Posted By Ron Kennedy
on 01 Mar 2020 01:21 AM
Hi there, I am 100% new to the whole world of prospecting. I am in Easley, SC and have been bouncing around location to location looking for the goods. In the two or three weeks that I have been doing this, I have completed enough research to make me feel like I was seeking a degree in geology. Anyway, I found a promising location (at least from my research of the past and current), but I am having the hardest time with my method of panning. Here is what I am dealing with: lots of black sand and magnetics, tons and tons of mica, what appears to be tiny specs of pyrite and possibly some super fine gold. YouTube has been good to me, but the one thing I lack is the knowledge of distinguishing between all of the stuff that sparkles and shines. As much as I love Jeff Williams and Dan Hurd, neither has yet to call me to tell me how to know the difference (lol). The one thing that scares me in all of this is the idea that I get lazy (more like complacent) and start losing gold because I think that all I'm looking at is mica and pyrite. I know I have a long way to go before I'm a pro, but I'm asking if anyone can give me a foolproof idea of how to know what I'm looking at? Thanks in advance.
I can't help you with visual identification, but I might be able to help you develop confidence in your technique.
When I teach newbies how to pan, I demonstrate with #8 birdshot, from an old shotgun shell. I don't care if there's gold in the dirt they pan - that's not the point at this stage of the game. I take five of those little lead pellets and drop then right on top of the dirt in the pan. They disappear when the pan gets shaken. When the contents of the pan get down to the dregs, they can see if they still have all five of the #8 birdshot. If some of them are missing, the pan is being rinsed too hard. If they still have all five of the shot, they may have taken too long, but they're basically "doing it right". If they found the lead, they would have found the gold - if it was there. Moving the gold from the pan to a vial is a different lesson :)
I'm always careful about recovering the birdshot - I don't want that stuff to get loose in the wild.
I sometimes prospect in areas that have no color. If my confidence gets shaken (by, say, 4 or 5 pans in a row with no color), I will sometimes drop some lead shot into my pan, just to make sure I still have the "wrist" for it.
Hope this helps!