Leaner, Meaner, and More Creative (Plus a Rant)
Many changes have occurred in recent years that have adversely affected small-scale gold miners in the United States to one degree or another. By the same token, equipment and gear has improved over time so perhaps things have evened out over the long run. I guess only time will tell.
One thing I do know for certain is that making a success (however you define the term) of your gold prospecting and mining activities today requires a leaner, meaner, and more creative approach. Old habits and old ways die hard, but mixing the old with the new and staying at the forefront of new approaches can help you out in the field.
Not Everything is Peachy
A major bugaboo these days for all of us is fewer places or locations to work and more stringent rules and regulations governing our activities as small-scale miners. The ever-pervasive intrusions of governmental agencies and their agents at all levels from cities, counties, states, and yes...the Feds are at an all-time high. Granted there are variables to this depending on where you live and where you mine, but bureaucrats and their cronies have their fingers in the stew regardless. Which brings me to my next point. Why is it every other Tom, Dick, and Harriet out there thinks they have the right to dictate to others how to think, act, or live? I don't tell others how to live their lives or try and make them conform to my world view. But by God there are plenty of self-righteous assholes in the U.S. today who believe fanatically that they hold the moral high ground and that you should think and act as they do. Often their neo-Stalinist viewpoint gets shoved down our throats whether we like it or not. If they had it their way we'd all be driving Priuses, eating tasteless gluten-free crap, and plastering liberal bumper stickers all over the backside of our Subaru wagons (my apologies if you do drive one of these libtard favorites). Anyway, this mentality has grown like a cancerous tumor to adversely affect those of us who just want to be left alone to prospect, mine, or simply live our lives the way we see fit. I swear to each and every one of you that at times I yearn for the old days when you could go just about anywhere to prospect and mine and no mindless dick wad was gonna show up to ruin things for you in this regard. Yes, what's gone is gone. But it doesn't mean everything is peachy in terms of the way it stands now.
(Nothing like paying homage to one of the biggest mass murderers in history, right?)
Anyhoo, the upshot of all this interference and changing conditions and priorities is that you're going to have to learn to continue to mine under more difficult conditions in the greatest sense. Or at least more difficult than the conditions I first mined under. As I said previously, that requires adaptation and creativity on your part. Becoming lean and mean. Get the most out of your mining and prospecting activities with the least amount of fuss and without drawing undue attention. And, though I'm hesitant to say this to some degree (but I'll say it anyway): if you have to tell a white lie or two, break a few rules, or stretch those Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or U.S. Forest Service boundaries to get the job done then by all means do so. The shitheads that have made it tough on you in the field don't deserve your respect or attention. That's my view.
(Avoid anyone wearing this hat.)
It's Your Life
I can't tell you what leaner, meaner, and more creative mining means for you. That's your call. You're the one out there doing your thing and you're the one who has to call the shots. Whatever works...well, works. And if some hypocritically pious person or persons start haranguing you for what you're doing and how you're doing it, tell them to go to hell in no uncertain terms. It's your mining life, not theirs. What and whom you should respect, however, is Ma Nature (to the greatest degree possible) and other miners. The rest of that slack-jawed bunch can go home and pat themselves on the back for being the bleating sheep they are.
I Still Have Faith
I may (or may not) have a certain number of years left in my life and my mining career. The years have flown by too fast to contemplate and I'm in the Winter of both those cycles. You will be carrying the standard forward for the generations to come... that is, if they're not too busy tapping text messages on cell phones or adding new friends to their Facebook accounts. Mining is about tradition and history as much as it is about getting the gold. If we don't inculcate the value of hard work and persistence in the younger generation then I see a dim future ahead for small-scale gold mining, especially when the bureaucratic and green crazies factors are thrown into the mix. Still, I have faith in the core values I was brought up to believe in. And in the excellent values that are part and parcel of small-scale gold mining.
(Pass on the traditions and history.)
Be leaner, meaner, and more creative out there. Let the rest of the world worry about itself...
(c) Jim Rocha 2017
Questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org