This is generally my preference for a number of reasons.
1- Easier to be granted permission
2-Less outside people to deal with (watchers, question askers, kids) not that those are bad things, I just prefer the privacy being in the middle of a field affords.
3- Less effort required. Lets face it, it’s much easier to take a long shovel, flop the dirt out (no plugging needed) kick it around and recover the booty. Public and private grass, extra care required.
That out of the way, I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned along the way. I still have plenty of “empty space” in the melon, so always room for more. Feel free to add your experience.
To find sites to hunt, I use the Google Earth and old map overlay method. If you’re unfamiliar with it, you can look it up, as it would be much better explained than if I were to attempt it.
I don’t have the luxury afforded by older plat maps. Locally, the early 1950’s is the best I’ve got. Old enough for silver, sure, but old enough for large coppers, Barbers, etc?
Having hunted some of those homesites found on those '50’s maps, it makes sense that those homes weren’t built during that time, they were simply standing there at the time the mapping was done. They could have been standing 100 years prior, or longer. So simply because you don’t have maps dating back to the early/mid 1800’s, don’t lose hope.
What I’ve also learned is that the structures shown on those maps, likely weren’t the only ones that were ever constructed on that particular site. Many times houses burnt, or simply rotted away from age, and were cleared/relocated to make room for farming.
Yes, I’ll start with finding/hunting the known spots where a structure stood, but once I feel I’ve “pretty much” (you never get it all) found what there is to be found, I stop and take a visual survey of the land/field.
Look for any high spots, as generally that’s where structures were built, on the slightly elevated bits of land, and it doesn’t have to be much. I’ll walk it over and visually see if I can spot any bits of heavy glass, crockery, dishes, etc, all while swing my detector listening for bits of iron. More than once I’ve mentioned it (all the debris) to the farmer, and they had no clue. Evidently it’s just too far away setting high up in a piece of machinery, or their concentration is focused elsewhere.
You’d be surprised how many times this has paid-off, and given me an additional homestead to hunt, in the very same field which mapping failed to show. It has provided me with coins and relics pre-1900’s.
Also, some times property which has been in the same family for decades, sometimes has a fair sized patch of grass left, perhaps even a tree or two still standing. I’ve seen this more than once, and they do it because that where their parents or grandparents house once stood, and they leave it in remembrance of those family members. Any time I’d hunted a place like that, I’d usually found some sort of item which was likely owned/used by those who lived there. I always give something like that back to the family/person who’d granted the permission. A couple things I remember were a Great Seal hat badge belonging to the Grandfather of one, you could tell he was proud to get it. Another was a trivet (used to set a hot pot/pan on) that I’d cleaned-up and painted, then given to an elderly woman who gave me permission to hunt the field where she grew-up. That place had the patch of grass I previously mentioned, and was where I’d pulled the Barber Half-Dollar from I posted in the Finds section.
To some (maybe many/most) this certainly isn’t “news”, but to someone new to detecting, or hasn’t experienced field hunting, might get some useful/helpful information from it. Point being, what you find on a map, may not be the limit of what was actually there, take the additional step or two to look beyond that, maybe even visualize how it looked 100-200 tears ago. You’re already there, in the field, so there’s nothing to lose, and who knows how much is there, you just aren’t aware of because it wasn’t shown on the map.