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Patch Hunting 101... any tips?


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Hi all, over the weekend I was hunting an old haunt I used to frequent a couple years ago. Back then I had no clue what I was doing (and I still don't) but I managed to pop out a couple small nuggets from the area. I've been there a few times since but I've had no luck what-so-ever since I really haven't spent the time to get to know the place.

I've got a lot of questions in regards to nugget patch hunting... how the heck do I go about finding one? Assuming I'm detecting in a known gold baring area located on a dendritic alluvial fan, where do I start and what do I do? How do I identify favorable ground? Should I study the geology first then try to deduct where the gold will most likely be? Do I "Follow the Drywashers" like Jim Straight preaches in his book and stick to old header/tailing piles and hit the banks above these areas? Or do I hit the flats and ridges between the washes? How do I figure out the depth of the places I'm detecting? Do I detect quartz blowouts? Should I wonder aimlessly swinging my detector looking for exposed bedrock in washes? Maybe a "stick and move" technique will help? I've got a million questions and I'm not sure where to start!

I started this topic to hopefully get some tips and advice from some of you seasoned pro's that post on this forum. Let's hear it guys... can you give me any tips and advice?

Thanks in advance!

Del

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Del, a good question, alot of viewers and not much input, so here's my .02 worth and that's all it's worth. Being in an area where gold has been found before, is a good start. Checking old reports, maps, keeping your ears open all the time.

I look for the reddest mineralized ground around, and/or ironstone and/or crappy ol dirty rusty quartz (here in the lower motherload) and wander usually sidehill. If something is found then you can work up and down.

Alot of times, you'll find nuggets before you know why (a hidden outcropping or mine above). I like to mark the spot on my GPS where I find nuggets and then download to the computer when I get home. Memory isn't what it used to be. Anyway, sometimes you can see a pattern.

All the book learning in the world tho, won't help you without perserverance and just getting out there and 'wandering' :icon_mrgreen:

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Del: The way I do it for small nuggets that get overlooked by the PI detectors takes an awful lot of sweat equity. As in raking and terracing and sniffing the exposed ground often with something really sensitive to the micro sizes, like a Bug 2. This assumes, of course, that you already have zeroed in on a patch. Finding a patch in a known gold bearing area by using a rake is most economically done via long, narrow raked strips. Better probability that way of crossing a patch with the least amount of energy expended. For example, a hundred foot long strip that is one foot wide requires much less effort to clear than a 10 foot by 10 foot square, yet each exposes 100 square feet of dirt. This is because you only have to rake the gravel one time to sweep it aside making a line. Also, it is easier to cover back up. Plus, your chances of crossing a patch with a hundred foot line are better than nailing something inside a 10 X 10 square. Consider that some patches may form along the length of an eroding vein. These are long, thin patches more likely to be intersected by another long line than a smallish square. Why the rake? In order to get the Bug 2 coil within a fraction of an inch of the tiny targets, it helps to first remove the surface litter. Otherwise even a Bug 2 will miss them. Not all patches are long and narrow though. Most are not. The action of water, wind, frost heaves and tectonic tilting tends to jumble it all up and then coalesce it again. At the end of the day the gold was where you found it and it rarely gives itself up easily.

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Hi Del , Shep, Martin, Frank and All

Here's a few things I've noticed and look for over the years. Placer areas are vastly diverse from one another. In one that I've hunted extensivly the old timers left many signes with arrows pointing the direction if you know how to read those signs. Many of the hillsides and hilltops that have generated many nice nuggets all of thier drainages and fingerhills had trenching. I believe the oldtimers knew there were scattered nuggets on those hillsides but they couldn't make a living looking for the scattered few nuggets. They had to concentrate where the gold had concentrated and that's where they could make wages or do better. You can also notice in most goldfields the high bank and channel cut workings. The oldtimers were looking for old stream beds usually way up out of the existing streambeds. Sometimes those areas are visible to you by just paying attention. Many were not rich enough for them to work for the odd nuggets scattered in those stream remnants. But the signes of rounded river worn rocks and other assorted heavies (hemitite/magnatite) on a given hillside or lower flat or flanks of existing stream beds are good indications where those ancient streambeds may be. Other obvios ways are areas where the host rocks containing gold can be followed or traced to it's origin as many of the oldtimers knew well. GB was interesting because way out in the middle of nowhere in the flats or hillsides we found many small patches. Probably your best bet for finding big nuggets is to plant a GPS transmitter in Sheps beard and follow the fleas to his honey holes :hmmmmmm: !! Happy Huntin John B.

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Del, a good question, alot of viewers and not much input, so here's my .02 worth and that's all it's worth. Being in an area where gold has been found before, is a good start. Checking old reports, maps, keeping your ears open all the time.

I look for the reddest mineralized ground around, and/or ironstone and/or crappy ol dirty rusty quartz (here in the lower motherload) and wander usually sidehill. If something is found then you can work up and down.

Alot of times, you'll find nuggets before you know why (a hidden outcropping or mine above). I like to mark the spot on my GPS where I find nuggets and then download to the computer when I get home. Memory isn't what it used to be. Anyway, sometimes you can see a pattern.

All the book learning in the world tho, won't help you without perserverance and just getting out there and 'wandering' :icon_mrgreen:

Hi Shep, one of the first things I do even before I go to a place is get myself familiar with the mining reports, old maps, etc. I figure if I'm familiar with the area before I head out I'll just have more of an advantage when I show up. This particular area has a lot of quartz outcroppings, and it's not bull quartz, it's the dirsty rusty quartz like you say. To help narrow down an area, is it a good idea to stick to these quartz outcroppings?

As for the whole GPS thing... oh yeah bet your butt I do this. Since I'm hunting for meteorites most of the time I fully understand benefits of using a GPS. If I could just find enough nuggets to see a pattern I'd be a happy camper! :grrr01:

Del: The way I do it for small nuggets that get overlooked by the PI detectors takes an awful lot of sweat equity. As in raking and terracing and sniffing the exposed ground often with something really sensitive to the micro sizes, like a Bug 2. This assumes, of course, that you already have zeroed in on a patch. Finding a patch in a known gold bearing area by using a rake is most economically done via long, narrow raked strips. Better probability that way of crossing a patch with the least amount of energy expended. For example, a hundred foot long strip that is one foot wide requires much less effort to clear than a 10 foot by 10 foot square, yet each exposes 100 square feet of dirt. This is because you only have to rake the gravel one time to sweep it aside making a line. Also, it is easier to cover back up. Plus, your chances of crossing a patch with a hundred foot line are better than nailing something inside a 10 X 10 square. Consider that some patches may form along the length of an eroding vein. These are long, thin patches more likely to be intersected by another long line than a smallish square. Why the rake? In order to get the Bug 2 coil within a fraction of an inch of the tiny targets, it helps to first remove the surface litter. Otherwise even a Bug 2 will miss them. Not all patches are long and narrow though. Most are not. The action of water, wind, frost heaves and tectonic tilting tends to jumble it all up and then coalesce it again. At the end of the day the gold was where you found it and it rarely gives itself up easily.

Hi Martin, oh yeah I remember our discussion about this and I have yet to give it a try. You're raking down the banks right? Back in december a guy I ran into out at Gold Basin showed me a technique where you rake down inside bends and remove material. I did it and it worked because I ended up nailing myself a small nugget. I guess it all boils down to removing the top surface. I can definately see how your technique would improve your odds of coming across a nugget or two if your removing the surface in 100' strips. I'll have to give it a try after I buy my McCleod Fire Rake.

Hi Del , Shep, Martin, Frank and All

Here's a few things I've noticed and look for over the years. Placer areas are vastly diverse from one another. In one that I've hunted extensivly the old timers left many signes with arrows pointing the direction if you know how to read those signs. Many of the hillsides and hilltops that have generated many nice nuggets all of thier drainages and fingerhills had trenching. I believe the oldtimers knew there were scattered nuggets on those hillsides but they couldn't make a living looking for the scattered few nuggets. They had to concentrate where the gold had concentrated and that's where they could make wages or do better. You can also notice in most goldfields the high bank and channel cut workings. The oldtimers were looking for old stream beds usually way up out of the existing streambeds. Sometimes those areas are visible to you by just paying attention. Many were not rich enough for them to work for the odd nuggets scattered in those stream remnants. But the signes of rounded river worn rocks and other assorted heavies (hemitite/magnatite) on a given hillside or lower flat or flanks of existing stream beds are good indications where those ancient streambeds may be. Other obvios ways are areas where the host rocks containing gold can be followed or traced to it's origin as many of the oldtimers knew well. GB was interesting because way out in the middle of nowhere in the flats or hillsides we found many small patches. Probably your best bet for finding big nuggets is to plant a GPS transmitter in Sheps beard and follow the fleas to his honey holes :hmmmmmm: !! Happy Huntin John B.

Hi John, excellent info there thank you very much because this is exactly kind of stuff I'm eager to learn. It sounds like one of the things you do is try to read what the oldtimers were thinking and working. I've done this in the past and it seemed to work a couple times and you reminded of it. You mention the host rocks and this is exactly why I reasearch areas before I go out because it's only gonna help you narrow down your search.

Thanks for the replies guys, I'll certainly put them to use. If anybody else wants to add some more, please do so. I think I've got a general idea how to narrow down favorable locations. I think I just have to "put it all-together" to help me formulate a methodical approach to this. For this particular area I think I may be on the right path but only time in the field out there will tell.

A few more questions: Is there a way to tell the depth without digging a hole down to bedrock? Should I look nearby at the oldtimers diggings for this? Lets say I see a dirty quartz outcropping, is this an indicator that the ground isn't very deep?

Thanks!

Del

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Del, seems you might be a bit too concerned while out, about getting to bedrock. Gravity does work and gold will work it's way down to bedrock, but I'll put a penny on a dollar alot of the free gold hasn't gotten there yet.

I don't hunt creek bottoms much, more into flats on the hillsides. Gotta say, the gold, I've been fortunate to find, wasn't even near bedrock, but working it's way down the hillside and eventually to bedrock.

Fleas!!!!?????? :innocent0009:

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Yo Del...I've gotta agree with Shep...Some of the larger pieces seem to be up hill where ever there's a small flat below a mineralized deposit...I've been doing some prospecting lately in such a general area with a couple oz's of results...All the mass shown was gold after I hit it with hydrochloric acit to remove the calcium...Cheers, Unc

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Del You are gettting good advice.Just to add a few things,Sometimes the larger gold does not come out of a large vein,In fact the gold can be in the host rock. I also like the ridges and side hills.They have for me been the best places. Also Contact zones are very important to understand, You can see the colors changes of these areas, Red to grey or grey to a yellow even white to brown,Look at the hillside and were the colors meet is the best for residuale gold from lost veins.If there was an old channal look for the graval and work were the bedrock is near the surface,Sometimes you can see the direction of lift and better understand the direction of the old channal.Gold as a hole is diabolical and sometimes it is best not to try to hard,All the info in the mind can out smart even the best detectorist and you only have to miss it by a few feet.

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Hi All

Shep were they Bole Weavels :confused0013: :confused0013: ?? Del another thing to keep in mind ,big gold and nuggets can travel great distances from it's source in the host rock :outtahere: . I think many patches of nuggets are nothing more than were a rock or rocks containing some free gold ended up and weathered apart releasing the gold :hmmmmmm: . The gold can be sizable as well as sizable patches :twocents: . Once the gold is liberated from it's host rock it's dense enough it won't go much farther :tisc-tisc: . If streamcourses change they maybe left high and dry , be it hill side or hill top or ?? Generally most nuggets found on hillsides a ridges are reasonably shallow and will remain shallow because the soil and lighter material will move off quicker by water and wind :icon_mrgreen: . I've even found many nuggets on the surface in clear view soaking up sun :woohoo: . Happy Huntin John B.

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Del, seems you might be a bit too concerned while out, about getting to bedrock. Gravity does work and gold will work it's way down to bedrock, but I'll put a penny on a dollar alot of the free gold hasn't gotten there yet.

I don't hunt creek bottoms much, more into flats on the hillsides. Gotta say, the gold, I've been fortunate to find, wasn't even near bedrock, but working it's way down the hillside and eventually to bedrock.

Fleas!!!!?????? :innocent0009:

Hi Shep, flats and hillsides... ok I'll definitaly work them. I'm concerned about getting to bedrock because in this area there are some very deep spots well beyond the reach of my 4000 and 2100. I figure if I can stick to the areas where the bedrock is within range of my detectors then I'll just narrow down my search area a little bit more. This is why I keep asking about the quartz outcroppings. My thoughts on these is that if there's outcroppings then it can't be very deep. Is this a good method to stick with or does is not matter?

Hey Ron, thats some gorgeous gold as always!

Del You are gettting good advice.Just to add a few things,Sometimes the larger gold does not come out of a large vein,In fact the gold can be in the host rock. I also like the ridges and side hills.They have for me been the best places. Also Contact zones are very important to understand, You can see the colors changes of these areas, Red to grey or grey to a yellow even white to brown,Look at the hillside and were the colors meet is the best for residuale gold from lost veins.If there was an old channal look for the graval and work were the bedrock is near the surface,Sometimes you can see the direction of lift and better understand the direction of the old channal.Gold as a hole is diabolical and sometimes it is best not to try to hard,All the info in the mind can out smart even the best detectorist and you only have to miss it by a few feet.

Hi Denny, glad to get your input on this since I know your frequent the areas I hunt. Yeah I know I'm getting some very good info here and I'm soaking it all up. Ok... host rocks, ridges and hill sides... contact zones, sheeshe I have to pull out my Geology textbook and review that one! Got any resources that can give me some in depth info on them? Color changes, old river channels, and don't let my overthinking brain spoil it for me :laught16: ... ok... got it!

Hi All

Shep were they Bole Weavels :confused0013: :confused0013: ?? Del another thing to keep in mind ,big gold and nuggets can travel great distances from it's source in the host rock :outtahere: . I think many patches of nuggets are nothing more than were a rock or rocks containing some free gold ended up and weathered apart releasing the gold :hmmmmmm: . The gold can be sizable as well as sizable patches :twocents: . Once the gold is liberated from it's host rock it's dense enough it won't go much farther :tisc-tisc: . If streamcourses change they maybe left high and dry , be it hill side or hill top or ?? Generally most nuggets found on hillsides a ridges are reasonably shallow and will remain shallow because the soil and lighter material will move off quicker by water and wind :icon_mrgreen: . I've even found many nuggets on the surface in clear view soaking up sun :woohoo: . Happy Huntin John B.

Again thanks for the input John... ok nuggets found on hillsides are reasonably shallow. Are they deposited there from an old river channel in the past? Deflation? Jeez I think if I found nuggets in clear view I'd probably have to change my underwear!

I just had a thought... when I come across old river rocks perhaps I should mark their location (if the channel isn't so obvious) on my GPS. I'm sure if you get enough locations marked this will help you determin the direction of the old river... then maybe you can follow that? What do you guys think?

I'm taking this all in and I'm learning a lot. Finding the big nuggets is definitaly nice (though the come down from the high sucks!) but we all know how rare they are. Hunting solely for the big ones isn't necessarily what I'm after (though I'll take them if I come across them) because I figure if you can pluck the fly specks then the big ones will take care of themselves. I'm shooting for consistency wherever I choose to hunt and all the tips you guys have provided will definately help. You guys Rock! :yourock:

Thanks guys I appreciate the tips!

Del

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Hey Del, your question rocked. Thanks for asking 'cause it provoked such informed responses and I too get the benefits arising from your query. Now maybe we'll both find some 'rocks'.

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Hey all.

Thanks for the detectoring 101 class, I can see that I have been doing it wrong for the past couple weeks, now that I understand my detector better ( found all kinds of cool stuff but no nuggets). Now I can consentrate on more probable locations.

Tim :icon_mrgreen:

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Thanks Del

Great bunch of questions, and thank you guys for all the answers

One that always comes up is the red dirt

what if you have hill after hill of red dirt what do you do then? :icon_mrgreen:

Joe

Joe, you might try getting out of Sedona. :laught16:
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Hi Joe and All

Red dirt, no dirt, green dirt, brown dirt, yellow dirt can all be indicators that there can be gold or can be no gold. Just like quartz, hemitite, magnatite, limonite, intrusive granites, shitz and faults can or may not be indicators of gold. However many of them can be common in gold producing areas as well as non producing gold areas. When in doubt check it out with a beeper ?? Happy Huntin John B.

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Hi Joe and All

Red dirt, no dirt, green dirt, brown dirt, yellow dirt can all be indicators that there can be gold or can be no gold. Just like quartz, hemitite, magnatite, limonite, intrusive granites, shitz and faults can or may not be indicators of gold. However many of them can be common in gold producing areas as well as non producing gold areas. When in doubt check it out with a beeper ?? Happy Huntin John B.

John from what I'm gathering so far it seems like pretty much anyplace where you see abnormal soil (mineralized?) and/or rock conditions in a gold baring area is pretty much game. These indicators seem like the most common link between most gold baring areas, or at least thats the conclusion I'm coming to. :twocents:

Del

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Del that is what rule the oldtimers used to find those veins in the desert, {colors variations to expose contact zones} They could not just follow the gold up to it,s source.I have seen a lot of places that paid off very well, But to look at the ground there were very few indicators that it would be that way.If i see rounded iron stone i slow way down,If i see greenstone i do the same.More so than quartz. Edited do to bad spelling .

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Del: Here's a thought for you to try regarding PI nugget finds, ie, the larger nuggets. Think in terms of the very big picture (a mile or two square). If you have been hunting such an area over a period of time and occasionally find a lunker or near lunker with your PI, then mark the finds with your GPS and later chart these finds on your map. Sometimes these will begin to "line up". In other words, gold bearing quartz (or other rock) veins sometimes run in fairly straight lines over great distances. You can see the float commingled with the desert varnished pavement here and there but often the float disappears for a half mile or so and re-surfaces further away. Anyhow, the idea here is that there are some areas that HAVE NOT undergone tectonic shifting during the geologically recent past (since the nuggets broke free from the vein). In those few cases the free milling nuggets that are the children of these ancient veins tend to collect in lines that roughly run along the top of the underlying mother veins. Once you have charted sufficient data, then concentrate your efforts on the blank spaces in between your prior finds that would run along the same "line". If you did not previously mark your discovery spots via GPS, then perhaps you can re-visit the areas and estimate where they were found.

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Del that is what the rule the oldtimers used to find those veins in the desert, They could not just follow it up to the sorce most times,I have seen a lot of places that paid off very well, But to look at the ground there were very few indicators that it would be that way.If i se rounded iron stone i slow way down,If i see greenstone i do the same.More so than quartz.

Oooookay... I got it! :;):

Del: Here's a thought for you to try regarding PI nugget finds, ie, the larger nuggets. Think in terms of the very big picture (a mile or two square). If you have been hunting such an area over a period of time and occasionally find a lunker or near lunker with your PI, then mark the finds with your GPS and later chart these finds on your map. Sometimes these will begin to "line up". In other words, gold bearing quartz (or other rock) veins sometimes run in fairly straight lines over great distances. You can see the float commingled with the desert varnished pavement here and there but often the float disappears for a half mile or so and re-surfaces further away. Anyhow, the idea here is that there are some areas that HAVE NOT undergone tectonic shifting during the geologically recent past (since the nuggets broke free from the vein). In those few cases the free milling nuggets that are the children of these ancient veins tend to collect in lines that roughly run along the top of the underlying mother veins. Once you have charted sufficient data, then concentrate your efforts on the blank spaces in between your prior finds that would run along the same "line". If you did not previously mark your discovery spots via GPS, then perhaps you can re-visit the areas and estimate where they were found.

:idea: Holy s%$t Martin... I already do this with meteorites and I never thought of using this technique for gold... thanks! :cool:

MAN I'm getting some good info here... thanks guys! :wubu:

Del

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Del,You have some advice from the best gold prospectors in the country. All of those that replied to your post have helped me at one time or other. Weather I'm in a new area or a old patch I look over all the possibilities mentioned in these posts. When I am successful in a area i always lock the information into my little brain cell and when I'm not I ask Myself what did i do wrong. When you find good indicaters in a area slow down and work the area thourly to increase your chances of finding that big nugget. Till our paths cross again Del swing low and slow.

Harry

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Del is not the only one getting good advice here. To all those who have posted such valuable information here, a great big

THANK YOU

This forum rocks!

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If i see rounded iron stone i slow way down,If i see greenstone i do the same.More so than quartz. Edited do to bad spelling .

Denny when you say "greenstone" what ype of rock are your referring to? Epidote? Schist? :hmmmmmm:

Del,You have some advice from the best gold prospectors in the country. All of those that replied to your post have helped me at one time or other. Weather I'm in a new area or a old patch I look over all the possibilities mentioned in these posts. When I am successful in a area i always lock the information into my little brain cell and when I'm not I ask Myself what did i do wrong. When you find good indicaters in a area slow down and work the area thourly to increase your chances of finding that big nugget. Till our paths cross again Del swing low and slow.

Harry

Ohhhh yeah Harry, I know I'm getting good information from the BEST around! When your out there doing this by yourself and you haven't had the opportunity to be taken under the arm of an accomplished prospector to show you the ropes all this stuff it can be a little overwhelming. You can read prospecting books until your face turns blue but it's no substitution for time and experience in the field. I know John, Denny, Martin, and Shep are all very experienced and accomplished prospectors who have spent years in the field and I know any tip they give will have practical application. This information is certainly "worth it's weight in gold" and when the time comes I'll definitelycreate a PDF file of this topic and save it in the archives.

The information these guys were gracious enough to share will help get me (and probably many others reading this post) get to the point of consistency. So I'll take it and use as much of this as possible to help snag me more gold. We all know the learning curve for nugget hunting is a long hard road (especially when hunting by yourself) and the best way to accomplish success in this is with diligence, tanacity, patience, and time in the field. I sure wish there was a way to speed this all up, but there isn't and I know to get consistent at this I'll just have to keep chipping away at it.

Again, thanks for the information guys!

Del

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Well Del... You have been given a lot of great tips by"top notch" and highly successful nugget

hunters... many are in the top ten %. Since you may be detecting where I think you are...

some of the "patch hunting tips" will certainly get you up to speed...

Now I'll add... whatever detector you are using in some of the areas and how you set it up

is also critical to your success. So if you do not have the RMMA pass... I recomend you get

one and use it... And keep in mind "Silence is GOLDen" and location is important. So go where

only a few have gone before you. Each detector has strengths and weaknesses... go with its

strengths...

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