Are you new to bottle digging or want to know how to start bottle digging? Here's 10 things you have to know.
1. I wish I’d known a bottle digger needs to always, I repeat ALWAYS be prepared. What does that mean? Well at any given time you can go into my car/truck and you will find all of my digging tools and a change of clothes. You never know when you will be driving along and see a construction site or an old creek that is riddled with glass. Without being prepared you are like a fish out of water when an opportunity such as this arises. So keep at bare minimum a good pair of mud boots and a short shovel to move some dirt!
2. I wish I’d known that you need to have the proper digging attire. Whether it is summer or winter you always need to wear thick pants to protect against the glass. Though this doesn’t always protect you it is a proper precaution to take. You should always wear a hat too if you want to keep the dirt out of your hair and last but not least you need to have a good pair of gloves.
3. I wish I’d known to pack a lunch. You will get some crazy looks when you show up at at a restaurant covered in mud and dirt. Plus any time spent driving to find food you run the risk of someone jumping in your hole that you worked so hard to dig. No one likes a claim jumper but it does happen!
4. I wish I’d known that there is no honor among some diggers. I quickly realized that some diggers like to capitalize on the holes that others have started and didn't get to finish in the same day. Bottle Digging is hard work and unfortunately, some diggers see a hole that is open and easy digging and they take advantage of it!
5. I wish I’d known that there is a bottle digging season……. For everything there is a time and place! In Alabama the summer months are so hot and humid the digging becomes unbearable! Up north the ground freezes or becomes covered with snow which causes the digging season to be shorter than you want it to be. I have found that the best time of year for me is late fall into early spring. Less mosquitoes, snakes and I don't have to worry as much about poison ivy/oak! The only downfall to my digging season is that it coincides with deer and turkey hunting season. It is never a good idea to be in the woods during hunting season without bright orange attire.
6. I wish I’d known to always have extra equipment with me. It never fails you WILL bury equipment. I can’t tell you how many shovels and rakes I have buried in the last 10 years! And it’s just not worth all that digging for a $3.00 tool!
7. I wish I’d have known about all of the research it requires to find a good bottle dump. The city records rarely indicate where a city dump was. This means that you are left putting pieces of a puzzle together from remnants of old newspapers and Sanborn Maps. This process can take hours, weeks, or even years! I have research dating back 4 years trying to find the locations of two dumps...I still haven’t been able to find these two town dumps...But persistence is the key!
8. I wish I’d have known that creek walking can be key to finding old bottles and bottle dumps. If you’re finding good bottles or glass pieces in a creek bed then the chances are they washed there from a town dump located along the creek. The town dumps are usually next to a creek or river because the land is/was swampy and unusable. Plus the town dumps were always on fire so the creek served as a natural fire break! So if you’re desperate to find a good location to dig with no paperwork to help you find a spot the creek will be your best starting point!
9. I wish I’d have known that town graveyards were usually located close to town dumps! Why? Well the dump carried disease and so did the dead! So it made sense to keep them near one another. If there is a creek and a graveyard close together you may not have too many pieces of the puzzle left to put together!
10. I wish I’d have known that a metal detector is useful for hunting bottle dumps! City dumps always have excessive amounts of iron. I call this the iron layer. The iron layer is so big it will cause your metal detector to light up like a Christmas tree.
Thank you Brandon from Southern Diggers for the contribution of this great article. If you have any questions or would like to see more about bottle digging checkout Southern Diggers YouTube Channel.