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Making Lemonade Out of Lemons - 4/1/13

Wow, what a dramatic turn of events. After many years of juggling permits and more types of paperwork than one can imagine I screwed up not once but twice and caused our mining claims to be lost! I'm not much for making excuses and bear the responsibility for the mess. Thankfully, I have good friends and partners and so a hanging did not occur. The error was part of a convoluted situation, but suffice it to say you had better get all the facts straight when messing with mining claims on areas closed to mineral entry. The feds are absolutely unforgiving of errors. The story was such that I wrote it up and had it published in the ICMJ Prospecting & Mining Journal at http://www.icmj.com/article-notloggedin.php?id=2479

I had big plans for the summer as detailed at Alaska Gold Dredging Adventure 2013 and with the claim now gone there was quite a bit of planning to roll back. I was able to cancel all the equipment on order and return the rest. I had to tell my partners there summer plans were also messed up but suggested various options we could undertake. Not to make light of a bad situation but things are working out. Time to make lemonade out of lemons!

I experienced a bit of depression over the whole mess and decided I was fed up with permits and paperwork for the time being. I went so far as to sell out of some other federal claims I was involved in to just get free of it all and spend a year regrouping. I still want to possibly do a dredging operation, but have put it off to 2014 at least while I look at various options. One thing I did decide was that perhaps I was thinking too small with a 6" dredge and so now am mulling over options for placing an 8" dredge someplace.

In the meantime I am just going to hang loose and go prospecting, with my main goal to stay mobile and to stick with methods that require no permitting, which generally means staying non-motorized. I am putting together a mobile tent camp and basic prospecting gear including sluice box, recirculating rocker box, and metal detectors. I am going to start in the Fortymile area near Chicken, then head for the Iditarod country, and finish up in the Nome area. I plan small side trips to the Petersville area and Kenai Peninsula if time and circumstances permit.

Three Fishers and a Minelab
Fisher Gold Bug 2, Gold Bug Pro, F75 SE, & Minelab GPX 5000

I do intend to use metal detectors for the bulk of my prospecting efforts and am relying on the four units above to put gold in my poke this summer.

  1. Gold Bug 2 with 6.5" coil. This will be for scraping/detecting bedrock cleaning up the tiny bits.
  2. Gold Bug Pro with 10" x 5" DD coil and 11" x 8" DD coils. General purpose tailings detecting.
  3. F75 Special Edition with 13" DD coil and 11" DD coil. General purpose tailings detecting.
  4. Minelab GPX 5000 with 8", 11", 16" and 18" mono coils. The "big gun"! For use anywhere there is not too much junk.

The Gold Bug Pro and F75 are redundant. For most people the Gold Bug Pro is the way to go. But I get a tiny edge with the F75 on larger gold in tailing piles and I like the large target id that pops up on the screen while in all metal mode compared to the tiny indicator on the Gold Bug Pro. The Pro is a tad hotter on small gold than the F75. The bottom line is I could narrow it down to three machines by leaving the F75 behind but can't quite bring myself to do that. The machine has been too good to me so it goes along and I will be using it for much of my detecting.

I intend to split my time between hunting old ground to get some gold and doing some true blue sky prospecting looking for undiscovered gold patches. Patch prospecting is common in desert areas but I am unaware of anyone giving it s serious go in Alaska, so figure I may as well give it a shot. The terrain and ground cover do not favor this type of metal detector prospecting in Alaska and so most people stick with hunting old mine workings. The odds on patch hunting here are slim but the potential rewards are great.

I have my trusty sluice box, but have also finally acquired a rocker box. I have always wanted one, but did not want a wood homemade unit and have never seen a commercially made rocker i really wanted. Alan Trees recently started making a plastic rocker box as seen at http://www.golddredgebuilders.com/rockin.html which looks really good. I got one for $599 plus $100 shipping to Alaska. I want it for working areas away from water in non-motorized locations and so have paired it up with a 50 gallon tub to use as a water recirculation system.

I will fill out more details here later but that is the rough plan for now. I will be hitting the road for Chicken in mid-June and checking in every few weeks with updates

Steve Herschbach

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