The Art and Science of Finding Gold Nuggets (Part 4)

 (Think the finder of these water-worn nuggets took the easy way out?)

In this post I'll be elaborating on another point that can help you in your search for placer gold nuggets. Read on if you're interested in learning more.

POINT 4: Work the Difficult Spots

One of the common failings of human beings as a whole is their tendency to take the easy way out in most things. I've seen this happen over and over again in my gold prospecting and mining career. Now I'll be the first one to admit that I've fallen prey to this malaise at times over the years, but I try my best to avoid it like the plague because laziness or taking the path of least resistance is simply not going to make you a productive gold miner (or person, for that matter). When it comes to finding nuggets, this taking the easy way out attitude will pretty much ensure you remain "nuggetless."

Here's how this concept translates out in the field:

Hitting the easy to access or work spots for nuggets is an exercise in futility. Guess what? A good percentage of those gold hunters who preceded you at that nugget location you're searching already beat you to the punch working those "easy" spots. So go ahead, re-work those same spots because you're either too lazy or unmotivated to do otherwise. Sure, you may pull a stray nugget or two and drive home smug and satisfied. Meanwhile, a more savvy, harder-working prospector or miner will be cashing in on your laziness and indifference.

Mining Equipment
This concept crosses over to the electronic nugget hunting realm as well. Early on in his electronic prospecting career, my Aussie mining mate, GS, was laughingly told to swing his metal detector in a certain Outback location that the local beer-guzzlers directing him knew was "worked out." It was all great fun for these experienced nugget hunters and the laughs were on poor GS. Imagine their surprise (and chagrin) when GS returned with a big handful of gold nuggets. You see, those self-proclaimed nugget hunting pros had only worked the easy access areas and bypassed those spots they thought too difficult to work or completely covered by overgrowth. As green as he was at the time, GS did exactly what you should do if you want to find nuggets. Work the difficult spots.

 (Do the work necessary to get those nuggets but don't risk life and limb doing it.)

Another aspect of this to consider is that you'll need to do whatever it takes to reach bedrock or where ever it is you know (from experience or research) those nuggets should be. If they're typically in deep fissures in bedrock and those fissures are covered by large rocks or even boulders, guess what? You're going to have to break out that "come along" or whatever else will help you move those obstructions out of the way. If you know nuggets have been found cemented into clay or caliche bench gravels (this does happen, by the way), then it's pick and shovel, blood, sweat, and tears time brothers and sisters. If you're in the Arizona desert or Australian Outback swinging a pricey gold detector and you have a choice between easy detecting and a tough slog, you best be opting for the latter and not the former.

Like the early bird gets the worm, the hardest worker will get the most gold, nuggets included.

Remember that.

(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2014

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. JR, to answer your question " do you think the finder of these water worn nuggets took the easy way out?"
    Well no,........but he can sure take it easy now!! That's a nice pile of gold! Gary

  2. I hear ya Gary. I'd be deliriously happy to have that haul of nuggets in my possession! Best, J.R.


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