Gold – The Great Treasure Hunt
“The gold is still out there. There are big finds being made. Nice patches with multiple ounces, and sometimes really big nuggets. But exploring and prospecting are how big finds are made. Remember the old prospector with this mule? That’s an image in lots of old movies and stories and alike, but there’s a truth to it – it’s something that modern prospectors need to remember. That’s that the old prospector was always wandering around. Testing different places, trying different ideas, and trying to make that big strike.”Professional Prospector Chris Ralph, Geology of Placer Gold Part 2 – Research (Youtube)
“There comes a time in every rightly constructed boy’s life when he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure.“Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
“Prospecting is like a trade. Owning a pipe wrench doesn’t make you a commercial plumber. It’s a plumber’s knowledge and experience and know-how that makes him a master of his trade – and it’s the same for prospectors.”Chris Ralph, Geology of Placer Gold Part 2 – Research (Youtube)
Why should I prospect for gold?
This is the best time to be a gold prospector, EVER
“There really are pounds of gold waiting for those who know how to find it.”Professional Prospector Chris Ralph, Geology of Placer Deposits Part 1 – Reading a River (Youtube)
“Great finds are still being made. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.”Professional Prospector Chris Ralph, Geology of Placer Gold Part 2 – Research (Youtube)
How much gold should I expect to find?
“I tell people it’s not like it’s something that’s so difficult the average guy can’t do it, but it’s not so easy that you can learn everything you need to know in 10 minutes. It’s way more complex than that.”Chris Ralph, Professional Prospector, On the Gold Podcast (October 2019, 1:38)
Can I make a lot of money prospecting for gold?
“There’s a lot of delusions of grandeur out there. A lot of people think they can go out there, spend a day and pull $1,000 of gold out of the ground [with a pan and a metal detector]. I’ve done that once or twice, and those were really lucky days. I’ve had [lots] of days I find nothing at all.”Professional Prospector Dan Hurd, Mel Magazine Article
“No matter what the equipment you use: sluices, dry washers, metal detectors, or whatever, they cannot recover gold if it is not present. You have to find the gold, the equipment helps you recover it. So the more you know, the better your chances. That’s why some guys do so much better than average. You Want to be the guy who finds a few ounces, not a few specks.”Chris Ralph, Geology of Placer Deposits, Part 1 Reading a River (Youtube)
What you’re looking for: placer gold
“What are you doing, are you chasing lode or are you chasing placer? You have to know the difference and you have to know the one you’re after. We’re gonna go after placer because that’s the poor man’s gold, everybody likes placer.”Jeff Williams, Want to Find Land to Gold Prospect On (Youtube)
“Now even a mountain that has a few gold veins in it is just not a very good thing. The mountain has too much rock, and so the gold is just too dilute. What you want is these places where the forces of weathering and the forces of water and wind and other things have come together to concentrate the gold [in a placer deposit]. So what you want is the rock and worthless stuff in this mountain washed away, and the gold accumulated in a small area. Those are the areas we’re trying to find as prospectors.”
- Residual deposits
- Hillside (eluvial) deposits
- Water sorted (alluvial) deposits
- River bench deposits
- Ancient river deposits
- Beach deposits
- Wind formed (desert eolian) deposits
How pure is placer gold?
How do I decide where to go to prospect?
Jeff Williams: “The number one rule to finding gold is what, slim?”
Slim, the talking skeleton: “Go where the gold is.”
Jeff Williams: “That’s right go where the gold is. Go where it’s already been found. You’re going to do your research. You’re going to go online, and you’re going to find where gold has been found in your area.”Jeff Williams & Slim the Skeleton, Want to Find Land to Gold Prospect On (Youtube)
Is it legal to prospect where I want to go?
Should I buy a gold claim to prospect?
“I always tell people: don’t think about getting a claim until you have enough prospecting skills to evaluate the claim for yourself. If you’re going to buy a claim from somebody, but you’re really just going to have to trust what the guy that’s selling it tells you, then you really aren’t ready yet.”
I agree with Chris. If you’re new to gold prospecting, don’t buy a claim. You’re likely to get ripped off.
Basic skills – How do I read a river for gold?
Inside corner. You’d never dig on the outside there you’ll never find any [gold]. The good gravel bar is on the inside corner. And definitely looking for big rocks to look behind to look for spots or deposits that are even richer.Dan Hurd, Reading a river, where does gold deposit (Youtube)
Paystreaks – gold’s “racing line”
Natural gold catches
Nature is a prospector’s best friend – and worst enemy
- seasonal river flooding from snowmelt or rainfall
Advanced skills – How do I use research to find gold in old mines?
“A lot of guys, even sometimes experienced prospectors, get stuck going to the same old places over and over. The problem is, even if you had great luck there at the beginning, the gold doesn’t grow back. It doesn’t suddenly reoccur. Once you’ve taken it out, it’s out. The secret of this is getting around and finding new places. How do you find new places? Learn to do research.“Chris Ralph, Geology of Placer Gold Part 2 – Research (Youtube)
- the geology of the creek
- where the gold is coming from and how it’s moving
- where placer deposits might have settled
- where miners have worked before
- how those miners moved dirt
- how those miners extracted gold from the paydirt
- the laws regulating prospecting for gold; and,
- how to get there.
How I would research mining activities in Anvil Creek in Nome, Alaska and prospect for gold there
Low gold prices stopped mining activity before all paydirt was recovered
In some of our higher and upper claims around Specimen Gulch, which is a tributary to Anvil Creek, there are some paystreaks we discovered when we were mining back in the day. We ran quite a bit of gold at $260 an ounce in 2002/2003 but we had to shut it down because it was uneconomical.Augie Krutszch, The Alaska Show Podcast #22, August 2020
Previous mining operations missed gold – on accident or on purpose
Be the remora fish
Can someone show me the ropes during my first official prospecting trip?
“I get a lot of people asking me what they can do to become a prospector or be better at being a prospector. Often the first thing I suggest is to join a club.”Chris Ralph – Learn to find gold by joining a prospecting club – Gain access to gold bearing mining claims (Youtube)
So how can you do that? Join a prospecting club!
Here are the big two national associations:
- Gold Prospector’s Association of America (GPAA) was founded to “promote the great heritage of the North American Gold Prospector by providing member exclusive access to gold bearing property across the country as well as the tools needed to get started in gold prospecting.“
- American Mining Rights Association (AMRA) “is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit which advocates for use of public lands by the people and for the right to prospect and mine on those public lands.” For a reasonable donation they give their members access to ALL of their proven gold claims nationwide, which they constantly seek to expand. They allow their members to keep any gold they find, and conduct regularly scheduled prospecting trips for their members!
These clubs will help you connect with experienced prospectors who can show you the ropes and give you local knowledge you can’t find online.
Connecting with other prospectors really is the best way to come up the learning curve fast.
What equipment do I need to prospect for gold? (it’s less than $100)
Finding gold with zero mining equipment and $12.84
How do I pan for gold?
The right mental approach to test panning
The best way to practice panning
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