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Routinely can't find nothin'....My life of DNF


Kit Kat Katie
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So, I've been geocaching for a very short amount of time - I found my first cache just in the last month or so. But there's LOTS of caches near me, and I go out a-searching, and often come back with only a DNF to my name. I can't imagine that so many caches have been robbed in between the last time they were found (often October or November of last year, some even more recently), and I look and look and look...but I'd say out of 9 caches, I've found 4. This seems like a disheartening ratio to me.

 

Any tips for getting better at looking for caches? I also suck at word searches, and Where's Waldo, if that tells you anything...

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So, I've been geocaching for a very short amount of time - I found my first cache just in the last month or so. But there's LOTS of caches near me, and I go out a-searching, and often come back with only a DNF to my name. I can't imagine that so many caches have been robbed in between the last time they were found (often October or November of last year, some even more recently), and I look and look and look...but I'd say out of 9 caches, I've found 4. This seems like a disheartening ratio to me.

 

Any tips for getting better at looking for caches? I also suck at word searches, and Where's Waldo, if that tells you anything...

I've done better (919 finds vs. 282 DNFs, some found later). But I'm so bad at finding, some cachers are pretty sure I should give it up. It takes me a lot longer to find a cache than everyone else thinks it should.

 

Here's what you may try, it's what I did for a while when I started. Go after caches that are big, listed as Regular or Large. “Small” could be OK, if it's not a pill bottle, but remember that even something listed as "Regular" may be on the small side. See if the logs show that people are finding it easily. Look for the low D/T ratings. Look for cache pages that let you know where to look. “Beside the fence”. “Between the three trees”. Know where you'll look before you arrive, and what you may be looking for. Look at the satellite map. Get familiar with what the compass and distance are telling you (takes practice), and when you're close, use the description and hint. And go to places where you don't mind searching a while, and where there aren't a lot of people wondering why you're searching for a while. Look around for the places where the container may be, and take your time. A hiking stick is handy for poking around under leaves, and I have a compact one that fits in the trunk of my car, so I don't forget one. So bring one.

 

If you can't find it, log a DNF, and go find a different one. Come back when you have a new idea of what to do.

 

Good luck!

Edited by kunarion
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I can't see the caches you haven't found, but it looks like you've been searching for micros in an urban or suburban area (I'm guessing around where you live). Urban micros can be tough for beginners to spot until one gets a feel for what to look for -- they can be the size of a 35mm film can or magnetic key hide, but they can turn out to be as small as a joint on your pinky finger ("nano" cache). And, since there is a greater potential for people to stumble across these caches and throw them away, the cache hiders usually do a pretty good job of hiding them to keep that from happening.

 

You have found four, so you're not striking out completely. And if it makes you feel better, I've been doing this for eight years and have struck out on many an urban micro.

 

Until you get a better feel for how folks might be hiding these in urban areas, you can go for bigger geocaches -- there is a regular cache within a mile of the area you've found other caches. Keep at it, and you'll find you get better at finding these as you go along. You may also want to attend a local caching event to trade tips and tricks with other local cachers. See if some will go out with you to hunt some more caches so you can get some help getting started.

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The hiking stick is a good idea, I've also considered bringing gardening gloves and tweezers, because I am a wuss and I don't want to accidentally grab something icky with my bare hands (winter is a good time for me, there's no bugs...). *shudder*

 

Yeah, all of the caches I've found have been XS and in pretty busy areas, like Walmart and other public areas...I didn't realize there was a larger cache in the area, I'll have to seek it out, I often just check my map while I'm out to see if anything is nearby, and it's been these tiny tiny caches. (2/4 have been these tiny magnetic little screw top things (nanos, I guess!) ). Thanks for the encouragement, I'll try for some bigger caches and just keep on trucking!

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Thanks for the encouragement, I'll try for some bigger caches and just keep on trucking!

Something that helped me back when i started was knowing that the gpsr, phones too, will usually get you close, say within 20 or so feet, but not always to the exact spot the cache is hidden. What i've found to help is to put the gpsr away once i reach the general area and begin looking around for places a cache could be hidden. Sometimes it helps to try and put yourself in the hider's shoes. Looking around ground zero, how might you have hidden a cache here? Does something look out of place? If you know the cache's size, where might it fit?

 

One thing's for sure, the more you cache, the easier it gets. B)

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I currently have 433 DNF logs, translating to a "fail rate" of around seven percent. If I could find them all easily, geocaching would have gotten boring for me a long time ago. Instead, I'm still at it, nearly fourteen years later. I still remember my first hunt in 2002. It took my daughter and I more than an hour to find a two-quart rubbermaid jar that I'd call a "park and grab" today.

 

My advice to you:

 

1. Stick with it! Even if you're not able to find a cache, you are still outside and having fun, which beats sitting on the couch. Only stop when you're not having fun anymore. The experience I gained from my early DNF's taught me to be a logical, methodical searcher and to enjoy my surroundings instead of getting frustrated. Granted, that's easier to do in a forest than in a parking lot.

 

2. Stop and ask yourself, "What assumptions am I making?" If you assumed the cache is between ground level and eye level, that's the time to look up in the trees, where you'll sometimes spot a hanging container. If you assumed the cache couldn't possibly fit in that tiny hole, know that cache containers can be smaller in diameter than your pinky fingernail. Don't assume the coordinates are accurate - look around in a 30 foot radius. Don't assume that the cache "has to be" in any given spot -- when I hide a cache, I look for an obvious place like a big stump, then I hide my cache in the less obvious smaller stump six feet away. Don't assume that "magnetic" means the cache is attached to metal. Don't assume that an "ammo box" cannot be two inches long and an inch high. Etc., etc. etc. Once you destroy your false assumptions, the truth often reveals itself.

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A common recommendation for beginners is to stick with small small.gif size, regular regular.gif size, and large large.gif size caches. Until you're more experienced, avoid micro micro.gif size caches, some of which are smaller than most beginners can imagine (sometimes called "nanos"). Save those for later, after you have some experience.

 

Also, stick with caches that have a difficulty rating of no more than 2 stars stars2.gif. Save the more difficult ones for later. You may also want to choose caches with easy terrain ratings. (The difficulty rating tells you how hard it is to find the cache once you get there. The terrain rating tells you how hard it is to get there.) And it is often best to start with traditional 2.gif caches, which will be at the published coordinates. Multi-caches 3.gif or mystery/puzzle caches 8.gif or other cache types can require more work just to figure out where the container is located.

 

Under ideal conditions, a consumer GPSr will be accurate to about 3m (10ft). That applies both to your device, and to the cache owner’s device, so you may find the container 5-6m (16-20ft) from ground zero under ideal conditions. Under less than ideal conditions, both GPSr readings can be much less accurate. Once you get within that distance of ground zero, put your device away and look around for places where a container could be hidden.

 

Where would you hide something? Do you notice anything unusual? Is anything too new, too old, too organized (e.g., UPS: an Unnatural Pile of Sticks/Stones), too symmetrical, not quite the right color or shape, etc.? Don’t look only on the ground; the cache may be knee-level, waist-level, eye-level, or overhead. How might the container be secured in place? With magnets? With a hook? With string? With fishing line? With something else? Does anything move when you touch it? (Be careful when touching things though.)

 

Go ahead and read the cache's additional hints (if provided), and read the past logs and look at any photos in the cache's image gallery. They may help you understand what you're looking for, and how/where it may be hidden. It may also help to look at some of the cache containers available online. For example, check out the cache containers sold by Groundspeak. Also, take a look at the Pictures - Cool Cache Containers (CCC's) thread in the forums, and check out some geocaching videos on YouTube.

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Good advice given so far. I think most of us suck at the beginning. The main thing is just to keep at it; having said that, when you start to get annoyed, move on to the next cache. Don't be afraid to email cache owners for help.

 

It might also help to go with someone. If you can find an experience local cacher to go out with, that might make things more enjoyable while you are learning.

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Good advice given so far. [/b]I think most of us suck at the beginning.[/b] The main thing is just to keep at it; having said that, when you start to get annoyed, move on to the next cache. Don't be afraid to email cache owners for help.

 

It might also help to go with someone. If you can find an experience local cacher to go out with, that might make things more enjoyable while you are learning.

Yes maam! I remember my first cache find very well. Took me close to an hour to find it. What's bad, it was an ammocan... :lol:

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So, I've been geocaching for a very short amount of time - I found my first cache just in the last month or so. But there's LOTS of caches near me, and I go out a-searching, and often come back with only a DNF to my name. I can't imagine that so many caches have been robbed in between the last time they were found (often October or November of last year, some even more recently), and I look and look and look...but I'd say out of 9 caches, I've found 4. This seems like a disheartening ratio to me.

 

Any tips for getting better at looking for caches? I also suck at word searches, and Where's Waldo, if that tells you anything...

I've been geocaching since January of 2012. After a while I started only downloading D1 to D2 caches after looking at recent logs to see if the caches were still there. Even then the DNF rate is discouraging, and that's after 4 years of building up "geosense" and having my wife with me on a lot of the caches where neither of us can find them.

So I've gone to mainly looking for caches in US States where I haven't found one yet. I'll download about 6 of them in an area, then go out looking until I find 1 to 3 of them, and I'm done.

Seems like the game is more fun to those who like standing around looking for something for a loooong time. I'm the kind who doesn't even go fishing because I don't like sitting around a long time for a strike. I gotta be doing something!

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Don't give up it takes practice. Even some of the best geocachers that have 10,000 plus logged finds can't find some easy ones that a first time geocacher has found.

 

Not only that, we DNF'd D1.5/2 caches even newbies considered "easy find" while finding D3-4's that had a high number of DNFs. Sometimes you see it, sometimes you don't, we don't worry about that. On some occasions a previous DNF is found in seconds when going back.

It wouldn't be fun if there was a 100% successrate.

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After almost 14 years, my percentage is closer to 10%. And the only reason it's that low is because of caching with others. Whenever I cache by myself the dnf rate goes up sharply. I still haven't figured out how to find the durned things after all these years! :laughing: Ah, well. You can't help an addiction. :ph34r:

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Keep at it--eventually you'll start to notice patterns and some of the easy caches will become too easy! For example, when I started I didn't know about magnetic micros and magnetic key holders on skirt lifts. There's a cache that I marked as DNF years ago that if I went back today I could most likely find it in 5 minutes.

 

Another thing that I've found more satisfying is to really look at the map of your local area and find places to geocache that will be satisfying even if you don't earn a smiley. If you like to hike, maybe expand your radius to find a new park or preserve. That way you'll have had a nice walk/hike/view at least and maybe will have discovered a new favorite area. Also, if it's a DNF in a nice area (however you define it) come back later--the weather might have caused a cache to have drifted a bit, so perhaps watch the cache page and when someone has made a find, then circle back and look again.

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Hey! I'm at 11%! I can trip over caches and not find them. Today: One find. Three DNFs. One Note because I wasn't going to try to climb that giant boulder with the snow on it. Did have a nice two-mile icy, slippery, muddy hike in the WMA. Don't need an stinking trails! I can bushwhack over streams with the temperature 39°!

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The thing that helped me the most was going to an event and traveling around with people who knew what they were looking for. I doubled my number of finds in that 1 day and saw dozens of different types of caches. I have done much better now I have more of an idea what to expect.

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So, I've been geocaching for a very short amount of time - I found my first cache just in the last month or so. But there's LOTS of caches near me, and I go out a-searching, and often come back with only a DNF to my name. I can't imagine that so many caches have been robbed in between the last time they were found (often October or November of last year, some even more recently), and I look and look and look...but I'd say out of 9 caches, I've found 4. This seems like a disheartening ratio to me.

 

Any tips for getting better at looking for caches? I also suck at word searches, and Where's Waldo, if that tells you anything...

 

I'm at 23% DNF having started this 5 days ago (10 found, 3 DNF) and personally I think its about the fun of the find and not getting too disheartened. I've been predominately urban hunting at lunchtime so far, with mixed results - some caches I know I'll never come back to due to the amount of people, but some have a sensible amount of passers-by so I actually enjoy the discreet grab, walk off to a quiet place to sign the log and come back to discreetly hide it. I was so nervous the first few times, and I do still check the logs on ones I've found to ensure that it's been found since and I haven't put it back too obviously!

 

I enjoy the freedom you can get by just walking for a couple of miles at lunchtime (working in Leeds I've been able to visit a few 'green-urban' caches), getting fitter and seeing new places. Plannning my lunch hour is almost as fun, sorting out a handful of potential caches. My eldest son is also interested so we'll take a walk out at the weekend, out into more rural places - I could think of a lot worse hobbies, finding or not finding a cache!

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i was having a day like that today... i think i searched for 4 and only found 1. they were all marked 1/1 and all the activity comments talked about how super easy it was to find and how it was basically right there in front of their face, etc., and most of the comments were as recent as a few weeks ago. i felt like a total clownshoe for not being able to find something that was supposedly so easy... but some days (or weeks) are just like that... like, for whatever reason, you can't get in the zone, or you have bad luck, or whatever you want to call it. sometimes you just hit an off streak. sometimes you do better if you check for it some other time, or see if you can get a hint. maybe you can send a message to the owner and ask if they could confirm that it is still there?

 

The hiking stick is a good idea, I've also considered bringing gardening gloves and tweezers, because I am a wuss and I don't want to accidentally grab something icky with my bare hands (winter is a good time for me, there's no bugs...). *shudder*

 

 

i don't know how effective this is, i haven't tried it myself yet... but i noticed in the shop they have

this -> http://shop.geocaching.com/default/geocaching-gear/tott/micro-mirror-magnet-tool.html

 

i've thought about getting one myself after running across a big spider giving me an irked off look when i disturbed his hidey hole...

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We just started this whole geocaching thing all of 8 days ago. We've had some decent success.

We are searching in areas we are already familiar with, doing a bit of research of the caches ahead, reading the activity logs, taking advantage of pictures and hints however they are posted. Hubby (the other half of McSpy) has been picking me up from work and we find one or two on the way home. We've found nanos all the way to 2 1/2 gallon pails! I've started a booklist for sites we've been skunked at but not ready to say DNF. Perhaps too much traffic, too dark, and too difficult but we are going to go back. Also making use of watch lists on some of these to see if it's just us :)

 

WE are new enough that we are also picky of our locations. Quiet areas to start when we have time to search. And right now it's a team effort.

 

Yesterday, we were totally skunked. Lots of activities that said QEF, park and grab and such. Nope, we didn't find them. WE were rather discouraged. Today we tried again and were very successful

 

Don't give up. And we aren't looking at stats or numbers. For us, it isn't a competition.

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After almost 14 years, my percentage is closer to 10%. And the only reason it's that low is because of caching with others. Whenever I cache by myself the dnf rate goes up sharply. I still haven't figured out how to find the durned things after all these years! :laughing: Ah, well. You can't help an addiction. :ph34r:

 

You've made my day. No, my month!!! I keep track of my DNFs and my rate is around 11%. I've now found many of them, and lots have since been archived; but there are still around 240 active caches that are on my DNF list. I know some of the reasons my rate is high, and If I counted my "drive by and ignore" caches my DNF rate would be higher. I don't search long in very public places. I don't give evergreen hangers much time either. But I'll usually give them all a short look just in case they jump out at me. If I'm in a cache rich area I hate to spend a lot of time on one when I could potentially find three others in the same time period. To me a good difficult cache is one that requires a long and/or complicated trail-less approach, rather than nit picking the fake rock out of a gravel pit or the zip lock baggie between the stones in a wall. So I cache the way I want and the DNF total will continue to grow.

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After almost 14 years, my percentage is closer to 10%. And the only reason it's that low is because of caching with others. Whenever I cache by myself the dnf rate goes up sharply. I still haven't figured out how to find the durned things after all these years! :laughing: Ah, well. You can't help an addiction. :ph34r:

 

You've made my day. No, my month!!! I keep track of my DNFs and my rate is around 11%. I've now found many of them, and lots have since been archived; but there are still around 240 active caches that are on my DNF list. I know some of the reasons my rate is high, and If I counted my "drive by and ignore" caches my DNF rate would be higher. I don't search long in very public places. I don't give evergreen hangers much time either. But I'll usually give them all a short look just in case they jump out at me. If I'm in a cache rich area I hate to spend a lot of time on one when I could potentially find three others in the same time period. To me a good difficult cache is one that requires a long and/or complicated trail-less approach, rather than nit picking the fake rock out of a gravel pit or the zip lock baggie between the stones in a wall. So I cache the way I want and the DNF total will continue to grow.

 

Glad to be of service. :D:laughing:

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After almost 14 years, my percentage is closer to 10%. And the only reason it's that low is because of caching with others. Whenever I cache by myself the dnf rate goes up sharply. I still haven't figured out how to find the durned things after all these years! :laughing: Ah, well. You can't help an addiction. :ph34r:

 

You've made my day. No, my month!!! I keep track of my DNFs and my rate is around 11%. I've now found many of them, and lots have since been archived; but there are still around 240 active caches that are on my DNF list. I know some of the reasons my rate is high, and If I counted my "drive by and ignore" caches my DNF rate would be higher. I don't search long in very public places. I don't give evergreen hangers much time either. But I'll usually give them all a short look just in case they jump out at me. If I'm in a cache rich area I hate to spend a lot of time on one when I could potentially find three others in the same time period. To me a good difficult cache is one that requires a long and/or complicated trail-less approach, rather than nit picking the fake rock out of a gravel pit or the zip lock baggie between the stones in a wall. So I cache the way I want and the DNF total will continue to grow.

 

Here's another stat to brighten your day: been at it since 2007, and I'm at about 10.5% DNF as well (747 DNFs, 7057 finds). :D

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If you look at my profile and click on the DNFs tab, you will see that I'm at 12% (118 DNF logs on 913 finds). My worst day was 7 DNF's and I've DNFed two caches more than once.

 

Some folk claim to be proud of DNF's. I'm not proud of them, but I'm certainly not ashamed. They are part of my caching history.

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