While Zero Discrimination may sound like the latest new social justice group, it is actually a conflict-free and fascinating YouTube channel that is all about treasure hunting. Michelle, the creative and wonderful new celebrity who produces and is featured on this channel lives in Round Rock and goes by “Gypsy.” She is a hobbyist turned internet star who uses metal detectors to locate metal on top of and under the ground. “We are not quite treasure hunters but I do believe we are amateur archaeologists in a sense.”
Zero discrimination is the term used when a metal detector is set to alert the user to any kind of metal; i.e., the signals do not rule out any type of metal in range so the hunter or “detectorist” doesn’t miss anything. Michelle says “The hobby is kind of a misnomer; we use metal detectors but we are actually metal finders. Nearly everything I dig up is something of historical value, which is why it is there. To me, it is treasure whether it’s a old gold coin, flat button, or a lost watch.”
Michelle puts her skills to use in many ways and activities. Most detectorists spend a lifetime hoping to find that lost gold galleon but she has boxes and trays full of jewelry, coins, and ammunition; some she found on her own property when she took up the hobby. Her friends have even found meteorites and fossils, and other bits and pieces of life gone by. “It started out as an interest and a curiosity and when I found a turquoise ring near my own driveway I was hooked. I quickly disovered it is a hobby that gives back. On my first trip to the beach, I found jewelry and a handful of coins. Now I find remnants of the past, I’m out in the fresh air and getting exercise and it’s a thrill any time I find something new.”
As a child, she enjoyed spending time with her father, whom she says was a ‘mad scientist.’ He spent time looking for gadgets and parts in junkyards to build new things at home. She learned early on to look down and scan wherever she walked.
“I was never really into history before,” she says “but I find toys, coins, dishes and other pieces of the puzzle of a lifestyle that connects a particular place to its own past. It is great to find commonalities with regular people who just happened to live before.”
Michelle’s hobby takes on many forms. She goes on personal hunts in public lands, or secures permission to walk on private property; always with an agreement regarding her finds. Often the owners just let her “go out to play” and she can take what she finds, the owner may want to have a look, just in case, or she turns over everything and just enjoys the thrill of the find and posting her adventures in video form. If an item is of significant value, she will notify appropriate municipalities in case there is a specific interest in preservation.
She is often hired, or simply asked to look over a property for curious landowners, or for specific items that have been lost and, over time, she has developed a sense of just where to look. She also hunts playgrounds for lost items or even to pick up things left behind that kids shouldn’t pick up at all. “When I am at the beach there is a point near the water I know I am most likely to find lost rings and watches. People forget cold water makes their hands and fingers shrink. On land, I have learned, over time, how to recognize an old home site and where to look for items. Depression-era folks were known to bury money so coin jars are not uncommon.”
She also participates in organized hunts; events during which the lands are “seeded” with buttons, bullets, coins and more, and the detectorists spend a weekend digging in the dirt together.
She is proud of the detectorist code to leave a place better and cleaner. “If you are good at it, you should not leave a place unrecognizable. We respect the land the people who lived there before and now. And I’m just as excited to dig up an old horseshoe as silver coins so I’m almost never disappointed on a site.”
Our local Gypsy has created a great brand in this unique space. She is now sponsored by Garrett metal detectors, is a re-seller of metal detectors at dddetectors.com and is hoping to be invited to hunt the historical places in Georgetown and Williamson County so show us all “What is it? What did it do?” Meanwhile, you can catch her latest episode on YouTube at “Zero Discrimination”.