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I live in Northern Idaho (Moscow) and bought a gold monster 1000. I can't really complain that it is hard to find gold, as I was warned by the Chris Ralph Fists Full of Gold book to not invest in a metal detector right away without prospecting experience. Frankly it was a bit of an impulse buy as the activity just looked like so much fun, and I read books you can detect outside of the desert I really want to make it work. I haven't had any luck so far despite being out roughly ten times. Went out for the first time this season to a placer mine dump.

This time of year there is still snow in the mountains and the rivers and creeks are overflowing with snowmelt. So I think it is better to wait for awhile before hitting creeks and streams and just target old gold mines which have mine dumps. To research I use the site https://www.idahogeology.org/webmap to give me specific gps coordinates.  I also use sites like thediggings.com to see if there is any mining activity in the area to make sure I don't go on someone's claim, but also that the area is known to have some gold.

I haven't been able to find too many guys doing detecting in a heavily wooded area with a VLF. Which makes sense because VLF's can't get through the mulch and heavy vegetation layer.  Today I went to a lode mine dump and although there were huge piles of dirt I wondered if I would be able to detect any missed nuggets in there unless I was to get the bottom of that huge pile as the heaviness of gold would sink to the bottom. My question is about the application of VLF's in heavily wooded areas. Is it limited to Creeks and Streams? How can the limited depth of VLF's deal with this heavy mulch layer in these placer/load mine dumps in the forest? I'm also curious if my approach is really bad in general. Thanks.

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Welcome to the forum and don't get discouraged yet, there are many experienced people on here that will be able to help you with your questions and detector. I am also new at detecting and am learning how to detect for gold.

For now I have some lead sinkers, pellets, and buck shot to learn with. I am learning the tones and VID numbers that go with them. I also picked up some small nuggets from a couple of people here so I know just how small I can find the pieces in a clean area. Slowly but surely I am getting better with my detector and plan to hit up some of our local creeks that I have found some gold in while panning for gold.

I am sure that you will get plenty of advice here, but it may take time for the right people to see your post.

Good luck and happy hunting.

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Quote...."How can the limited depth of VLF's deal with this heavy mulch layer in these placer/load mine dumps in the forest?"   VLF detectors are good for depth in low to medium mineral soil/rock so the mulch will not effect or depth but if it is 50 mm deep then you will be that much further away from your target. Note PI have a loss of sensitivity on small or pin head size gold bits but high frequency VLF are very good.  Read what is on this forum about the gold monster 1000 and put multiple size lead bits at a lot different depths to get to know what the size and depth the gold monster 1000 can get. I hope this is a starting point of getting gold but the location that you are detecting in has a big factor on a person success in find gold. 

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Northern Idaho has good gold to detect. Hit the creeks where bedrock is exposed, hit the hillsides in the vacinity of old workings. The monster will work very well in heavily wooded regions in Northern Idaho. Contact Idaho Geological survey and get as much publications from them as you can on the placer and hard rock production journals as you can. Also my book will talk alot about detecting in heavily wooded mountains. The gold is there and the monster is capable of finding it.

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Goldseeker has a great book about detecting in areas like yours, it is a very good reference. Also, Steve and several others recommend raking leaves away from areas you suspect have a good potential for gold targets.

Here’s a good article he wrote about using a VLF in a forested area:

Be sure to fill the holes and recover your bare raked areas with leaves and duff when you are finished to hide them and also to help prevent erosion. 

Good luck!

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Pierce, Weippe, Riggins, Clearwater River, etc.  Monster will get em if you do a little digging.

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QUOTE "Don't give up on the VLF's. Lunk & Gerry on this forum encouraged me on the vlf's and I've been trying for 3 years now and have approx 1.5 oz of tiny to medium sized gold pieces and am having fun with it although 70% of my days I'm skunked."

Now that shows what can be done in 3 years, a gold monster paid for and 1½ times the detector price in your pocket. The first 2 years of the Aus. gold metal detecting rush when gold was so called laying everywhere, I had not paid for my detector. Now however I have had a few days where I could of paid for the top today's detector twice over.

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Wow, thanks guys for the great feedback. I'll order that book from goldseeker. It is good to know that there are active detectorists outside of the Nevada, Arizona, Canada, or northern California areas. With some of these tips I'm sure it will help me find my first nuggie or picker. I'm excited for the snow to melt so I can get into the streams in the gold districts of Wallace(north) or Pierce(south).

I still have lots of questions, but this has given me encouragement and some new approaches to try. I'm thinking I can use some of the documentation to pinpoint my search further.

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On 4/9/2021 at 9:24 PM, SteveInIdaho said:

My question is about the application of VLF's in heavily wooded areas. Is it limited to Creeks and Streams? How can the limited depth of VLF's deal with this heavy mulch layer in these placer/load mine dumps in the forest? I'm also curious if my approach is really bad in general. Thanks.

Steve I have been using VLF's to find gold for only four years, but I hunt wooded areas a lot. You have to be willing to do more research, dig more holes, and work harder than the other guys. Every time I've been lazy I walk away with less gold. If the spot is hard to get to, trashy, or requires moving overburden I have a better chance. Most people are lazy, or older, or too out of shape to clear off a few hundred square feet of good ground to detect or even hike a few miles uphill to get to the good spots. They want a place they can drive right up to, get out and in ten feet find nuggets on the surface. Or places accessible to side by sides or quads. Go where they can't go!

While placer gold is often found on bedrock, you can also find pocket gold with a VLF. Most of the pieces I've found in the past two years have been pocket gold, from eroded veins exposed by soil depletion and erosion. If you are looking for placer gold you will do best by finding areas with about 4-8 inches of hard pack or overburden on top of bedrock. Shale, slate, or serpentine with vertical orientation is a natural gold trap. 

For old workings make sure to check their tailings, and keep in mind they were either classifying or hand stacking muddy rocks. Mud can trap gold and after 150 years of rain some gets washed out. Similarly, specimen gold would sometimes roll all the way down their long toms or sluices since it was too light to get caught in the riffles. So check where the sluice dumped out.  Also check the edges of the workings where the giants couldn't wash, or they just stopped the work. Tree roots, islands of unworked material, and crevices may hold nuggets. But they also hold a lot of trash. River bottoms can be tough for VLF's since the bedrock is often hot. So I usually look for places with just enough original overburden to give me a buffer as well as possibly hold some nuggets.

When I first started detecting for gold I dug about 200 pieces of trash per nugget. I have a few ounces now but I still dig about 50-75 pieces of trash per nugget. That's the nature of it I guess.

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