Are Mining/Prospecting Clubs Worth Joining? (Conclusion)
(Members of the High Plains Prospectors Club.)
Well, I'm back from my beach hunting expedition to the Texas Gulf Coast and will give you the hot poop about the trip as well as a rundown on the Garrett AT Pro metal detector in my next post. Right now I want to finish up the current topic since it's been over two weeks since I last published a post.
I covered some of the not-so-good points of mining/prospecting clubs earlier, so let's move forward and talk a bit about some of the good points. Like anything in this life, there is both good and bad associated with many events, situations, and people. I try to focus on the positives in my own life (mining and otherwise) so I owe it to you all to show you both sides of the coin. So here we go with the plus side of joining a mining/prospecting club.
1. Learning Opportunities
One of the biggest pluses to joining a club are the opportunities for learning much more about small-scale gold mining and prospecting in general. Although those who tend to gain the most from clubs in this regard are the greenhorns or newbies to mining and prospecting, even more experienced miners can glean tidbits of info from other club members. Remember, small-scale mining is a process where the learning never stops, no matter what level of expertise you currently hold. This learning process covers a wide range of issues or topics, including approaches, methods, and the use and application of a range of small-scale mining equipment. There is always someone in a club who knows how to set up and run a dry washer, a dredge, a highbanker, a sluice box...you name it. Even basic panning and sampling techniques can be learned. Then there are those inside tips that other club members can pass along to help you become more proficient at this thing of ours. It's a win-win situation in this regard for most folks, so this is where every club worth its salt shines.
(You can learn the ropes about a range of mining equipment in clubs...including suction dredges.)
2. Claim Access
I'll readily admit this can be a two-edged sword since most club claims leave much to be desired from a gold recovery standpoint. But not in every case. Freely accessing gold ground is a difficult proposition these days and I have to say I'm glad I came up the small-scale mining pike back in the days when there was still a goodly amount of "freedom" attached to where you could go to mine and what you could do once there. Every club (no matter how large or how small) has its own claims or gold ground for members to work. Typically you can access these claims at any time, not just on club outings. For those who are just starting in gold mining and prospecting this is a real boon. You don't have to be looking over your shoulder all the time while working waiting for some bureaucratic axe to fall or some irate claim or property owner tearing your ass up verbally for trespassing. Depending on where you are geographically, clubs have gold ground suitable for all sorts of mining approaches, including dry washing. You may not get a whole lot of gold in the end, but club claims or the gold ground they have access too will always put some gold in your poke. And, once again, you'll learn a lot as you recover it.
(Club claims often cover a wide range of terrains.)
I'm a loner...always have been and always will be. I don't like crowds and in most instances I'm not much of a socializer. But I'm what's known as a contrarian in most things (including gold mining) so don't place too much emphasis on my personality quirks. It's what you like that counts. And if you like hanging around other like-minded folks, asking them questions or watching them work, or sitting around a campfire spinning tall tales then mining/prospecting clubs are tailor-made for you. Since clubs tend to have scheduled outings those of you who like groups or small crowds and the socializing opportunities that they bring to your mining efforts you'll be in hog heaven. And, despite the few posturers or blowhards that can be found in any social circle, most people who are active in mining/prospecting clubs are good, helpful, and friendly people. Often a really experienced old timer or two can be found in a club and the experiential lessons they can teach you are priceless.
(Socialization and camaraderie are big parts of the club experience.)
4. Low Membership Fees
Most mining/prospecting clubs charge a monthly or annual fee that supports their websites, bulletins, and the cost of acquiring and maintaining club claims. Usually these fees are pretty cheap and even those who are on fixed incomes can afford them. Eventually, you'll get your fee money back over time by working club gold ground...that is, if you learn your lessons well and work hard. On the flip side, some of the so-called "elite" gold mining/prospecting clubs or associations charge a veritable arm and leg for membership. These fees can run into the thousands of dollars (yes, you heard right) so joining one of these high-priced clubs may not be feasible for many of you. Generally, you get what you pay for though. Elite clubs tend to have much better gold ground at their disposal. It's a coin toss of sorts, I guess.
That's about it. Sure, there are probably plenty of other things club members will point out that I'm missing from an advantage standpoint, but I wanted to get the basics out there for your perusal. Again, it's your call whether or not a mining/prospecting club is for you. There are some outstanding clubs out there, so do you research and pick the one that suits your needs and temperament the best.
(c) Jim Rocha 2017
Questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org