What the Old Timers Taught Me About Gold Mining (Part 2)

 (Sir Francis Bacon was right..."Knowledge is power.")

In my previous post I talked about the significant impact that two old timers had in "schooling" me up as a small-scale gold prospector and miner. Although the lessons I learned go back 33+ years at their farthest point, what these two men taught me has proven invaluable over the years and enabled me to get over the "newbie" curve a lot faster than many of my contemporaries.

Sir Francis Bacon, the English philosopher and scientist was correct when he said, "Knowledge is power." This is true in any context in our daily lives and is especially relevant to your growth and ultimate success as a small-scale gold miner.

Tough Task Masters

There are many ways to learn, but one of the best is by being mentored and learning by example. That stated, I'm not going to try and blow smoke up your butt and tell you that ALL my learning under the tutelage of the two men in question was fun and games. I certainly took my share of ego-bruising licks from these individuals. Maybe that's part of the reason I'm a no-BS hard case when it comes to all things mining too.

Gold Pans
Gold Prospecting Books
Gold Panning Kits
They were tough task masters (especially one individual in particular) with high expectations and little tolerance for laziness in mind, body, or spirit. You see, they came from a vastly different generation where times were REALLY tough and to get what you wanted you had to focus your efforts and work your ass off.

Expecting Nothing From Anyone

Things are bit different today, don't you think? The newer generations seem to think that everything (money, jobs, cars, status, and success) is their inherited right and that they shouldn't have to work too hard (if at all) to get what they desire. I'm speaking in a general sense here and whether you want to hear it or not, I've seen a number of would-be gold miners fall into this trap as well.

 (Never underestimate the knowledge and power of an old timer.)

These old timers, on the other hand, were free spirits and even freer thinkers (once you got past their crusty exteriors). They expected nothing from anyone, including the government and figured if they couldn't earn what they needed through knowledge, experience, and the sweat of their brow, well then...it just wasn't worth anything of real value or consequence.

"For Cripes Sakes!"

This was how they lived their lives and how they approached their gold prospecting and mining activities. They are passed now and each year there are fewer and fewer around to lead and instruct the rest of us, sad to say.

Now those of you out there reading this and saying, "For cripes sakes! When is he gonna get off this philosophical crap and start giving us some real mining tips from the old timers?" have already missed the point by a mile. I would also hazard a guess that if you don't realize I am passing "tips" along to you already that my two mentors would've...to put it bluntly...torn your ass up.

This gold prospecting and mining thing isn't just about the latest how-to book, the newest gear on the market, or even, in the end, how much gold you recover. If you can't get that lesson drilled into your brain then all the tips in the world (including others I'll be sharing in this series of posts) aren't going to do you one bit of good.

That's a fact...

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Eight Tips for Finding Those Elusive Nuggets"

(c)  Jim Rocha (J.R.)  2012

Questions? E-mail me at jr872vt90@yahoo.com


  1. Several of my old partners have passed on and I miss them. What they taught me is priceless.
    Rattlesnake Jim

  2. I miss these two gentleman as well Jim. I also miss those times and what I learned from them. As you rightly point out, the education I got was priceless too. Take good care my friend. J.R.

  3. I'm a new subscriber to your blog and first time reader, I definitely appreciate the ' philosophical crap' ... save the secret gold maps and magic wand BS for the suckers and share your real world perspectives. Thanks for passing on your knowledge!

  4. Scott...you definitely "get it." Thanks for the perceptive comments and your support. Keep coming back, J.R.

  5. Hi Howard,

    First, let Curtain and I congratulate you on your sons soon to be graduation from college with a degree in geology. We are sure that he is just as smart as his father and has all of your fine qualities.

    I am glad to see you posted a picture of yourself in this post, because that is how Curtain and I see and think of you as our Mentor. We have been reading your post for over 4 years now and have made over six week long gold prospecting trips together. We work from after breakfast to sundown. What do have to show for it? Busted knuckles, scrapes, brusies, sore backs, sunburns and mosquito bites.

    Are we happy? Hell Yes! On our fourth trip out we finally pulled a few flakes of gold out of the Bradshaw Mountains out here in Arizona, (thanks to your mentoring). From our yells of excitement and jubilation you would have thought that we had just hit the Mother Load!

    Was it those few flakes that got us excited? NO! It was the fact that we did not give up. It was that we finally did it together. I hope that one day you can go out with Curtain and I and "Put our nose into it" as you once told me. But we did it our selves the first time. We did it by reading your posts, not being a couple of wimps and not giving up.

    You are Spot On in this post. You have to have the guts and fortitude and the willingness to not give up to play this game. Nobody will hand you anything in this life. Just like old Mother Earth will not hand you her gold without hard work.


  6. Well Dobbsie, you and Curtin are apt pupils with the will, the drive, and the desire. That's why you both will be old pros in the end and can pass your knowledge and skills along to the newbies coming up. Congrats on your finding of gold and your hard work and determination. I too hope the 3 of us can get together one day before I end up on the other side of this divide. My best, "Howard."


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