Getting started metal detecting for gold nuggets is as easy as buying a metal detector and hitting the gold fields right? Well the answer to that one can be yes or no. There are many detectors on the market designed for different fields of the metal detecting hobby, although there are a large number of professionals that metal detect for a living. To them nugget hunting, treasure hunting, etc. is much more than a hobby this is a living and full time business to many miners!
As a beginner the type of detector chosen is very important and directly related to the amount of success you will have as well as how much you will enjoy what you are doing. This article I wrote in 2001 deals mainly with searching for gold nuggets and that will be the topic I will spend the most time on. Although when searching for nuggets, all kinds of artifacts, coins, trash, and even meteorites can be found, the detectors used for nugget hunting are designed for just that. Buying a detector designed for coin or relic hunting and using it for nugget hunting will limit your hunting capabilities. Serious nugget hunting requires a detector designed for that purpose, but there are some detectors designed for gold nugget hunting that can also be used to coin and relic hunt. The main function however is gold nugget hunting.
There are several companies that sell excellent gold hunting machines; Fisher, Garrett, Minelab, Tesoro, and Whites are the best known and there are others out there designed to find gold. New these detectors retail from around $500 up to and above $10,000. All find gold, but they don’t all have the same features. I am not going to go into detail here, as there are many books and articles readily available dealing with the different operating functions of all the different types of detectors. My advice would be to start out with a good used machine to help keep your start up costs down. Also should you decide metal detecting is not for you the used model will sell for about what you paid for it. A newly purchased machine sold as used will sell for about a third of what you paid for it.
Now that you have got a good gold detector there are a few other tools you will need to carry with you in the field. I carry only a few basics to keep the weight to a minimum, a small pick, plastic scoop, containers for nuggets, and a carpenter’s tool belt and pouch to carry my tools so my hands are free to work my detector. There are other odds and ends I tote around in my pouch such as water, compass, and other things a feller should carry in the desert. A pack of extra batteries for your detector is a must as the batteries always go dead at the worst possible time well out of site of the truck.
Now we get to head phones, the quality of headphone you choose will directly affect the amount of gold you will find! I use head phones with nothing less than 100-ohm impedance. This gives you far more sensitivity to very small and very deep targets that you may otherwise miss. Typical department store models run from 19-ohm to 30-ohm and although the price may tempt you, my advice is to avoid them. Another important feature is independent adjustable volume for each ear. The detector can then be run at full and the volume adjusted at your ear. This again will give you more sensitivity and is recommended by most manufacturers. There are several models available at prospecting shops or stores selling quality stereo equipment. I use Koss UR-30 and they work quite well. Many other companies also makes an excellent set of head phones designed strictly for metal detecting.
Learning to fully understand your new machine and ALL of its functions is the single most important thing that you can do to assure success. All manufacturers supply detailed instructions and test procedures that will help you understand the sounds your machine is making. Taking the time to fully understand this material will greatly increase your chances of finding gold. No amount of reading or testing can prepare you for that first trip to a nugget-hunting site. Its lesson time all over again because now you get a taste of the barrage of sounds coming from your detector as you try to master all that you have learned. Soon all that mumbo-jumbo that you’ve been studding starts to make since and you begin digging targets! Gold isn’t far away.
BUY FROM A DEALER THAT WILL HELP! And hopefully one that actually uses the detector you are buying and will also have questions about. Many of us actually will do training and offer almost unlimited help to give ya an edge....
Next is research and lots of it! Learning where to find nuggets is very important because that detector that you have learned to use is the recovery tool, you do the finding of the gold. It will do you no good to hunt where gold isn't and learning where gold has been found in the past is the key.
I hope some of this information has helped if you are new to this game. There is no teacher like experience and like any other worth wile project metal detecting takes a lot of patience and hard work to master, but master it you will if you keep at it. One of the absolute best ways to get the hang of it is to find an experienced nugget-hunter to help show you the ropes and who knows, maybe that person will take you to a “hot spot.” One important bit of advice you will hear me repeat quite often, DIG ALL TARGETS!! Good hunting
Yep old article, but has some good points for those new to beeping!