My First Metal Detector

5th April 2018 — 21 Comments

Picture by Jeff Cohen

The Jackdaw

Oh no, I hear you say. Not again! My apologies if you’ve seen this before, but it was a blog post I lost and I think it deserves a reprise … especially for newcomers and is also representative of a type of blog post that I do. I thought it was on here; evidently not.

I remember with affection my childhood days in a small Durham mining village. It was a time (or so it seemed) of endless sweltering summers, snowbound winters and sledging.

Kids then did unusual things like playing over the fields, digging out a hive of white-arsed or sandy bumblers, transporting the buzzing bundle of boundless energy into a back garden wilderness, simply to watch them going about their business. Thus I was familiar with the excruciating pain of a bee sting from an early age and soon became immune.

This was also the time I acquired my first real metal detector. It was called a Jackdaw. Sounds like the name for one of those cheap Chinese imports but this one was super efficient with discrimination second to none. Remember, I am evoking a time when it was not out of the ordinary for children to enjoy unlimited freedom and, like many of the local lads, I kept a jackdaw as a pet.

Jacky … posed by a model

Jacky (imaginative name) was acquired as a fledgling from the local quarry and ensconced in a rough and ready-made small cree hastily constructed by my father. You could tell the boys who kept jackdaws by the running streak of black and white droppings down the back of their jerkins – for some reason the bird would involuntary defecate when landing on your shoulder.

The jackdaw is known to be a gregarious bird and especially fond of people. I found Jacky easy to adopt and keep as a pet. We had great fun. He was noisy, inquisitive, enjoyed performing amusing tricks and even learned to imitate (in his raspy voice) my calling of his name.

I reckon that if all the birds in the world took an intelligence test, then the jackdaw would top the scores. It is a well-known fact that he will fly off with any pretty little object that catches his eye and Jacky often returned home with spoons, rings and other bright shiny objects that he had stolen. One day he returned with an Acme Thunderer whistle he had snitched from a guy refereeing at the local football match. That was his undoing. An irate fan downed Jacky with a catapult when he returned for a second forage. I cried for a week. You never forget your first metal detector!


Ergonomics – very light, able to fly and well designed, but can be quite messy – 9

User Friendliness – comes when called. Operates better without supervision – 10

Build Quality – rather fragile, I suppose. Avoid catapults and stroppy pigeons – 8

Weather resistance – you’ll never have to put it in the airing cupboard to dry off – almost waterproof – 10

Performance – discriminates well. Avoids dross and other dull crap – 10

Value for Money – Minimal initial outlay – 9

Battery Life – Perhaps its Achilles Heel – needs frequent and constant top-ups of grubs, black beetles and centipedes – 6

NB – the Jackdaw is not available at your usual stockist.

A version of this post originally appeared in the UK Searcher magazine


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21 responses to My First Metal Detector

  1. Never Oh no!!! But Oh yes!!!! Love this story forever!!

    • I know it has a special significance for you Marianne, and I resurrected the piece because it deserves a place on my blog. It’s only a ‘filler’ until my next scheduled post at the weekend.

  2. “I reckon that if all the birds in the world took an intelligence test, then the jackdaw would top the scores.” I would think that our crows over here [they must be a relative, albeit maybe a distant one] would be able to go head to head on an IQ test John.. LOL

    They too steal everything shiny that they can get their beaks on..

    Either I missed this one or forgot it… but thoroughly enjoyable

    Many thanks for my morning pick me up


  3. Aha! theft-by-.. keeping by proxy! That’s a true raconteur’s story… a classic you don’t get bored hearing! It’s a great name for a metal detector too! …Hmm… if you and a mate in your shed knocked together some detectors out of what was handy… you know… gas pipe, coal shovel, bits of wire, saucepan lid, old radio, etc, you could shift ’em at a golden profit on the strength of that story alone… but probably best add some gobbledygook too, like you know who… you’re good at gobbledygook… and Bob’s yer uncle! You could have a whole family of corvid-based detectors to suit all budgets, since they all seem to have a penchant for the non-ferrous… Great story John! Cheers!
    PS: you don’t really do gobbledygook…

  4. Think mine 1st was a c scope 750 ..then a c scope 950 the one with the stupid button on the handle ,at the end of the day ,you had a hole in your Thumb and your wrist was broke …happy days ehh

  5. Should have invested in a Jackdaw, Pete.
    My first real machine was a Viking.

  6. A cracking blog post John, I remember those days of freedom up in County Durham with much fondness, children in this day and age would never ever be able to imagine the fun that we had in those super days of a bygone era.

    I wish I could go back to those days when you you could ride your bike to Greatham on the main roads with no fears. I didn’t have a Jackdaw but I bet it was fun John. I hope that you stuck that catapulted up that kids harris where the sun don’t shine.

    Good blog John, thank you.

  7. John from Ontario (AKA Geobound) 5th April 2018 at 8:42 PM

    I felt like I was reading Old Yeller for a minute there John.

    The story started off so happy, then WHAM, Jacky unexpectedly gets turned into a clay pigeon.

    Oh the humanity!

    Sadder still, is that Jacky has probably come home with better stuff than me?!?

  8. Malcolm Hastings 5th April 2018 at 11:21 PM

    A touching tale John, and one that brings back fond memories of your stories you would tell us about your childhood in class when I was your pupil so many years ago!

  9. Great read john ..the test results were very amusing

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