Know Who You're Dealing With (Part 1)

 (Don't spill your guts if you end up like this.)

I've learned a lot of lessons in my 36+ years as a small-scale gold miner and erstwhile treasure hunter...many of them the hard way. In this post I may be able to prevent some of you from making the same mistakes. Like they say, "Work smarter, not harder, " and that adage applies to more than just methods, techniques, and how to set up gear.

The title of this post is pretty much to the point. You're going to come across quite a few different types of people in small-scale gold mining (and treasure hunting if you're into that too). Most of those folks are straight up, helpful, and solid people who give as much as they take. On the other hand, there are those in our community who'll work you, manipulate you, and lead you down the garden path. That is, if you allow them to. So in this series of posts I'll be laying out a few "bewares" for your consideration.

Beware those who pump you or work you for inside information: These types are always looking to score using your knowledge and hard work to set themselves up for personal gain. And no, they're not asking simple friendly questions like "How ya doing there?" or "Getting much of anything?" Those are forms of basic mining greetings that have no hidden agendas attached to them. However, if the asker of those friendly questions continues to drill you for information on what you're doing, how much gold you're getting, and where you're getting it then your suspicion radar should start buzzing like a bee hovering over nectar. Sure, we all swap info that can help one another and I lay a lot of that info out here in Bedrock Dreams. But there are no hidden agendas attached to the service I provide. In other words, I'm not here to glean where your hot spots are or where those nuggets you found came from. But tell the wrong person exactly where your hot spots are and what section of bedrock those nuggets came from with all the salient details included and I guarantee you'll be crying the blues at some point...usually sooner than later.

Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about. Very early on in my mining career I did some pointed research on finding a small, isolated gold placer that no one else would even think of being in the location it eventually turned up in. For months I pored over old geological bulletins hidden away in the mustiest part of a university library until I found what I was looking for. In case you're wondering, I was teaching at that very same university at the time. Now I was greener than green when it came to mining gold at the time but I knew how to research and clue in on the salient details. I was, after all, an academic of sorts in an earlier incarnation.

To make a long story shorter, I found that placer and to tell the honest truth, I surprised even myself for doing so. Well I vialed up some of that long-forgotten placer gold and made the mistake of showing it to a couple of guys who belonged to the same prospecting club I was in at the time. (Yes, even I joined a club in my earliest days as a would-be prospector and miner. But I didn't remain with that club long for any number of reasons and I've never been a "joiner" since.) Well, when yours truly showed those vials of gold around the club campfire to those gents previously mentioned, they went mildly ape shit. They started grilling me like cops standing in front of a suspect tied to a chair in a damp cellar with a single overhead light bulb casting shadows on the wall. Fortunately, I had enough common sense even as a greenhorn not to give the goods away but every time thereafter, these same two individuals were grilling me for specifics that went wayyyyyyyyyy beyond the "Howdy, how's it goin'?" routine. I guarantee you as sure as I'm writing this that had I spilled my guts on the specific location of my nice little find, the next time I returned to it I'd have found it turned over like a moonscape and all my hard-researched gold gone bye-bye.

Of course this little sermon follows hard on the heels of my constant refrain about "Keeping you mouth shut about good finds," in gold mining or treasure hunting. But the real message you should take away from this little tale is KNOW WHO YOU'RE DEALING WITH. Use your common sense. Those two dudes were decent enough people but they had not-so-secret agendas when it came to mining (and treasure hunting). Parts of those agendas went something like this. "Well, if you tell us and we find it and get it, then by God it's ours." See what I mean? I could tell some of you out there the exact location and details of that particular find and I could sleep well at night knowing my goods were safe and sound, despite your new-found knowledge. That's because with some of you I know exactly who I'm dealing with. Miners and treasure hunters come in all shapes, sizes, ages, sexes, and character types. Most are damn fine people. But know who you're dealing with if someone starts asking you about things that are just a bit too close to home gold-wise.

You'll save yourself some heartache and some gold in the long run.


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

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. I never give up a great location, and it is not necessarily because I am unwilling to share in my good fortune, it's mostly because of what greed does to people. I've been a Bogart fan my whole life, I saw Treasure of the Sierra Madre (key Largo was always my favorite) early on and despite the fact it was a movie, that particular lesson seem to resonate with me. I've seen it rear its ugly head in many different situations. Where there is financial gain it's best to remain quiet. It's that old adage better to remain quiet and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt. I'd let you out my claims Jim and never worry that you would do anything untoward. I have every confidence if you discovered something astounding you'd pick up a phone a say "Jeff you need to get out here and see this." Why? Because your character is evident in your writing. There are damn few people I trust. Once upon a time I was the worst kind of person and I can spot who I was almost instantly. I changed, but very few of those liars, drug addicts, criminals or devious souls ever do. Attend a convention and just walk around listening to the bull shit. I ran a food testing laboratory for 13 years and attended numerous conventions. People who were multi-millionaires would steal an idea in a heartbeat. Some of the most trustworthy people I ever met were just your average working folks.

    It's better to be thought a fool, or called a jerk, than it is to be taken to the cleaners. Very sage advice my friend. I do enjoy this site far better than I ever imagined.


    1. Sage words yourself there Jeff. It is what it is after all is said and done.

  2. JR, sadly, my best spot ain't much. I find enough to make it fun, but dollar amount is pitiful. I have told people about it, but if I ever find a really good spot, I won't. This spot, I don't care if someone else digs there. I have no claim to it. Who knows, if I help them, they might help me latter down the road. I try to help people when I can,we need more on our side. You just don't tell folks about your best "fishin' hole".

  3. Good analogy Gary. I agree.


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