Finding Gold Isn't All That Hard (Part 2)

 (Almost anyone can find a bit of color in the right location. Image courtesy the New 49ers.)

Once again, finding some color isn't the real issue facing most small-scale gold miners. What is the issue then? Finding gold in quantity or in larger size or both. That's the real trick.

The Next Generation

I know I'm preaching to the choir in this regard when it comes to you old timers and seasoned mining veterans out there. But I ask that you bear with me while I try to lay down a bit of mining wisdom to those just starting out in small-scale gold mining or who possess limited experience at best. You see, they're the ones who need this the most. You old timers and experienced miners (and I) don't need much prompting when it comes to getting at things and in the process getting the gold, but the newbies, greenhorns, and less experienced out there are still trying to find their way as best they can. Remember, they're the next generation of small-scale gold miners. Providing, that is, the forces at be still allow any of us to wield a pick, pan, or shovel in the future on what were once truly public lands. But that's another story and you know me...if I veer away from the main topic now I'm likely to end up writing another prolonged and angry rant. That's good for me in terms of venting but it sure as hell doesn't do much for the greenhorns except make them wonder if they're in the right place (and you are, by the way).

(Hey, we're all greenhorns at some point.)

Certain Prerequisites

Listen up you aspiring types out there. As I stated in the previous post it's my belief that even a trained monkey could find some color on proven gold ground just by sheer happenstance. Hells bells, certain individuals have proven this out on reality TV already, so I'm not just pissing in the wind here or blowing smoke up your nether regions. So again, getting some color ain't the real issue folks. Getting good amounts of gold or larger, coarser pieces of gold (including nuggets) is the real task at hand for newbie and veteran miner alike. That's what separates the men from the little boys and the women from the little girls when it comes to all things mining. In order to make this beneficial circumstance happen, there are certain prerequisites that must be studied, learned, and accomplished along the way. I gave you one of these general education courses in my last post as I've done multiple times in the eight plus years I've been writing and publishing Bedrock Dreams. All of it may not be college-level material, but who really gives a hot damn as long as it helps you get more gold in the long run?

Once you've done your research and found some color, develop a plan of attack.

I know some of you have heard me talk about this plan of attack thing before but it's still a solid mining virtue. If you've followed my previous advice and done your research on that gold area you plan to work the next step is coming up with plan for working it. Yes...a plan. One of the things that drives me absolutely bat shit crazy is to watch would-be miners running around and digging here or there with no rhyme or reason or breaking down and then setting up expensive motorized mining gear again and again with no logic flow in terms of following and getting the gold. Now granted, if you're simply a weekend-type miner who just wants to get out in the clean air and find a bit of color (there's that premise again) then do whatever the heck floats your boat. There's nothing wrong with that. But if you're dead serious on becoming proficient, capable, and a real gold-getter, then having a plan is a must. That plan should include the following components, to name a few:

  • Establishing legal entry to the gold site (leasing or owning the claim, having written permission to mine, working on a percentage basis, ensuring the rangers or forest Nazis won't run you off public lands, and so on.)
  • Making yourself aware of the average gold recovery expected (expressed in amount per yardage processed);
  • Determining the most efficient method for recovering that gold (there's not just one way to skin a cat...or dredge, highbank, sluice, or dry wash);
 (Ya gotta have a plan of attack if you want to make it happen.)
  • Using the right (best) equipment for the task at hand (don't be a cheap ass. Make sure what you choose can be used to good effect and can take the punishment small-scale mining dishes out);
  • Finding ways of cutting operating expenses, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem (each penny you save in terms of gas, repairs, and supplies means more money in your pocket after that gold is safely in your poke);
  • Making the most of your mining time (in other words, get off your ass and work. Spend less time guzzling cold beer and more time making things happen. That gold ain't gonna jump in your poke, you know?)
 (You have to manhandle that gold to get it where it you want it to go.)

These ought to get you going but the list goes on and on. In fact, the more detailed and comprehensive your mining plan the better off you are, particularly if you FOLLOW that plan.

OK, all this high-faluting stuff is probably freaking out some of the newbies who are already feeling overwhelmed and pretty much left out in the cold. Take a deep breath and let it go. The bottom line to small-scale gold mining is having some fun out there and getting a bit of gold in the process. Like I said earlier, if you're out there some weekend for a simple family panning trip, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to play boot camp drill instructor and bark orders at the wife and kids all day long and making them do boo-coo push ups or squat thrusts to instill mining discipline. This series is meant for those of you who will eventually take things seriously down the road. That doesn't mean you still can't have fun and do, but once you've got some knowledge and experience under your belt the old ways of doing things just aren't going to cut it any longer. It happened to me way back when and it sure as heck will happen to the hard cores among you. You can take this last right to the bank with you...

That's it for now. Keep perspective in your life and be good to those who love you.

(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2016

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. JR, the hardest part for me is not knowing what's in that next shovel full of gravel. Just one more....OK, one more...then it starts to get dark....
    Once I get digging, it's hard for me to stop when I'm seeing a little gold in the sluice!
    I guess it's that not knowing that makes this game fun. Then again "knowing" there's a fist size lump of gold there would be fun too!! Ha!


Post a Comment