Getting the Gold: Some Thoughts on Crevicing

Proven Method for Getting Gold

A proven method of getting gold in a streambed is by crevicing, or "sniping" as many placer miners call it. You may not be able to move cubic yard after cubic yard of gold-bearing gravel like you would with a suction dredge or highbanker, but what crevicing lacks in quantity can often be compensated for in terms processing ease, mobility, and potential returns for minimal monetary outlay.

Let's face it. Not all of us can easily expend thousands of dollars for placer gold mining equipment like large suction dredges, trommels, higbankers or various and sundry other high-end pieces of motorized or mechanized gear. Additionally, not all of us want the multitude of hassles associated with transporting, packing, maintaining, and operating this equipment. What we want is a more direct approach that requires little except a modicum of placer mining experience and knowledge of stream hydraulics and gold deposition physics. And, a few hand tools that are easily carried in a backpack or 5-gallon bucket. Finally, most of us realize we are not going to "strike it rich" out there and just want to get some gold and have a good time doing it. This is where a good crevicer or "sniper" steps in.

A Question of What Works Best

In an earlier post I discussed some of the issues and equipment involved with underwater sniping for gold but in this post I want to stress that crevicing or sniping can be done without using snipe tubes, snorkels, face masks, or wetsuits. It's all a question of what suits your gold-mining temperament. Some folks love getting wet and muddy while others like it high and dry. Some want to break their backs getting at the gold while others prefer taking it slow and easy. If you are a retired person or a current (or prospective!) AARP member, you probably know what I am talking about here.

Above-the-waterline or drywash crevicing can fill all these voids and, if done well, can provide the "sniper" with endless opportunities for recovering decent amounts of fines, flakes, and small nuggets and even the occasional hot "paystreak." Why is this so? Because a good sniper is only going to be processing material that has already been "concentrated" by stream hydraulic action (though this may become more problematic in dry placer areas). Let me give you a hypothetical example:

You run six 5-gallon buckets of auriferous bench gravel through your sluice box and recover 1.5 pennyweights of gold after clean up. Meanwhile, your prospecting buddy who is an avid sniper has been busy cleaning out a small bedrock crevice that looked promising. After leaving the crevice sparkling clean your partner pans out 1.5 pennyweights of placer gold. The gold recovery was equal between you two, yet who had to move more dirt at greater physical effort?

In the final analysis, whatever works....well, works! You don't always have to be some placer mining "magnate" hauling a trailer, gas cans, "come alongs," and a 6" dredge. If you're not trying to make a living at placer gold mining (and most don't), mine your way, not someone else's way.

(c)  Jim Rocha (J.R.)  2008