When I picked up my first gold nugget detector back in the early 1990s I was expecting big things and had dreams of handfuls of nuggets. Thing is it wasn’t quite that easy and I got off to a slow start and spent most of my detecting time digging nothing but crap you know nails, bullets, wire, boot tacks, etc. I would get easily frustrated and give up to run my trusty drywasher which would always at least get me some gold for my effort. Each time I went out it seemed to get worse and I became more impatient giving up earlier and this I would learn later was one of my biggest mistakes.
I sold my first detector after several months of this and then bought a Fisher Gold Bug because it was proving itself as the “next big thing”, but I met with the same results and once again quickly went back to other methods. But I am not one to give up easily and began to read everything I could find about metal detecting. This is how I cam across a book written by my now good friend Jim Straight called Follow the Drywashers, The Nuggetshooters Bible and this book changed everything.
After reading this book through a couple times I learned there was much I was simply doing wrong with first and foremost being lack of patience. Now I still spent some time digging nothing but trash and went back to running my drywasher, but one thing I began doing was checking my header piles with my detector and then it happened. I found my first nugget almost exactly a year after buying my first metal detector in my own tailing pile.
It weighed just over a pennyweight and was right on top of the pile and was just too big to go through the grizzly into the hopper and ended up in my tailings. As I sat there with my hard earned prize I remembered “Follow the Drywashers” and started looking at all the drywasher piles up and down the wash. I began hunting them and started finding nuggets almost every day, many in the 1/4 ounce and above range.
But the book said more and I began studying about the areas I intended to detect and learned about the gold deposits and how they were worked by the old timers. I learned that they simply took the easy gold from washes and hillside deposits leaving much behind because it was just impracticable to work many yards of material for just a couple handfuls of gold nuggets. Yes they knew they were missing them, but was not worth the effort so they would move on to easier pickings. This left allot of gold to be found when metal detectors were invented and refined to work gold deposits.
Well I was now on my way and had learned what to look for, where to look, and to slow the heck down and dig EVERYTHING my detector told me was there. Yes everything! I mean when I am in an area where I know or am dang sure there are nuggets why in the world would I walk away from a target because I think it is trash? I can not see into the ground, I can not be sure by the sound even if I do guess correctly 60% of the time before I dig. The only way to be sure and avoid leaving gold behind is to dig all targets and look at them with your own eyes, if not you leave nuggets behind. Yes it takes much patience, but this is not easy simple as that.
Trash has also shown itself to be a useful tool when I am out in new areas looking for evidence that perhaps long ago there was placer activity in an area even though there is little evidence left due to erosion erasing it. You see those big headed tacks we find were often used to hold the canvas material used as bellows on old drywashers and would pop out while working. Those old cans sealed with lead solder are pre 1921 and tell of folks being there early on, square nails were used to hold wood items together, etc. I have actually found spots where the old timers simply walked away leaving their drywasher to rot and can tell by the assortment of old nails and hardware left long after the wood has rotted away.
These are a few of the things that have helped me become successful as a gold nugget hunter (Nugget Shooter) and to be able to consistently find gold nuggets and new areas others will likely never see. But anyone can actually do it and by reading articles and studying like I did you can get a big jump on the crowd if you apply what you read. I will continue to add information here and at my website http://www.nuggetshooter.com as well as Facebook mainly because I really enjoy sharing information that may help you be as successful as I am.