'It's the hunt': Longtime Michigan metal detector discusses the draw

Dan Betz, who turns 80 in September, started metal detecting in 1973
Stories from the Sidewalk Dan Betz Detector Fox 17 Unfiltered
Posted at 10:23 AM, Aug 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-08 10:07:45-04

MUSKEGON, Mich. — When you go to Pere Marquette Park Beach in Muskegon, you might find a man named Dan Betz scouring the sand for buried treasures. Turns out, he's been doing that since 1973, almost 50 years!

“Well, my wife decided I should be trying it," Betz told FOX 17. "Back in '73, there weren't any very good metal detectors. So I got frustrated with it and give it up and kind of went on about my business. Then I retired in 2003, and I didn't have a lot of time on my hands. So what better thing to do?"

As for why his wife wanted him to start metal detecting at all?

“Exercise," said Betz. "Or probably to get rid of me for a while too.”

Betz said he used to be out there about four to six hours every day. He said it's slowed down a bit since he got remarried a couple years ago.

However, even though his hours have dipped, his relationship with metal detecting is as strong as ever.

Betz said it's all about “the excitement of the find. It's like, when you go hunting, it's the hunt. It's not [about] the shooting the deer or whatever. It's the hunt. You spend thousands of dollars for equipment for $50 worth of meat.”

Betz has even taken his hobby overseas, making trips to England to metal detect in farm fields.

“We hire a guide over there, and he sets us up with a motel room and he takes us to the fields," said Betz. "He pays the farmers for us to be there and hunt on his fields. It's so cool. If we find a $5 million stash of Saxon gold, he gets a chunk of it. Everybody's happy.”

Unfortunately for Betz, he never came across that stash of gold. His big finds have been few and far between, but they do exist.

“Well, I haven't sold it, but they told me that there's one coin that I found in England, which is a farthing," Betz said. "A farthing in 1100s was a quarter of a penny. It's about half the size of a dime. They told me that particular one was worth about $3,500 a few years later."

Now, Betz estimates it's worth about $6,000. He still hasn't sold it, but that won't be such a bad return on investment when he does!

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