My Version of the Mining "Ten Commandments" (Part 1)

There are a lot of versions of the mining (or miner's) Ten Commandments floating around out there on the internet. Some of these date back to the times of the California Gold Rush while others have been "revised" or updated to reflect more modern times. In this post I will be holding up my own stone tablets regarding the mining Ten Commandments as I view them based on my four decades of small-scale mining and prospecting experience. And if you don't know what the real Ten Commandments are or have never heard of them...well pard...I reckon this series of posts will be of little value to you.


I don't care if you're a total greenhorn, newbie, veteran miner, or old timer when it comes to small-scale gold prospecting. This commandment remains the main guidance for all of us whether we're working in the field or conducting our personal business elsewhere. Loudmouths, blowhards, liars, or ego maniacs are vexations to the spirit in more ways than one. You know the types...the ones who constantly crow about their successes and wave those mythical or invisible vials or jars of gold in your face. These are the same ones who always "one-up" you no matter what you yourself have done or how much gold you've recovered. You show them that nice, one-gram nugget you're so excited about finding and they dismiss it with a smirk while launching into a convoluted tale about the half-ouncers they've recovered at some non-existent "honey hole." They are always better and know more than you do. Always. They're the same ones who monopolize the conversation around a campfire with plenty of "me's" and "I did this" or "that's" until everyone else can't take another mind-numbing minute and hurry off into their sleeping bags gritting their teeth. They're also the ones who approach you uninvited out in the field to dispense their mining "wisdom" to you by nitpicking everything you do and then attempt to get you to do things "their way." (Which is always better than your way, in case you didn't already know it.) They are seldom "do'ers" but they can run their pie holes like there's no tomorrow. My advice? Avoid them like the black plague and if you have no recourse, send them packing in no uncertain terms. Most importantly, check your own behavior to make sure you aren't becoming another vexatious, braying ass of old.


Back in the days of old, gold mining was an "eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" sort of thing and claim jumping might find you swinging from the nearest tree as a result of your indiscretions. Stay off ground owned or claimed by others, no matter how tempting that ground may look in your gold-bedazzled eyes. The "Golden Rule" applies here in full force. Imagine how you would feel (or do feel) when some stumble bum decides to mine the gold off your claim despite the claim markers and signs you've put up so conscientiously. It'll piss you off royally and as we all know, some claim owners today aren't above pulling that old iron out of its holster and waving it crazily about in a fit of paranoid anger. Any greed for gold is NOT worth dying for from my point of view. But beyond that point, as a well-rounded person and miner you shouldn't be claim jumping in the first place and if you do by accident, don't get into a pissing contest with some half-crazed claim owner. Just apologize and back off peacefully. You see, nine times out of ten the grass isn't greener on that other guy's claim anyway.


Remember, little David didn't throw in the towel when that ugly giant Goliath came at him with a sword as long as a flagpole. He stood his ground and persisted until Goliath's head was hanging from David's hand by the hair. You may not have to slay a giant out there in the field, but you will surely face lots of hard work, setbacks, frustrations, and empty pokes at times. The full measure of any miner is his or her persistence, patience, and perseverance through it all. So never give up. That paystreak or pocket you've been searching for for so long may turn up tomorrow, next week, or six months from now. You just never know when things are gonna turn around for you...but they will as long as you keep working at it. It's the weak sisters in mining that fold up like cheap suits. And it's the same in the world at large. The lazy asses and "Strike 'er rich" immediately types are looking for a quick fix but those rarely exist when it comes to mining or prospecting for gold. But that ain't you, is it? No, it isn't. You'll keep on humping that dirt and gravel, crevicing that bedrock, or searching for that missed vein as long as there's a breath left in your body. And that's what it takes. Commitment and hard work. Turning turtle will only allow that stream to wash you downstream like a piece of driftwood. That's not an option if you're serious about getting some gold in your poke (or turning your life around). And while you're at it heed this little tidbit of advice...enjoy yourself out there. Have fun, gold or no gold.


With the advent of the internet, digital publishing, and YouTube videos there are more gold mining "experts" out there than there are angels in heaven. Perhaps I too fall into this category since I've been dispensing mining-related advice to you for 11 years now. But here's the deal. You can't believe everything you read, see, or hear out there when it comes to gold, gold mining, or gold prospecting. I will say that with me you're 99.9% safe in this regard, but I can't say the same for a lot of those self-proclaimed "experts" out there. For certain, some of them are stand-up people who will shoot you straight each and every time. Others not so much. There are con men and bullshit artists out there, and not just a few "braying asses." Then there are the average Joes like you or I, who just want to pass on their mining experiences to you...good, bad, or indifferent. Take what works for you from all this information about gold, gold mining equipment, and prospecting and mining in general. But keep your BS detector handy and take what you read, hear, or see with a grain of salt. We live in a time of information overload and when too much is thrown our way our brains tend to overload as well. Be aware of that and remain cognizant of the fact that some of those folks dispensing mining wisdom online either have an agenda to pick your pocket or are simply posturing and enjoying their ass clown status as they conduct their personal puppet shows. Only you know what really works for you out in the field. The "experts" (yes, like me) can provide good information and some great tips for you, but a lot of what you're taking in has little or no merit when push comes to shove. Take what works and leave the rest, OK?


I've written about the "consistencies" when it comes to small-scale gold mining many times. I've also talked about the "inconsistencies." Consistencies have to do with the basic principles of gold formation and gold deposition, and the basic gear for getting at the gold itself, no matter where you are working. This is the standard path forward for all of us. It has been proven time and time again by the old timers who wrested that glowing yellow from the earth long before we were out there with our "modern" equipment. And trust me when I say that all that modern equipment we buy and use today to recover gold is simply a design rehash of the same gear and equipment the old timers used (metal detectors not included). "There is nothing new under the sun" in this regard. So it is only right that we build our knowledge and experience on these basic principles or "consistencies" as we move forward in our small-scale mining endeavors (or careers). Taking the tried and true path is as solid as any rock of faith, but it's not the only way. Sometimes we must travel or go our way by a different path altogether since Ma Nature loves little jokes and tricks when it comes to where she lays down the yellow. This is what people nowadays call "thinking outside the box." That's a fine analogy but I prefer the idea of walking a different path when I touch on the "inconsistencies" of gold deposition. So what I am suggesting here is that you use those consistent principles as your mining foundation and branch out into the "inconsistencies" by thinking and doing things out in the field with a eye for the unusual. The gold you seek may be higher up the banks of that wash you're prospecting. Or it may not be as deep as you think but very close to the surface. That crevice filled with loose rock and gravel you're looking at may be a winner in the standard path you walk, but in reality it's that inconsequential looking hard-packed crevice you just bypassed that contains the best gold. So you see, you must walk two paths to find good gold. The one you're on and the one that most people never think about or see. This may apply to the gold that can be found in this life as well. But only you know that for certain.

There's more to come...

(c) Jim Rocha 2019

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. Well this looks like a good start to some very interesting posts.
    Thank you Jim.

    I think that you wrote the first commandment about my brother in law. Talk about a blowhard, but all in all still a decent person.
    I guess it may stem from a lot of insecurity, but that's letting him off the hook a little too easy also.
    At 61 years old he is old enough to know better. He was a poor, in debt, broke down carpenter until he married my filthy rich little sister about 20 years ago.
    Now you hear how WE worked our ass off for all of this! sister worked her ass off selling real estate. I give BIL credit for being a hard working man, but he brags too much.
    And unfortunately for he and my sister I happen to be the big brother that sees through that crud and I'm not all that bashful about letting people know that.
    Maybe I should shut up more I don't know.
    I figured out that more time spent prospecting works out to less time around some people.
    So there you go and I hope I didn't comment more than I should have.

    1. It's always good to hear your perspective and comments Don. Go for it with both guns blazing anytime...that's what we want to hear. People who tell it like it is are in short supply these days, considering all the cringing, mealy mouthed little shits who always play it safe and politically correct. So speak your mind brother. I enjoy it!

  2. HA! You had me laughing at the first one....the "Braying Ass" part! THATS GREAT!

    Good advice as well. I can't wait to see the other five!
    Sniper, I know several folks like your brother in law. They are only still around because it's illegal to shoot them.
    Grandma Thomas taught me well, say what you think, nice or not. Then there's no guess work and folks know where they stand. You don't need to be an ass, but don't sugar coat things either. Honesty really is the best policy.

  3. Another good one J.R. Best wishes to you and yours!
    Rattlesnake Jim

    1. Thanks Jim! Same to you and your family.


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