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G0ld is NOT where You Find It

I am always dismayed when I read of fellow detectorists who say that they have yet to find a piece of gold after one year, two years, etc.

I am to the point now where I find gold almost every time I go detecting.  I may get skunked 1 out of 20 times.  That 1 time is usually when I am prospecting totally new ground, and just have not hit a new area yet.

We all know the saying, "Gold is where you find it."  I think that statement is wrong and very misleading and harmful.

In fact I think it may give newbies the wrong impression about prospecting for gold.  It implies that gold is randomly dispersed, and if you do happen to find it, it is only by some coincidence or luck.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Finding gold is a science and an art executed by people with the skill and experience that know what they are doing.

All we are doing with a metal detector is processing dirt.  Now the more dirt we process the better chance we have of finding gold.  But think of what a small amount of dirt we are processing.  A column of dirt under the coil to an indeterminate depth and we sweep that coil back and forth.  We do that for 6 to 8 hours a day?  

Now compare that to the tons and tons of dirt you see the boys on Gold Rush process.  Yards and yards and tons and tons of dirt processed to collect their gold.  It's amazing that we find anything when you compare the small amount of dirt we "process" with a metal detector.

So, think about what a bizarre feat it is for a person with a metal detector to process such a small amount of dirt, and yet be able to find gold.  It is the old adage "needle in a haystack" so to speak. 

Yet, some prospectors. Bill, Fred, Tom, Kevin Hoagland, Mike, us guys that have been around a while, how come we are more successful at finding gold than other people?  Do we process more dirt?  NOPE!  We spend our time processing dirt that is more likely to have gold, than other dirt.

We have all heard go low and go slow.  Well, I agree with that "go low" admonishment.  You need to keep that coil on the ground.  But SLOW?  If you watch experienced detectorists, you will see that they vary their speed when they are "looking for gold."  They speed up in areas that their knowledge and experience tell them they are less likely to find gold.  They slow down in areas where that experience tells them there may be a greater chance for there to be gold.  So they spend their time more productively by processing only dirt that has a higher probability of having gold.  Now when they find a nugget, they may turn around and go back over the area they went through quickly.  This time they will go more slowly.  They do this because they now know this area may be more likely to have gold too.  So they invest their time wisely.

As an outlandish example.  You are standing in a paved parking lot of a Walmart.  Next to the Walmart are acres and acres of quartz strewn red dirt with all kinds of gullies where water has ran during the wet season.  Where are you most likely to find gold?  Are you going to spend your day in the Walmart parking lot swinging over asphalt?  Well experienced detectorists are constantly looking at their surroundings.  They look at where they are going and where they have been.  They are calculating the odds.  Is this a Walmart parking lot, or a gold vault?

"Gold is NOT where you find it." 

"Gold is found in places it is most likely to be."  

Seasoned prospectors have spent their careers learning what those places look like.  Now are we ever surprised to find a nugget in a place where we would never intentionally look.  Certainly, but those are few and far between.

Most times when we find a nugget we have a pretty good idea of why it is where it is.  Deteriorated quartz is everywhere, we detect on a bench, in a tailings pile, in the bend of a gully, under a waterfall of boulders, behind a bush lining a gully, near an old mine or there are indications the old timers were there.  I once was way off the beaten path on my ATV.  I found a canteen that said BEAR BRAND, Patent 1918.  Lid still on it, canvas completely gone.  I stopped right there and detected the gully I found it in.  I pulled out three nuggets. 

Let's say after a year you finally find your first nugget, under a boulder up on the side of a gully.  From that day forward, you will check every boulder on the side of gullies.  Why?  Because you learned where to look.  It's no coincidence that after taking so long to find their first nugget, newbies generally find their second nugget soon there after.  WHY?  Knowledge.  I have often said, if you don't take at least 20 minutes with every nugget you find, letting it tell you it's story, you are missing a valuable education.  "How did you get here little buddy?  Why did you stop here?  Where did you come from?  What's different about this gully than other gullies I have checked?  Is there a concentration of deteriorated quartz around here?  A contact zone?  You're sort of rough, you didn't travel far did you?"

I can almost bet that any experienced prospector will tell you that they can be riding on their ATV and all of a sudden they come upon ground and their heart starts beating a little harder.  They may even say to themselves out loud, "Oh man this area looks good."  After years and years of experience, we sometimes just "get a feeling."  It's not voodoo, it's just our subconscious telling us that at sometime in our past, we came across a place that exhibited similar conditions, and we found gold there.  We may not even remember the specific area in our distant past on a conscious level, but our sub-conscious knows.

So what is the moral of this story?  Buying a detector and expecting to learn how to become a successful prospector without training is like buying a 747 and trying to get it airborne when you have had no training.

I hear it time and time again.  I've been detecting 2 years and never found a piece of gold.  Who trained you?  TRAINED ME? "Well I've done a lot of research and I have read a lot on detecting and prospecting and I belong to the GPAA ...." 

That's akin to someone saying, "I have had the worst luck with airplanes.  I have owned five different planes and can't get the darn things in the air; I have crashed every one of them."  Where did you get your flight lessons?  "ME? LESSONS?  YOU MEAN FLYING LESSONS?"

So boys and girls, my lesson for today is:

"Gold is NOT where you find it."

"Gold is found in places it is most likely to be."    So  have someone teach you WHERE to look!

© 2017 G.M. "Doc" Lousignont, Ph.D.

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