SWIFT CREEK MINE
Alaska Gold Mining - Metal Detecting - Prospecting
Which metal detector will work best in the Long / Poorman area? If your just looking for larger gold nuggets most any detector can find them. A VLF detector will work well in this area as hot rocks are not a major problem. There is a fair amount of metal trash in some of the tailings. Most of the trash is ferrous so a detector with iron discrimination will save a lot of digging. A large coil will cover the most ground and find the deeper nuggets.
A pulse detector will also work but with it's added depth capability and lack of iron discrimination you may spend a considerable amount of time and effort digging junk. Using a Whites Surf Pro I dug up an old gear that was over two feet deep. You can get worn out and discouraged quickly when digging those deep holes for nothing.
In general, bring your favorite detector with a large coil.
For some interesting winter reading you may want to get the book "Alaska Nugget Detecting" by Ron Wendt available in many Alaska book stores or from Goldstream Publications on the net.
Shopping for a gold detector?
While there are many good machines on the market here are some of our recommendations for a reasonably priced ($600 - $800) detector that should serve you well:
My first choice is the White's MXT. It's a good multi purpose detector that offers automatic ground balance. Basically just turn it on and go. While it is not optimized for gold, as some other machines are, It features settings for prospecting, coins or relics. It has a digital readout as well as sound. Which is good for us old, near deaf, guys. It also has an iron probability display that can save you from digging a lot of junk. While it wont find the smallest pieces of gold it will easily locate a nugget and you can also use it to find coins when your not in gold country.
Whites GMT is similar to the MXT. It has the digital readout and automatic ground balance but is designed specifically for finding small gold though it will also locate the large nuggets.
The Fisher Gold Bug II. It's an excellent machine for finding big and small gold. Ground balance is done manually and detection is by sound alone as it has no digital readout or meter. It's a little more difficult to learn and use than the automatic machines but it is a proven gold finder. (I own a GB2 and after using the MXT and GMT I would choose the MXT over the Gold Bug).
The above are VLF/LF type detectors which refers to the kind of technology that is used to find anomalies in the ground. Another type that is becoming popular is the pulse detector. It can see through highly mineralized ground that would make a VLF detector unusable. It has the disadvantage of not being able to discriminate out iron objects which are among the most common junk in old mining areas. Click here for an explanation of how detectors work.
Here are some other things to think about when buying a detector:
Coils. Most manufactures offer optional coils for their detectors. Generally a larger coil will cover more ground with each sweep and search deeper in the ground. The problem is weight becomes a factor with the larger coil. While the larger coil may cover more ground you may end up spending less time detecting as your arm will get tired of holding up the heaver coil. Try to find a happy medium between size and weight.
On the subject of weight you may want to consider how heavy the basic detector is. Some use metal control boxed while others use a lighter plastic. Some manufactures design the control boxes to be removed from the pole for hip or chest mounting to take the weight off your arm. Battery weight may be a factor to consider as well.
Batteries. Different detectors use different types of batteries. While most use standard commonly available batteries some have a rechargeable battery pack that is specific to that detector . You should always have spare batteries with you. If your using the rechargeable battery pack you will want to buy an extra one so you have a fully charged battery available when you need it.
Cost. You can buy new metal detectors for $25.00 to $4000. Both can find gold nuggets. Some can see smaller pieces of gold than others. Some are better at finding gold while others excel at locating coins. Some will do both but usually won't be the best at either. Some have nice features like digital readouts and automatic ground balance. Some can deal with a lot of trash while others work best in highly mineralized ground. A more expensive detector is not necessarily going to be a better machine for your needs.
Before you buy a detector you should consider what it's main use will be. Look at machines in that category and in the price range that you want to spend. Compare the features and decide on what's best for you. If possible rent or borrow a detector to get an idea of the performance and feel.
The most important thing is learning how to use the detector you end up with. Play with it in your back yard. See how it responds to different metal objects. On the internet find user groups that can offer help in getting the maximum performance from your machine. See our resources page to find helpful web site links. Then when you get to the gold fields plan to put in some serious time swinging the detector. The more ground you cover with the detector coil the better you chances of finding that gold nugget. ~ Walt Larson
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