The Sonoran Desert with Mikayla

I have always loved the Sonoran Desert in Arizona and that has not changed for 40 years or more mainly due to my love for metal detecting for gold nuggets. The picture of my now grown and 19 year old daughter at a young age in one of our favorite gold hunting areas brought back a flood of memories as I stumbled upon it while moving files to a new laptop today that she gave me for Christmas.

We used to spend allot of time walking and just enjoying the desert and it’s smells, sounds, critters, and collecting rocks and minerals while I detected for gold nuggets much of the time and yep I still do.

That was a wonderful day, but after detecting for a couple hours she became bored watching me swing the coil, dig a trash target lie bits of wire and other junk the old timers threw around 100 years before and began with the “daddy lets go home” bit. Naturally my reaction was usually “OK, right after I find a nugget” and I would continue on.

I think Mikayla was 4 or 5 in this photo and after my comment she started walking around looking for rocks and doing what a bored child does while chattering at me making it hard to hear signals from my detector in my headset. I finally asked her to please be a bit quieter so I could hunt then go home after scoring a gold nugget.

With that she defiantly crossed her little arms and said “well daddy if you will come over here there is a big nugget under this rock” DADDY, there is a nugget right over here under this big rock” With that I let out a small sigh and walked to where she was standing and said slightly impatiently “where”

She pointed at a large chunk of Basalt and said right here and being a good daddy and to humor her I swung my coil over the rock and got a nice smooth signal mixed with the sound some types of Basalt give us due to mineralization in them. So I moved the rock with my foot and swung the coil back over the spot, it screamed at me indicating a metal target in the ground that was under her rock.

Well I dug it up expecting yet another bullet or bit of trash, but what I found was a beautiful quartz and gold specimen weighing near a quarter of an ounce!


I was dumbfounded and how the heck could she possibly know a nugget that size and over 8 inches deep was under that rock she randomly pointed out? While naturally I was fired up and after we did a little happy nugget dance I got ready to go back to hunting.


“yes Mikayla”

Keeps swinging coil in same general area….



“You said we could go home if you found a nugget remember?”

“Yes I remember”

So off we went to show our prize to her mom at home and tell her how daddy hunted all over until I showed him where the nugget was. Oh my friends believe me when I say I tried to get her to sniff out a few more like that, but it was a one in a million chance that she pointed right there and there was a nugget waiting for me.  This is a favorite memory for both of us and just think if she could do that on a regular basis?

I am sure she will tell this story herself long after I am done with my metal detecting days and it will always make me smile….

Bill Southern


One thought on “The Sonoran Desert with Mikayla

  1. Great story Bill. I agree, it seems many of my best times nugget hunting have little to do with the gold itself. Exploring and time with friends/family makes it memorable years after.

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