Mining Tips From an Old Timer (Part 1)

 (An old timer in Arizona back in the day.)

Yep, the day has finally arrived and I can no longer live in denial. At the age of 67 I guess I have to consider myself an old timer now, not the rebellious young buck I see only in my memories. So with that finally out of the way, it's time for me to lay down some small-scale gold prospecting and tips for one and all. Consider this series of posts a mini-manual of sorts and use it as you see fit.

Now some of the tips I'll be focusing on are ones you've read before. Others will be quite new. What I have to say in this series will be a mixture of things both practical and philosophical but never fear for an instant that they aren't meant to help you grow as a person and as a small-scale prospector or miner. Read, listen, think. Then apply what I have to say to your mining activities and if the shoe fits, well...apply those things to your life as well. You see, it's my belief that becoming a better person surely can't hurt your prospecting and mining endeavors, now can it? 

Don't Miss Out

I've said it before but I'll say it again here. I was very fortunate (blessed, really) early on in my mining career to have been mentored by three men who represented what I call the "old breed" of small-scale gold miners and prospectors. These were individuals who'd escaped the Dust Bowl or the hard times of the Great Depression of the 1930s by eking out a living as small-scale miners and prospectors in scattered locations throughout the American west and southwest. The collective knowledge and experience of these three individuals was colossal when compared to the puny offerings found in most gold mining and prospecting books and videos these days. These men had endured the hardest of times doing the hardest of all mining. They are all gone now, perhaps swirling a gold pan in their search for color on the other side or arguing with each other about what placer ground they'd come across that was better than that of the other two. Whatever the case they taught me well and I owe them a debt of gratitude. That's what this series of posts is truly about. Me paying down that debt to them with you as my audience or student. Like they say, "What goes around comes around."

 (It was tough times for all concerned during the Great Depression.)

If you're smart (and I know you are) you'll read this series of posts carefully, not only to discern what's what directly in front of your eyes but also what may lie between the lines of my writing. Am I trying to be deliberately mysterious here? Not really. But I am throwing out a hint or two for those with the wisdom and sensitivity to reel those sorts of unseen things in. I've found gold in quite a few places in my day and some of those locations were...well, for lack of a better term...highly unusual if not downright invisible to the naked eye. So if you look to the tips I'll be presenting here over the next few posts strictly from the "how to" standpoint you'll be missing out, pure and simple. I just can't put it any other way.

Pass it Along, Pay it Forward

I do less mining and prospecting these days and more thinking, deliberating, and remembering. Oh don't get me wrong, as long as I'm physically able I'll still jump at the chance to turn a bit of yellow, don't you worry yourself over that. I'm hard core, 100%, all the way, and have been since day one. And as you know, I take no prisoners along the way. I can be an opinionated jackass at times and at others I can be all sweetness and light. Take your pick. One thing you can always count on with me though is this: I'll never judge you, look down on you, or think I'm better than you. That's more than some of your own family members are willing to do I suspect. But it is what it is. In some ways I'm like a distant golden star twinkling in the night sky and as each year passes that dot of yellow light gets slightly dimmer. So yes, it's time this old timer passes along what he needs to so that you...yes you...will have something to pass along to the next generation of would-be sourdoughs. And may God have mercy on your immortal soul if you don't pass your knowledge along or pay it forward. If you don't, I may have to come looking for you myself!

Anyhoo, I think you get the drift. We'll get to the heart of the matter in my next post.

(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2015

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. JR, Opinionated jackass?? who isn't that knows his stuff? I spent some time with a really good braider of rawhide, same thing. He was a good teacher, but had little patience for what he considered stupidity.......he taught me a lot,and would take nothing in return. He said "when the time comes, you teach the next guy what you know....that's payment enough." If this stuff is not handed down, it will be lost forever, I thank you for handing down what you know....old timer....Ha!
    You have me beat.... I'm 50.

  2. Nothing is free in life, be it freedom or knowledge. At the very least you have a moral obligation to hand it off. Karma can be a bitch if she thinks you're starting to screw with the natural order. So few get that. Too many these days believe there are things that are free. I don't know of one thing that does not have some price attached to it. Whatever knowledge I learn in this life I share it with someone. I'm grateful to learn it and bound by a duty to the universe, to God, to morality, or pick your reason to pass it on. That's the price and to me it's like the line from and old who song...I call that a bargain, the best I ever had.
    Regards Jeff


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