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Rookie’s Guide to Prospecting

April 10, 2017

Prospecting Gold

What comes to mind when you think of gold prospecting? There’s a pretty good chance that you think of the gold rush; old men with long beards, wearing flannel shirts and suspenders holding up their pants, stooped over streams and riverbeds with old tin pans. Discovering gold brought about sheer joy. And while California is one of the most well-known states for prospectors hitting it big, there are several other states that harbor hidden treasures, including Alaska. Even today, searching for Alaskan gold is a popular hobby. You, too, can experience the same excitement of hitting your own paydirt. If you’re thinking of picking up panning as a pastime, here are a few things you should know.

Tools of the Trade

These days, there are some pretty fancy tools for discovering gold concentrates. However, a good majority of the top of the line gold prospecting tools can cost several thousand dollars. As a rookie prospector, who is only going out in search of Alaskan gold as a hobby, you may not be ready to drop $1,600 on a dredge or $1,200 on a dry washer. Fortunately, you don’t need all of this pricy equipment to have a good time.

You can get by with very minimal tools as a rookie. All you really need is a shovel, a pan for sifting sand (preferably a blue or green plastic pan to help you see the black sand better, and still easily pick out gold concentrates), something to pick out tiny gold flakes (such as tweezers or a snuffer bottle), and a vial to store your treasure. If you don’t want to pan at the stream or river, and would prefer to do so at a campsite, you really only need a tub with a dozen or so gallons of water and a few extra pails.

Benefits of Joining a Prospecting Club

As a first-timer, it can be difficult to know where to go to try and find gold. If you’re not too sure where to start – what tools to get, where to look, etc. – you can always consider joining a gold prospector’s club. These organizations are filled with all kinds of interesting people who have a lot of useful information, and it’s a great opportunity to meet different people who share a similar interest.

As a member of a gold prospecting club, you are given numerous advantages. First, you have access to a wealth of information. You can learn where to go to find gold. You have access to all of the club’s claims, rather than worrying about whether you are taking over someone else’s claims were you to strike out on your own. You will get some experience using a GPS or compass. You will also acquire some rather handy wilderness experience. With a club, you can go out in groups, allowing you to share the joy of striking paydirt together.

Ideal Areas to Look

Now it’s time to figure out just where to look for your gold concentrates. When you get to the stream or riverbed, you will need to do a little bit of analyzing. Gold is 19 times heavier than a similar volume of water. It is also about 6 times heavier than any solid materials that are carried downstream by fast moving currents. With this in mind, it stands to reason that any areas of a stream or river that slow the current, such as bends, boulders or any other type of obstructions, will be where the gold settles.

If you are not quite ready to wade out into the water to dig around underwater obstructions, not to worry. There are still plenty of other places to look. Check out riverbends, inside them, to be more precise. Areas with lots of rocks and gravel are good places to look. Riverbends with grass growing above them can also prove worthy. Even dry riverbeds are good places to look, especially around protruding rocks and trees. Just be sure to be careful around tree roots and fill in the holes when you’re done.

Taking Samples

Before you get too invested in one particular area, it’s a good idea to take samples. Sampling helps you to determine whether or not gold actually exists in your chosen site. There are a few ways you can choose to go about prospecting. Much like the pros, you can sample several spots in your chosen area first, choosing to stick with the spot that yields the most promising paydirt first (the most gold concentrates), or you can stick with the first place you sample that you discover gold. It’s really up to you how exactly you choose to go about it.

Use Your Time Wisely and Have Fun!

Now, since gold prospecting is really just a hobby (although a truly fun one once you hit your paydirt!), you probably don’t have all that much time to pan for gold. After all, as much fun as you’re having collecting your Alaskan gold, you most likely still have other responsibilities at home. For this reason, it’s important to use your time wisely. If you have a camp set up with a water basin, once you find gold concentrates in some areas, you may want to consider gathering a bunch of paydirt. You may even decide to bring home concentrate you haven’t fully panned home, to pan at your leisure. No matter how you choose to spend your time, you’re sure to have a great time!

Finding gold, no matter if you find a few flakes or some larger nuggets, is an extremely rewarding experience. But you may not always have the time to head out in search of your own paydirt. This is where Eureka Joe’s comes into play. We sell bags, and buckets, of rich Alaskan paydirt, all guaranteed to contain gold concentrates and at least one gold nugget. You can pan for Alaskan gold right from the comfort of your own home. Eureka Joe’s has done the hard work for you, all you need to do is sift through and find your paydirt!

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