(New technologies are all fine and well, but...)
Technological advances surround us today and many of these new technologies offer small-scale gold miners and prospectors advantages that would have left the old timers dumbfounded. I think any practical advantage you can use in your prospecting activities is a good thing, but relying strictly on technological advances isn't going to carry the day for you gold-wise. No sir or ma'am.
Out of Our Realm
Ultimately the best way to prospect for gold (placer or lode) is by getting out there, one foot in front of another, and learning to see the visual clues Ma Nature has laid out for you to interpret. Yep, I know the big companies and mining corporations employ all sorts of fancy gear to locate gold formations and deposits, including ground penetrating radar, magnetometer flyovers, and virtually every other sort of high-falutin' technology available to them. That's a very costly approach and although effective, it's invariably out of our realm (small-scale guys and gals) financially speaking. But even with that said, ultimately those very same companies and corporations are eventually going to have to put some "boots on the ground" to verify things.
(It takes boots on the ground.)
No Stone Unturned
This boots on the ground approach was the ONLY approach the old timers knew and they were damn good at it...most of them, anyway. It's the same approach you should get very good at, if you're not there already. One reason the old timers were so experienced at "seeing" what needed to be seen is that they did everything on foot or on the back of a mule or horse, not whizzing past potential gold prospects at 75 miles an hour. When you travel slowly or walk any terrain you're bound to see things you'd never even know were there. Don't believe me? Then let me suggest the next time you're bumping over rough desert terrain in that 4-wheel drive vehicle or racing along some mountainside dirt path on your ATV you bring that conveyance to a halt, unholster your butt from it, and get out and start putting one foot in front of the other. You'll be amazed at the things you'll see and most importantly, find. No, I'm not suggesting you forego cars, trucks, ATVs, etc., in favor of walking to get where you're going but if you're already in gold country (wet or dry) and where you need to be, get your ass up and your boots on the ground. Sure, it's helpful if you know what you're looking for and the signposts that may spring up along the way, but your main mission in the field is to walk that ground. Explore it, search it, stare at it, and leave no stone unturned in the process. The closer you are to the earth itself the closer you'll be to that yellow metal. It's as simple as that.
(You ain't gonna find shit this way.)
Hell Bent for Leather
Each and every area you prospect has much to tell you if you're smart enough to listen. In this case your eyes function as your ears and the closer your eyes are to the ground the greater the chance you're gonna find what you're looking for. The universal source gave you those eyes for a reason, you know? Yes detectors and probes are all fine and well but if you depend on them instead of your ojos I suspect you'll come up empty more often than not. Now some of you will say the old timers were walking virgin ground in many instances when they made their placer or lode finds and you're right about that fact. But what if those old salts had been burning across the Nevada desert or Death Valley on an ATV? What would they have found? Would the Bullfrog Mine have been found or would gold camps like Goldfield or Skidoo or Rhyolite? Nope. They would have been forgotten blurs in the distance as some joker was trying to get from Point A to Point B hell bent for leather (or tire rubber...take your pick). Again I understand the need for transportation, but your feet were made for that as well.
(Nevada's super-rich Bullfrog Mine was found by boots on the ground.)
Seeing is Believing
My main theme here is not magical or rocket science. SLOW THE HELL DOWN! Especially when you're out and about looking for gold. Use your feet and eyes and don't rely on horsepower of any sort whether that be on four wheels, two, or three. Use those metal steeds to get you where you are going or to act as mechanical burros to carry your equipment and supplies. And once you're where you're supposed to be or think you're supposed to be, start walking and walk slowly. Cast your eyes from side-to-side and look for the smallest or slightest incongruities. Ma Nature plants all sorts of "This Way Only" signs if you're traveling low and slow enough to spot them. Besides, there are a lot of extra-added dividends to having boots on the ground. That massive beer gut will start to shrink, those weak leg muscles will strengthen, and your head will clear itself of all the toxicity that usually fills it. Most importantly, you'll start seeing what you need to see.
Tough love time troops. Get off your collective asses and start mimicking Nancy Sinatra..."These boots are made for walkin'..."
There it is.
(c) Jim Rocha 2016
Questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org