Saturday, July 12, 2008

Nugget Shooting (Historical Perspective)

(Fisher Gold Bug 2.)

Nugget Shooting is Popular

Nugget shooting with a metal detector has seen tremendous growth in popularity over the past 25 years. And today many small-scale miners and electronic prospectors are enjoying increased success in this endeavor by recovering placer gold nuggets from areas once considered "worked out."

Most Older Detectors Were Multi-Purpose

Prior to the late 1980s or early 1990s there were few, if any, metal detectors on the market specifically designed for electronic prospecting or nugget hunting. Most detectors of the era were multi-purpose machines designed primarily for hunting coins in parks, school grounds, and around older homes. These machines could also be used on beaches and to search for gold, but they did not function very well in areas of high salt concentrations or black sands, and often failed miserably in areas of extensive iron mineralization where placer gold is typically found. Additionally, most were of the Very Low Frequency (VLF) or Transmitter/Receiver (TR) types. These detector's circuits and their associated operating frequencies did well in their basic coin hunting modes, but were not conducive to detecting and pinpointing small gold nuggets out in the field.

Much More Sophisticated

Today, these gold detecting machines are much more sophisticated in terms of design, circuitry, and operating frequency and many have the capacity to not only detect the smallest gold nuggets, but small flakes and grain-sized pieces. Additionally, most of the modern machines employ very effective ground balancing/ground canceling features for use in highly mineralized areas, which used to be the bane of early nugget hunters. Experienced nugget shooters in Australia and the continental United States (especially Arizona) continue to recover many nice pieces of placer gold, and in recent years some large finds have turned up in the Alaskan goldfields, particularly in old bucket dredge tailings.

Are You a Nugget Shooting Expert?

I myself have done some nugget shooting over the years without much success. Yes, I was using a VHF detector (Fisher Gold Bug 2 and Whites Goldmaster) in areas known for producing nuggets. I've found plenty of BB shot, tiny bits of metal and wire, and other metallic odds and ends, but never a nugget. Perhaps I need an intensive course in nugget shooting taught by an expert.

But don't let my lack of success prevent you from swinging a good machine over gold-laden ground. You may end up an expert yourself. If you do become successful at it, give me a call OK? You can show me the ropes.

(c)  Jim Rocha (J.R.)  2008

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