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Becoming A Gold Miner—Step by Step

Typically, greenhorn gold miners begin their careers by learning to master the simplest of mining techniques and tools, and then, step by step, they advance, augmenting their skills as they go.

The following is my aquired skill set and order of progression:

First—the Gold Pan

Most gold miners, myself included, launched their careers by learning how to use a gold pan—the simple, indispensable tool that has been handed down through the generations and epitomizes the gold mining industry.

During the winter of 1979 when I began mining gold, I was camped beside California’s North Fork of the Yuba River. All I had to mine with was a pick, shovel, gold pan, and my determination to learn and to succeed.

In my day, the steel gold pan was the norm. Nowadays, the plastic pan has flooded the market and has become the favorite among the majority of miners—largely because it is lighter, doesn’t rust or dent, and is virtually maintenance-free. [continue reading…]

Do Metal Detectorists Need a Pinpointer?


What Is a Pinpointer?

A pinpointer is a miniature, handheld metal detector.  Its purpose is to home in on and pinpoint metal objects first identified beneath conventional metal detector coils.  The targets will be pinpointed either on the surface, in a dig hole, or in the pile of soil removed from a dig hole. [continue reading…]

Are you thinking of joining the metal-detecting hobby but find yourself stuck on the sidelines because getting started seems to be too expensive and overly complicated? When it comes to buying a detector, do you have the time to research the myriad of competing options, each highly touted and clamoring for your business? And what about the numerous, supposedly essential accessories? Do you wonder what accessories are truly essential for you, the cash-challenged, aspiring detectorist? [continue reading…]

There are millions of acres of gold-bearing lands in the United States that are open to prospecting. With that in mind, I have put together a virtual field trip designed to teach the rudiments of sniping.

Sniping is a simple method used worldwide by prospectors and gold miners, usually operating on limited budgets, to home in on and recover concentrations of gold from easily accessible caches on or near bedrock (more about bedrock soon). Once the suspected cache, often a crevice, is worked, the miner quickly moves on to the next likely spot to snipe—commonly powering through multiple caches in a day. While sniping techniques are used in both wet and dry environments, this expedition will focus exclusively on stream gold.

We will visit a typical gold-producing stream where you will come away with a fundamental understanding of the geological processes leading to the deposition and concentration of placer gold in streambeds. You will also become familiarized with the basic tools and techniques needed to recover placer gold from streams and how gold caches are worked by expert gold snipers. [continue reading…]

Will Metal Detectors Detect Meteorites?

Meteorites are often detected by metal detectors but are not always recognized as meteorites by metal detectorists.

This post explores the mysterious world of meteorites. Meteorite origin, composition, value, and sensitivity to metal detectors are highlighted. In addition, preliminary meteorite identification tips for use in the field are presented, as are links to supplementary research sources.

* So, Can Meteorites Be Detected by Metal Detectors?

Yes, metal detectors, using the All-Metals search mode, can detect most meteorites. And, surprisingly, even though meteorites are coveted, highly valuable commodities (some astonishingly more valuable than gold), most metal detectorists cannot distinguish them from common Earth rocks. In fact, many mistake meteorites for ordinary *hot rocks and thoughtlessly kick them aside as if they were rubbish. In doing so, many rare and precious discoveries have been missed. [continue reading…]

©FabrikaSimf – Can Stock Photo Inc

Back in the late 70s and early 80s, before I began to metal detect, I sniped for gold in the waters of creeks and rivers—gold being my sole means of support. Over the years, I also dry washed in The Mojave and Great Basin Deserts, and panned, sluiced, and dredged in remote streams of California—a bit in Alaska too. I usually camped and worked alone.

With gold back then valued at a small fraction of what it is today, it wasn’t always easy to make ends meet, especially during the all too frequent dry spells when gold became brutally scarce (as hard to find as an honest politician). Rarely, but on occasion, I had to swallow my pride and take a temporary job to fill in the gaps and get up a new grubstake. But that came with the territory; I always got by, and, no matter how difficult the times, there was nothing I would rather have been doing than living my life as a roving prospector/miner. [continue reading…]