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View Full Version : Gold Fever Prospecting on the Fourty Mile

01-06-2013, 01:24 PM
I wanted to thanks those that, early last year, recommended Dean Race's camp in response to my queries about dredging in AK.
I spent two weeks last year at Dean's camp and had an outrageous time.
The Camp:
The camp was clean, organized and well suited for a dredging adventure. Plenty of equipment for virtually any use of your time in pursuit of the noble metal. Dean's parents (Barbara and Norm) dedicate themselves to pampering your visit. As much as anyone can given the remote location and the logistics of the operation.
The Gold Experience:
The time period I was there there were five persons who came to dredge. When I arrived, Dean asked what our goals were and we all relayed them. The man/wife couple from Wisconsin that I ended up working with, wanted to dredge by themselves on a 6" Keene. Dean offered the 8" dredge to Greg, DeDe and myslf if we wanted to work together. Sounded like a good idea as Greg was easily 6'6" and around 300lbs (No fat) and DeDe was a large woman herself both working on Greg's 34 acre farm. Looked good, sounded great and the 8" was already in place on a minor gold line. We could start dredging in the morning. As I had suffered from CA dredging moratorium for the last years I said let's go for it.
The Reality:
The river was a quite fast (though dropping fast) so we had to stay close to the bank the first few days and we were finding some gold. As the water slowed we got further out in the river tracking the line. But it was shallow just a couple of feet you hardly had to get your head wet. The third day we were tracking the line when it got deeper and we had to put on weights to get down and remain stable in the current. Come to find out that both Greg and DeDe had never dredged before and upon loading Greg with 75lbs of lead and airing him up....he still could not breath underwater. He stated he needed to breathe through his nose. What? So I worked the day and when we got back to camp Dean hooked us up with a really nice full face mask.
Were back in business and only lost about a half day to trying to solve Greg's nose issue. We hit the morning (after Barb's incredible breakfast) get set and Greg loads up, we fit him with the mask and he he dove under. And immediately surfaced coughing and gagging. Seems the mask didn't help. As it turned out neither he nor DeDe could get their face underwater. WHHAAAT? Why you you spend several thousands of dollars each going on a dredging experience if you cannot get your head underwater.
Working on that 8" is the definition of working, but to go back to camp and get a 6" would cost another day. I originally wanted to work a six by myself and focus more on prospecting than production. But hey, I never worked on an 8" and welcomed the opportunity. So I worked the nozzle for the remainder of our time and they tended the box and thew those few rocks the 8" wouldn't eat.
The Gold:
We ended up with just under two onces for 11 dredging days, really only 9 with lost time and I making the mistake of cleaning the 8" after four days work. Took a whole day to process the fines. I split the pot with Greg and DeDe and ended up with about 18grams. One teeney picker in the mix.
My Take:
This was overall the most enjoyable dredging experience I've had. This year, when I go back, I will be working a 6" myself. I saw some places in the river where these huge cracked limestone veins crossed the river and I'm certain they are natural riffles. The wildlife is amazing (think firearm), the food and camp five star.
Next time I would ask...."Do you have ANY dredging experience"?

Agin thanks all.

Steve Herschbach
01-06-2013, 02:39 PM
I have often thought if I had nothing and nowhere to go and wanted to go dredging, this is it. You make an excellent point however about people being sure they are up for it. Dredging is hard work, and yes, if you want to use a larger dredge you better be able to get underwater.

I will have to stop and visit Dean's camp this summer.

Jim Hemmingway
01-08-2013, 08:41 AM
A very good write-up / summary of your experience at the camp. I'm sure its been done somewhere on the forum, but can anyone provide a link to this site please? Thankyou,


Steve Herschbach
01-08-2013, 08:51 AM

01-08-2013, 10:09 AM
Interesting OP. I too have experienced a full-face mask that would not seal worth a damn...water leaking everywhere inside. No amount of fiddling or adjustment would make it work. But ordinary dive masks worked just fine. And I don't have a beard or anything that would prevent making a water-tight seal. I guess it all depends on the shape of your face?


01-24-2013, 02:57 PM
Dean Race will be doing the program about his camp for the Wausau Prospectors ( A Wisconsin GPAA Chapter) February 2nd, 2013 in Wausau. If your close by stop in and enjoy the meeting. wausauprospectors.com

02-22-2013, 03:32 AM
Dean's Parents (Barbara & Norm) will be at the camp again this year (2013). They are some really nice folks. Barbara is Canadian/American giving Dean a Duel citizenship which works out well with his driving/flying through Canada a lot.