Let me get started by saying that weekend gold prospecting and mining can be a lot of fun and some adventure for you and your family. You get out into the environment and get some sunshine and exercise which contribute to good health and robust living. Speaking of health the first thing that you should evaluate in relation to mining and gold prospecting is that you are physically fit to get out and hike and climb around areas that might be able to produce gold for you.
If you cannot walk or climb 50-75 feet without getting short of breath you do not belong out in wild country looking for gold. You need to limit your gold prospecting to areas that are within a short walking distance. Look for rivers, streams or desert washes that provide easy access for you and your equipment.
Some people say to me that they have a quad runner and a cell phone to get them out into gold bearing areas which is all well and good but if you have physical limitations you do not want to go out too far and alone where your safety could be compromised. Always go with other people who would like to go prospecting with you or with family members who will go with you. Always remember safety first. Some people take two way radios or cell phones with them to stay in touch with family members and or emergency services. However keep in mind that cell phones do not always work in mountainous areas and two way radios work best in line of site configurations. Radios do not work well around the corner of a group of giant mountain boulders. I know this from experience.
There are some other things to think about regarding safety issues. Are you in snake and scorpion country or in a place where there are red ants and Brown Recluse or Black Widow spiders? If you are then there are some other considerations that you should think about.
Since I live in the Southwest we have all of the above to contend with when we are out gold hunting. The first thing to remember when walking out in any wild environment is to make a lot of noise. Rattlesnakes are just as afraid of us as we are of them except for the Green Mohave rattler. The Green Mohave rattler can be very aggressive and actually chase you and bite you. Not all of them do this but enough of them do for me to provide you with this warning. So be sure to carry a walking stick to smack the bushes when you are making a trail down to your mining site.
Noise usually scares the snakes away or they will let you know where they are by rattling their tails at you. If you come upon one and it is coiled up looking like it could strike – stand still at first then slowly back away. I carry my walking stick in front of me in case I have to use a sweeping motion if the snake strikes to push it quickly aside and get myself away. The next thing is to wear leather gloves. I can think of several people that I know that reached above their line of site onto a gravel bench higher than their eyes and were bitten by snakes and spiders…they had no leather gloves on.
Now you are ready to go gold mining with any number of pieces of equipment that you can take with you. Beginners usually start with gold panning, or dry washing, sluicing, or high-banking. Others use metal detectors to try to find gold nuggets and gold veins or specimens that have broken off of gold bearing materials. All in all its fun and with practice and patience it pays off not just with gold in hand but with the adventure of it all.
P. Wooldridge is a small miner, weekend prospector and Registered Nurse. Her passion is to share her knowledge and skills with those who have never thought of prospecting for gold and with those that are actively doing it. Patti has written a how to manual for those who are interested in extracting gold from various materials like hard rock, micron gold materials, black sand and other sources. Take a look at her newest website and check out the spider bite that almost caused a man to lose his thumb.