Finding Nuggets the "Old-Fashioned" Way (Part 5)


In my previous post on this topic I described how one of my mentors, Walt H., was able to recover large amounts of placer gold nuggets and coarse gold over time. Now I want to relate to you how my second "oldtimer" mentor, Dave J., found nuggets the "old-fashioned" way.

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Dave J.'s Story

Although he used tools and an approach that was essentially dissimilar to that of Walt H., Dave was just as successful when it came to recovering gold, especially nuggets. In fact, the two miners together would have been a very potent combination on any gold-bearing stream.

Like Walt, Dave J. was a great mentor for any novice gold miner (which I was at the time) and he possessed a wealth of mining knowledge gained from nearly 50 years of experience. Unlike Walt though, Dave was definitely more "cantankerous" (for lack of a better descriptor) and he definitely did not share Walt's easy going ways or patience.

Dave could be very irritable and caustic at times, which put some people off (especially those perennial "sensitive" types). He was also a very demanding teacher who did not suffer lazy asses, fools, or idiots for a single, solitary moment. But despite these potential character flaws, Dave taught me pretty much all I know about bedrock gold "sniping" and how productive it could be.


More Large Recoveries Using Basic Gear

Just like Walt H., Dave was also able to consistently recover large amounts of coarse gold and nuggets using only basic or rudimentary mining gear, including the following items:

gold pan and classifier

5-gallon bucket

crevicing tools (various types and dimensions)

small pry bar or "gad"

rock hammer

small shovel or "E" tool

underwater "snipe" tube

Dave's Most Important Nugget-Hunting Tool
Just as Walt H. considered his "come along" to be the most important nugget-hunting tool in his bag of tricks, the first and foremost nugget-hunting "weapon" in Dave's arsenal was his "snipe" tube. In fact, Dave J. was the first person I ever saw use this potent little item, which he had constructed himself out of black plastic piping, clear plexiglass, and a bit of hardware.

Gold Concentrators

Dave was a proven master at finding gold using the "snipe" tube and I was constantly amazed at his ability to locate nuggets and coarse gold with it. In fact, he made it look far too easy at times. (As with Walt H., I'll discuss how Dave used this specific nugget-hunting tool to great effect later.)

Where Dave Did His "Thing"

Although their individual approaches to nugget hunting were fundamentally different in a number of ways, both of these oldtimers shared common ground in terms of where they chose to work. Like Walt H, Dave tended to do his "thing," along the smaller gold-bearing tributary creeks and "feeder" streams in historic gold-bearing districts.

Here are the nugget-hunting criteria that Dave J. looked for in those streams and creeks in:

recorded nugget production

presence of shallow, highly fractured bedrock

some measure of distance or remoteness

gradual slope over distance

stream structure displaying a range of water flow rates (still, slow, and fast)

As you can readily see, Dave's criteria were not all that dissimilar to those used by Walt. H. However, shallow bedrock was a fundamental requirement to Dave's overall approach and to his ultimate success. And successful he was. I know this to be fact from personal observation and experience.

That's it for now. In my 6th and final post on this topic, I describe to you exactly how Dave J. hunted nuggets and coarse gold.

Until then, stay safe and keep smiling.

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If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Finding Nuggets the Old-Fashioned Way (Part 4)"

(c) J.R. 2009

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