By Steve Herschbach
This year has not been going exactly as I imagined it would. My stated goal for the year was to set a new record for days in the field detecting. So far however, it has been anything but that. No complaint - I have been devoting myself to visiting family and other things that took precedence over prospecting. Weather has also been a bit dodgy this spring leading me to sit out things a little waiting for better conditions.
What time I have had for prospecting has mainly been spent in northern Nevada. I am really taken with the desert and am very partial to the sagebrush and grassland country. It reminds me a lot of the time I spent in Australia with huge wide open spaces to wander. I enjoy the idea that gold can be found nearly anyplace, the exact opposite of Alaska, and I love just wandering from valley bottom to hill top because, well, you just never know. There is some old and interesting geology here that leaves nuggets in what might seem to be pretty unlikely locations. I did find one nice little patch that produced about half my gold this spring, but the rest were just strangely random isolated nuggets. I would find one and get all excited, then after several hours of methodically gridding the area wonder why that one nugget ended up there all alone. My largest nugget, at 3/4 oz, was just such a find. I wandered out of what looked to be the "good area" and just lucked into this nugget all by itself on a hillside far above the valley floor. Where did it come from? Why nothing else near it?
I like to wander around freely but due to the nature of the gold deposits I am relying heavily on the GPZ 7000 map screen and GPS track to attack areas in chunks. I just start someplace and then use the GPS mapping screen to fill in all the pixels as completely as I am able in a given area. My goal is to completely hunt that area and then write it off forever as being hunted. Each hunt area is dumped to X-Change building my master map of hunted areas. I am approaching it much like building a jigsaw puzzle, each planned hunt taking in a segment and filling it completely. I still like to wander around a lot but the main focus is long term - the many years I have ahead of me hunting these areas. I could just do what I have always done and hunt piecemeal but I decided it is time to switch gears and get more methodical about things. I figure there is a lot of that random "scattered gold" out there and that a slower long term goal to gather it up is a major part of my plan going forward. Using GPS mapping is key to getting good coverage while eliminating the chance I might waste time hunting and rehunting the same locations over the years.
The GPZ is also critical to this effort as I have great confidence in its ability to sniff out almost any gold that finds its way under the coil. Small gold, flat gold, wire gold, deep gold - the GPZ is my gold vacuum. All detectors miss gold, including the GPZ. But right now if I have to hunt an area once and once only, and have my best shot at finding what might be there, I do not know of a better option for me than the GPZ 7000. One detector, one coil, one pass over the ground ever - what are you going to use?
If gold is found a person of course has the luxury of coming back with different coils and different detectors and trying to find gold missed before. The problem is finding that first nugget. If it does not get found, you just wander on, never knowing that maybe you just missed a great patch, for the lack of finding that first, most important nugget. I am convinced there are many undiscovered patches out there still. The patches with the big easy to find solid gold may be very rare now, but "weak" patches comprised of smaller, or deeper, and harder to find specimen type gold surely exist. They will be found by people hunting outside the commonly known popular areas. That is what I have been doing. Hunting locations where other prospectors are rarely if ever seen. I honestly think I have been a bit lucky as of late but the methodology is sound and it is what I will be doing for as long as I have left to swing a detector.
I continue to follow the various posts around the world about the GPZ 7000 and people's experiences with it. Mine are pretty boring. I turn the machine on, maybe do a quick ground balance routine, and go detecting. I may not even go through the ground balance motions. I just turn it on and pick up from where I left off the previous day. I usually run in High Yield, Normal Ground, Gain of 12, Smoothing Off, Ground Tracking On. I leave most audio settings alone. The detector will often run noisy with these settings, especially in alkali locations. I may lower the threshold to 20 to knock out some excess noise, or just lower the overall volume level using my headphones. The GPZ lacks a master volume control that lowers all sounds at once, and so benefits from the use of an external booster with master volume control. The problem for me is that is one more battery operated gizmo, and so I often just use my headphones instead to gain the overall volume control I crave. I tend to run my detectors noisy but like it to be quiet/noisy not loud/noisy.
When the ground responses get a bit much, as is the case with ground salt, I react more by slowing down and modifying my swing than changing detector settings. So far I would say about half the gold I found was pulled out of fairly high salt response ground with the attendant moaning/groaning or hee/haw responses the GPZ produces in that type of ground. That seems to be a show stopper for a lot of people but I don't pay much attention to it myself. I have this theory that killing those responses might kill my gold finding capability on this ground to a certain extent, as I know some of these locations have seen other detectors that ignored the salt. They also missed the gold. Coincidence? Maybe. I have plans for more experiments regarding this but have had a hard time tearing myself away from my limited detecting time to do more comparative tests. Later.
Anyway, I have quietly picked up just over a couple ounces of gold with my GPZ 7000 so far this spring. The largest nugget is 3/4 oz and there are several other nice pieces I am very happy with. Nice solid, clean gold, my kind of stuff. An odd mix from very worn appearing to rough. I am unfortunately getting waylaid again with things I must attend to before I can go prospecting again and so I decided I may as well post this update now. It could be weeks before I get out prospecting again. Until then, here are some happy pictures to enjoy.
More Information on Minelab GPZ 7000
Click photos for larger versions...
This post was promoted to an article
By Rod K
I have heard a lot about Rye Patch Nevada and now that we are retired the wife and i are thinking about taking a trip down there so i can do some detecting for nuggets? We have a 4x4 PU and small 18' camp trailer. Are there areas you can get to with a trailer and set up close to where you want to hunt. Is it even possible to get a trailer in there? Can anyone go and hunt? We are thinking about some time in May, weather in Oregon and over the passes permitting. Any chance some of you might be there and be willing to give a new comer some tips on nugget detecting. I have a Minelab GPX 4000, a Minelab Gold Monster 1000 and a Whites Gold Master V-sat. all of which i need a lot more experience with. Hope to see some of you there.
By Reno Chris
Many of the prospectors here sometimes prospect in Northern Nevada, and like a number of GPZ users prospecting in northern Nevada, I have been experiencing issues in certain places with the GPZ moaning and groaning over wet ground that is a little bit salty. The amount of salt in the ground at various places in northern Nevada ranges from not salty at all to fairly salty with all ranges in between. When fully dried out this ground is no problem, but when wet it is a whole different story. Some places the salt is no issue, while in others it is very noticeable. Salt, by itself, is not conductive and dry salt will not respond to a metal detector, but when dissolved in water the salty solution is conductive. The extreme of this is wet ocean beach sand. The salty placer areas of northern Nevada are not nearly as salty as ocean beach sand but they have proven to be salty enough to cause the GPZ to have difficulty with this ground. Here in Northern Nevada we have had an unusually wet period of about the last six weeks. Much ground is now saturated wet and in places there are even puddles of standing water. Even where the surface is dried out, an inch or two below the dry surface crust the ground is fairly damp.
I was camped recently in an RV park in the Pershing / Humboldt County gold areas of northern Nevada and was approached by GPZ owners also staying in the same park expressing their concerns about the GPZ ground balancing in these areas of salty wet ground. A good ground balance with a stable and quiet threshold cannot be achieved in these areas. A slow swing speed is the best way to deal with the groaning at present. Slowing way down does greatly reduce the groaning, but it does not totally eliminate it. The good news is that once this ground dries out fully, the GPZ will have no problem with the ground. The downside of this is that we have had so much rain in the last six weeks that it will likely take more than a month of dry weather before the ground dries out to the point where the salt will no longer be an issue.
So I wanted to make some tests to determine what level of problem the salty ground is really causing out here in northern Nevada. A while back, Steve found a nugget patch in northern Nevada. I will not say where or exactly when that occurred, but the ground is salty and does groan quite a bit with the GPZ when its wet. In some spots on this area the wet ground really does make quite a bit of noise. Steve gridded the spot very carefully with his GPZ, and I walked around on it afterward with my GPZ and did not find any additional gold – he cleaned it very well. However, we have had a lot of rain in the last two months and I consider this an excellent spot to try out an alternative to the GPZ to see if the salty ground would cause targets to be missed. I wondered if there might be very small bits that the GPZ had missed because the groaning ground overwhelmed the target response of small targets. I figured the SDC 2300 would be a great alternative to see what, if anything, the GPZ might have left behind. So I took my SDC 2300 to the spot to see what I could find. First, I will say that even in the non-salt mode, the SDC 2300 did not have nearly the same level of difficulty with the salt. In the salt mode, the SDC was nice and quiet. I have to admit that the nice quiet threshold of the SDC was a lot more pleasant to listen to than the moaning and groaning of the GPZ. I went over the spot fairly well with the SDC and found a number of very small pieces of trash, the vast majority of which were tiny pieces of steel window screen manufactured with a wire less than a quarter of a millimeter in diameter. I did find one small nugget which weighed 0.22 g on my very accurate scale.
Here is my conclusion after testing the SDC with its salt mode versus the GPZ on salty ground with comparatively shallow gold:
First, Steve didn't miss much. Even though his detector moaned and groaned (and my GPZ did too), he was hearing essentially all the targets in the ground. He may have missed one very small nugget, and the window screen wire bits were very small and near or possibly below the limit of what the GPZ could hear anyway (I think on these tiniest of targets, the SDC is a bit more sensitive). My conclusion about this testing was that if you know what to listen for and listen carefully on that salty Northern Nevada ground, you are not missing much of anything with your GPZ. The ground noise may be annoying to listen to, but if you're listening carefully you're not missing much. I now have more confidence in my GPZ going over these grounds – it will be nice however when the ground dries out and the groaning goes away.
By Steve Herschbach
Poured rain here all night in Reno. Supposedly 3-4 feet of snow up in the high country - we will see when the clouds lift!
We are off to a mild start and I am still out detecting, though I have mostly shifted gears to coin and jewelry detecting. I hope to stay active detecting through the entire winter - if not through mild weather here then by driving to where it is milder.
It is heading into summer in Oz. Soon it will be too cold here for detecting in northern areas. And soon it will be too hot to go detecting in parts of Australia!
On the other hand temps are just right for the folks down in Arizona. There is always someplace gold is being found.
How are those of you who are facing an “off season” planning on dealing with it?