Finding BIG Gold Nuggets

Finding BIG Gold Nuggets
Are you interested in finding a really BIG gold nugget? Who isnít! The thought of unearthing that massive potato-sized nugget is what most prospectors dream about, and what keeps us searching. Although rare, donít let anyone tell you that all the big gold nuggets have been found. Experts believe that 90% of the earthís gold remains undiscovered, still waiting to be found. While it is certainly true that the majority of the ďeasy pickinísĒ are long gone, there are still some huge nuggets being recovered by hard working gold prospectors.

So how does one go about finding a big nugget? Our gold prospecting articles page goes in-depth about a variety of prospecting methods, but the simple truth is that searching for and finding large gold nuggets takes a whole different approach. It is certainly possible to recover a nice nugget using any gold prospecting method, but to have an actual chance of being successful there are a few tips that will help you in your search.

RESEARCH IS KEY! This cannot be emphasized enough. This is critical for any successful gold prospector, but it is even more important if you are serious about finding a large gold nugget. For the sake of discussion, letís consider a large nugget weigh over an ounce. Nice nuggets like this arenít lying around just anywhere, so it is absolutely critical that you research areas that have produced gold in the past. You need to research areas that have not only produced gold, but also areas where BIG gold nuggets have been found.

Letís take a few examples. There are countless mining districts across the U.S. and around the world that have produced many thousands of ounces of gold. However, high gold production doesnít necessarily mean large gold nuggets. In fact, it rarely does. The vast majority of these mining districts produce fine flakes and dust, but rarely gold nuggets. I personally know dozens of miners who recover 100+ ounces of gold per year, yet they never recover any gold larger than the size of a pencil eraser. They mine in areas that are rich in gold, but they have a very slim chance of finding a big nugget. If you want to find a big gold nugget, you need to research where big gold nuggets have been found, not just where gold is found.

Ok, so we know that we need to prospect in areas that big nuggets have been found in the past. So how do we start this research? There are many mining books on different gold areas that will provide some information, but this is often limited to where gold has been found, not the size of the gold. There is generally good historic documentation on the gold production in different mining districts, but there is often no reference at all to the general size of the gold. Knowing that an area produced 10,000 ounces of gold is good info to have, but it doesnít really help you focus on where to look if you want to find nuggets. Finding this good info can be much tougher. That can be frustrating, but at the same time it is good that it is not such common knowledge, increasing the chances that your research will pay off in the end.

There is not silver bullet answer on how to research. Talking to locals in a known district, reading old government documents, historic newspaper articles, and any number of other sources may provide you with just a shred of knowledge that will help lead you to the next nugget patch.

Here is a specific example to help clarify what I mean. One area that I was led to in my research has been very productive. The specific area is within a large mining district that covers several hundred square miles. With the help of my local librarian, I was scrolling through some historic newspaper articles from the 1930ís. I stumbled across an article about a miner who recovered an 8-ounce nugget on his claim. The article made reference to several other large nuggets that this same miner had been fortunate enough to recover. In total, I found documentation of at least 3 gold nuggets over 5-ounces that had been found within about a mile on one specific creek. These nuggets were found long ago using the crude mining methods of nearly one hundred years ago. Of the three that I found documentation about, I have no doubt that there were several others that were never mentioned. Youíd better believe that there is at least one more waiting to be found, hopefully by me!

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So once youíve keyed in on a specific area with a history of producing large gold nuggets, how do you find them? They probably arenít sitting on the surface just waiting to be picked up, so you have to use some type of mining method to recover them.

The common methods like gold panning and sluicing will find gold, but you canít process much material. To have any realistic chance of stumbling across a nice nugget you need to move some serious dirt, or cover a lot of ground by metal detecting.

For the average prospector, I believe metal detecting is the most realistic option for recovering large nuggets. Metal detectors are specifically designed to ďseeĒ large pieces of gold. They also allow the average person a chance to cover a lot of ground. A large mining operation clearly has the potential to process lots of material, but tens, and even hundreds of thousands of dollars are often invested in these operations. Metal detecting is a great way for the average guy to search a lot of ground and have a shot at finding that big nugget. I know people who do it both ways and are successful.

Regardless of the method you use to search for large gold nuggets, it cannot be emphasized enough that researching areas that have produced big nuggets in the past is the key to success. Finding gold nuggets is a lot like finding a needle in a haystack, although truthfully, with a good metal detector I think it would be much easier to find a needle in a haystack than it would be to find a 1+ ounce nugget. They are beyond rare, but I guess that is why prospectors are willing to work so hard to find them.