By Paul Davis
 
After years of drought the heavens opened causing floods across the east of Australia creating ideal breeding conditions for ducks. Opening day was a trip with my friend Damien, his brother Peter and the father Gordon, and my son Tim and me. Gordon's relatives had arranged for us to go on some private property.
 
In the preceding week Damien's knee had gone on him and he was off work and on medication to reduce the swelling. It had been arranged to meet at Gordon's place at 1:30 PM on Friday. Arriving at the camp site two hours later than expected it was pleasing to see this private lake holding a large number of mixed species.
 
Opening morning, Damien headed off early as he had a long paddle in his sneak boat and wanted to get his decoys set. The opening was good as the ducks stayed and my bag limit was achieved very early. I noted that Damien, Gordon and Peter were in the one spot for a long time. Not being able to see what they were doing I guessed they were having a chat and a bite to eat.
 
After a few hours they returned and Tim asked Damien "how many did you get?" Damien replied "none". Something must be wrong I thought as he is a good shot and there were lots of ducks. After a few minutes I approach Damien to see what went wrong. Wrong would be an understatement.
 
As he was putting his decoys out his knee locked up and the pain made him jerk. That jerk sent his unloaded gun to the bottom of the lake. The three of them had been poking at the bottom with their paddles trying to locate the gun. Damien had also stripped off and dived to the bottom. When he got there he could only get a few seconds before he had to return for more air. 
 
After missing the opening morning hunt the disappointment was more than strong to say the least. He had removed the decoy that was marking the area and he just wanted to get out of there.
 
Being a part owner of Gold Search Australia I advised him that I had a coin and relic detector in the car that had a waterproof coil. He advised me that the water was over two metres deep. I got the detector out of the car and tested it on my gun and found that I wouldn't get the gun at that depth. My next idea was to later in the week use super magnets that we used for a trial project.
 
Damien called me on Wednesday and was keen to have another go at getting his gun back. He had been to the Police and advised them of the happenings. They advised him if it was in the water for more than a week it wouldn't be worth getting. Damien picked the super magnets up from me and he made a bracket to hold them so we could tow them along the bottom.
 
The detecting idea still hadn't left my mind. The only problems I had to get over were the depth and a waterproof coil for that depth. We had some lengths of fibreglass left over from making gold trolleys so I glued them together. Now I needed a waterproof coil with at least 3 metres of lead on it.
 
I approach Nugget-finder with the problem. Nugget-finder had tested a 12 inch elliptical advantage coil in 1 metre of water for 48 hours and proved it to be waterproof. They were keen to see how the coil would go at this depth but first they needed to extend the lead before I was ready to go. With all the things required we headed off Friday afternoon hoping we could find the gun before dark.
 
Damien went to the general area and marked it and started dragging the super magnets through the area behind his boat. I loaded the sneak-boat with my Metal Detector, Nugget-finder 12 inch elliptical Mono coil and extra long fibreglass shaft and the camera to hopefully capture a happy event. It was quite windy with the odd whitecap.
 
Above: Paul's Metal Detector with the Nugget-finder 12 inch elliptical Mono coil and extra long fibreglass shaft.
 
Meeting up with Damien at the location I advised him that I expected his outboard motor would cause some interference to the detector so we should drift through the area. We tied the wooden sneak-boat to the aluminium boat. I was thinking the coil might pick up on the aluminium boat so I used the detector in the sneak-boat.
 
We started the drift with Damien using the super magnets and me with the detector. I turned the detector on and raised the volume to maximum. The wind was pushing us along fast and the coil was jumping around like a fishing lure. I couldn't move it from side to side as the pressure on the shaft was too great.
 
This was proving to be a very difficult task as you didn't know how deep the water was. The boat was going up and down like you were trying to ground balance the detector and the crop under the water was still standing and grabbing on to the coil. It was like detecting blindfolded with your feet off the ground in long grass.
 
We persevered for an hour and decide to give it another go tomorrow and hopefully the wind would ease. As forecast the wind was still strong and bigger whitecaps than Friday. By lunchtime the wind had eased enough to give it another go. This time we went out in the 10 foot tinny.
 
We started drifting in the area again and to my surprise the detector didn't pick up too bad on the boat but the lead had to be still or it would give off signals. After each drift we would lift the coil and magnets and remove the heads of wheat from them.
 
Moving the coil from side to side was hard enough in the deep water but even harder when I was hitting the crop that was still standing. The super magnets did pick up an empty shotgun cartridge and some steel shot.
 
We started another drift and this water was less than 2 metres deep so I asked Damien to shorten up the drift as I wanted to spend more time in the area. Almost 2 hours had passed and my arms were getting tired from working the fibreglass rod with the coil on the end.
 
Above: Paul, moving the extra long fibreglass shaft in the water.
 
We had drifted approximately 20 meters when the detector made a loud noise. I said to Damien "I think that's it". Putting a marker out straight away, we then boated up above the marker and put out the anchor letting rope out on the anchor till we thought we were over the target.
 
Putting the detector coil back in the water I picked up the target almost straight away. I said to Damien again "I am fairly sure that's it". Damien was getting excited with the prospect of getting his gun back so he grabbed the super magnets and lowered it into the area.
 
The boat had momentarily drifted sideways. It moved back into the area and Damien once again lowered the super magnets. This time there was a sharp pull on the super magnets as it grabbed the target. He lifted the target to the surface very slowly and yes we had done it. After 3 hours detecting over Friday and Saturday we had recovered Damien's gun from 3 metres of water that it had lay in for one week.
 
It was a special moment to see a friend get back his gun that he valued very much. To say we were very happy with what we had achieved would be an understatement. We had found the needle in the hay stack so to speak. After a week at the bottom of the lake the fore end of the Miroku MK70 U/O had distorted badly near the action, the blueing had almost gone on one side and the stock had a stain in it.
 
Damien has set about bringing the gun back to life and it should be ready in time for the rice season this year. He is looking forward to getting a shot next duck opening morning.