Laws and Code of Ethics

Metal Detecting Laws

State, federal, and local governments have passed many laws that intentionally or incidentally impact metal detecting opportunities.

The goal of such laws is to protect sensitive archaeological sites and public lands. Though lawmakers aren’t specifically out to obstruct hobbyists, the legislation often affects excavation and removal of objects — key parts of a treasure hunting adventure.

Navigating complex code can be daunting and frustrating, but having to leave behind a new find is even worse. Take the time before you explore to find out what legal jurisdiction an area falls under and what permissions you need to discover and recover items.

Look into rules regarding digging tools, and respect any restrictions in your area. Unfilled holes are unsightly, dangerous to people and livestock, and are detrimental to the continued use of detectors.

Private Property

Detectorists will find the most freedom when exploring private property.

To promote the best possible community relations, metal detector hobbyists need to obtain written permission to hunt on private property. Property owners deserve proper respect of their land, and you have an opportunity to showcase fellow treasure hunters as ethical and responsible stewards of the outdoors.

When seeking an owner’s approval, explain your purpose, methods, techniques to minimize impact, and timeline.


Code of Ethics

In order to protect your hobby it’s important to follow the metal detecting code of ethics-

1. Follow all local, state, and federal laws related to metal detecting.

2. Respect private property and never metal detect an area without permission.

3. Pack out what you pack in, and properly dispose of any trash you find.

4. Leave all gates, structures, and personal property as they were before.

5. Fill in every hole you dig. Leave no trace you were there.

6. Never dig in a way that harms vegetation, wildlife, or changes natural features.

7. Report any significant historical artifacts to local authorities.

8. Be an ambassador for the hobby by being courteous and thoughtful at all times.

Another thing to keep in mind is that people will probably ask questions when they see you out metal detecting. By following these guidelines you’ll set a good example for detectorists everywhere, and you might even spark someone’s interest in the hobby.