Racking My Brain...
I'm sitting here racking my brain for gold mining topics and it isn't going very well. I've written about all the usual stuff...where to find gold, gear and equipment, sniping, and God knows what else. Like everyone else, there's a limit to my knowledge and experience. So I'll just free associate in this post if that's OK with you. And if it isn't, well...what can I say?
1) If I could go back in time and do things all over again mining-wise I think I'd have spent more time sniping underwater. That comes right off the top of my head. It's a very fun and productive way to find and recover gold as a small-scale guy or gal. You see, a good part of my mining career involved running motorized equipment of one sort or another, including a suction dredge. I was all about moving volumes of gold-bearing dirt which is, in essence, the key to recovering more gold in most instances. Like the old adage you know? "The more dirt you move the more gold you get." Of course, suction dredging in shallow or deep water is a bit like sniping for gold although it's nowhere near as relaxing. When you're running a dredge (especially working the nozzle end) you tend to be all business...or at least I was. There isn't time to poke around and lolligag, so to speak. It's all about cutting your way down through overburden and getting down to bedrock. Underwater sniping, on the other hand is a gentleman's game of sorts. Sure it requires patience and work, but it doesn't have the frenetic quality that's associated with running motorized gear and moving, moving, moving more dirt. And if you've never seen placer gold sitting there underwater waiting for you to pick it up, well...you're missing out on a real treat. It'll put a grin on your face each and every time!
2) Finding a good, long-term mining pard is akin to trying the win the lottery. Or at least it was for me. Sure, I had a few along the way...or very few is a more exact descriptor. And unfortunately those "very few" weren't around very long for any number of reasons. So a lot of the time I ended up with whiners, complainers, non-hackers, and general ne'r-do-wells from whom I parted ways quite rapidly in the overall sense. This doesn't mean they were bad guys or evil people...more like royal pains in the ass. And one of my character flaws is that I have little patience for fools, idiots, or lazy asses out in the field. This may be some sort of holdover from my Vietnam days, I don't know. What I do know is in that time and place anyone who couldn't or wouldn't hold their own was a danger to all concerned. And they were dealt with accordingly, one way or another. But as usual I digress here. After all, small-scale mining isn't warfare and trying to put entrenched values from 50 years ago into a civilian context may be a bit unfair. So if you have or buddy up with a really good mining pard treasure that person like a pan full of gold. I know I've said this before but good partners are few and far between so avoid the pard from hell at all costs.
3) Get the hell away from the crowds once in a while and get into the deep bush. You'll find better gold that way (most of the time, anyway) and enjoy yourself a hell of a lot more. I know it's not easy to hump your way into deep canyons or risk getting stuck out in the endless desert, but removing yourself from the usual gold places and the usual suspects is therapeutic as all get out. At least it is for me. Sure, I've worked my share of "common" gold ground where the dirt has been churned up over and over again, but I've also taken the time and effort to research and get to places where others seldom go. I love that sort of thing. The peace and quiet and tranquility of it all. Add some decent gold on top of that and it's one of those "win-win" situations you read or hear about. So if you're physically able, get off your duff and try somewhere well off the beaten path. Again, I've harped on this before but it's well-worth repeating here. Being lazy or taking the easy way out won't get you want you want...in gold or in life.
4) I've run into my share of real "characters" during my 40 years of small-scale mining and treasure hunting and some of you have as well probably. If you haven't, you will if you keep at this prospecting and mining thing of ours long enough. It should go without saying that society loves conformity in all aspects of human behavior because the "tribe" wants to keep you marching lockstep with its own ideas about how you should look, live, and conduct yourself. That's OK in certain contexts but it often suppresses the true nature of various persons...perhaps even yourself. With that bit of behavioral science out of the way I just want you to look a bit deeper than face value when you run into one of these character types out in the field. Now I'm not talking about the phony balonies who grow long whiskers, wear a battered old western hat sideways, and dress like they stepped out of a casting call for some movie about the Days of '49. I'm talking about real people and real characters. These are the folks who truly march to the beat of their own drummer. Some may seem a bit "teched" or crazy to you, some may talk a bit too much, and a few might even hit the bottle more than they should. But as long as they aren't obnoxious drunks or crazed beyond repair, these individuals cannot only broaden your horizons as a person, but they can teach you things about finding gold you never even dreamed of. And that's a fact.
5) One of the things I dislike the most in our desire to find treasure of any sort are the dream merchants. Yep, I've castigated this bunch numerous times in Bedrock Dreams but I'm at them again right here and now. It's not that I'm against honest folks trying to make a living selling gear or maps or books or anything else, it's just that I have little tolerance for the bullshit artists and con men among them. You greenhorns or newbies out there reading this take note, OK? Why? Because you're the group of would-be miners or treasure hunters who are most susceptible to the webs that the dream merchant spiders out there spin. They'll tell you you can find an ounce of gold a day (or a quarter ounce), that gold is easy to get, and maybe even that you can walk away from your job and make a living as a small-scale gold miner. It's all a come on, guys and gals. And those of you dreaming that you CAN make a living off of small-scale mining are bucking the odds...big time. I know. For one thing mining is not a year-round gig because of weather considerations and other "obligations," family or otherwise. Good gold ground is hard to come by these days, even with the mining claim approach. And if you think you can predict a certain amount of gold you'll recover on a daily basis as a small-scale or even a commercial miner then you're really out in the ozone my friend. It doesn't work that way, no matter how hard you dream there in la-la land or how slickly the dream merchants make their pitches to you. Sure, I play the devil's advocate in this regard. But I know of which I speak and I have four decades of experience and knowledge to back myself up. Do you have that "time in?" I didn't think so. And let me finish with this. If I could have gone at small-scale mining and made a comfortable living, paid the bills, and sent my kid(s) to college don't you think I would have done that??? But if you're a better person than I, smarter, more experienced, and generally consider yourself "special" in this regard, then by all means pard prove me wrong. I'll be here waiting for your documented results.
6) As the Good Book likes to say (paraphrased), "Pride goeth before a fall." I've always altered this statement to read "FALSE pride goeth before a fall." In other words, don't get overtaken by thinking too highly of yourself and your mining successes. Don't be an arrogant jerk out there and don't strut your stuff around other miners. Remain steady state and let the bragging rights go to someone else. Next to the Dream Merchants the folks I dislike the most in the small-scale mining community are the arrogant assholes...you know, those who can do everything, anywhere and anytime. They are the self-proclaimed experts on all things mining, ya know? Am I one of those? Nope. Because I'm only here to pass on to you what I've learned and get this...I'm still learning too. I'm not always correct, right, or knowledgeable in everything related to gold mining. Some things yes...other things no. And I'm not here to take your folding green like many of those other folks...I depend on your generosity through donations. But those with the false pride thing going on are easily spotted by anyone with an ability to judge true character and value because the prideful types are NEVER wrong. Ever. They are all things to all people. And they'll let you know that every chance they get! So stay cool, be who you are, and do good work out there whether you're dredging, dry washing, sniping, or panning for gold. Help other miners when you can and let others help you too. Braggarts and blowhards are vexations to the spirit. Don't become one, OK? It not only sullies your reputation, but leaves a black mark on the small-scale mining community.
Hope some of this rings a bell. If I don't get back you before then have a very Merry Christmas and may the New Year bring all good things your way!
(c) Jim Rocha 2018
Questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org