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New to Prospecting and a few questions


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Hello everyone. I am new to prospecting, me and my wife are planning our first gem hunting/gold prospecting vacation to NC this spring. Since we will be in and around the National Forest and will only be allowed to sluice or pan I wanted to ask a few questions.

We are complete newbies to this hobby and the only prospecting equipment I have is the pan that I recieved with my GPAA membership.

What makes one sluice better than the other? I am interested in the Jobe 50" sluice that folds up. I was looking on ebay and found other folding sluices for half the price. I did not see any particular names on the sluices on ebay. Is there really that much difference?

Also if anyone knows. I was thinking of taking one of the hand pumps to pull material out of any cracks and crevices that look promising. Because these are mechanical I am not sure if they would be allowed to use in the National Forrest.

What type of hand tools would you recomend to carry with me?

If anyone has any additional information that they think would be useful, please add.

We are planning on going to Hiddenite for 3 or 4 days then check out the Franklin area for a few days. If anyone has any info about these areas it would be greatly appreciated.



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Welcome t the forum,

If you're going to the Uwharrie National forest, the hand tube sucker aren't not allowed to be use with-in the National forest, only sluices, pans and shovel can be used in the Uwharrie National Forest, no digging outside the streambed/wetted areas, or undermining plants/rootballs which includes any "island/s" that may have vegetation on it, so if a gravel bar has a plant growing on it you can't dig into the gravel bar, also you must fill in all hole that you dig, if you find a hole while in a stream looking for gold I would suggest filling it in so you don't get the blame if a Forest Ranger finds it with you in the area.

I'm headed out the door for work, but I will add my opinion of sluices good for that area, and other places to check out after I return from work this evening.


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:th: Welcome to mining but ya can't do this,that or the other thing. Only believe what you see in writing for any forest/park you go to as rangers speak with forked tongues,which 90% of the time is wrong. Google the park and download the rules so when accosted,harrased you can show them the true rules and get some peace and pieces a oro puro-John

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I was looking at buying a folding sluice, but turned away when I heard people had trouble setting them up and they'd bend in the middle. When I used the A48 sluice, I either carried it or attached it to the outside of the Backpack.

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Welcome John.

Keep the sluice cheap and simple, one piece. carpet or miners moss. steel riffles, maybe a section of expanded steel and a punch plate classifier at the head end. Humor me and try to find a steel gold pan. The restrictions AU s mentioned sound more like they are for a national park than for national forest but I'm a many moons journey from there.

Beware of a S.C. gator that has stayed too far north- unless you own a Camaro.

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Love Franklin N.C. Been a few years since I stomped around there---but you can always stop by some of the shops there and ask around. Even try a few tourist trap places---they are what they are but are usually are run by decent folks that can spin a yarn or two.

Stick with the small equipment--you could probally pick up a good hand sluice in the mountains there. Besides--even in summer that water is cold--this time of the it can be painfully cold.

Welcome abroad.

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Getting the hang of panning and/or sluicing can take a little time. Advice: Focus more on enjoying the overall experience and mastering the little things before spending big bucks on expensive equipment. Watch others who are getting good returns. Ask questions. Experiment with techniques. As you acquire experience, you yourself will be in a better position to evaluate pan and sluice designs. Keep it simple -- makes for a more enjoyable day in Paradise. Welcome to the Nugget Shooter Forum.

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I can assure everyone that the rules I posted above for the Uwharrie National forest are what the rules are at this time, I've been there numerous times, it's actually better than any other National Forest in the east, but the rules can change any day because of the attitude of the Forest Rangers there, they want all prospecting outlawed, I know in the west you can use almost all types of equipment to find gold, but this is not true in the east, all National Forests in the east are acquired lands, meaning the government bought these properties from private owners and made them National Forest and National Parks, in the west all National Forest and National Parks have always been public land, not so in the east, you can prospect in all of the National Forests in the east but the rules vary with each National Forest, in a couple of the National Forests you can only use "Hands and pans, no shovel at all" in another one they will let you use a small trowel and a pan, if you go to the USDA "National Forest" website for North Carolina National Forests you will find that it says the following for all of the National Forests in North Carolina...


"Gold Panning and Rockhounding

Some visitors to the national forest like to try their hands at finding minerals or panning for gold. Visitors are asked to following these guidelines when rockhounding or gold panning in the National Forests in North Carolina.

  • Rockhounding and gold panning may take place on most national forest lands – provided only small quantities of material are removed for personal, non-commercial purposes.
  • Recreational rockhounding and gold panning are not allowed in Congressionally-designated wilderness areas or in the corridors of designated wild and scenic rivers.
  • Recreational rockhounding and gold panning are not allowed in forest areas where mineral rights are owned by a private party, or in an area that is under mineral lease to a private party.
  • Permits are required for removal of mineral materials for scientific and research purposes.
  • Commercial removal of minerals requires a prospecting permit from the Bureau of Land Management.
  • Materials must be removed using small hand tools without mechanical means or motorized equipment. Removing mineral materials with a pick, shovel, sluice box or similar large tools can cause significant impacts to resources is considered mechanical so therefore not allowed.
  • Suction dredges are not allowed by forest closure order.
  • Gold pans may be used for gold panning in the beds of streams, but the banks of streams cannot be disturbed by digging or removing materials.
  • Any disturbance to or removal of historical or archaeological artifacts is prohibited by federal law"

So as you can see they says you can't even use a sluice, shovel, or a pick as they are considered to be "Mechanical" :grr01:, so as Hoser John says all the time the cancer of the Klamath is spreading!!

That being said, there are many people still using sluices and shovels in the Uwharrie National Forest, the Rangers there are trying very hard to outlaw them, so it's best to check with the ranger's station in Troy N.C. and get the rules in writing, the Ranger's Station is just outside of the south east portion of the UNF, I would also suggest that you actually stop by the Ranger's station don't just call them, you can get a map from them that shows where you can and where you cannot prospect in the UNF, there are many areas that are private property within the boundaries of the UNF.

" Uwharrie Ranger District

District Ranger, Deborah Walker
789 NC 24/27 East
Troy, NC 27371
(910) 576-6391


You cannot prospect at all in any of the National Parks in the east, in most you can't even pick up a rock and take it home with you, but some of the NP you can pickup... Quote "a handful of rocks" Unquote.

I also agree that the folding sluices aren't that good, IMHO, get a regular small sluice for slow flow for the Uwharrie National Forest, most of the streams there are slow flowing, the Uwharrie River is to deep any where you can access the river to use a sluice in most cases, most everyone prospects in the numerous small streams of the UNF, check the above mentioned maps to be sure you're not on private property.

We use to be able to dredge in the UNF, but that started coming to an end when idiots started dredging in areas that were private property, and the last straw was when a group from an out of state GPAA chapter came there and dug and dredge into the banks and when upon leaving they left tons of trash and the Head Ranger banned dredging,,which was the only way to get any gold out of the Uwharrie river because of the deep of the river!!!!!

If you can get permission from an private land owner that has property in the UNF with any streams or the river coursing through the property you can still dredge the river and streams.

I forgot to mention that DO NOT bring a metal detector into the Uwharrie NF, unless you get a permit from the Ranger's Station, which of course they will not issue to you, if you're caught with a metal detector in the UNF, they will issue you a citation along with a fine and could very well confiscate the detector!!!

Also for Klunker, there are no gators in the Uwharrie National Forest!!

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I personaly am a big fan of the plastic drop riffle sluices. Great recovery, lightwieght...and very easy to clean up. Le Trap makes a good one and Angus McKirk makes them in any size you can think of. The McKirk is made with thicker material so it does

not flex as much. They have a good webpage, check it out before plunking diwn hard money on a traditional style sluice.

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