The Thrill of the Hunt
For serious metal-detecting treasure hunters, it's all about what lies beneath
“Beep, beep, boooop, beep.” It’s a glorious, sunny afternoon and I am walking alongside one of the Treasure Coast’s most famous metal-detecting treasure hunters, Terry Shannon, as he electronically sweeps the beach just off Indian River Shores’ Turtle Trail Beach access. I am tagging along with him, hoping to pick up a few treasure hunting pointers as he searches the beach for valuable 18th-century Spanish coins or glistening diamond rings to add to his already massive collection.
The retired 79-year old Melbourne Beach resident is one of the region’s most successful beach-based treasure hunters and is often referred to as “legendary,” “the man!” or just “Terry” within the metal-detecting fraternity. Among his amazing finds are numerous valuable rings and other types of jewelry, more than a dozen Spanish “reales”— coins
from the 1715 Fleet — and countless museum-quality historical artifacts. As Richard Hart, president of the Treasure Coast Archaeological Society, says, “When it comes to metal detect- ing for treasure, there’s no one better than Terry. He’s the best there is!”
As Shannon sweeps his Minelab Equinox 800 detector in wide, graceful arcs across the beach, he explains that the assortment of beeps, boops and buzzes audible from his wireless ear- phones is signaling that we’re possibly walking over buried treasure. “Possibly is a good word,” says the affable Shannon. “It’s far more likely that we’ll come up with a bottle top or a pull tab than a wedding ring or a piece of eight. But you never know.”
Just then, he hears another beep, then a longer boooop. All business now, he stops to wave the detector across the same patch of sand again, which produces another high-pitched boooop. He digs into the rich, moist sand with a stainless steel scoop, shakes it free of sand and bends over to inspect his find.