Underwater Gold Sniper Finds UK's Largest Nugget (and Then Plays Russian Roulette)

The topic of this post isn't recent news but there are some lessons to be learned from it. I'll lay out the basic story for you here, but the lessons I speak of are for you to learn and apply to your own small-scale gold prospecting and mining activities...that is, should you be inclined to do so.

Quite an Accomplishment

In 2016 an underwater gold sniper (who supposedly remains anonymous) recovered a 2.75 troy ounce (85.7 grams) placer nugget from a small river in Scotland which, as you may know already, is part of the United Kingdom (UK) or Great Britain or England or whatever term you choose to call it these days. So right from the get go...yes, there is gold in the UK. However, whether the beautiful nugget this gentleman found is the largest nugget recovery in the UK (historically speaking, that is) is open to conjecture. The UK has been inhabited much longer than the United States or Canada or Australia where many exceptionally large nuggets have been recovered, so who knows what sort of gold Paleolithic or Neolithic (Old and New Stone Age) or Copper or Bronze Age folks stumbled across in the UK way back when. Ditto for the Middle Ages and beyond. Any exceptional gold finds would not have been public knowledge nor would they be part of the historical record. But I digress here. The point of fact is that this nugget find is the largest in the UK on historical record. Quite an accomplishment, I must say.

 (The sniper himself.)

The Three P's

The finder of the so-called "Douglas Nugget" has been a small-scale gold miner and/or prospector for over 20 years. His favorite approach to getting the gold in Scotland's streams is underwater sniping...something I've talked about numerous times here in Bedrock Dreams. Again, this involves the use of a wet suit and snorkel and mask to peer and probe underwater for placer gold's likely deposition points. The availability of exposed or shallow bedrock is a huge plus in underwater sniping, but it can be done successfully in other stream contexts as well. As I've said before, underwater gold sniping is a great alternative to suction dredging or other placer mining methods especially in areas where dredging isn't allowed or regulations restrict your ability to run motorized gear or "chew" away at banks or benches. So this sniper probably used the best possible approach for getting at the gold in Scotland since many restrictions apply to small-scale gold mining there. Good on him. He also kept at it, again and again despite small returns at times. So this dude displayed a good measure of my Three Ps...patience, persistence, and perseverance.

(Underwater view of the Douglas Nugget.)

Hell on This Issue

What's not so good on his part is making this exceptional find public knowledge, despite his anonymity. And let me stop here for a moment...his anonymity has probably already been compromised anyway. There are just too many ways to have your identity revealed these days and showing off your stuff in newspapers, TV, and online (even through a second or third party) is going to result in you being unmasked with all the resultant problems that come with that unmasking. I'm telling it straight here. How many times have I admonished my readers to keep their mouths shut when it comes to finding something good like this? More than once, to be sure. Yes, I'm hell on this issue and for good cause. The finder of the Douglas Nugget has also kept the location of his find a secret, which is a good move on his part for obvious reasons. But how long do you think that secret location will remain secret after this nice chunk of placer gold with matrix attached has been the subject of the media again and again? People will be watching, waiting, and even following this dude around and eventually his "sweet spot" will become known (if it hasn't already, that is). You know this to be a fact just as much as I do. Jealous "others" will find their way to his location and the next time he shows up there'll be 20, 30 or even 50 others in wet suits underwater clogging that same stream.

("Second Party" displaying the nugget.)

Maybe "Bye Bye" Time?

By making his find known, this underwater sniper has also brought the big dogs yipping and yapping at his heels....yep, the government boys and girls. In the UK, any gold or silver finds are classified as "Mines Royal," meaning that they belong to the British Crown 99.9% of the time. In other words, that great find he worked so long and hard for actually belongs to the Crown (as if British royalty needed any more wealth). Undoubtedly the British socialist state does. And here's the real kicker. You have to have "permission" from the Crown to take any gold or silver out. This guy didn't have the written permission or authorization. So it could be a case of "bye bye" to the Douglas Nugget, which is worth about $65,000 USD in specimen/rarity monetary value (being the "biggest" UK nugget). What do I always say again? "Keep your mouth shut and your ego damped down!" I understand it's human nature to want to broadcast your "victories" to the entire world, but when you do...well...expect to have that nice find taken away from you or at least be forced to "divvy" up the prize money. You found it...yep. You did the hard work...yep. You shot your mouth off...yep. You ended up on the shitty end of the stick in the long run...yep.

Russian Roulette

I don't mean to downplay this gentleman's exceptional nugget find. Nor do I know whether he was allowed to keep it...for some reason I think it ended up in a museum in the UK but I'm not certain of that fact. But the heart of the matter remains that the finder went at things half-assed afterwards. He remained anonymous and didn't divulge the location of his find, but went ahead and let the press and media know all about the recovery of the Douglas Nugget either directly or through others. It's like saying "I won't tell you my name and I don't play Russian Roulette" and then loading a .44 revolver with a live round, spinning the chamber, jamming the barrel against your temple, and pulling the damn trigger! Geeze Louise folks...

How many times do I have to repeat myself to get these lessons across?

(c) Jim Rocha 2018

Questions? E-mail me at jr872vt90@yahoo.com


  1. Good grief Jim! Did the spot price of gold go sky high in the past 24 hours?
    That nugget doesn't even weigh 3 ounces. How could it be worth $65,000 melt?
    Wonder if the guy uses a metal detector to help him snipe down under the water?
    I wish that guy was local.
    I could use some help.

    1. That nugget price is an error on my part Don. That is the specimen/rarity value. I will adjust the text accordingly. Sorry about that and good catch!

  2. Hey again! I missed the part about the rarity value of that nugget being worth $65,000!
    I thought that was just a TYPO on the melt value.
    Man that is an astounding amount of money for a nugget that small.
    So..if the sniper finds a larger nugget will this one still be worth $65,000?
    Would be great to find out.
    Good luck to the man.

    1. That nugget's rarity or specimen value is based on the fact it's the largest in existence in the UK I suspect. To a collector or a museum that nugget is special, despite it's small melt value. The more unique a nugget, the greater the rarity/specimen value. If you found one here in the U.S. a bit larger it would NOT be worth that much as a specimen since many larger nuggets have been found here. However, should "your" nugget be an interesting shape or crystalline (for example), it would command a higher price than melt value Don.

  3. Nice. It just proves that gold really is "where you find it". No matter how poor an area is, there is always a small chance of something big. Who knows, it could have even been found someplace else and lost there. In this case, I doubt it though.
    It would be really hard to not get excited and show someone. Excitement has a way of messing with common sense!
    Raining here today. The weather is cooling down and becoming more like Fall. I want to hit the creeks at least once more before winter sets in!
    Besides, I have a mine shaft to go check out!

    1. I watched your pack rat vid Gary. We've had our share of issues here with them too.


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