"Sniffing" Out Junk Metal to Get the Gold
(Fisher's Gold Bug Pro.)
Until just recently, I haven't had occasion to use my Fisher Gold Bug Pro much, although I have bench tested it and took it for a spin in the field on one occasion a couple of years back. However, over the past two months I've been swinging this great little detector at a placer site in Northern New Mexico...no, not for nuggets since this location contains only very small gold for the most part. What I'm learning is that the Gold Bug Pro is very good at "sniffing" out potential placer gold pockets and in this post I'll explain the details.
A Multi-Faceted Gold Detector
First off, the Fisher series of Gold Bug metal detectors (Gold Bug 2, Gold Bug Pro) has proven to be extremely effective at finding nuggets and very small pieces of gold in numerous gold-bearing locations both here in the United States and elsewhere in the world (Australia comes to mind first in this regard). Of the two machines, the Gold Bug 2 has been around for a while now and is undoubtedly better known, as well as having proven itself as an efficient gold getter. In fact, nugget hunters in Alaska have used the Gold Bug 2 to recover numerous nuggets, large and small, at both pay-as-you-go sites and on their claims or in open areas. Ditto for selected locations in Arizona, California, Nevada, and the Aussie Outback. The Gold Bug Pro was designed as an advanced, multi-faceted version of the Gold Bug 2, with its primary function as a gold detector like its well-known predecessor. However, the Gold Bug Pro was designed to operate as a relic and coin detector in addition to its gold detecting capabilities. I'm not here to speak on the Gold Bug Pro's abilities in these latter two regards, but on its usefulness in small-scale placer sampling and mining.
I've used my Gold Bug Pro five separate times now at a wet placer location in Northern New Mexico's highly mineralized Tusas Region. Those of you familiar with this neck of the woods (like my friend "Rattlesnake" Jim) are probably thinking I'm hitting the Placer Creek area in or near Hopewell Lake State Recreation Area. Well, you're somewhat close but no cigar! No, I'm not at Hopewell nor would I ever attempt to work any area where you're required to get a U.S. Forest Service permit to wield a lowly gold pan, which is exactly the case at the State Recreation Area these days. I am dead set against that sort of nonsensical, bureaucratic bullshit any time, anywhere and I get pretty damn angry just thinking about those sorts of idiotic rules when it comes to small-scale gold mining and prospecting. You Feds and New Mexico state bureaucrats and politicians screwed up royally with that Hopewell Lake deal and as far as I'm concerned you can take your panning and sluicing restrictions (and permits) and shove them as far up your rear ends as they can possibly go. How's that for feedback, you ass clowns?
(Northern New Mexico is a land of great beauty, not to mention the presence of placer gold in selected locations.)
Anyhoo, now that I've gotten that out of my miner's system, allow me to move on with my discussion concerning the Gold Bug Pro. What do I like about this machine? How about its light weight, control setting simplicity, easy ground balancing, and the fact it is highly sensitive to extremely small pieces of gold when used with its 4.7-inch, circular "nugget" search coil? Pretty good for starters, don't ya think? There are other pluses as well, but I'll let sleeping dogs lie in this regard because this isn't a detector review per se. Since the area I've been prospecting is not noted for lots of gold, let alone nuggets or large or coarse pieces, the role I've committed my Gold Bug Pro to at this site is as a "sniffer" for metals associated with placer gold deposition, or alternately...concentrations of heavy black sands that may contain gold. Most of the gold myself (and my pard Ernie Martinez) have recovered at this site is in the micron or flour gold range interspersed with occasional larger pieces such as small and medium flakes. The largest piece of gold we've pulled out of this spot would have qualified as a small nugget had it contained more volume and been less flat. So that's what we're dealing with, gold-wise. That, and lots of exposed or very shallow bedrock. Most importantly, the bedrock is, for the most part, angular and very fractured making it ideal for capturing even the smallest pieces of gold. Therein lies the usefulness of my Gold Bug Pro.
Taking the Guesswork Out
To take the guesswork out of things at this spot I first fire up my Gold Bug Pro in the all-metal mode, turn the gain up to the 50-75 range, and advance the threshold to just this side of barely audible. I then ground balance the machine to the ground I choose to scan (usually crevices packed tightly with dirt and gravel) and begin scanning the nugget coil slowly over those areas. In most instances I'll soon get a target display signal in the 40 or less range (ferrous metals) or alternately, in the above 40 range (lead, gold, or aluminum at times). In other instances, I'll get indications that don't sound like ferrous metal pieces (rusty nails, bits of oxidized metal) but that read high on the machine display's iron oxide scale. This tells me I'm dealing with a pocket (or lots) of black sands. Whatever the case, when I receive any of these signals it's time to dig and see what's hidden in that particular crevice or narrow trench (much of the bedrock is traversed with pockets and crevices as well as narrow, "V"-shaped trenches). Test pans taken from signal-indicated pockets usually contain rusty iron (nails, wire [or in one case part of an old horseshoe!], lead fishing "split-shot" weights, and the like). Oh, did I mention gold too?! The best test pan we've gotten thus far came from a solitary four-inch section of "V" shaped bedrock trench packed with dried clay at the bottom that contained 10 separate pieces of gold, including a very large flake, about five or six smaller flakes, and some unusually heavy pieces of flood or flour gold. No, we're not going to strike it rich at this spot but we're getting some very beautiful gold out of it just the same. And my Gold Bug Pro has proven itself to be an extremely useful tool for sniffing the gold out and enabling us to recover it from its hiding places on bedrock. One thing to remember here is something I've said over and over again in Bedrock Dreams, always be aware of the relationship to placer gold of visual (or auditory) clues like rusty metal and lead.
(Any crevice containing oxidized iron scraps or lead objects may also contain placer gold.)
In a future post I'll throw in some photos I took of this site and its bedrock.
Now for you full-on detector geeks out there, here are a few Gold Bug Pro specifications and personal comments:
Mechanical: S-rod with electronics housing on rod; three-piece breakdown construction; non-metallic telescoping rod; adjustable position arm rest (having an arm rest is a big plus, by the way).
Weight: two pounds, eight ounces with battery installed (this light weight makes the Gold Bug Pro a dream to swing around and causes little to no arm fatigue).
Standard Search Coil: waterproof 4.7 inch closed-frame biaxial (I also have the larger 11-inch DD elliptical search coil but have not used it as yet).
Batteries: The Gold Bug Pro uses a single, 9-volt rectangular alkaline battery (lasts about 16 hours).
(Only a single 9V alkaline battery is needed to power the Gold Bug Pro.)
Operating Principle: Very low frequency (VLF) induction balance (induction balancing is what makes the Gold Bug Pro so easy to ground balance and block out unwanted signals like "hot" rocks).
Operating Frequency: 19 kilo-hertz (kHz), crystal-controlled (this type of VLF frequency allows for good ground balancing in conjunction with target discrimination.)
Ground Balance Range: From ferrite to salt water, inclusive (ferrite is essentially black sands and iron oxide).
Temperature Operating Range: 14 degrees Fahrenheit (F) on up to 122 F (I doubt you'll be digging anything up at 14 degrees with things frozen solid!).
So there you have it.
Hit me up on e-mail if you have questions about the Gold Bug Pro or my particular use of it lately. Best to one and all...
(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2015
Questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org