Man what a ride it has been for folks in the metal detecting business/hobby since I started detecting in the early 1990’s with a Whites Gold Master metal detector. From the earlier VLF technology to today’s super detectors I have changed brands, types, and other equipment many times with Minelab my weapon of choice for nearly 25 years now.
I started out slow in the gold nugget hunting business quickly giving up after digging nothing but trash for several hours and going back to using my trusty drywasher since I could always find myself a little bit and sometimes quite a bit of gold and pickers. During this period of my evolution as a Nugget Shooter I did not know that my lack of success was nothing to do with the detector, desert, old timers throwing trash everywhere, or how I was holding my mouth, it was lack of education, trust, research, and impatience. I was however hungry for knowledge and reading all I could about locating placer gold and metal detecting.
Back then there were not nearly as many in the field detecting and folks using other gold recovery methods thought most of us a little off our rocker so books on actually learning how to detect gold placers were few, but I read all I could find. Then I ran across a book by Jim Straight called “Follow the Drywashers/ Nuggetshooters Bible.
I read it cover to cover several times and quickly realized several mistakes I had been making. One thing Jim said was “always check your header pile for missed nuggets” the reason being the classifier or grizzly that separated the rocks and larger material from material that sifted through to the riffles let any nuggets larger than the 3/8 to 1/2 inch screen fell off with the rocks etc. into the header pile.
The old timers knew they were missing some of the larger gold this way and grabbed up any they saw, but a large percentage were missed all together. So I followed this advise metal detector right on top of my own drywasher’s waste pile. I had been loading my equipment to go home and I swear I looked at that pile several times while doing it and never saw the nugget, but my detector did. Right on top of the pile was a beautiful nugget weighing a few grams or so and I could see it plain as day after the detector sounded off.
I looked around me at the old timer’s drywash piles up and down the wash and began hunting them and was now finding nuggets by the dozens sometimes daily, but easily a few to many ounces a month. On one of these trips I drove by some fellers sitting on the tailgate of a truck eating lunch and they had two metal detectors leaning against the truck. Well I stopped to say hello and met my new mentor Jim Straight in the flesh as well as another well known nugget hunter T-Bone. Jim and I have become very good friends over the years and I always enjoy talking with him when I can.
Over the following years I learned much from Jim, T-Bone, and many other skilled nugget hunters which led me eventually to becoming quite skilled myself sharing the desire to share these skills with others. You see to know I helped others to learn the skills needed to find gold nuggets on a regular basis is something that make me happy and somehow repay friends like Jim, Richard Delahanty and others for what they taught me.
All successful hunters will tell you one thing over and over and that is to trust your detector, to do this you must take the time to listen very carefully to what it is telling you. It is talking to you, yes in beeps, grunts, buzzing, and other sounds that you need to understand to trust what it is saying, but that is a long subject I will address in another article.
I will say “Do not expect your metal detector to find ANYTHING” on it’s own, educate yourself and do research then learn your detector inside and out to help you recover the gold YOU found.