Tips on Getting More Dry Placer Gold (Part 3)

Gold Concentrates
Gold Pans
Gold Concentrators

This is the 3rd installment of my series of posts on getting more dry placer gold:

Tip Number 2: Look Higher Up (Continued)

3) Once you’ve taken a look at nearby terraces (provided they are part of local dry placer layout), the next step is to spend a bit of time sampling adjoining slopes or hillsides. Often these slopes or hillside areas will show evidence of past mining activities as well, including test pits, tailings, and “coyote holes.” Coyote holes can be found in many dry placers in the Southwestern U.S. and invariably consist of a small circular opening that leads into a larger excavated “room” with walls and a low ceiling consisting of old, tightly cemented auriferous gravels.

Typically a coyote hole entrance is barely large enough for a person to crawl through and once inside the only “shoring” is the rock and gravel that surrounds you. NEVER, EVER enter old coyote holes to sample or metal detect, especially if you are out in the field alone. Even if you are “buddied up” being inside an old coyote hole is about as unsafe as entering old mine shafts…neither one is a good idea if you value life and limb. Once inside that coyote hole it might take just one swing of a rock hammer or a miner’s pick to bury yourself alive. Since I am claustrophobic to begin with, that’s the stuff of nightmares for me (as it should be for you as well).

Intriguing Aspects of Slopes and Hillsides

Anyway, the reason those coyote holes are there in the first place is because the oldtimers figured out that many ancient gravels were left high and dry some distance above existing washes and arroyos. Additionally, “ethnic” miners such as the Chinese or Mexicans were not allowed to work the best ground in any gold district and were often forced to work secondary gravels located some distance away from what the oldtimers considered to be the best diggings. Don’t let this fool you though. I’ve seen some nice gold recovered from slopes or hillside areas, including a beautiful arrowhead-shaped nugget weighing over one troy ounce. Additionally, locations such as the Rattlesnake Canyon area of Southern California can consistently produce good slope and hillside dry placer gold.

P&S Fishing Tackle

Another intriguing aspect of these slope or hillside areas is that they are quite frequently cut vertically by smaller gullies or washes that can contain decent gold values. Some years back I was prospecting an old dry placer area here in New Mexico (now off limits to one and all) and found myself following a tiny dry streambed uphill. That little gully or wash contained amazing amounts of fine gold interspersed with coarser pieces or “chunkers” sitting on shallow bedrock packed with coarse black sand. If I could have spent more time there with plenty of water or a good motorized dry washer I believe I could’ve done some serious damage in terms of gold recovery to the tune of many troy ounces. Since this area belonged to a major mining corporation involved in mine reclamation work I had to forgo any thoughts of “setting up shop.” So it goes….

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Anyway there is more to come on the subject of getting more dry placer gold. So stay tuned.

If you liked this post, you may want to read: “Tips on Getting More Dry Placer Gold (Part 2).”

© J.R. 2009

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