Tortuga

Opinions on digging up patches

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Was just looking for a few different opinions and stories on digging up old patches with a pick and shovel.

I have a little area that's high up on a bank above a present wash. There's a strip of bedrock up there that used to be where the water ran long ago. This strip of bedrock is kinda like an iceberg, at the surface you just see the top of it but vertically it goes down very deep. It's kinda like a wall that's buried up to the top.

Awhile back I found a large nugget next to this strip of bedrock. It wasn't super deep, was about a foot down in a matrix of water worn pebbles about the same size as the nugget. I believe the stream used to run up there long ago and deposited a lot of pebbles and possibly more gold there. Just below the dirt on the surface it's like the old bottom of a creek.

Last year I decided to dig out the spot where I found the large nugget, boy was it a lot of work. After about two hours of picking and shoveling I searched my hole carefully with my detector and didn't hear any targets. I kinda gave up on the hole and searched another random area about 20 feet away and found a nice 3 gram nugget. I felt I learned a lesson that day and that with a detector it's better to be mobile. I've found a few more smaller 1 gram nuggets right around the same area but my mind keeps wandering back to that strip of bedrock where I found the one big nugget. I keep wondering if I should keep digging down and trench the side of that wall of bedrock and keep shoveling out more of those river pebbles and go deeper and deeper. I'd like to think that deep down in all those pebbles there might be some more big nuggets but holy crap is it a lot of work to dig that much.

Does anyone have any success stories about digging out an area? Do you think the one large nugget I found was just a fluke? I haven't hit any thick red clay in this area yet where I know gold likes to be, it's probably deeper down below the pebbles. That might be the real pay layer but it could be 5-6 feet down. The oldtimers liked this area too, there's a few of their old potholes around but they didn't dig near that strip of bedrock and they missed the nice big nugget I found.

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Just a though with no personal experience of digging that deep but it could pay in fine gold if you shovel into a drywasher. Since you are shoveling anyway why not shovel it directly through a drywasher at the same time rather than making a huge pile of unproven over burden. What you get ... if you get ... will certainly be smaller than what the detector will get and you will have resolution that the area has been sufficiently cleaned. 

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I'm planning to dig deeper ground on my claim in Nevada next year using an electric demolition hammer and generator, pick, shovel, drywasher and GPZ 7000.I got the idea from a group of guys that push gold bearing private claims in N. Nevada. Here's what they do-  They organize a group to offset the costs of equipment, gas, bond money, etc. and in 2015 they did a push 20+ miles north of Rye Patch and recovered 20 ounces of gold in a 100' x 300' area. They look for gold bearing land that is 2' - 5' deep, which is deeper than modern metal detector capability. Sounds like you need to go deeper...you won't know until try it. 

If I had the equipment and bond money, I'd work with the BLM and move some dirt!:lol:

Bill

 

 

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59 minutes ago, Mike Furness said:

Just a though with no personal experience of digging that deep but it could pay in fine gold if you shovel into a drywasher. Since you are shoveling anyway why not shovel it directly through a drywasher at the same time rather than making a huge pile of unproven over burden. What you get ... if you get ... will certainly be smaller than what the detector will get and you will have resolution that the area has been sufficiently cleaned. 

Good idea! !

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Hello Tortuga,

That's cool that you where able to find an ancient- patch above an existing wash.  I have wanted to find one of those for many years, but still continue to looking for it. I hunt the Lynx Creek area up around Prescott, and I have found over the years that gold is very illusive when it comes to where it finally comes to rest, and just when you "think" you have figured the outcome out, it turns out to not be that way.  As an example, I have found "more-than-one" location (spot) where I have found one-solitary(fairly large 3-4 gram) nugget and nothing else!?!  I have gone back and literally pick and shoveled down sometimes 12"to 18" deep and cleared everything away like a trough sometimes 4ft wide by (sometimes) 20ft long down to bedrock and then detected the stretch, and found Nothing else!!!  I did this both up stream and downstream from where I found the solitary nugget.  YES it was WORK, and No, I didn't find any more gold in that stretch, but my mind is cleared now, as I know that I didn't leave anything behind. 

I have also come across "more-than-one" location where I initially find one or two nuggets (sitting ducks) and then nothing else.  I have returned over and over again and leave empty handed each time until one day I really start "reading the wash" ....start picking shoveling following the bedrock down into the wash and end up (eventually) walking with 50 to 60 nuggets that I'm sure many others have walked-over over the years. 

I also found a spot with one-sold nugget where the wash opened up into a sort of flat area down stream of it.  I walked over this area many times until one day I again really "read the wash" and decided to dig this area out.  It was very illusive because there was absolutely no sign or indication of bedrock on either side of the wash in the flat area.  But when I started "Skimming" (clearing) the area bedrock showed up about a foot deep and a foot down from the sides of the existing wash!!!  WOW, there was no indication at all of bedrock until I started digging.  And WOW, that was another 50 to 60 or so nugget patch. 

So, I guess what I am saying is "You are most likely leaving gold behind if you don't get on the bedrock and follow it down"  and if you need someone else to pick and shovel to dig this spot out, let me know, because I know what good results develop from this work.  Gary      

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13 hours ago, Mike Furness said:

Just a though with no personal experience of digging that deep but it could pay in fine gold if you shovel into a drywasher. Since you are shoveling anyway why not shovel it directly through a drywasher at the same time rather than making a huge pile of unproven over burden. What you get ... if you get ... will certainly be smaller than what the detector will get and you will have resolution that the area has been sufficiently cleaned. 

This has certainly crossed my mind. I don't own a drywasher but I've been playing with the idea of maybe getting a small backpack one. This spot is kind of a far hike from the road and would be hard to get a lot of equipment back to. Rob suggested I do a little sampling of the area first which sounds like a good idea before I get too involved with machinery. 

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4 hours ago, GDM/PV said:

Hello Tortuga,

That's cool that you where able to find an ancient- patch above an existing wash.  I have wanted to find one of those for many years, but still continue to looking for it. I hunt the Lynx Creek area up around Prescott, and I have found over the years that gold is very illusive when it comes to where it finally comes to rest, and just when you "think" you have figured the outcome out, it turns out to not be that way.  As an example, I have found "more-than-one" location (spot) where I have found one-solitary(fairly large 3-4 gram) nugget and nothing else!?!  I have gone back and literally pick and shoveled down sometimes 12"to 18" deep and cleared everything away like a trough sometimes 4ft wide by (sometimes) 20ft long down to bedrock and then detected the stretch, and found Nothing else!!!  I did this both up stream and downstream from where I found the solitary nugget.  YES it was WORK, and No, I didn't find any more gold in that stretch, but my mind is cleared now, as I know that I didn't leave anything behind. 

I have also come across "more-than-one" location where I initially find one or two nuggets (sitting ducks) and then nothing else.  I have returned over and over again and leave empty handed each time until one day I really start "reading the wash" ....start picking shoveling following the bedrock down into the wash and end up (eventually) walking with 50 to 60 nuggets that I'm sure many others have walked-over over the years. 

I also found a spot with one-sold nugget where the wash opened up into a sort of flat area down stream of it.  I walked over this area many times until one day I again really "read the wash" and decided to dig this area out.  It was very illusive because there was absolutely no sign or indication of bedrock on either side of the wash in the flat area.  But when I started "Skimming" (clearing) the area bedrock showed up about a foot deep and a foot down from the sides of the existing wash!!!  WOW, there was no indication at all of bedrock until I started digging.  And WOW, that was another 50 to 60 or so nugget patch. 

So, I guess what I am saying is "You are most likely leaving gold behind if you don't get on the bedrock and follow it down"  and if you need someone else to pick and shovel to dig this spot out, let me know, because I know what good results develop from this work.  Gary      

Thanks for the stories, very interesting. In this particular area it's not hard to find the hillside patches because of the old potholes up there. There was at one point some gold up there the oldtimers found and were digging, the trick is finding something they missed.

It sounds like you have a lot of experience digging out patches. Walking away with 50-60 nuggets would be mind blowing!

And I have considered possibly recruiting some help with my project. Thanks for the offer. It's tough to trust somebody with a spot you put a lot of hours and sweat into finding though. With two guys digging away you could do some real damage tho. I'll have to think about that one B)

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Hello again Tortuga,

I know what you mean about protecting a spot that "you," have put many hours-in (and I'm sure sweat as well) searching for, and finally founding.  I'm pretty much a loner, and have hunted by-my-self (with only my dog as company) for the past 12-years up here.  All of the locations that I used as examples that I mentioned to you (as well as many others I didn't mention) I have kept to myself for just that reason (trust, ...or lack-there-of) of someone else coming in and taking advantage of "my" hard-earned find, as you stated.  I know (thru my own experiences) just how much time, effort, energy, definitely-Sweat (in Arizona), and boots-on-the-ground it takes to search-out and finely-find a patch.  They are few, far-between, and getting harder to find these days.  So I appreciate what you are saying. 

AND Yes, it definitely would be more efficient, and more "productive" if two where working thru the patch as a team together.  When I dug up my patches (that I mentioned to you) I did it by-myself, and because of the extensive picking and shoveling involved, I had to return say...4 to 5 different days to finally clear the overburden from the bedrock (of course I detected that section of bedrock that I exposed that day to get all of the nuggets before I left for the day).  But having the limitation of working by-myself and only working partially-thru a patch has always been of concern to me, as someone "could" just walk up on the site, see what I was doing, and continue from there.  That never has happened at any of my spots, but I always view it as a possibility.  This is only my Opinion (derived over the years), but I think that the vast majority of those swinging a detector are lazy, and are not willing to expend the physical exercise and effort to dig any-more than a "hole" down any deeper than say....18" deep.  For me, a normal day (if I find a patch) is clearing a section of boulder-ridden-wash at least 4ft wide by 10 to 12ft long (depending on my energy level, how soon the Arizona sun runs me out of the country, and how many nuggets I am finding), and chase the bedrock down as deep as it goes........I don't do "holes".  At any rate, think about it, and maybe we could work together as a joint effort.  By the way, I do own a Gold-Vac for sucking the fines ( "if" there would be any on the bedrock) that way you wouldn't be leaving anything behind.  I have used it many times on some of my patches, and it has paid for itself in gold at least 3-times over.  Gary               

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Gary- What type of detector do you hunt with? I have a GPZ, which punches pretty deep, especially on big, solid targets. Part of me thinks "nope, if there was anything still there, my GPZ would hear it" but you just never know. 

I ask because if you were using a VLF I think taking a foot of clay off bedrock might be beneficial. Just a few inches of extra depth could be really benefial to a Gold Bug. But if you're using a PI and hearing new targets after you dig that makes it even more interesting. 

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I hunt with the minelab GP-3000, and I "used-to-think" as you apparently do now:   "that my detector, with it's present technology would cover all the bases when it comes to depth and mineralization-handling.  This of course places a very high reliability and dependability( on your part) on the technology of your detector, and little, if any thought to what the gold in that particular spot has undergone in the past, and actually what obstacles are hiding it out of sight and most likely out of reach of your detectors technological capabilities.  As an example, yesterday I was out in a wash and had detected in a spot that "logically" to-me gold should have been stopped in the bedrock and locked there, but there was no signal of anything but mineralization.  I detected all around this large boulder (about 20" in diameter round) but got nothing.  I started to go on up stream, but my gut told me something wasn't right.  So I took a 3ft pry bar and pryed the boulder away from where it had been lodged.  When I then detected the open-cavity where the boulder had been the signal I got almost blew my ears off.  It turned out to be just a 2" x 2" piece of rusted cast iron which had lodged under the boulder, but because of the high-volcanic mineralization, and the density of that boulder I initially got no signal from it.  If gold would have been there in place of that rusted cast iron, and if I had relied only on my detector's technology to punch thru and around that boulder, I would have missed a very sizeable nugget. My personal approach to detecting is that  "Every Obstacle that I can physically-remove from a sight from surface-level to within a 2" depth of bedrock Increases my chances and success of getting to those deep and hidden nuggets, over anyone who just "walks, detects, and relies solely on the technology of their detector.  But, to-each-his-own,....different strokes-for-different-folks.  Gary   

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Turtle 

There is a point that you need to follow your instincts that's the nature of prospecting. If there is a spot that just won't leave you alone in your mind you need to explore it until your satisfied.

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Hey Guys,

  I will share this with you, as Tortuga has expressed interest in digging up an old patch(s).  Over the years I have found hundreds of patches from a few nuggets to many hundred.  That being said, 95% of them never have been dug up.  A few of the better ones in my opinion, which had a lot of nuggets, I tried drywashing a few spots.  The results were very minimal and I was pretty discouraged.  I'm sure this will not be the case with all of them, but just case you found a patch don't mean you're going to find a bunch of gold by digging it out.  There might be more gold, but the amount of digging over a certain square footage might not yield what you expect.  

My gut feeling is if the patch is in a gully or where it has concentrated for hundreds of years, then you would probably have better results than on a hillside if you dug it out to bedrock.  

When it doubt, always investigate and get the idea or thought off your mind and move the the next location.  

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Well said Rob, excellent take on the dicussion. The oldtimers liked but didn't love the area (you've been there) so the gold might not have concentrated as much higher up on the hillside than down in the gulch where the real bedrock is. I'll prob continue the discussion with the other guys over PM. Maybe I'll just hit the area a little more with the pick and get a little more dirt off the surface and reach kinda a happy medium between abandoning the place and a full on excavation. 

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Tortuga its been my experience that when hunting ancient hillside placers your not going to find a lot of small gold as many where laid down long ago by catastrophic flooding and/or glacial slide and the small gold is farther down the road so to speak (blown) spread out on alluvial fans. The nuggets will be well rounded as they are not always coming from a local source. but Ill give you another clue, look for well rounded cobbles (often not rocks common to the area, usually harder rocks such as quartz,chert, flint, hematites etc.) bleeding off a hillside and track them back up the hillside to the source. always worked for me. B)
 AzNuggetBob

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Interesting. It's funny you say that because the one nice nugget I found there was quite round, unlike some of the smaller stuff I've found around there. Must have been a big flood that brought it to that spot.  

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Opinions on digging up patches? Big question. Hard to generalize. I dont like the term "gut" of a patch because it tends to send people to the nearest wash and not always the original source or best concentration in the patch.
And because the so called gut or local washes have already been worked by the old timers (50) plus years ago and concentration hasn't helped much in 50 years may lead you to believe there isn't much gold left near by. :)
AzNuggetBob

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