Firewood and gold - A great Saturday

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A couple weeks ago, I found a 7 dwt nugget, and only about a foot away, a 19 grainer (about ¾ dwt). This is a hillside location, and no stream or river is very close by. I found them in an old dozer scrape. Last year I had found a 3.6 dwt nugget in a pile of dirt which had come from the dozer scrape about 20 feet from the 7 dwt nugget. Of course the first thing I did was search the dozer scrape for more gold. I found a little spot where there seemed to be a target about 5 feet away. It was very weak. I dug down about 3 inches and it didn’t get any stronger, in fact, it seemed to get weaker. I walked away, thinking it was a bit of ground noise. It was very weak and sounded just like a normal bit of indistinct warbling – a little bit of ground noise just the kind we all walk past regularly, and for good reason. On the rare occasion when a mineralized spot gets dug, the apparent target just disappears when it is dug and spread out on the pile. Ground noise is not common at this location, but it does occur. Besides, it was the end of the day and time to go anyway – and I knew I’d be back later to check the whole area out further.

Today I went back to the same area to cut some firewood and do a bit of detecting. A friend and I cut about a cord and a half of firewood, stacked it in the pick-up and trailer we had with us, and then in the time we had left we did a bit of detecting. I tried a few spots, but came back to the spot where I found the two nuggets. I had thought about it in the couple of weeks since I was there, and decided I really wanted to check out that spot of ground noise I had walked away from. It was still there in my old dig hole - in looking at it closer, I found that from one angle, it sounded just like a very weak and warbly gound noise, but if I turned 90 degrees and swung the coil from the other direction, it sounded like a weak (but good) target (I was using a coiltec wallaby mono). This is still not outside the pale for mineralized spots, but I decided to dig out another 2 inches just to see. When I retested the now deeper hole, the target had definitely gotten a bit stronger – it now sounded real good in one direction and like a weak target in the other. I told my friend who had come over to watch that I was for sure going to dig this now and it was either going to be a bit of mineralized ground or gold. Nearly all the trash here is shallow and I was now down about 5 inches from the original surface in hard and in place gravel/rock. I dug another couple inches and it was finally a strong and very good sounding target. No doubt it was gold. Another inch or so of digging and it was out of the hole – the rock was getting real tight and hard – it would have been hard to dig much deeper. I sorted through the pile and here is the target I finally found. It weighs 1.1 dwt. – it is fairly thin, and I think the poor response until it was very close to the coil was due to it being in the ground on edge. I rechecked the hole afterward - and that funny "ground noise" was gone.


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Hello Chris,

Thanks for sharing the story. I really enjoy reading your nuggethunting stories from Northern California.

When it comes to signal response, there are so many variables. There is a very good chance that the nugget was lying in a certain direction (slight angle) where you're only "seeing" a small percentage of the mass. Then when you changed swing positions you probably were "seeing" more of the nugget. This is a very common response with very flat, thin type gold nuggets.

It's always a good habit to remove a few inches when it doubt and even change your swing 90 to 180 degrees to see if the response changes.

Congrats on the great looking gold nugget! ;)

Rob Allison

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