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Recently we shipped out one of the all new weatherproof Fisher F44 metal detectors to our buddy Rob down in the Ozarks. Although we have had one on display in the shop, and really like how it performed in the test garden, we wanted to get a proven Fisher user to run the traps on this detector and give us some feedback. So far it has been good news. Although he is going to wait until he uses it more to provide a full report, he wanted to provide us the sneak preview below. Check it out:
I couldn’t wait to try out my new Fisher F44 metal detector, so this past weekend I took it out on a field test, literally. I got to the fairgrounds at 6:30 am and watched the sunrise over the tree tops on the horizon. I knew that being lucky enough to see the sunrise was the real treasure and that it would be a good day no matter what, especially since I was out detecting with the Fisher F44 for the first time!
Setting the machine up was easy, especially for never having used an F44 before. The menu settings were easy to understand and straightforward and I was set up and ready to swing in just a couple of minutes. The setting I used was Jewelry mode with Iron notched out, Sensitivity on 19 which is one below max, and Volume set at 9.
After that, I found a clean area to ground balance the machine. Ground balancing was easy, and was just a matter of holding the Ground Grab button down, and pumping the coil a few times over the clean area of ground. I was off and running!
The first coin the F44 found was a Susan B. Anthony Dollar and the tone hit hard. I knew it was a coin, but imagine my surprise when a dollar coin popped out of the plug!
After that, I pretty much dug all targets to get a feel for the target notching and tones. The Fisher F44 tones were very similar to the Fisher F2 and F5 I’ve used in the past, so the tones were very easy to recognize and all coins found hit hard and target numbers locked on solid.
As you can see in the photo, the F44 sniffed out quite a few coins on it’s maiden hunt. It even found a token at an old house on an evening hunt:
What I found neat was that the token says “HH” on it, and as you know, detectorists always say “Happy Hunting!”
All in all it was a great first hunt with the Fisher F44. It found quite a few coins, a cool token and even a Susan B. Anthony dollar. I found it an easy to understand machine, and even easier to program for the type of detecting I wanted to do.
I can’t wait to see what else it finds on the next hunt!
– Rob aka ‘Ozarks’
This is the first question anyone who has bitten by the bug will ask. Fortunately there is a plethora of information available with a simple Google Search: where to find gold. If you already did that and somehow landed on this site, welcome. I will do my best to make it clear and simple. I will give you several answers that you may hear elsewhere, then I will give you my concise answer as a wrap up to this post (please feel free to skip ahead).
The Old Timer’s Answer
“Gold is where you find it,” you will hear many a old prospectors say. Which is true. But isn’t that true about anything? If something is not where you find it, did you ever really even find it? Is that even possible? For that reason, I don’t like this answer. If, in the answer, you mean you just gotta get out and find it, well, then I guess it is kind of true. Simply put. The first step in going out to get gold is you have to get off your ass and go find it.
The Scientific Answer
In all reality gold is scattered pretty much everywhere. If you believe in science and astronomy then you believe the Earth was formed by a cataclysmic event. The theory: A huge explosion or perhaps a chunk of an impact created the planet we call home. Either way, the elements that make up that chunk of earth were a mangled mass of everything. Churning and moving as the elements settled into place. In some places within this massive hunk of material certain elements were more heavily concentrated. Whether it was because of their atomic weight, attraction to other elements, size, whatever, it collected and settled where it did.
Over time these elements have been moved around via various volcanic activity, the effects of weather, erosion, or any other of Mother Nature’s hands. By “over time” I am talking a period that is virtually unfathomable to humans. I am talking billions of years (about 4.5 actually). Folks, you can’t count to even one billion. That gives plenty of time for things to be moved and shifted all across the globe. Although it concentrated in many places, it was actually spread just about everywhere upon initial impact. So, yeah, gold is where you find it. But, in order to find it in paying quantities, you have to find it concentrated.
Consider this: Every drop of ocean water contains gold. It is measured in parts per trillion though. That makes approximately 20 million tons of gold just waiting to be mined from the ocean. The only problem is it’s also approximately impossible to mine feasibly. It would be a losing endeavor with any current means of extracting it.
People from California, Colorado, or Arizona get a chuckle when I tell them I own a prospecting shop in Kansas. Their faces contort before they ask the same question they all ask: “Does Kansas even have gold?” The answer is yes. But not in paying quantities. If I want to find gold that is worth mining, I have to travel. I do prospect in Kansas though. Becauses gold prospecting and gold mining are two different things. Sometimes it is more about getting out into nature and playing in the dirt than it is about making a dollar.
If I want a dollar I will work for it. If I want some nature, I go prospecting.
The largest gold producing state in the United States is Nevada, producing about 80% of the nation’s gold annually. Although you can do some surface mining of placer deposits, most of the gold is not even visible to the naked eye. It has to be leached from low grade ore using poisonous chemicals. That serves as a good reminder that most gold is not just laying on the surface ready to be picked up some passerby. That has been widely done for several hundred years and much of the easy pickins have done been picked.
The good news is that most of the gold contained on the earth has yet to be found. Only a small percentage has been. But that also means that in order to find good gold, you have to roll your sleeves up further and get a little dirtier than you in the past.
Okay, hopefully you understand what I mean. God is out there, you just got to go out and find it. And, it ain’t going to be easy. That is the mistake many prospectors make. They think they are going to strike it rich or even be able to pay for some luxuries with their finds. 9 out of 10 serious prospectors hardely pay for their fuel to partake in the “hobby”. Because, unless you are doing it for a living, that is what it is…a hobby. It’s best to remember that. Don’t do it for the money and you won’t be disappointed.
Okay, Jabber Jaw, you ask, “In a simple (and hopefully less wordy) way, where do you find gold?” Well the truth is, it is not a short answer. And, I cannot tell you specifically or perhaps, rather, I choose not to. I would be a fool to do so. What I can tell you is the types of places you can find gold. This is about all you will get from any real prospector or miner. But it is key in using your time effectively in the field. Willy nilly walking up and down the shores of a river is a waste of time. Knowing where gold is most likely to be is a good place to start.
Understanding some basic laws of physics with a sprinkle of geology will help get you get on the right spots. Let’s start by learning the two types of gold you will be looking for:
Lode Gold – This is gold that is found in rocks, mountains, etc. It is concentrated gold formed by some sort of geological event. Much of this gold was brought up from deep beneath the earth when tectonic plates shift, causing heat that results in melted rock and metals concentrating and flowing to a place of less pressure (i.e. the surface of the earth). This gold is typically found in veins of companion materials such as quartz.
Placer Gold – Pronounced “plasser” this is gold that was most likely once lode gold. Over time the forces of nature erode and degredate the rock which contained the lode gold until all that is left is the gold. This gold is often further concentrated by the forces of nature, most notably water and gravity (although wind certainly can play a role over time). This is why a basic understanding of a few physical characteristics is important.
This takes the answer to the question a couple different directions, resulting in two separate questions.
First: Where do you find gold in hard rock?
Finding visible gold in hard rock can be done, but it is hard. Most lode gold that is visible to the naked eye has been mined. This is because if you see gold in a vein of quartz you dig and dig until that vein runs out – which is often deep under ground. I get countless samples brought into the shop or shipped so I can check them out and see if there is any gold. Many of them have small amounts of gold, like the video I did called Hard Rock Sampling for Gold where we sampled some rock for a customer who had brought some rocks back from an actual gold mine in Colorado. If you read the video description you will get into my estimated math on the grade of the gold content. Without getting into too many details, here is the simple fact: Unless you have visible gold, as a small time prospector, it is hardly worth extracting gold from rocks. Big operations can because of economies of scale.
For instance, the Carlin Trend area of Nevada, one of the richest deposits in the world, has no visible gold. It is low grade. They douse massive amounts of crushed rock with cyanide to suck out the gold and other minerals. It is a very costly and time consuming process. It has to be done on a grand scale to make it pay off. On a small scale, it would be fruitless.
Don’t let that discourage you. Hunting the desert mountainside for veins and trying to find gold can be fun and rewarding. It is quite possible to find visible gold in these veins. You can chip it out and keep it as a specimen or take it home and crush it up using a pneumatic mortar and pestle like the one we sell on our website (the same one we used in our video Rock Crushing For Gold and Backyard Panning). Overtime this hobby can pay off if you just keep accumulating everything you find. Just try to find rock that has some visible gold if you are looking for some sort of financial return, otherwise you are just spinning your wheels. If you are just prospecting and want to find some gold, crush away!
Second: Where do you find placer gold?
Placer gold is usually found in what is known as alluvial materials. These are materials that are washed and moved around by water of some sort. Since much of the U.S. was once covered in glaciers and freshwater lakes, that leaves a lot of space worth investigating. Rivers are alway changing courses and you might be able to dig several hundred yards away from an existing river and find the old river channel. If it is known gold producing area, this is a good place to look (if you have an excavator that is). The obvious place to look,and often most easy to access, is the river itself. This is where a good gold pan comes in handy. Before you can mine, you first have to prospect and a pan is the quickest, easiest way.
The Laws of Physics and Gold Prospecting
Don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you…well not for long that is. We are only going to discuss a few terms, and they are:
Density and Mass – Simply put, gold is a very heavy element and its molecules are structured very dense. Heavier than most anything you will find in nature. It is over 18 times heavier than water and about twice as heavy as lead. This is important to know. Gold will always be trying to work its way to the bottom, wherever it is. Also, unlike some of the other material it may be found with, it doesn’t really like to move anywhere but downward. More on that later.
Specific Gravity – Specific gravity is basically a ratio of an item’s weight and mass versus another material. Imagine a heavy granite rock, the size of a softball. Let’s say it weighs two pounds. In comparison, a two pound ball of gold, may be the size of a small baseball (this is just an example, don’t beat me up over exactly how big a 2 lb piece of gold is). Now, imagine a thousand of these softball sized rocks are combined with a hundred of the baseball sized along with tens of thousands of various other sizes of rocks. They are all put into a huge mixing bowl filled with water. They are all mixed up and allowed to settle back down in the bowl. What you would find if you peeled away the sediment, layer by layer, is that the two pound gold pieces could be found in about the same location as the two pound rocks. This is because of specific gravity. In water, items of the same weight tend to hang out in the same spot even if they are a different size.
Now, let’s say that mixing bowl is actually a river and instead of a bowl and the sizes of rocks and pieces of gold are infinite in variation. Knowing about specific gravity will allow you to apply these principles to your hunt for gold. Knowing how to classify material, for example, will help increase your gold recovery. Knowing where heavy materials accumulate on an alluvial plane will help you know what layer of material to focus on excavating.
Fluid Dynamics – Fluid dynamics, or more specifically hydrodynamics is the study of the flow of a substance. In our case, water. Knowing how water flows, and where it takes the materials suspended within that flow, are key to knowing where to look for gold in an existing or ancient streambed. It is one of the key elements for you to find gold hot spots.
“What does it all mean Bazzle?” Well the three things I briefly mention above are the reason gold tends to accumulate where it does. And when you can find that spot, you will soon realize that where you find a little gold you can quite possibly find more. Then, you will find that most of the places you find gold are very similar physically. They are:
Inside Bends of Rivers and Streams (i.e. gravel bars) – When gold travels down a stream (which it doesn’t really like doing) it likes to take the shortest possible route – and that is a straight line. The inside bend of a creek may stand in the way of that trajectory and hang up the gold. Additionally this is where water slows while the faster water shoots around the outside bend. Gold likes to stay still in water. It will find the inside bend, or as we will soon discuss, a spot behind a boulder and just sit there until a flood comes along that is strong enough to move it on down the stream. If it is caught in swift water it will do everything in its power to find a resting place.
Behind Boulders and Large Rocks – Water forms what is called an eddy when it encounters some sort of obstruction in it’s path. This may be in the form of a sunken log, a huge boulder, or some sort of rock outcropping. We’ll use a boulder as an example. An eddy is natural whirlpool type action of water behind the rock. Imagine it as a vortex or a pocket behind the rock where heavy materials tend to accumulate because of their physical characteristics. Imagine is as a little gold safe haven where it can escape from the torrents of rushing water. As gold rushes by this boulder gold accumulates behind it.
Low Areas and Cracks in Bedrock – Gold is heavy and it likes to be as low as possible. Starting at the top of a mountain, it may make a lifetime journey to end up in the bottom of a river. Any opportunity for it to sink lower, it will take. If there is a natural low area it will huddle up there until forced out. Cracks in bedrock that run perpendicular to the flow of water are virtual hot spots.
Confluences (a place where two rivers or streams meet) – The action of two rivers meeting in a “Y” or “T” shape is also a good place to look as long as it is not too turbulent. On the downstream side of the intersection below the tributary (the one with less volume that spills into the main channel) there will be an eddy where gold can accumulate. During a drought when the water is really low or if the tributary ever dries up it is prime time to pick around and look for gold here.
Here’s how to prospect for placer gold (finally)
Find one of the places mentioned above. Take some of the sedimentary material (remember, the heavy stuff will be deeper and the lighter stuff will be on top. Gold will be with the heavies). Put that material in a gold pan. Pan it out. If there is gold there, dig deeper and clean out that location as best you can. If there is no gold, keep going. Look only in the places where it is likely to be. Sure, you may find gold elsewhere in the stream, but your odds increase dramatically when you know where to look.
Various Old Timers
So many books on prospecting I cannot even remember their names.
As you may have seen on our YouTube Channel, we really like to metal detect around farmsteads and homesteads that date in the 1800’s to early 1900’s. This is most likely due to the fact that, besides old ghost towns, this is about the most exciting metal detecting that can be had around here. Regardless of where you are limited to metal detecting, if you are hunting the site correctly, you can increase your odds of recovering a worthwhile item.
Is there a right and wrong way to metal detect?
No, not necessarily. I have often been out on a hunt with someone who has never even held a metal detector. They flutter around this way and that digging every signal they hear. Meantime I methodically hunt what I think should be hot spots, dodging the newbie as they zoom by, analyzing my targets before I dig. Not 10 minutes into the hunt, the fledgling squeals out, “A silver coin!” They make the best find of the day on their first day while I go home with a pouch of shredded beer can. There is a great deal of chance involved for sure. But, by metal detecting a certain way, you can increase your efficiency in the field and raise your trash-to-treasure ratio immensely.
I am not the type of person to grid out a property and sift through every inch like an archaeologist might. But, there are certain things you can do to help you score more goodies and less junk. Here is one method I have been taught that will help you in an old farmstead and homestead situation.
The Triangle of Treasure
Bear in mind that old farmsteads will be LOADED with iron junk. It will be loaded with all types of junk. Tin roof pieces, iron implement pieces, nuts, bolts and even the modern day aluminum cans dropped by area high schoolers who discover the 3-foot rock foundation of the smoke house makes for a great little bonfire pit. The same reason old properties are the best to hunt is the same reason why they will have so much junk to tend with. They have been in use for a LONG time. Remember the equation:
TIME + CONGREGATION= >TREASURE
Anywhere people have gathered over time is typically a good place to metal detect. So, dealing with a little junk is not an issue. It is only part of the equation. You have to get rid of some of the junk to find the hidden treasure below. This is a well known fact. Since we know this, it makes sense to focus our efforts in potential “hot spots” and then, once fully metal detected move out from there.
So, where are the hotspots on an old farmstead? And what the hell is this Triangle of Treasure?
Back in the day people were outside a lot more than we are today. They had to go outside to get water. They had to go outside to go potty. They had to go outside to do nearly everything. You just have to ask yourself, where was the traffic highest? Where were people most likely to drop valuables?
The obvious places to metal detect are in and around old stone foundations. These can be hard to find in tall grass and often all that remains above the surface are a couple rocks. Wells are another area commonly visited throughout the day. Metal detect around it thoroughly. Finally the barn or shed, make sure to detect inside and out of this structure. The less obvious place is the land in between all of these structures. An old timer told me to draw an imaginary line from each of these three structures forming a triangle and to focus my metal detecting efforts there. Since people were traveling between these structures frequently, there was more likely to be coins and other items dropped in this locale. Also, if you can find the privy, you can draw a square and focus your efforts within it. I would have mentioned this earlier but Square of Treasure just didn’t sound as good.
Other Treasure Hot Spots on an Old Farmstead.
The “privy” or outhouse is usually located downwind of the main house. Any given locale has a prevailing wind find the house, know the prevailing wind, and you can find the privy.
If there was a cellar on the property, this is a potential hot spot too. This is where most of the perishable goods were stored and it was frequented throughout the day. Also hit the old driveway, an obvious place where things may have been dropped when the occupants and visitors traveled to and from town. You may have to look at an old plat map to find the drive as they are frequently lost to mother nature and may only be recognized by the sudden appearance of gravel in your hole.
More than likely if there is a stream, this served as a water source during the wet months. There would have been a well worn path beaten to it then that is now long gone. Hunting along the creek near an old homestead is always a good idea too.
This is just some information I figured I would pass along after being asked this question the other day. Please feel free to comment or ask questions below!
In my last post I listed the Top Three Pieces of Gear Vital to Metal Detecting. Here I listed, in order the equipment that every metal detectorist should have and why they were so vital.
Those items were:
- Hand Held Metal Detector
- Digging Tool
Although there is some flexibility with these items in terms of brands, features, etc., most metal detectorists will agree these three items are necessary tools to find buried metal effectively. From there, you can add countless tools to your repertoire. For some of these items, each one adds another element of efficiency. The more quality the gear, the more effective you will be at recovering more treasure and less trash.
In the spirit of not spending too much on unnecessary gear, I decided to make this a three part series. In this second part I would like to list and validate what I feel are the next 5 pieces of metal detecting equipment a treasure hunter should consider purchasing. These items will help make your metal detecting experience not only more productive, but also more enjoyable.
5 Very Useful Metal Detecting Tools (that aren’t totally necessary)
Treasure Pouches – It sounds like an obvious thing and any pouch will work. But, some manufacturers have come out with products that interact. My favorite is the Garrett Treasure Pouch. It is a very simple design but provides the two things necessary in a pouch. First, it has a large compartment which can be used to hold the trash you dig up in the field. It also has a small separate compartment with a zipper for valuables. Learn from my mistakes, this is crucial!
I always warn people of storing trash and treasure together. Do it long enough and you WILL lose one of our valueables out in the field….and nothing dampens a detecting trip like backtracking to try to find something you already found once!
One additional feature of the Garrett Treasure Pouch is that it has loops similar to that of webbing on a ruck sack. It is perfectly situated and fitted for the holster that comes stock with the Garrett Pro Pointer.
Protective Covers & Cases – Although modern metal detectors have come a long way in their design and durability, one can never be too careful with expensive electronic tools. Your metal detector is a tool. If you take care of your tools they will be in good working condition when you call upon them for assistance in completing a job.
Coil Covers protect one of the most valuable parts of the metal detector…the coil. This is one of the things I always recommend a person buy…especially if they intend on possibly upgrading down the road. The first thing we will look at is the condition of the coil. They tend to get banged around a lot and can chip and wear out over time. For around $12 bucks this is a no brainer.
Control Housing Covers protect the “brains” of the detector. They protect from dust, scratches, and normal wear and tear. And, unless you are using a waterproof metal detector like the Garrett AT Pro, you will need one if you are detecting in the rain.
Finally a carrying bag is a good way to protect your overall investment. There are quite a few inexpensive bags that can be used for your metal detector. Honestly it is hard to beat a soft side bag similar to what you would carry an assault rifle in. Fortunately, Garrett has come up with a good quality, soft sided, metal detector bag that is slightly less likely to be mistaken for a gun…although the digital camo still may cause confusion at the airport.
More Digging & Recovery Tools – The list of treasure recovery tools is almost endless. I mentioned a few types in the previous post but there are so many options, it could have been a blog post on its own. Picks, shovels, probes, and crevicing tools are common tools. Then there are the not so common. When you are hunting on a beach or in water for instance, the best way to recover a target may be to use a sand scoop. There are a variety of sand scoops and they come in a variety of types. There are long handled sand scoops, short galvanized sand scoops, and there are plastic scoops which makes determining if you removed the target a bit easier. Terrain is an important part of choosing your recovery tool. Hard rocky soil may warrant a good heavy pick to chip through the tough soil.
Coil Varieties –Different detectorists have different coil preferences due to the difference of potential depth, change in kHz, size of detection field, etc. Many metal detectors have interchangeable coils. This allows you to use, for instance, a coil like the sniper coil in areas where space is tight (for example gold prospecting). Additionally you can purchase larger coils which will allow for increased detection depth. Really, it is all personal preference and based largely on your hunt site. I recommend experimenting with different coils in each place you have an opportunity to hunt over time. You may very well find targets you had passed over in the past. Coiltek is an aftermarket brand of metal detectors that makes coils for a variety of different brands. They even make a 40″ x 20″ elliptical (shown left)coil made for finding deep patches of gold that were previously out of reach of the average coil.
Precious Metal Testing Kits – After you have dug up nearly every type of metal in existence you will get really good at determining what metal they are. Lead for instance oxidizes as it ages and becomes almost white. It is very heavy and easy for the trained eye to identify. Other metals like silver can be a little tricky. Especially if it is tarnished. Certain stainless items can sometimes be mistaken for silver. Additionally, if you find a piece of gold and want to see how much it is worth, you will need to first know how its karat content (assuming it’s not stamped). You can identify potentially precious metals by using a relatively simple acid test (and yes, this is where the term “acid test” comes from). There are tests available to test for varying levels of gold content, silver, platinum, and even nickel (for testing possible meteorites).
- Fisher F44 Diaries – Hunt 2
- The New Fisher F44 Metal Detector – A First Impression
- FAQ: I am new at prospecting. How and Where do you find gold?
- FAQ: Where Do I Start When Metal Detecting an Old Farmstead or Homestead?
- 5 Items That Make Metal Detecting Easier and More Enjoyable (But Are Not Absolutely Necessary )
- What is the difference between the Garrett AT Pro and AT Gold? on
- What is the difference between the Garrett AT Pro and AT Gold? on
- Day 6 Metal Detecting – Following Old Frontier Trails on
- Day 6 Metal Detecting – Following Old Frontier Trails on
- June 2014 Metal Metal Detecting and Treasure Finds Prize Contest on