How to hunt ghosts: A beginner’s guide

You want to experience the paranormal firsthand but have no idea where to start. When watching paranormal TV shows, it is easy to think you need a trailer filled with expensive tech and gear to fit into the crowd. No one wants to appear for a ghost hunting event looking like a newbie.

But relax; by the end of this article, you know precisely how to chase ghosts like a pro – without investing all your savings in the process. You will have fun and might even capture a spirit or two on tape.

It is incredible how many of the ghost hunting techniques are free. This article will not cover the gear and tech you need in detail; more about how you do a successful ghost hunt. If you want to learn what equipment you need, read the article below. I have everything covered for you.

Ghost hunting equipment: A beginner’s guide

Learn about the 16 essential gadgets you need

How to hunt ghosts – a guide for beginners

There are as many ways to hunt ghosts as there are ghost hunters or paranormal investigators. But there are a few things that most of us do. With experience, you start to build your way of doing things.

If you want to learn about the most haunted sites in America, you will find my ghost-hunting bucket list in the article below.

Related article: Ghost Hunter’s Edition: Most Haunted Sites in America

#1: Find a suitable location to hunt for ghosts

It might seem obvious, but it is not as easy as it sounds. Haunted sites are many times not open to the public. Having a haunted house or home is often something that is not advertised.

I recommend asking local paranormal teams or searching online for a site near you. Traveling around the globe for your first ghost hunt might not be a great idea. Keep that for later when you are experienced and have drained all the sites in your neighborhood.

Stay out of cemeteries and heavily haunted sites when new to ghost hunting. You might take on more than you can chew. Going for your first ghost hunt in Bobby Mackey’s Music World might not be the best choice.

So, try to keep it local for starters. Ask for directions online, or contact a local paranormal investigator or psychic.

If you can’t find a verified haunted site, follow your intuition. Have you visited a location that seems eerie to you? Why not give it a try? Caution, though, as you have no information about the site, you can end up with more than you can handle if you are unlucky. But in most cases, you end up with nothing. Haunted locations are pretty rare.

According to Troy Talor in his book Ghost Hunter’s Guidebook, it is crucial to remember these things before, during, and after a ghost hunt or research.

I recommend this book if you are new to ghost hunting and want to learn more (affiliate link – Amazon):

  • Never go alone – always bring a friend or a team member
  • Make sure the owners have permitted to investigate the site
  • Keep an open, transparent, and skeptical mind at all times
  • Not all ghost hunts or investigations will be fruitful
  • Look for natural causes of “paranormal events.”
  • Always carry identification when on site (people might report you as burglars)
  • Respect the site and the spirits

#2: Research the site

Start by researching the site’s history. See what you can find in the local library or archive. Interviewing or asking the owners about paranormal activity is always a great idea.

They can bring invaluable insights on where to focus your efforts. As a beginner, you should not force or try to go into details and personal stories.

You cannot give the owners too much information about the haunting itself (at this stage in your paranormal investigator career). Keep the scales even.

Remember that the owners might feel uncomfortable with you and your questions, so keep it neat and short.

If there is a book about the site, read it! Don’t be lazy and watch a Youtube video or two. Much of the work involved with ghost hunting is research and preparations. Learning this skill early on is always good – never rush a ghost hunt or investigation. Do your research, and have patience.

One thing to remember is that trespassing is illegal. Never conduct any investigations on a cemetery without permission from local authorities. You can get a hefty fine if you do. In some countries, there are laws against disturbing the graveyard at night.

#3: Prepare your ghost-hunting toolkit

When you have found your site and booked a time and day for the investigation, it is time to prepare your ghost-hunting toolkit.

If you have no clue what to bring, go to my article Ghost hunting equipment: A beginner’s guide for more information.

It is easy to think that you need that fancy tech they show in the paranormal TV shows, but the truth is that low-tech alternatives take you very far. Even professional paranormal investigators revert to the basics when the high-tech options fail on-site. This is often also; ghostsOpens in a new tab. have a way of making things with electronics malfunction.

Ensure all tech works properly by taking test shots, recordings, etc. Returning from a ghost hunt to discover something is not working correctly is not fun.

At times things need software updates or new batteries. Make sure that all lenses are polished and ready to go. You would be amazed by how many light orbs were dirt on the lens. If you want to learn more about optical illusions that can create false light orbs, read the article below.

What ghost orbs are: Paranormal light phenomenon

Learn about optical illusions that might cause false light orbs

Make sure you have all extra batteries charged and ready to go. When you run into a ghostly activity, they have a way of draining. Be sure to have an extra set of batteries at all times.

A small LED keychain light can be handy to wear in your pocket when everything fails.

Being stuck in the dark with a grumpy ghost is not fun.

An analog watch is excellent to bring on-site as well. This way, you will keep track of time even if all electronics go wild.

Ensuring insurance covers any damages to the site, your tech, gear, and yourselves is also a great idea. You don’t have to dig deep into your pockets if you trash something by mistake. It makes a good impression as well.

Customize the toolkit

When it comes to ghost hunting and investigations, no site is the other alike. During the research stage, you should be familiar with hotspots and whether the investigation will occur outdoors or indoors.

Ensure you have all the tools and devices you need to do a great job. Discovering you have the wrong gear is not fun arriving on the scene.

Make sure you have clothing that is appropriate for the location as well. Comfy shoes are a must; you will be up running around all night!

#4: Creating a tech and command center

When arriving at the investigation scene, set up a command center. A command center is where you keep your gear, sketchbooks, extra batteries, and all that jazz. It is a great idea to have coffee and snacks as well.

If anything happens during the ghost hunt or investigation, your team will meet to discuss and support each other (if needed). Paranormal experiences can be terrifying, especially if you are a beginner without experience. You never know how you are going to react when you are faced with an apparitionOpens in a new tab. or manifestation.

It is recommended that you store a psychic attack kit ready to go. A psychic attack kit can be many things depending on your preference. I bring a tourmaline, obsidian, sage smudge set, palo santo, a bell, and a bottle of holy water. If you get attacked by something evil, you need to act quickly. Cleanse yourself and your gear, and leave the site.

Be sure to plan, so everyone knows how you will collect paranormal evidence. If you all go about as you wish, you will start to ruin the evidence for each other. It has to be quiet and still when you conduct EVPs or alike. For example, you can’t have a team member walking across the floor in the middle of the recording.

Planning and ensuring everyone knows what they are supposed to do is vital for a great investigation.

When you level up your investigations, this center will be the audio-visual room where you can overlook all video and audio in one place. But for now, let’s keep it slimmed down to sketch pads, coffee, snacks, and blankets.

Ghostly stalkers

If you need to protect yourself from ghosts following you home, I have written an article on the subject. It is something to be aware of and know how to handle.

Can ghosts follow you home? [Things you must know]

How to minimize the risk of ghostly stalkers

#5: Set clear boundaries on arrival

Make sure that you set clear boundaries for the spirits on the site. It is easiest to talk to the spirits as they were fellow humans (they were like us once). You can also go with a protection prayer or anything you need to feel confident and strong.

This is my standard opening prayer that I use on arrival. I seldom use religious prayers for protection. Negative energies can’t harm you if you believe you have power over the situation and are calling the shots. You have to believe if you are not sure they will have an opening. It is your Achilles heel.

Hello everyone! My name is X and I’m here to conduct a paranormal investigation. We come in peace and are not here to disturb you or harm you in any way.
You are not allowed to attack us or attach to us or our belongings. You are not allowed to follow us home when we go. Thank you for letting us visit you.

on arrival

I have examples of those in this article if you want to use a religious prayer. When you leave the site, you can do the same, stating that the ghosts are not allowed to follow you home or attach to any of you or your objects. It should be enough with one “prayer,” but if it feels better, go with one when you leave.

Thank you everyone for allowing us to investigate the X.
You are not allowed to attack us or attach to us or our belongings. You are not allowed to follow us home when we go. Thank you for letting us visit you.

Ghost hunting or investigations are not recommended if you are sick, anxious, or sad. Negative energies might take advantage of the situation if you are not feeling 100% ok. It is better to call it off and regroup another day.

It is vital that everyone on the team feel that they can be open with feelings of weakness. Never blame or shame a team member for aborting a hunt or investigation. Support each other and care for everyone’s safety.

#6: Starting the ghost hunt or investigation

When it is time to start the investigation, you should act according to your plan if you need to change the plan, rendezvous at the command center and regroup.

A common way of starting the investigation or hunt is to do a site sweep. Take pictures and videos of the location to use for later reference.

Ways to conduct an investigation

Use a compass or dowOpens in a new tab.sing rods to sweep the area to notice strange energy fields. When you discover a hot spot, take photos or record a video of the location. It is not uncommon for ghosts to appear in photos and videos, even if the naked eye does not see them.

Collect EVPs by using the audio recorder on your smartphone. Ask straightforward questions and play it back. Maybe you will catch some answers!

Another way of conducting an investigation is by taking photos in hot spots. There are many great captures of ghostly apparitions using an analog camera, but digital cameras work too.

In the table below, you find ways to conduct a paranormal investigation or hone in on a ghost. The levels of knowledge are just there to indicate how much knowledge you need to have to retrieve reliable evidence. You can use them as a beginner as well, of course.

My favorite way of detecting spirits is by asking them to tap, knock, or make a sound. You might encounter a ghost if you hear a knock the third time around. If you want to ask questions, tap once for “yes” and “twice” for no.

It is recommended not to use divination tools such as Ouija boards in haunted sites as it might attract negative energies. The same goes with pendulums for divination. You need to be very familiar and knowledgeable with the tools to use them safely. Stay away from these when you are just learning. If you attract a negative entity, you might have difficulty dispelling it. You can read more hereOpens in a new tab. if you want to learn more about the dangers of Ouija boards.

Ghost hunting equipment

Device or gadgetHow to use itThe level of knowledge needed
Digital camera A smartphone works ok. Shoot pictures in hotspots or randomly at the site.Beginner
Video cameraA smartphone works ok. Do sweeps with the camera. Have it pointing at areas of interest. Use the audio as well. It has to have night vision capability if used during the night.Beginner/Intermediate
Audio recorderA smartphone works ok, Used to collect EVPs. You can use the recorder on your smartphone or the EVP recorder.Beginner/Intermediate
Ovilus / Ghost box / Spirit boxA device that transmits the EVPs in real-time. Place in a hot spot. There are apps for smartphones available.Beginner/Intermediate
CompassThen the compass starts to spin you encounter an energetic anomaly.Beginner/Intermediate
Dowsing rodsWhen the rods cross, you have encountered an energetic anomaly. Intermediate
Pendulum dowsingAsk the pendulum to swing in the direction of a ghost or entity. Use a pendulum chart to retrieve complex messages.Intermediate
Infrared thermometerFind temperature hot or cold spots that might indicate an anomaly. Not that pricey anymore.Intermediate
Analog audio recorderAn analog audio recorder might pick up things the digital might miss. Beginner/Intermediate
BinocularsTo spot ghosts from afar and sweep the area. Beginner

There are a ton of other gadgets you can use that are not shown in the table. These gadgets are for intermediate to pro investigators, though. Many are a bit pricey and work best if you have little experience. But if you want to dabble into the more techy stuff, here is a list of gadgets.

  • Gauss multidetector
  • REM-Pod
  • K2 EMF meter
  • ELF meter
  • TriField Natural EM meter
  • Infrared motion detector
  • Remote sensor wireless thermometer
  • Magnetic field sensor
  • Digital thermal hygrometer
  • Relative humidity gauge
  • Hardwire thermometer
  • Closed-circuit TV
  • Nightvision equipment
  • Microcassette analog recorder
  • Microcassette digital recorder
  • Four-channel multi-headphone amplifier
  • Sound level meter
  • Jacob’s ladder
  • Laptop
  • Mini strobe light
  • Thermal imager
  • Facial composite software program
  • Parabolic listening device

Important things to know during a ghost hunt

If you want to capture paranormal evidence, there are a few things to consider. Tie back long hair as it can get in front of the lens. It is not uncommon that hair is taken for ghost orbs. You can read more here about optical illusions and ghost orbs.

Never smoke when you are doing investigations. The smoke can make false positives when it comes to apparitions and manifestations.

Be sure that everyone is calm and still when you are recording EVPs. Slight movements of clothes and heavy breathing can create sound pollution that will interfere with evidence.

If you want to learn more about things not to do during a ghost hunt, read the article below.

18 things you should never do on a ghost hunt

Claudette Beaulieu

A certified paranormal investigator, accredited demonologist, and psychic stuck in the Victorian era.

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