chances are high that there will be other detectorists in the vicinity also detecting using their machines.

While you may get excited to see someone else having the same hobby as yours, the ethical thing to do here will be to not interfere with them…

… Just let them carry on with their detecting and you carry on with yours.

If you are passing by them, then a simple wave at each other would be fine, but do not indulge in any long drawn-out discussions with them, distracting them from their detecting.

Unless you are working in groups, it is also best that you don’t disturb other detectorists who are hunting in the same area as you.

8. Use the right digging techniques

When it comes to digging, there are certain basic courtesies you are expected to follow!

The primary expectation of anybody would be that you will leave behind an area where you are detecting in a very good condition.

You should fill up all the holes and protect the landscape as much as you can. Under no circumstances should you destroy the landscape and leave trash behind.

Some of the techniques for digging you should follow include:

  • Do not dig in a haste. Hastily digging a hole may also scratch or damage your find.
  • In areas that have hard soil or clay, you will be more prone to find small items and coins closer to the surface, as compared to loose soil. In this scenario, a hand-held pinpointer or a narrow coin probe would be the ideal tools for using.
  • Hand-held probes will also allow you to locate an object precisely, many times even before you start digging.
  • Using a smaller digging tool means your hole will be smaller, and there will be less damage to the landscape. The lesser work you will also have to do while filling up the hole again.

But keep in mind that you also need the right tools to dig properly, these include:

9. Don’t leave holes

Protecting the landscape where you are detecting should be on top of your list of concerns. Nobody likes to see their backyard full of holes, especially after allowing a total stranger the opportunity to metal detect in their backyard.

The same goes for public landscape as well. Never, under any circumstances, leave a hole behind. Always make it a point to fill the hole back up.

To begin with, you can avoid digging a very big hole by using a pinpointer and finding the exact location of your target find.

Detectorists who destroy the landscape, leave holes behind, leave trash behind, especially on private property, are only going to cause problems for themselves and other detectorists in the future.

People will become wary of allowing any other hobbyists to detect on their property if you keep doing this.

10. Take away the trash

The practice of responsible and ethical metal detecting should be a must for all practitioners!

One of the most important factors is to remove and take away any trash that you generate or that you find.

You should always aim to dispose of any trash that you dig up, such as bottle caps, tin foil, cans, etc.

You will be surprised to learn that most treasure pouches contain two pockets. One is for the treasure you find and one for the trash.

Removing the trash does not only help keep the site clean but may also prevent any future injuries.

For example, if you find a needle at a public place, removing it will ensure that nobody gets hurt after stepping on it.

However, if you are unsure of what exactly you have found, you should not make the mistake of simply assuming it is trash and throw it away.

11. Be polite and gentle at all times

You will encounter all sorts of people while detecting!

Always remember that a little bit of politeness will go a long way in not just getting you the permissions you require, but also ensure that you create and leave good impression at all times.

Also, keep in mind that many people get intrigued when they see someone metal detecting and may be inclined to approach you to ask some questions about your hobby.

Always ensure to take the time out and treat the public with respect!

Be courteous and truthful in your interactions with them.

12. Don’t destroy buildings, properties or ghost towns

Always keep in mind that when you are out practicing this hobby, you are not only representing yourself, but you become a representative for everyone who practices it.

You and every detectorist will be judged by your actions. That’s why it is so important that you follow the code of ethics.

Many times you will find yourself detecting in an abandoned building, a ghost town, or any other building.

Always keep in mind that you should never destroy any building, property, or even what is left of any deserted structures and deserted ghost towns.

If you are caught destroying any of these properties, you can face some harsh consequences, including a felony charge with fines.

13. Consider sharing your finds with museums

When you metal detect on a regular basis, chances are high that you will ultimately end up finding some awe-worthy items.

In such cases, it would be a great idea to share your finds, such as old relics or artifacts, with some of the museums in your town.

Not only would this give you great exposure, but it will be a great opportunity to create a relationship and cooperate together.

In fact, displaying some of the items you find will allow other people also to enjoy what you have found and it would also draw attention to the history of the area where you found the relic.

14. Don’t hurt yourself

In their excitement, many practitioners often end up being reckless and end up hurting themselves!

Usually, it happens that when you want to really get at an item, you stop paying attention to the place you are digging.

There are many additional tools, that are pretty much underrated that will serve you well for your protection while practicing this hobby, these include:

  • Gloves: For protecting yourself from any sharp items that you may meet down the road! These digging Gloves are very reliable …
  • Knee Pads: To protect your knees when it comes to sharp stones and while your are squatting and also when you are dealing with cold weather to keep your knees pretty cool! These detecting knee pads are very good and well chosen …
  • Hat: You will certainly find your self exposed to long hours under the sun, thus wearing a proper hat is pretty necessary! You should check these protection hats! I include choices not only for hot weather, but also for cold conditions …
  • Boots: Long hours of you walking arround certainly require some robust shoes to keep your feet cool and comfortable for a long times! You can have a look at these reliable shoes, I include some budget picks that are good for the money …

Keep in mind that if you hurt yourself badly, it may prove to be a big discouragement for any new and upcoming detectorists.

15. Report dangerous places to police

While detecting, you may sometimes come across some dangerous things that you need to report to the local police immediately!

For example, if you are detecting on some beaches that have witnessed war time action, then it could be likely that you find bombs buried under the sand.

In fact, on some of the beaches around the United Kingdom, there are literally thousands of bombs that are buried underneath the sand and even in the mud in fields around these beaches

If you find something like this, then you must take care and make sure that you do not touch anything that could be potentially suspicious.


I don’t want to make this Post longer than that! Hopefully, you’ve learnt something new …

… These code of ethics apply to most countries, especially to US States! So, please stick to those as much as you possibly can!

About the Author

Carissa Harmer

Carissa is the huge metal detecting enthusiast that loves collecting coins. She is also highly interested in other treasure hunting activities like magnet fishing and gold prospecting/panning.