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Do prospectors even find much nowadays?

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#1
I am brand new to prospecting and was kind of let down when I stumbled across this site today. Doesn't seem to be much found nowadays unless the finders are keeping quiet. Lots of little metal decteor jewelry finds, but where are the gold nuggets?

http://forum.treasurenet.com/index.php/board,9.0.html

A negative for me is I live in the Mid-Atlantic states and not out west. Never hear of gold being found in my local - just coal.

Do prospectors even find much nowadays? Or can one do better by just getting a 2nd job with ones time and buying PM outright?
 

Hope+Change

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#2
Do prospectors even find much nowadays? Or can one do better by just getting a 2nd job with ones time and buying PM outright?
Nope. You won't find any nuggets anywhere near the surface, sorry.

All of the gold and silver mined today is usually one thousand feet underneath a mountain, in the form of tiny nuggets mixed with solid bedrock. If you are very serious about prospecting, I would consider moving to the rockies and applying for a job at a gold or silver mine.
 

Shoden

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#3
First, the treasurenet forum seems to be more dedicated to hunting coins and jewelry than to finding gold nuggets, but I've seen some good gold prospecting posts on there too. For dedicated gold prospecting,, you might want to try the GPAA forum at http://www.goldprospectors.org/newforum/default.asp.

Gold can be found in the eastern states, pretty much starting Virginia in the north, running all the way down through Georgia (and possibly Alabama). However, since you can't claim land for mining east of the Mississippi, all of the places you can prospect for gold will either be private property (usually pay to dig sites, but may allow heavier or motorized equipment, i.e., dredges, highbankers, etc.) or national/state forests/parks (panning only).

As for how much you can find? That really depends on location, experience, equipment, and luck. I've heard of guys heading off to their claim(s) in Alaska for the summer and coming back with $50,000-$70,000 worth of gold, and then there are guys like me who just go out to the GPAA claims a few times per year and are doing good if we get a single gram in a weekend. If you're in it just to make money, unless you have plenty of time, you're probably better off just getting a second job and buying bullion. However, for me and many other prospectors, it's also about being outdoors, camping,, traveling, and spending time with family and friends. I love spending a day in the creek with my wife, digging through the gravel and sand, getting it down to the heavies, and then seeing that beautiful gold poking out of the black sand in my pan :)

Last year I did trips to the Black Hills in South Dakota, and to northwest Montana, and in four days of panning,, we got maybe 1.5 grams of gold. This year I'm looking at Colorado, Wyoming, and South Dakota again, and I'm hoping to do better, but even if I don't get more gold than last year, I'll at least be having fun.

Edited to add: This 3.96 troy ounce nugget was found in the Black Hills last year: http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/news.

Another edit: Since you've already been looking at treasurenet, you may also want to look at the gold prospecting subforums there: http://forum.treasurenet.com/index.php/board,33.0.html (I spent a couple days reading there before I scrolled down far enough to discover the gold prospecting specific forums)
 
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Bluebeard

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#7
Don't quit your day job. Most of the gold prospectors (river gold dredgers on the rivers of the foothills of the Sierra Nevada) I know do it because they enjoy: the hunt; working with others for a common goal, the mechanics of moving big rocks and dealing with engineering problems, the unbelievable beauty of being outside in extremely remote and wild areas, underwater gold diving and of course, the gold.

Personally, I have invested over $10,000 in tools for my avocation (its not a job, and since I own mining claims, its not a hobby). I enjoy every second I spend outdoors working my butt off from sunrise to sundown. You won't find anyone who does this who doesn't like lots of hard work, and losing gallons of perspiration during a day. It's like going to the world's most beautiful gym and doing the most intense full body workout all day long. At the end of the day, after hiking 1000 feet up out of my canyon in 100F temps and driving home 50 miles away, I literally pour myself out of my truck in the evening from sheer exhaustion. I am 55 years old.

My pay? The enjoyment of treasure hunting and the gold. I've found some nice nuggets- you cannot believe the excitement when you come across a nice "chunky" nugget! In monetary terms? I may make something between $10 and $50 a day/ person- normally near the $10 mark though (my claims on not on big rivers- they are on small creeks, so in order to do what I need to do, I need to move a lot of big rocks before I even begin to search for gold). If I could afford to, (or I got a big inheritance) I would do gold dredging for the rest of my life. I cannot effectively describe to you how much fun it is. But to do it for a living? That's a scary thought. I guarantee, in very short order you would become very desperate, and may turn out looking like one of those grizzlied prospectors you see in cartoons- that kind of situation would probably drive you insane. I know several people who have tried to make a living and are a little nuts because of it.

Now not to discourage those who want to try prospecting.... There are professional gold dredgers who have lots of experience reading the river (and that is a talent all in its own) or who have a "nose" for gold. These guys are maybe one in a million- or perhaps they are on a really good mining claim that they have had in the family for generations- those guys probably do make a pretty good living. But as a guy walking off the street and choosing a public accessible (unclaimed) piece of riverfront to throw a pan into and find gold in commercial quantities- unlikely. That being said, a friend (who is an experienced miner) of a friend of mine was looking for a place to go gold panning. I offered up one of my claims and told him I wanted a percentage of what he found. He went down there and in ONE PAN, found an oz of gold nuggets! One nugget was 6 pennyweight and the other was 7 pennyweight, with some big chunks. A very good day. He went back for another 2 weeks of searching and found nothing more than pepper-sized flakes. If he stopped after he found the first pan, his daily wage would have been great. But when you are finding nuggets that size , gold fever kicks in (and it is all you think about) and you are hooked (like a gambler) and you cannot stop searching. So after 2weeks straight of searching every day (probably in a frenzy), he gave up.

Gold does that to you- its a love, hate relationship.
 

Sampson

Digging for nuggets of knowledge
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#8
I am sure there are still quite a few rich little pockets out there waiting to be found but for the most part the "easy gold" is pretty much gone. That is not to say that there isn't gold worth mining but the old days of making a living with a pan and a shovel, i fear are long gone unless one gets quite lucky.

Nugget gold has always been quite rare with the majority of deposits being mostly fine or flake gold. The benefit of being a modern prospector is the possibility to use equipment, pumps, and other modern techniques to mine deposits that were not economical in the past. While it is fun to pull good pans they are usually few and far between so most of my potential targets are now geared towards lower concentrations with much larger volumes.

Many old reports i read reference a cut off grade of at least a quarter ounce per yard to be profitable to work by hand. If i could find a large deposit of that grade i would just sit and hand dig all damned day. Old hydraulic mines could work much lower grades but usually only in areas with ample water easily moved by gravity as well as a mechanism to remove washed gravels, usually carried away by the river. This leaves many lower grade deposits (1 to 3 gpm) in areas which couldn't be hydraulic mined that are economical by todays standards. As long as large gravel volumes are there with a provable average grade over 1 gpm it goes on my target list. Some of my exploration targets this year are averaging between 1 and 2 gpm but estimated resources are in the few hundred thousand yards of paying gravels. Much preliminary hand testing and research has led me to permitting a few mechanical test projects for this summer season. If testing proves volume and grade calculations are correct then next season may entail a full sized recovery operation.

These targets are composed of 90%+ fine gold under 10 mesh with approx 50% being under 20 mesh. While i don't anticipate pulling any nuggets out of there, as long as i can efficiently collect the fines it all pays the same to me. It has taken me over seven years of prospecting to select a few targets with enough potential to justify mechanical exploration so while i wouldn't reccomend anyone to quit their day job to go mining there are still opportunities with potential if you are willing to put in the effort.

And for most prospectors, the gold is just the icing on the cake of the whole prospecting process. Just being outside and working for yourself surrounded by beauty and fresh air is all the motivation i have ever needed to convince myself to head out prospecting, the gold in the vial is always a bonus.


Sampson
 

Irons

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#9
Great replies from the prospectors, I love reading stuff like that!~:23_28_100s:

One problem I have is you guys sound very articulate and rational, I thought you all were wild eyed madmen!~:biggrin:
 

Bluebeard

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#10
It sounds like Sampson has done his homework. I am nowhere near as organized or in-the-know as he is. I am just a hack compared to his level of exploration.

Funny thing about miners- there are a few that look and sound like what cartoons portray them as. I haven't been doing it that long, but I have been doing it long enough and have met enough miners to tell you that most of them are successful businessmen (and women) who enjoy hard work and making some extra cash. It truly is amazing how bright some of these people are- and if you want to talk about mechanically inclined? Many of them are mechanical geniuses- the contraptions these people come up with are amazing. Mining seems to be a family affair too- you often see the whole family out there- its a great way to spend time in the outdoors with the wife and kids- all the while teaching the kids about the environment, ecology, botany, mechanics, physics, hydrology (water dynamics), geomorphology, geology, geography.... and the list goes on. I cannot convey the excitement I encounter each time I go out to my claim. Finding the gold is only a small part of the wonder.

Attached is a photo of the 2 nuggets (on the right) that were found in one pan on one of my claims. I wish I was the one who found them- it must have been pretty exciting. The one on the left was found at another of my claims while we were dredging.
 

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Sampson

Digging for nuggets of knowledge
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#11
Thanks for the compliment Bluebeard, just don't put me on too high of a pedestal 'cause it'll just hurt more when i screw up and fall off. :D

I think you hit it right on with your portrayal of miners. Most prospectors/miners i know just want to be left alone and allowed to work for themselves, while reaping the rewards of their hard work. In this modern world small scale mining is one of the few escapes from the beuracratic beast that wants to control every aspect of our lives.


Hey Irons, the articulation is all a result of the computer. I'm really just sitting in the corner of the cabin clutching my poke to me chest and mumbling incoherently through my thick bushy beard while staring wild eyed at anything that moves, The voice recognition software just seems quite good at turning my incoherent jabber into cognizent thought. :p


Sampson
 

Irons

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#12
Thanks for the compliment Bluebeard, just don't put me on too high of a pedestal 'cause it'll just hurt more when i screw up and fall off. :D

I think you hit it right on with your portrayal of miners. Most prospectors/miners i know just want to be left alone and allowed to work for themselves, while reaping the rewards of their hard work. In this modern world small scale mining is one of the few escapes from the beuracratic beast that wants to control every aspect of our lives.


Hey Irons, the articulation is all a result of the computer. I'm really just sitting in the corner of the cabin clutching my poke to me chest and mumbling incoherently through my thick bushy beard while staring wild eyed at anything that moves, The voice recognition software just seems quite good at turning my incoherent jabber into cognizent thought. :p


Sampson
Well thats a relief!! You had me worried there for a moment.

Crazy_Miner_th.jpg
 
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#13
It is possible to find gold in the lower Atlantic states. A settler in the Carolinas used a 27 pound nugget he found on his farm for a doorstop for a couple decades back in the 1700s before someone told him what it was.