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View Full Version : The Squirrel & the GPX 5000

05-17-2011, 04:55 PM
Well, it’s time for another story about bedrock and gold. But, I have to backtrack a bit and fill in a few details.

I had a chance to head up to the goldfield a couple of weeks ago. The problem was, I was only going to be there for part of a day, spend the night, and then I would have to come right back out.

So, the main reason for the trip was to make my way in to camp to check things out, to see how all of the camp items had wintered. (I’d tried to get in to camp two weeks earlier, but the ice and snow at the upper elevations had turned me around.) Everything looked fine on the outside of the two homes away from home, so I opened the first one, the camper, and it checked out just fine. All tight, dry, and undamaged after sitting through nearly six months of confinement, high in the cedar and pine covered mountains in the Rocky Mountains.

Next, I hustled over to the trailer to see how it had wintered. As soon as I opened the door, I knew all was not right with the world—not by a long shot. I immediately noticed that there were bits of foam all over the floor. Moreover, a glance at one of the cushions that surrounded the table let me see that a large corner of the cushion was torn open, with pieces of foam scattered on the other cushions near the table.

My concern mounted when I looked at the sleeping area in the rear of the trailer. The curtains above the windows, on all three sides, had holes all along the tops of them! Some even had smaller holes in their mid sections. Moreover, the bed cushions had pieces of the fabric torn loose. However, there was no strong, overpowering rodent smell like there always is when a packrat has set up shop in a dwelling. That stumped me, as the place sure looked like a packrat had just started to tear it up.

So, I began a search of the entire trailer. I noticed that one of the curtain rods at the front of the trailer, over a side window by the table, was knocked completely loose from its brackets. To investigate that area thoroughly, I removed all of the cushions, opened all of the forward compartments, but discovered nothing amiss. As a matter of fact, even the stash of toilet paper was unmolested, as were all of the other items stored in the front cupboards.

I checked out the bathroom, and absolutely nothing had visited there. It was exactly the way I had left it in the fall.

Next, I opened the drawers by the sink and stove. Well, things were not in order in those drawers—no, not one bit. There were all kinds of things stuffed into them that had not been there in the fall, and many of the items had been rearranged, moved to different drawers in fact. So, I stuck with my investigation. I opened the cupboard doors under the sink, and I made a significant discovery. There, on the shelf under the sink, was a nest about the size of a basketball! It was round, made of soft ferns and moss, and the vegetation was fresh and moist.

Well, I removed all of the nesting material, dumped and cleaned the drawers and then set about to discover if I could find the intruder. I opened every space in the trailer and searched every nook and cranny with a powerful flashlight, but I was the only living organism present. This only deepened the mystery.

However, I was determined to discover the point of entry, to find how the intruder had gained entrance. So, I crawled under the RV with my turbo-charged three-watt L.E.D. flashlight and searched the entire undercarriage from stem to stern. It was all covered in solid metal, and there were no penetrations whatsoever.

Well, I returned to the interior of the camping trailer to see if somehow I’d missed something. Just after I’d started searching the compartments under the bed, I heard the sound of little running feet above my head. “Oh rats”, I thought. “Whatever it is must be in the ceiling!” But, as I listened to it running around, the unknown entity was moving much too fast for something that was plowing through the insulation in the ceiling compartment. So, I hopped outside and quickly scaled the nearby camper ladder to access its roof so that I could see what was scurrying about on top of the trailer.

Well, there on the roof of the trailer was a squirrel with a pinecone clutched in its paws, frantically running all over the roof, peering over the far edge, but looking quite distressed. I quickly hopped down and ran around to the other side of the trailer, and there I saw something I’d completely missed when I’d pulled in to camp. A small spruce was bent over (most likely by the winter’s heavy snowfall) and it was leaning up against the small vent window on the side of the sleeping area. I saw with alarm that a hole had been torn in the window screen, the little window (which had been cracked to allow a tiny bit of circulation) forced open, and all of a sudden it all made sense to me—the mystery of the break-in was being quickly solved.

At that moment, some details flooded back to me. The absence of any rodent smell in the trailer, the fact that there were numerous pinecones stashed in the drawers beside the sink, the building materials for the nest—fresh ferns and moss—the frantic squirrel on the roof packing the pine cone. It was now certain. I had been the victim of a squirrel home invasion, and it had only happened a few days earlier or the trailer would have been torn to bits. Thank heavens there had not been a nest of babies to deal with, or heaven forbid, an entire family of squirrels living in the trailer. It had simply been a lone mama looking for a safe place to raise her young.

In retrospect, I could tell that she’d had a lot of fun tearing around on the curtains (probably much like an amusement ride) and pulling up pieces of the cushions (probably like stress therapy after a long winter), and it was most fortunate I’d made my way in to camp that weekend or it would have been far too late to patch things up with a little duct tape, and thoroughly clean things up with a little bleach solution. Moreover, I was very lucky it had not been a packrat or I’d have had to set fire to the whole outfit—nothing gets rid of the disgusting smell, and the insensible destructive insanity of packrat.

So, after I’d secured the camp, I had only a couple of hours of daylight left to try out my shiny, new GPX 5000. But, that’s a story for another day—I’m off to a meeting.

All the best,


05-18-2011, 02:40 PM
The first time I took the GPX 5000 for a test drive, it was all about the learning curve. Yes, I know that there are set it and forget it general programs on the machine, but I like to try out new things as well, why else have them on the machine? So, for me, the learning curve was very steep. Do I know everything about the machine now that I’ve taken it for a test run? Absolutely not, in fact, when I go back and spend the time to read through the manual, I realize just how much I don’t know. As well, you have to realize that I have spent a ton of time finding gold with the exceptionally tried and true Minelab SD 2100, and that I will still continue to use it to find gold. I found more than enough noble, yellow metal to pay for that machine, multiple times over. Yes, I found gold with its successive relatives, the 3000’s and the 4000, but I wanted to wait until Minelab came out with a machine that I felt had eclipsed their early mastery, and I feel that the 5000 has done that many times over (as owners of the 4500 will attest). One thing that I still feel is a bit of a disappointment is the iron discrimination. But regardless, the other things they have added are substantially impressive.

However, I’ve wandered away from my story. Having solved the mystery of the squirrel debacle, I set out to hunt some nearby bedrock that had produced nuggets in the past. It was an exposed area in plain sight beside the main trail that nugget hunters had chosen to ignore for many years. There was a lot of trash, and there were a lot of hot rocks; moreover, the bedrock itself was hot—all of the previous items discouraged the VLF shooters from paying any serious attention to this dark, undulating sheet of the mother rock.

By way of reflection, I recalled liberating a nice catch of nuggets from this generous patch of bedrock with my 2100. My buddy had his 4000 at the time, but I’d beat him to the punch. After I hit the first mellow tone (my buddy and I—I’d invited him to investigate the area with me) had to chisel the nuggets out of tight crevices in the rock where they were trapped in contact zones. The crevices were not cemented shut as they were in other areas where I’d chiseled nuggets out, but they were simply so tightly pinched together by bygone titanic forces that there was no other way to get the nuggets out. Nevertheless, chiseling proved to be quite a challenge as the bedrock was very hard, and sharp fragments would shoot everywhere when I’d cut down beside the target signal’s area. In addition, I had to block the direction of travel of any fragments in case a nugget went flying when it was released from its age-old prison in the crevice.

However, that is what had happened in an earlier hunt. On this day, I was armed with my shiny new 5000 and was eager to see what it would do. I started off by trying different settings, different timings, different speeds, and different amounts of gain. Sometimes I had it so noisy that it reminded me of the 2100’s aberrations on steroids! But, other times I had it running so smoothly that I wondered if it was really working! Nonetheless, I took my time and very carefully scanned every portion of the exposed sheet of stone. I got some very faint signals, which turned out to be tiny fragments of steel (and I do mean tiny—this new machine is incredibly sensitive, even with larger coils). Other than those few contacts, the site remained deadly silent, most tomb-like in its quietus (I borrowed that word from Shakespeare—I hope he doesn’t mind. But, then again, he never went detecting, so why should he?).

After completing my search, I wandered off to a place where the large-scale placer miners had been trenching to obtain a bulk sample to test the material that was running tight on the bedrock. This material was very old, orange and red-stained—a sure sign of its ancient nature. However, I soon found that my frustration level was rising in spite of the virgin nature of the dirt I was searching. The detector was balanced just fine, and it was handling the electrical interference in an easy manner. Regardless, I was still having problems, and but they were with what nature had left behind. The troublemakers, made of small pieces of native iron (all encrusted with concretions of small rocks and sand) were very thin, and heavily oxidized (completely black in fact). I kept hitting numerous targets over and over again. So many times did I hit them, in fact, that they started to drive me nuts. I tried ramping up the discrimination, but the pieces of natural iron were so small that the iron ID was not useful—the tones kept coming through as positive dig signals—it would not blank them out.

Well, after digging countless pieces of the aforementioned “junk”, the sun was fast setting, the air was rapidly cooling, and my time with the 5000 was at an end. However, I had learned some valuable lessons, gained some insight of the machine’s capabilities, knew for a certainty that I needed to get deep into the contents of my owner’s manual, and I had realized that I needed to invest some serious time in reading and rereading specific sections of the manual in order to gain an understanding of the many different ways this new machine could facilitate my nugget shooting experience.

So, over the next week, I did just that, I read and re-read. And, the next weekend, it paid off.

But, that’s a story for another day.

All the best,


05-19-2011, 03:08 PM
It was a sunny Saturday. The spring had been unusually cold, but the snow had finally melted, allowing me access to the claim the previous weekend. The rogue squirrel invasion was still fresh on my mind as I worked my way along and up the winding logging road that led me to the claim. The mast-like Tamarack were dressed in that fresh, vibrant, first rush of green that signals the end of Winter’s reign. The Spruce and Pine scented the air with that gorgeous, patented mountain smell that I never tire of. The Elk were grazing in almost every main clearing, and they all had that ratty look they always have when they have yet to shed off their layers of heavy winter insulation. The hawks and eagles were busy riding the thermals, keeping a sharp eye out for careless ground squirrels.

Yes, it was great to be back in prospecting mode. Last week’s experiences with the GPX 5000 had left me feeling very under qualified as an operator. I’d read through the manual whenever I could, trying to digest individual sections before I moved on to another section. I realized how much I had yet to learn, as I was in need of intensive preparation because I’d been invited to detect a sizeable section of bedrock that formed the base of a large placer pit. I’d seen portions of this bedrock before, and I knew that there were numerous contact zones where different colored sheets of bedrock came together, creating wide swings in their electronic readability.

Therefore, I knew I’d need to tweak some of the settings on the 5000 for best effect—the switch on and go settings made the machine extremely simple to use, but I wanted to give myself an edge so as to use some of the exceptional abilities the machine possessed to enable me to find some gold.

After unlocking the gate to the claims, I went down the road just a bit when it was obvious that the route was barred by a roadblock. However, this roadblock was no manned structure. A big Spruce blocked my path. On a side note, I had questioned whether I needed the chainsaw with me on this trip, because I’d already cut my way in on the last trip due to predictable winter fall-downs, but what I hadn’t counted on this time was how the wind had messed things up. However, the discovery of the downed Spruce cemented in my brain that traveling with the chainsaw would be a perpetual necessity, not an option. After all, it saves a ton of time and bother if you travel prepared.

In fact, that reminds me of something I’ve forgotten to mention. On my way in on the previous trip, I’d noticed that a huge block of mountain stone had fallen from the bordering cliff face onto the logging road, settling itself firmly at a main bend in the right-hand track of the trail. Moreover, I’d tried to move it on my last visit to the mine, but it was massive, and the long-handled shovel I had with me was most inadequate for the task. So, when I’d left home, I’d packed a huge bar. When I reached the bend in the road, I parked in a pullout, and then I used the bar to slowly pry and nudge the stone, bit by bit, in a semi-circular motion until I had it off the road (it was far too heavy to lever it up and get it to flop over onto the side of the road).

So, I was lucky I had the bar and the chainsaw—they were both essential for clearing the trail.
To finish an earlier thought, after I’d cut up and removed the Spruce, I went about a quarter of a mile farther down the road and there was a Lodge-pole pine across the road barring my way. It was so long (its trunk extending far up in to the other trees) I couldn’t twist it out of the way, so out came the chainsaw again. From that point on, the trail was clear.

I opened the camper and trailer and checked for signs of any more rodent mayhem, but finding none, I unpacked my gear, stowed all my supplies, and hit the sack (it was already dark out). I read and reread for several more hours on how to access and modify the different settings on the 5000, and then it was lights out.

The next morning, the sunlight woke me early—it was angled perfectly so as to cut right in under the curtains. Its golden fingers playing on my closed eyelids did the trick. So, I got up, tucked in some grub, grabbed my detector bag, and off I went to visit the placer miners at the pit.

More to follow:

All the best,


05-28-2011, 06:40 PM
Part III

While packing my gear in the 4X4 that morning, I’d heard some strange noises. The sounds weren’t wolf-like, and they were far off, making it difficult to identify them or to accurately gauge the true direction of their origin. Nonetheless, those howls and cries sounded strangely canine, but not your typical dog talk, that’s for sure. As I made my way along the logging road I found out what all of the ruckus was about. There were two trucks full of hounds (Blueticks and Redbones I believe, but don’t quote me on it). The dogs and their handlers had been chasing cougars earlier that morning. Now, that sure explained the long, loud, and strange moans and wails I’d heard earlier!

During my descent of the mountain canyon, I stopped several times at clearings in the timber to snap pictures of the emerging waves of far blue, mountains, and the dazzling white-fanged, snow-capped summits of the closer peaks.

There is a remarkable beauty in nature that will ever remain unequalled, and the mountains of springtime remain the choicest, most priceless works of art that Nature has ever put on display.

I hoped to see some strutting, colorful, wild turkeys on the way out, but none waltzed from the trees to have their pictures taken. However, squadrons of ever-common deer flew across the road at regular intervals, and plentiful companies of disordered ground squirrels busied themselves with whatever it is that ground squirrels always seem so busily doing. In addition, Spruce Grouse planted themselves in the middle of the road in frozen postures from time to time, confident in their seemingly invisible invincibility, forcing me to swerve to miss them. So convinced are they of their invisibility when they freeze in place, that it would be quick work to make road pizza of the lot of them.

Eventually I made it to the main, paved road, and the stingy air was finally retaining some warmth it grudgingly accepted from the sun, but I could see that the wind was picking up. So, I hurried along to the junction, and then took a sharp turn from the highway onto another logging road, one that tortured itself as it twisted, clawed and fought its way up the narrow cliff-lined canyon that summited near the junction to the placer mine. At the turning point, taking a different branch of the logging road, I made my way downhill through some thick growth of Douglas Fir, pine, and spruce.

Part way along the forest track, I came to a place I had visited years before, and had always told myself I would revisit, to take a chance to snap a few pictures. It was the site of the burial ground for the Chinese miners that labored in the area in the 1800’s. Their cemetery was separate and distinct from the sourdough cemetery, and as part of their custom and tradition, they were to have their remains buried in the land of their birth. Therefore, the deceased Chinese all paid an up-front fee to have their remains shipped to their homeland, for reburial in their native country. I parked the pickup in a pullout and took the short, steeply climbing walk through the mature pine and spruce until I reached the vacant graveyard. The burial ground was as I remembered it: a series of excavated pits ranged in ordered ranks along the side of the hill, the walls of the excavations more subdued than on my former visit, as Nature had been busy softly muting the stark scars of the disinterred, hollow graves. Nonetheless, the place still possessed a paradoxical element: a reverent, but eerie quality that is hard to describe, and due to this, I snapped a few pictures and promptly returned to the truck, to continue down the trail to the placer workings.

When I arrived at the entrance to the mine, the gate had been left open, and I slowly navigated the steep grade of the downward trending cut as it worked its way around a cliff, until it finally leveled out in a large, relatively flat, mined-out area. I made my way across those flats to the current placer excavation. Some heavy equipment was busily stripping off a new section of overburden to get to the pay channels underneath, but the equipment was sited far upstream from where I was going to detect.

The wind had really picked up, and as I exited the 4X4 with my detector bag, the gusts of wind gave the detecting equipment wings and bizarre aerodynamics from time to time. In addition, the five-gallon bucket I gripped in my other hand was more stable, as it contained hammers, chisels, pry-bars, and several bottles of drinking water. Moreover, the bucket was less aerodynamic than the detector bag, and it rode out the bucking gusts of wind much like a seasoned bronc rider.

When I reached the pit, I was somewhat awed by the amount of ground before me. It had been taken right down to the bedrock, but there were areas where they’d cut far down into the bedrock chasing the heavier concentrations of gold in either the softer, or the more heavily fractured ground. In addition, it was clear to see where an old drift mine had cut across the northern end of the excavation, and those sourdoughs had cut down several feet into the softer, fractured bedrock as well. In addition, they had created at least one side tunnel that ran almost straight north, to where it disappeared under the ancient, glacial mantle of boulder clay.

All the best,


05-29-2011, 04:42 PM
Part IV

As I was setting up, one of the mine partners came down to see me. He told me that the best gold had come from the area outlined by the main drift’s cut where it met the offshoot tunnel from the main excavation. As he pointed that area out, I could clearly see that the richest area of pay had been contained within the boundaries of a roughly shaped, reversed L. He wanted me to check out sections all over the placer pit to see how well they’d stripped the pay dirt, and he wanted to find out if they’d cut down deeply enough into the softer bedrock. He let me know that I was welcome to keep anything that I found, and that all I had to do was to let them know what, and where I had found it.

I hauled the GPX 5000 out of the bag and quickly assembled it. I was in a bit of a hurry as I was concerned about the wind’s velocity because it was gusting terribly. It even rolled the detector bag across the bedrock towards a small pond sited in a large dig hole, but the bag suddenly lodged itself in a low cut that had recently been pumped dry. The wind gusted once more and even the five-gallon bucket took a header, but it didn’t roll very far, due to its weighty nature. Apart from the mini-hurricane, I had another concern. The heavy equipment that was operating upstream would undoubtedly be throwing off some electrical interference, and I was unsure how well the 5000 would handle all of that.

I fired up the detector, but I couldn’t get any threshold sound in the headphones. I shut it off and double-checked everything and started it again. No threshold tone. I tried all of the connections—they were secure. What could it be? I knew the battery was freshly charged. Nevertheless, I was stumped. That is, until I remembered that my headphones, in addition to a separate volume control, had an on/off switch! I flipped the switch and was rewarded with a nice, mellow hum. Next, with the coil elevated, and held perpendicular to the ground, I slowly moved in a half circle, noting the direction of the greatest electronic interference. And, you’ve probably guessed already. It was coming from the direction of the equipment. All kinds of squeaks, woo-woo’s, yak-yak-yak’s, and warbles were coming from over there.

I found an elevated pile of rubble where I could rest the coil, with the flat, bottom surface directly facing the bizarre electronic symphony. I then pushed the button to do an automatic tune out of electronic interference. I waited for sixty seconds as I listened to an eerie, unearthly composition of alien-like music as the detector worked doggedly to rid its electronic threshold of the unwanted invasion. After the abrupt tones that signal the end of the tuning, the detector was running very quietly. I stood up and slowly arced through the former zone of interference, only to be rewarded with the peaceful solitude of a very mellow, steady threshold sound. Very impressive the GPX 5000 was. In similar circumstances, my old 2100 would have squawked and warbled like a strangling crow on steroids, no matter how I tried to adjust or tune it. The 5000 truly was wowing me.

I knew that interference wasn’t going to be a factor, and that’s a great comfort when you’re trying to hear the ever so soft sound of gold. In fact, that’s one thing that a lot of rookies mess up on. They think that gold should be a nice sharp, crisp signal. Well, if the ground in goldfields was completely neutral, maybe the tone of gold would be. However, since good gold ground is often heavily mineralized, the electronic struggle to separate that gold signal from all of that background noise often leaves a barely audible whisper, or as has often been quoted by other nugget hunters, it’s signature is merely a “bump” in the threshold.

That “bump” simply means that the steady hum of the threshold is slightly disturbed or interrupted in some way. It’s when you repeat your swing over that same contact point, after removing a couple of inches of overburden, that you may have the opportunity to hear a more distinct disturbance in the threshold, or perhaps even a soft, audible target signal. Quite often, that’s how many nuggets are found. It’s not the loud scream or rock solid zippy tone depicted in many of the video finds. That in-your-face tone is often only evident after a considerable amount of soil has been removed. So, go slow, and listen very, very carefully. If the threshold gets interrupted for any reason, remove some soil, and scan the spot again.

Well, to get back to my story, I turned up the volume to compensate for the howling wind and headed out to detect the bedrock. Almost immediately I had a signal. It turned out to be a tiny sliver of bucket, or blade, or track. In fact, I spent from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. doing nothing but digging countless pieces of tiny steel fragments (I stopped counting after about eighty.), but I kept at it. (The tiny pieces of steel were much too small for the iron discrimination to be of any use.)

I walked along a shelf that skirted a deep pool where they’d excavated a large hole in the softer bedrock while chasing a richer concentration of gold. The shelf itself was composed of harder bedrock. I got a nice solid signal, used the pick and magnet to dig and sort, and soon I had an inch square chunk of heavily oxidized cast iron on the tip of the super-magnet. That was the largest piece of metal I’d encountered the entire day. I decided to head back over to where the main drift first entered the side of the pit, in the aforementioned reverse-L section. On my way over I noticed numerous contact zones where differing sheets of bedrock collided, and where faulting was very obvious. I detected along those margins, but all was silent. The wind was still gusting with a vengeance, and every once in a while it would grab the coil and try to fling it and the supporting stem assembly off to either one side or the other. It was nasty, and I was getting tired

I finally made it to that inverted L area. I could see the cut in the bedrock where the drift had first met the bedrock base. There was a shallow deposit of severely stained clay and small river-run still adhering to the mother rock. I changed my settings to go for deep targets, with slow motion, and used a sharp timing. (Remember, I am learning, and I was experimenting.) I started to grid my way carefully along the slight crown formed by the remnants of the ancient streambed. Now, what’s bizarre about this next event is that everything happened so quickly, and it’s bizarre because it goes against what I took so long to explain about the necessity of listening for the threshold disturbance of faint signals—there’s some irony for you.

Well, almost immediately, I got a very loud growling, in-your-face signal. It reminded me of a perfect replication of the tone thrown off by the piece of cast iron I’d just uncovered across the pit. So, I scraped off a couple of inches of material with the pick, and the signal got so loud it grated harshly on my eardrums. Naturally, I decided it was trash, as the whole pit had turned out to be nothing but a giant repository for slivers of steel and trash. Nonetheless, I dug down deeper to try to uncover the object. Moreover, as I dug, I noticed the absolute corrupt-looking nature of the river run. This stuff was remarkably ancient: it was super oxidized, lots of deep purple, red, and orange stain. The clay was so thoroughly colored, that it was impossible to recognize any normal clay color whatsoever.

I drug the material from the hole with the pick and smoothed it so that I could pass the magnet through it all. Nothing on the magnet. So, I ran it back through the muck again. No iron or steel fragments leapt from the clay. Doggedly, I passed the coil back over the hole. The signal was still in the hole, and it was really screaming now. (Because the signal was coming from ancient material tight on the bedrock, I was starting to doubt my trash theory somewhat.) I carefully went down about another inch and once again, I spread the material out on a section of benign bedrock beside the hole. This time the signal was in the flattened out material, and it was throwing off a very angry, growling tone. I was once again convinced. It had to be iron or steel. I passed the magnet through the spread out material expecting a loud slap onto the magnet. However, no steel or iron jumped to the magnet. Well, I couldn’t believe it would be copper or aluminum at this depth, in this old, original material, but I was stumped by what it could be from the sound it was emitting. So, I passed the magnet through the material once more to be sure I hadn’t missed something ferrous. No magnetic contact whatsoever.

Therefore, I had one course of action left, to use the edge of the coil to pinpoint the signal. (I was using the eleven-inch mono at this point, and it was running very quietly in this awful, mineralized mess.) I narrowed down the target’s location with the edge of the mono (What a ruckus it made then!). I picked up a small handful of the stained mess. I selected stones one at a time and passed them under the coil—maybe it was some kind of turbo-charged hot rock. Nothing. I looked down where I’d passed the edge of the coil while pinpointing and could see a narrow mark in the oxidized clay. There was a small bit of goo in a lump holding at that point. I picked it up, passed it under the coil, and man did that signal enhancer ever work! I got a solid blast that sent a shattering jolt straight to the auditory center of my brain.

The target was clearly in the goo, and the lump hefted heavy in my hand—too heavy for normal clay. I mashed the lump between my fingers (my hands were now something like the color of those of a slaughter-house worker’s). There was a solid lump in the clay mass that resisted. I rolled the object between my thumb and index finger and all of a sudden the sun began to shine—right there between my fingers. It was the unmistakable yellow that sun-worshippers had revered for thousands of years. There in my hand was the perfect, metallic imitation of the sun’s rays—the shine of solid gold. It was a fat, sassy, gorgeous nugget. I still couldn’t believe it. Everything I’d heard said it had to be trash: it was far too loud—it growled too much—it sounded just like the cast iron fragment found earlier. Nevertheless, it was gold, and the realization seeped in. At last, I had found my first gold with the GPX 5000. I had broken in my shiny new detector. I was falling in love—it was a golden, romantic moment I’ll never forget.

Of course, I checked the hole very, very carefully after retrieving the nugget. No remaining signal. However, I switched the speed to very slow and meticulously checked the surrounding ground. A bit off to the left, facing upstream, I got a bump in the threshold. I scraped off a couple of inches of muck, scanned again, and the signal was now a tiny whisper. I scraped some more and now had a tone. I dug down, scraped and flattened the material and now had a solid signal. Out came the magnet--no magnetic contact. I scanned again, used my scoop, and had the signal captured in its confines. I sectioned the material and scanned again and again until I had the target on the coil. It too was covered in that nightmare of pigment and stain. After some rolling about on the fingers, out peeped a juvenile nugget: one not yet out of puberty. It was a little half-gram wonder—very coarse and quite sassy.

The big brother weighed out at just under five grams, and peewee, well you already have his stats.

What’s the interesting thing about this story of discovery? It’s interesting that I had to dig an obscene amount of trash, for hours, before I finally got a true target, but it’s not uncommon. It’s interesting that I was tired, fed up with fighting the wind, and discouraged by all of the countless bits of blade, but not out of the ordinary. What is interesting is that I passed numerous, shallow dig holes where previous VLF hunters had dug, but where they had only probed a few inches beneath the surface. It’s also curious that I was beginning to think that the pit was detected out, and because I was so discouraged, I was clearly ready to take a break and get out of there. But, regardless, what’s really intriguing is that I hadn’t counted on the break I got that day at all. The double-golden break Mother Nature served up—I hadn’t counted on that—not by a long shot.

All the best,


P.S. I found two more in the same area the next week: one that was a gram and a half, and one that was a quarter of a gram.

Jim Hemmingway
05-31-2011, 09:43 AM
Very enjoyable read Lanny. :) I doubt the VLF'ers would get much depth in that ground, but then too their discrimination would likely ID small tidbits of shallow iron...these factors may explain the many shallow digs you encountered.

A good mix of story-telling and technical references to your 'shiny new GPX 5000" performance Lanny. Many thanks...


06-01-2011, 06:43 PM
Thanks Lanny, maybe when i'm ready to call it quits next time, i'll remember this and just go a little farther, you just never know bud!

06-09-2011, 10:03 PM
A great read, thanks for taking the the time to post it for all of us . When I go detecting on the beach, I can walk about for 1 hour and find nothing. Then, bang I am picking up coins.

06-10-2011, 07:18 PM
see! today i was worn out ready to quit, so i took a break and changed from the 15x18 mono to the 8in mono. I was working some decomposed bedrock and got a nice signal. i dug down about 8in and moved the target out of the hole. So it then made the typical metal sound. I got the scoop out and found a square nut about a half inch thick. Dang, i thought and swang the coil over one more time and hmmm, there was a really soft signal. It was out of the hole also. So got the scoop out and bam out comes a 1dwt nugget. I really needed that! ha ha

06-12-2011, 12:07 AM
I had had a bad day on the beach, 2 hours or so, it was too hot. Found next to nothing, too many other guys and gals with detectors. So as I was walking up between the sand dunes going home there was a good signal. I was lucky that I had kept the detector switched on. It was a gold ring with 4 small diamonds on ! The retail value was about $600.

12-02-2011, 08:18 PM
No problem Jim--I've been gone from here for a while--nice to catch up.

All the best,


12-02-2011, 08:20 PM
Minerjoe--you really never do know what will happen unless you try one more time. I had a good friend, that passed away not long ago, that always told me it wasn't how many times I got down, but how many I got back up that counted.

All the best,


12-02-2011, 08:20 PM
Minermike--nice little story of yours--well done. Thanks so much for your kind words.

All the best,