By Gerry in Idaho
Western & Eastern Treasures magazine does a Silver & Gold Annual issue and another customer of mine was featured. Many of you saw the photos posted earlier this summer. Some gobstopper saves/discoveries are in this issue, so I recommend you order one online. Congratulations to Duane and Sarah on their Golden Treasures and thanks for allowing me to earn your detector business again.
By Steve Herschbach
Despite all the noise about pulse induction (PI) metal detectors these days I firmly believe that in the United States most beginning and many professional nugget hunters are often better served with a good mid-frequency VLF. For beginners I think it is more important to master the real skills involved in prospecting before investing a ton of money in a metal detector. If you can't find gold with a $700 detector there is little point in investing thousands of dollars in a detector that still probably will not find the person any gold.
Perhaps a PI is required in most of Australia but I have seen very few places in the United States where a good VLF will not work very well or at least well enough. Certainly in Alaska that is the case, where low mineral ground and smallish gold is the norm. Even locations where large gold lurks are so loaded with iron junk a PI detector has a hard go of it. It is nearly impossible to convince die-hard PI users to accept this until they experience it for themselves.
One of the best detectorists I know has found hundreds of ounces of gold including two nuggets each weighing over a pound, all with a White's MXT. He also has a Minelab GPX 5000 and is very good with it. This last summer we hunted a lot together in junk infested tailing piles. I tended to use my GPX 5000 and he tended to use his MXT. We ran neck and neck for finds, and he detected less and dug way less junk than I. When all the shallow stuff is gone a PI shows its value with extra depth. But in target rich environments, especially ones filled with junk, a good VLF is a worthy choice.
Let's set the VLF versus PI thing aside though and accept for the purposes of this article that VLF detectors are still a good choice for many people in the United States. I know for a fact I could own nothing but a VLF and do very well indeed. So what VLF to own?
Two detectors stand out in their high operating frequency as dedicated nugget detectors, the Fisher Gold Bug 2 and White's GMT. I could make a great argument for why either of these detectors will eke out gold where other detectors fail and do it consistently enough that a skilled operator would be wise to own either one. However, I think overall a better case can be made that if a person had to own just one VLF detector, a mid-frequency model would be a better choice. There is much more versatility offered plus a better balance of performance on all ground types and all gold sizes than the hot high frequency models.
The contenders from the "Big Five" brands? The Fisher Gold Bug Pro (also sold as Teknetics G2), Garrett AT Gold, Minelab X-Terra 705 Gold, Tesoro Lobo SuperTRAQ, and White's MXT. All available for around $700 more or less. This is the choice I personally faced, and the decision took several years of use to settle. What follows is purely personal but I will explain why I ended up where I did.
Fisher Gold Bug Pro, Garrett AT Gold, Minelab X-Terra 705 Gold, Tesoro Lobo, White's MXT
First up, the White's MXT. Simply a superb detector, and one that has found me pounds of gold. Yet I am just going to go ahead and blow White's off at this point! Why? The weight. I am sorry White's, but at 4.3 pounds the MXT is the heaviest detector in this slug-fest. I love what the detector does, but I am no longer willing to forgive detectors with poor ergonomic factors, weight being the most obvious. In the 21st century, the day and age of the iPhone, poor ergonomics is not acceptable. The MXT needs to lose a pound, plain and simple. So I sold my MXT after one particularly arm wearing day.
Now the Tesoro Lobo SuperTRAQ is a great beginners detector in that it is very easy to operate, but it also gets put aside. The detector is locked in ground tracking at all times while in all metal nugget mode. This is great for beginners but I personally find it unacceptable. I almost never use ground tracking systems as they mess with the signals from weak targets. If there was a locked or fixed mode it would be fine. Worse yet, the alternative discriminate mode has a factory pre-set ground balance. Sorry, fail. Just my opinion, but the Lobo is way overdue for an update after 16 years on the market.
Garrett is to be commended for finally producing a waterproof detector that does not penalize the owner by weighing a ton and removing all the features. The AT Gold is a miracle in being waterproof and yet fully featured, with even the speaker being waterproof. And only three pounds with batteries! This detector is so wonderful I really do feel bad about taking a pass on it here also. Why? Sadly, the waterproof design also means special o-ring connectors for the coils and headphones. If you do not need the detector to be waterproof they are delicate connectors that collect dirt and require quite a bit of care to not mess up. The coil connection in particular is in a maddening location making it almost impossible to connect coils with bare fingers alone. A special adapter must be purchased if you want to have a choice in headphones. If you want waterproof the AT Gold is an obvious choice but I do not need waterproof for most of my nugget detecting.
So down to two models, the Fisher Gold Bug Pro and Minelab X-Terra 705 Gold. Both under the magic 3 pound mark! Both with extremely powerful all metal modes. So powerful that in all metal mode these detectors give the PI units a run for depth in most ground on most gold in the US. This was tough for me as the X-Terra has a far richer feature set than the Gold Bug Pro and for many all around users would be the better choice. But I looked at both from strictly a nugget hunting perspective where those extra features are extraneous to the task at hand. It came down to this. In all metal mode the Gold Bug Pro is simultaneously and separately running in discriminate mode. The audio response is pure all metal, but you also get the probable target id, when possible, displayed on the screen. Very deep targets will have no target id, which is why we are using all metal prospect mode in the first place.
The X-Terra 705 you can run in Prospect Mode or Discriminate Mode, but not both at once. This one thing leads to more efficient detecting with all the information you need on screen at once. The Gold Bug Pro gives you the target id, ground phase, and magnetic susceptibility reading all on screen at once while in all metal mode.
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That is how I settled on the Fisher Gold Bug Pro as my all around do everything nugget hunting model. It is not a coincidence it is also the lightest of the bunch at only 2.5 lbs with battery and 5” round DD coil and 2.7 lbs with the 5” x 10” DD coil. It is a basic unit that gets the job done, and that appeals to me. Plus, it does just fine for coins, relics, and jewelry if I wish. if I could improve only one thing it would be to swap the position of the target id and phase readout on the meter.
I have to wrap this up by pointing out that these are all fine detectors. I can actually find gold about as well with all of them. The engineers have mid-frequency all metal detectors figured out, and in all metal mode these models are practically equivalent. Small nuances that help one model in certain ground cost it in another and it all evens out. So from a straight up all metal nugget hunting perspective I think a person can use any one of these detectors and be just fine. What differences there are show up far more when comparing discrimination features which are of little use to the nugget hunter.
With that said, the final lesson in this article is that it is all the other factors a person should be looking at when making a choice. For me it was just lightweight basic operation. But if waterproof is important, the AT Gold is a no-brainer. The Lobo is very forgiving for beginners simply because it is locked in ground tracking mode. The MXT is a superior all-arounder, and the X-Terra has various tone schemes and notch discrimination features common on top-end detectors. You can make the case for any of them depending on your own particular needs and desires in a detector, and know you will be well served for basic all metal nugget hunting capability. We are lucky to have so many fine choices, all at very affordable prices.
Hi guys, Finished work early today & had a few hours daylight up my sleeve so I headed out for a detect. I went back to the same spot that I got my last one piece from. I had unfinished business there. I was getting plenty of signals but none were gold. So I headed right to the spot where I got my last bit from, which was here in that bedrock crevice.
Notice the dead briar rose bush at the top left. Well I thought I got a very faint signal between that & that exposed bedrock, which has been ground smooth from glacial ice grinding over it many moons ago. Probably the same time as the gold was deposited.
So I started to dig between that dead bush & the schist bedrock. The signal improved.
But I needed to hack out that bush.
Done & deepen the hole. Signal still in there. I was now breaking into & hacking out the schist bedrock. Has to be gold now.
Suddenly the signal was out &........
Gold it was .52 of a gram
I don't know how I missed that last time. I detected that area very slowly & carefully, same settings but for what ever reason I didn't get it before. But snagged it this time. It was the only one. So after a couple of hours of very careful detecting I moved on.
Here is a pic of an old timers tailings race that they had hacked out of the schist bedrock. Now choked with briar rose bushes. This area in general is a glacially deposited boulder field. Some big suckers too.
I moved off to another tailing race & exposed bedrock area & snagged a small piece of gold on the sidewall of a tailing race. I have hammered this area so was surprised to have got that one. I moved on to some deepish glacial gravels that the old timers had not sluiced away. got a few hot rock signals in these which sucked me in as they sounded good. But you have to investigate them. Here was one such dig. The two rocks at the top edge of the hole were hot rocks out of the hole, but there was still another signal in there. Could be yet another hot rock.
But it wasn't.
Had I of walked away from not only the first hot rock but even the 2nd I wouldn't have got that third signal in the same hole that turned into a piece of gold. Who said the Zed wasn't a magic wand.
So there I had Huey, Duey & Louie.
Ended the golden day on a beautiful golden sunset. Time to walk on out & back to my wagon.
Three for 1.18 grams
Mrs JW has gone up north to visit family. So while she was away I pimped her ride. She doesn't know yet but she will he rapt. I E - biked her Mountain bike. So she can carry a detector up into the hills now too.
Good luck out there
By Chris Ben
Got out with my buddy Dave today to do some detecting. We had the plan to try a new area, and if that didn't pan out we would go back to the area I had had some luck the last 2 outings.
We struck out in the new area, and headed to the old one. I went out trying to expand on the new patch...no luck. Dave hung around the area where I found the patch 2 weeks ago. I started exploring a bit looking for good ground when Dave radioed me that he had found a couple nice nuggets. I made a beeline to meet up with him, still working my GPZ when I hit a great mellow signal. Turned out to be a 2+ gram nugget and the start of a 5 nugget patch. Biggest being 3g. We had lunch a made another run for no luck, but a great day nonetheless.
My nuggets 6.4 grams
Dave's score, with a nice big nugget.
Hi guys, Yesterday Mrs JW & I went to scout some new ground. Found a very likely looking area but had no idea whose property it was. We decided to go to an old haunt that wasnt too far away. I called in to see the farmer to let him know we were there. I asked if he knew who the property owners were of the area I had the interest in. He did so he gave me a name & a phone number. Just happens to be the property next door to the large glass jar full of gold story I told on Simons gold/diamond ring find post. It was getting too late to make that contact & to go back to that property so we just stayed where we were & I detected on there. Got skunked with both the Zed & the Nox with the new 6" coil. Bugger.
Come sunday I thought I would try to rectify that. Didnt travel too far from home & didnt get out until after midday. Was to a spot I hadnt been to since my GP 3000 days where I had got a few bits. I don't know why but there was just heaps of rubbish. I didn't recall this much rubbish back with the 3000. I had visions of another skunk. I started heading back towards my wagon & thought I would try one more spot that seemed very unlikely but there had been some mining activity here in the early days. There were a few remains of old tailing races & water ditches & a bit of bedrock showing. Was making hard work of it with just more rubbish & no gold to show. I got a signal over some bedrock & it lived on down a bit more than a lot of the rubbish targets had done. So I was getting a bit more confident. Hacking into a crevice & the signal was still in there.
Finally it was out. Waved the magnet through the dugout pile where the signal was now coming from. Signal still there. Could have been a .22 shell casing like so many had been. Or its lead bullet head as others had been as well. But it wasn't.
Looks a bit like a snake's head.
Beat the skunk. But that was it. But I was happy with that. Cheers
Good luck out there