Knocking on somebody's door and asking for permission to detect

OBXmetalDet

Jr. Member
Aug 25, 2019
98
48
Detector(s) used
Minelab Equinox 800
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
Today I drove around in a neighborhood thinking about which house I should start at in terms of asking permission to metal detect. I didn't know where to start so I just parked along the curb in front of one house. I knocked on their door. Initially they were looking out the window clearly reluctant to open the door even though it was obvious what I was doing since I had my metal detector in my hand. I told them I'm doing metal detecting and I'm wondering if it would be ok to detect on your property. The person asked if this was for the town and I said no, this is just for me, it's a hobby. She seemed like she was very distrusting (there appeared to be a communication barrier). It should have been a very simple conversation. I got to the point and she just kept asking is this for the town, why did you pick my house? I told her I had to start somewhere so I just picked on place, then I would go on to another house. She finally said no so I said ok, then left. Initially I was going to the next house, but after experiencing high anxiety from that situation, I decided forget this and I just got in my car and left.

This made me feel quite discouraged. Now I feel reluctant to do this again. Decades ago, people were more trusting of strangers. These days people appear to be very suspicious of strangers. Before I knocked on the door I almost felt speechless, like I didn't know what I should say.

For anybody who has done this, can you give some examples word for word (plus any necessary details) what you say when you knock on somebody's door to ask for their permission to metal detect on their yard?

Aside from knocking on people's doors, are there any other ways you have gained permission to detect on somebody's property?
 

monkeys uncle

Full Member
Mar 26, 2014
175
145
Waxahachie, Tx
Detector(s) used
Vanquish 440, E-Trac, Fisher F-Pulse pin-pointer
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Other
SMILING (actually grinning) - "Hope I'm not disturbing you and I'm not selling anything. I'm just an old guy with a weird hobby. I have to ask for your permission...May I metal detect your property for old coins, etc. and while I'm at it, may I look for anything you might have lost...car keys, jewelry, etc.?? If you're interested, you can stroll around with me while I hunt."

Keep in mind...it's like "Cold Call" sales...you win some and likely lose more often than not. The trick is "KEEPING AT IT". It's strictly a numbers game! Good luck and HH.

ETA - sometimes I offer to share my findings...but usually when they see the condition that buried coins usually are when recovered, they decline and we part ways. ALWAYS notify them when you're leaving and GRACIOUSLY thank them for their permission.
 
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OP
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OBXmetalDet

Jr. Member
Aug 25, 2019
98
48
Detector(s) used
Minelab Equinox 800
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
SMILING (actually grinning) - "Hope I'm not disturbing you and I'm not selling anything. I'm just an old guy with a weird hobby. I have to ask for your permission...May I metal detect your property for old coins, etc. and while I'm at it, may I look for anything you might have lost...car keys, jewelry, etc.?? If you're interested, you can stroll around with me while I hunt."

Keep in mind...it's like "Cold Call" sales...you win some and likely lose more often than not. The trick is "KEEPING AT IT". It's strictly a numbers game! Good luck and HH.

ETA - sometimes I offer to share my findings...but usually when they see the condition that buried coins usually are when recovered, they decline and we part ways. ALWAYS notify them when you're leaving and GRACIOUSLY thank them for their permission.

That's some good advice. I'm just really apprehensive about situations like this. I have this concern that I might come across as sounding or acting fake, if I say a preplanned script (no matter who suggested it).

Before this experience earlier today I thought people might be somewhat open to the idea of allowing me to metal detect their property. After that experience now I'm thinking that the people in this neighborhood would regard this idea of door knocking in a residential neighborhood (with many nicely kept lawns) as being bizarre. I'm thinking maybe that is the way this idea really is and I just didn't realize that before because I had such high hopes. So now I don't know what to think.
 

Red-Coat

Silver Member
Dec 23, 2019
4,541
14,661
Surrey, UK
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Personally, I think it’s a bit weird to go knocking on the doors of residential properties unless you have some reason for believing that a search would be worthwhile. Something you’ve seen on an old map or evidence that something of historical interest once stood there for example. That would give you an angle for explaining why you’ve ‘targeted’ the property.

A property that clearly has more extensive land than a garden or yard is a different kettle of fish. Here’s my strategy, which in its entirety would be overkill in many cases for a short casual search, but I adapt it according to the circumstances and what the owner is comfortable with. I'm much more keen to search larger expanses of land and get repeat permission for multiple visits.

Always ask in person, not by phone, letter or e-mail and turn up at a convenient time. Around 9.00 am or 6.00pm at a weekend generally works for me in the UK – there’s usually someone home who can suggest a better time to call if the owner isn’t there. The first thing to be absolutely clear about is that the person you’re speaking to does actually own the property. Don’t expect to be invited straight away. For me that cold call is more usually a way of obtaining a future permission at a convenient time. Don’t disturb people who are working in fields or anything like that. Dress smart casual, no sunglasses (get eye contact), be neat and fresh-smelling. It’s good if you have a name (ask around or do a bit of research) so that you can properly address the person you are visiting.

Briefly introduce yourself and make it clear you are not selling anything. Make it known if you are a club or society member of any relevant kind. Stress that you are a hobbyist who does this for fun and because of your interest in history… not just because you’re looking for things of value that you can sell. Be clear that the fun of your hobby is as much about searching as it is about finding. You don’t know whether you’ll find anything or not, and won’t be disappointed if you don’t.

Take a small selection of interesting items with you and ask if the owner would like to see some things you’ve found at other locations. Spin a few yarns if they show any interest.

If other people in the vicinity have given you similar permission, make that known and offer the information in a way that could be construed as a reference and evidence of good character. Always ask if anyone who has given you permission in the past would be willing to “vouch for you” in future.

If you get permission for multiple visits, stress that you will not be searching at inconvenient times, making noise, bringing machinery on site or inviting others to join you (unless agreed). You will live with any restrictions or curfew the owner wants to stipulate and respect their privacy at all times. You will also not leave gates open, frighten livestock (and not bring a dog unless agreed), disturb wildlife, tread down crops, build fires or leave litter. I sometimes offer up that I will also remove litter and junk if I find it. You will also only do hand digging to investigate signals, fill in any holes afterwards and leave the area in a tidy, restored state.

Reassure the owner that you will discharge him from any liability for accidents or injury to yourself (except where there is negligence) and put this in writing. You will remain liable for damage to his property or injury to other persons. If you are a club member, they sometimes offer insurance specifically related to this (at least, they do in the UK). Otherwise you need to consider whether any existing insurance policies you have provide adequate protection. If you have cover, offer to show evidence of this.

Offer to show anything interesting you might find to the owner if they’d like to see. If you find a reasonable selection of items, you could offer to let the owner (or owner’s children) keep a couple of items. Stress again that you don’t intend to sell your finds but if anything particularly valuable and saleable (in the territory of “treasure”) does turn up you will split the proceeds with the owner (and commit to this in writing). I normally offer 50:50 and put a nominal “threshold” value on what constitutes “valuable”.

Whatever is agreed, put it in writing, be clear about the area covered (with a map or map reference if necessary), include some kind of time-frame and notice of cancellation, get it signed, get it dated and (preferably) get it witnessed. If the owner perceives a written agreement with discomfort, stress that it’s in their interests as well as yours. Here in the UK, metal-detector club websites have pro-forma agreements that can be downloaded and modified as appropriate.

If the answer’s “no”, accept that gracefully and without argument. Thank the owner anyway and leave your card in case they have a change of mind (print your own if you have to).

If the answer’s “yes”, always revisit the owner with a material token of your gratitude as well as a written thank you note at some appropriate point - whether you find anything or not. Something alcoholic or chocolatey does the trick.

As I said, this is going to be ‘overkill’ in many circumstances but you can cherry-pick the elements that are appropriate to the size and nature of the terrain concerned and how long you might be searching it.
 

relicmeister

Bronze Member
Jul 26, 2012
2,177
2,059
Poconos, Nw.NJ & Delaware Valley
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Not my bag asking for permission cold call. If I try will only be a large property and I won’t ask
to detect really nicely landscaped lawns. But small farm like places I would try, and need to. One or two
Big property permissions would make my detecting life easier for sure
 

malenkai

Full Member
May 4, 2016
177
538
Chester County, PA
Detector(s) used
E-Trac
Primary Interest:
Metal Detecting
Take a small selection of interesting items with you and ask if the owner would like to see some things you’ve found at other locations. Spin a few yarns if they show any interest.

I carry a see-thru ziploc bag of old relics (buttons, buckles, keys and the like), and a dug copper and indian head with me in case the owner/manager wants to see examples of the sorts of things I find. In all honesty, rarely have I had to show it.

FWIW, my permission sites are more often institutions (churches, private schools) and farm fields rather than 5 star manicured homes right on main street.
 

Rmeav8r

Hero Member
Nov 4, 2004
646
843
NW Florida
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Minelab Equinox 800, Nokta Makro Simplex+, Nokta Pinpointer
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I look for older historic homes undergoing renovation or unoccupied. In these cases door knocking wouldn’t work anyway so I write a polite letter explaining my interest in the property. So far I’ve written three letters and have gotten permission on each one. I just received permission for a home built in 1912 by a Union Civil War veteran. The current owner was an elderly lady who lives out of state. She typed me a very nice letter using the self addressed and stamped envelope I provided. I always mention in closing the “liability issue” and I agree to hold harmless anyone or entity associated with the property. I’m not comfortable with an unannounced house call, for me the letter lets the owner have a chance to consider my intentions without any time constraint or pressure. It is easy to say “no” when your put on the spot. Here’s my latest permission hunt just 5 minutes away from home.
 

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monkeys uncle

Full Member
Mar 26, 2014
175
145
Waxahachie, Tx
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Vanquish 440, E-Trac, Fisher F-Pulse pin-pointer
Primary Interest:
Other
I carry a see-thru ziploc bag of old relics (buttons, buckles, keys and the like), and a dug copper and indian head with me in case the owner/manager wants to see examples of the sorts of things I find. In all honesty, rarely have I had to show it.

FWIW, my permission sites are more often institutions (churches, private schools) and farm fields rather than 5 star manicured homes right on main street.

I once requested permission from a minister. Had to make an appointment. I wasn't asking permission to hunt around the church itself, but next door where they had removed an old home. Minister finally said, "Anything you find belongs to the church." I politely countered with, "The Lord only asks for a tenth", to which he did not respond. I didn't get permission to hunt and the church kept whatever was buried there. To my knowledge, it remains undetected and is now a fenced playground. As I said..."you win some and lose most."
 

DizzyDigger

Gold Member
Dec 9, 2012
5,548
10,874
Concrete, WA
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Nokta FoRs Gold, a Gold Cube, 2 Keene Sluices and Lord only knows how many pans....not to mention a load of other gear my wife still doesn't know about!
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Prospecting
Cold calling, in person, can be a real challenge for many, me included.

A job I had back in the late 80's was doing door-to-door sales
for a large cable company, and if you wanted to make a living
at it you really had to hustle. One bit of wisdom I took away
from that job was that I would average a sale for [roughly] every
ten doors I knocked on.

Always had a big smile on my face when, after nine "no's", I walked
up to that tenth door, knowing that, more often than not I'd make a sale. 8-)

Be prepared, be respectful, have a positive attitude, thank them for their time (no
matter if it's yes or no), and persevere. It'll come.
 

fistfulladirt

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Feb 21, 2008
12,180
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Great Lakes State
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I’ve cold called several dozen properties and have found most farms just don’t produce. I knock, stand back about 15 feet and give my short 30 second spiel. Don’t dress in rags, carry nothing to the door, never mention ‘dig’ or holes, and never mention treasure or sharing finds. I get a yes four out of five times. Old city yards are the best, especially the front yard closest to the street. I always dig IH pennies there because folks used to set there and watch parades, etc...or just watch life go by.
 

releventchair

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May 9, 2012
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Relax. It is a hobby. Not a do or die permission.

Someone knocks on your door and asks to poke around , how would you react or respond?
Stranger at your door. Your door. Your yard!

People will say no. Some because they can. Make the intruder of thier privacy and seclusion go away. Don't take that as personal beyond you being a human intruder on thier privacy...

Why your property?
Because of it's history.
It has been a silent witness to time.
Compliment the property. Or the home on it. What is unique about it to admire without alarming the resident or owner. It's architecture? Age? Where it is?

Time. In layers. Era after era. People leave evidence.
Yes it may seem silly to you the owner/resident , but my fun of studying history seems more interesting when I recover an object older than I am.
Someone dropped a nail while building the house maybe. A kid dropped a penny rough housing in the yard in the shade? Who knows?
History has a tale to tell. Maybe here. Maybe next door.
It can depend on previous inhabitants and activities.

No? Well , thank you for your time. You have a nice place here. Congrats on being part of it's history.
I'll probably check with some other neighbors.... Sometimes someone remembers something dropped or lost.
That can be a tough challenge. But is part of the fun. Have a great day/evening.
 

CoinFetcher

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Apr 29, 2012
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Love to treasure hunt
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Having a 'script' in your head is very wise.

"hi, my name is woody, and I am a hobbiest metal detector. (optional: I look for old tokens and coins and stuff) Part of the hobby is going to the old part of town and asking permission to detect. I'll take good care of your grass. May I metal detect here?"
 

Garscale

Bronze Member
May 4, 2020
1,340
3,582
East texas
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A grandchild works wonders. Take along a 7 year old a n.v d suddenly you are not viewed as a threat.
 

fistfulladirt

Gold Member
Feb 21, 2008
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Great Lakes State
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dirtfishing
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A grandchild works wonders. Take along a 7 year old a n.v d suddenly you are not viewed as a threat.
Sure, but keep in mind that if you bring along a 7 y.o., you have approximately ten minutes detecting before it’s time to wrap things up. Ask me how I know! :laughing7:
 

diggingthe1

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Feb 11, 2015
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Victor, CO...City of Mines
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I have to share this story, my friend was so eager to detect this yard. He finally asked for permission. The owner could see how eager my friend was, started asking which detectors are good. The owner turned my friend away and bought his own detector to hunt his property!!! Careful how eager you look:)
 

ARC

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Aug 19, 2014
35,918
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Tarpon Springs
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Ok... here goes... and take it for what it may be worth... but in my book it is gospel for me getting permissions.

I NEVER approach someones doorstep... and I highly suggest that anyone reading this also takes this approach.

What I do is... IF I see them... I approach them.

IF I DON'T... then I don't.

IF I see someone say... sweeping the drive or getting the mail... or outside fixing the gutter... then from a respectful distance I say...(if its morning say for example) "good morning".

My name is "first or full" and i have admired your property for some time now and actually know a little history behind it and have been meaning to catch you outside as opposed to approaching your house and bothering you... I metal detect and have REALLY wanted to ask you for the chance at asking for the possible permission to detect your property in hopes you may be curious as to what history might be uncovered about your property.

OR ANY SUCH way of basically saying this / variation of the TRUTH.

This approach "breaks the ice" in a way less intimidating and on a "neutral" sorta ground.

After the ice is now broken you must then use what i hope you all carry inside you... your MANNERS...
And most off all... IF granted permission... that you upscale your ethics in metal detecting and totally respect every aspect of not only the land... but the owners wishes as well.

My two cents... AKA,,, a "bone" to chew...AND... I don't care how the bone tastes. :P
 
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BigWaveDave

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Nov 22, 2013
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AARC’s advice is word for word what I was gonna say
He just beat me to it that’s all
 

FreeBirdTim

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Sep 24, 2013
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Scituate, RI
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A grandchild works wonders. Take along a 7 year old a n.v d suddenly you are not viewed as a threat.

So does a busty blonde! My girlfriend gets really mad when I say that, but it's true!
 

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