Friday, 27 July 2012

Don't be afraid to ask, it's not a crime.

For those who know very little about metal detecting, I will tell you what the most difficult aspect of it is. It's gaining permission to detect on peoples land. 
You have to have some steel about you to knock on a farmer’s door and ask if you can detect on their land.
But ask yourself this "why is it such a traumatic challenge"? Well most detectorists know that there used to be some seriously bad sentiment passed about regarding metal detecting. You might be knocking on a farmer’s door who really don't like detectorists. Well what’s the worst that could happen? He might say "no, I hate and detest detectorists; I think they are scum of the earth". Well that is exactly what the farmer who owns the fields where the Staffordshire hoard was found said to me. I had known the farmer Fred since I was a kid, and my family always attended his farm shop......if only I had tried harder!

My local farm is owned by an elderly farmer who I have known since I was knee high to a grasshopper.
I have tried many times to gain access on the said farm to no avail. That won’t stop me though; I am made of sterner stuff than that.
I called at his house two years on the run, but failed miserably as he was reluctant to talk. The next year I sent him a letter reminiscing about when I used to conker pick on his farm. To my amazement he replied, because he remembered one occasion when I got stung by wasps up my trouser leg! He was however unmoved on the giving of permission to detect. This year again I sent a letter, to which he again replied with a negative on the permission. This will not perturb me, and more attempts will follow.
Some farmers actually like you to have a chat. 

Right or wrong, when I go out to seek permission I always carry a £5 in my pocket. I go directly to the farmers house knock the door and introduce myself. I don't mess around, I ask for permission within the first minute. If the farmer hums and hars, I quickly produce the £5, and state that I am willing to part with it for the chance to go on their land. In my opinion, they will there and then say yes or no. I always make them take the cash if they say yes, saying "buy yourself a drink or give it to your kids or grand-kids, I am so grateful you have kindly allowed me access to your land". Once you have finished go back and see the farmer, and show him what you have found, even if they are not interested, it will help establish trust.
I can spend a fiver in fuel driving around or give it to a farmer for permission.

Have some cards printed, and hand them out freely to farmers. These cards have lead me to many a contact with new farmers who have lost keys etc. They only cost about £5 for 100, which will surely be a good investment. Just remember, no one ever got hurt by asking for permission. A few people get a little crest fallen on a refusal, but the rush you get when the farmer say "why not" is unbelievable.
Don't forget to take a consent form with you, just in case they demand this on the initial visit. You can find a few versions on metaldetecting forms, link at top of page.

Just remember this; it’s not a crime to ask.

God bless and good luck.

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