Nuggets of News Blog
Saturday, May 02 2020
Researching new areas in which to prospect for gold, gems, or whatever you are seeking can be a lot of work, but since we’re now about six weeks into the Coronavirus quarantine, most of us have extra time that could be put to good use. Even though you may not be out in the field every day, you can still be prospecting! And even if you’re not making plans for out-of-state road trips just yet, you can still dig down into the history of local areas for new ideas. In other words, use your downtime wisely, so you can hit the ground running with your gold pan, highbanker, pick and shovel, metal detector, or other equipment as soon as shelter-in-place restrictions are lifted.
As you begin researching, don’t rely on just one source of information. Confirm it through several sources. The best kind of research brings together different forms of info from a multitude of sources. It is the info gleaned from COMBINED sources that can help you to determine the best possible place to locate precious metal or gems. The more info you can lay your hands on, the better. Consider these resources:
- Old mining district reports and mining history books. Most western states have some form of mining and geology agency, although they all have different names depending on the state. Find out what information is publicly available at the agencies located in the area you will want to prospect. Old history books can be more help than any state agency because they were written by folks with ties to the area they wrote about. That means they often include valuable information on old mining discoveries or operations that didn’t make it into a government report.
- LR2000. Utilize the Bureau of Land Management’s Legacy Rehost System, LR2000, for information on mineral development, mining claims, classifications, and more on federal lands. After all, you don’t want to accidentally claim jump or waste time if an area is closed.
- Topographic maps. Many old mining areas are shown on topo maps, but usually not on the newer versions, so try and find older topo maps. Many of the newer versions may have old mines removed as a way for the government to “keep the general public safe” by not advertising the whereabouts of the old and “dangerous” mine shafts.
- Aerial photos. Google Earth is amazing in its quality and detail of photos. Many times you can see individual trees, hiking trails, rock outcrops and even hand-stacked piles of rocks left behind by old-timers. Sometimes larger features and patterns (areas where miners removed a lot of brush, for example) cannot be seen from ground level, but are obvious from far up in the sky. This is also a good way to get an idea of the condition of the roads in the area so you’ll know in advance which look to be commonly traveled. Google Earth ties in with GPS, too. You can review the photos, check them against maps, and get the GPS coordinates of the precise location you want to visit. You will then know for sure that you are in the right spot once you travel there.
- Reference libraries. The librarians at state mining divisions and university libraries are generally very friendly and helpful. These libraries are open to the public, so don’t feel shy about requesting help. Any university with a good-sized geology or mining program should have quite a few geologic reference resources including old reports, magazines on the mining industry, thesis reports by graduate students, and even reports by engineers and geologists who were on site at the big operating gold mines in the late 1800s. Many of the old books and reports found in the university libraries will be out of print and cannot be purchased anywhere, so be sure to make photocopies of any documents you need while you are onsite.
If you are a member of Gold Prospectors of America (GPAA), know that claims are still open as of May 2020. GPAA Claims are located on federal BLM and USFS land. At this time, only developed property and campgrounds have been closed in certain states. Access to GPAA claims has not been impacted, and if your local guidelines permit, you are free to continue prospecting as long as you are following the CDC guidelines to slow the spread of the virus. This includes practicing social distancing, and not being in groups of more than 10 people.
Although COVID-19 has changed the world as we know it, chances are good that as a prospector you PREFER social distancing. And what better way to enjoy solitude than out in nature armed with some new knowledge gleaned through research that can make your mining efforts more profitable. It’s no surprise that when the economy takes a turn for the worse, the price of gold (and many other precious metals and minerals) usually reach new highs. And every time the price of gold starts to climb, recreational prospectors get a bit more motivated to seek out hidden fortunes. Many people might get discouraged by the amount of work and time that can be involved in researching new areas, but when you find a new spot with good gold, it will be well worth your time and effort. Good luck and stay safe!
Tuesday, March 31 2020
Although “social distancing” has become part of everyone’s new normal, gold prospectors and metal detectorists have traditionally separated themselves from the masses. Sometimes it’s because we want to keep our secret spot a secret. Sometimes it’s because spouses and friends don’t share our same passion. Sometimes we just need some alone time with Mother Nature to decompress from the modern world. It has been this way for generations, and most likely will continue. When you think about it, metal detecting is the most solitary form of prospecting, even if you are out with a group of friends. A detectorist knows that distance from others is a vital part of detecting. Detectors hear each other, and there is nothing worse than missing a target because of interference from another detector. As a detectorist, we know this and keep our distance for everyone’s success. It is something that we do without thought. A treasure hunter’s appreciation for being outdoors truly allows us to live in the moment when there is color in the pan or while digging a nugget. That being said, we are also not your stereotypical loner aimlessly wandering with only a faithful dog by our sides. Today’s prospectors are socially skilled and adept at working together, or alone, to get the gold. Most are willing to share our lifestyle with anyone that asks.
Our biggest challenges out in the field, which get easier over time with experience and using new equipment and technology, are learning to read the ground and waterways, and then recovering the gold when we find it. However, this year we face a different challenge with COVID-19, the novel 2019 coronavirus. COVID is more infectious than the flu and the chances of spreading the virus is much greater than spreading the flu. How does this impact us in our quest for the yellow metal? Should we give up one of our favorite pastimes, hobby, or small business? Although each person needs to make their own informed decision, most would say NO. Undeterred, we should continue to head out into the woods or desert (wear snake protection!) where we are many times safer than in the social situations that surround us daily.
Depending on our age and general health, some of us might already face a higher than average risk of having a serious medical issue no matter what we are doing or where we are doing it. Many people already deal with high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, cancer, and more. Not that we can compare these more common maladies to the COVID-19 Pandemic, but the point is that many are already used to taking precautions and living with risks. Folks with existing health conditions have been taking the necessary self-care steps for years, especially when out in the field and far away from a city. How do you protect yourself and others and help flatten the curve until the pandemic is no more? If you want to continue to prospect on a claim, sluice on a waterway, swing a detector, and enjoy the great outdoors this spring and summer, consider these easy tips before you head out:
- Fix your own food and drink. Since you do not have control of how others prepare and serve food (and most eateries are closed anyway), take control of what you eat and drink. When is the last time you enjoyed a home-made PB&J or tuna sandwich? Pack your own, and take along packaged jerky and chips and candy. Wipe down packages with a sanitizing wipe. Bring your own bottled water, coffee in a thermos, or something stronger for enjoying around a campfire if you’re spending the night.
- Carry sanitizing wipes and or hand sanitizer. In case you can’t find any in the stores right now, make your own reusable wipes with microfiber cloths, aloe vera gel, 91% alcohol, a couple of drops of soap and vinegar. Use your sanitizer after contact with anyone or anything, including pump handles, keypads, money, credit cards, etc. There is nothing wrong with not shaking hands when you meet someone. And if you do shake, sanitize. It’s not rude to protect yourself.
- Wash your hands often and completely. You’ve heard it a million times since childhood, and the advice has never been more prudent than right now.
- Do not touch your face. This is one of the easiest ways to transmit outside germs and pathogens into your body, so become aware of how often you touch your face and try hard to change this habit.
- Don’t fret. Go through the season knowing you’ve done the very best to protect yourself and others. Enjoy your trip knowing you have everything you need— food, water, piece of mind, and distance—and enjoy the hunt for the gold. Say to yourself “I’m here and nothing else matters right now. I am where I belong.”
Of course, commonsense also tells us that if you feel symptomatic or think you may have been exposed, immediately follow the current COVID-19 health care guidelines. Otherwise, hopefully digging in the dirt will provide you with a level of normality that we would not otherwise have if we stayed at home listening to the news 24/7. Start planning your next prospecting trip and take advantage of the greatest social distancing project out there! One that has been around since the time man first found gold centuries ago. And what’s better is that social distancing by prospectors is not driven by fear, but by the excitement of getting out there and hunting for gold! Good luck and be safe!