Thinking of prospecting for gold full-time, need serious advice
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  1. #1
    Oct 2018
    Central Valley California
    176 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    Thinking of prospecting for gold full-time, need serious advice

    I've gotten so obsessed with gold now that I'm literally having dreams about it almost every night. Can't believe I lived all this years here in California not realizing there was gold only an hour away in the Sierra Nevadas. Almost every single free day I'm not working I spend going out just shoveling gravel and taking it back home but even with all the hard work the best I've gotten is just around 0.5 grams a day so it's not exactly profitable. But still, I love it so much, never felt this alive in years just being out there with myself(and the pooping bears). Even with all the backbreaking labor and dangers I feel so happy that I now seriously think I could do this for the rest of my life and never have to wageslave for someone else ever again. Plus I have enough money saved up now that I can survive for several years and not have a job.

    Realistically though, can I actually find enough gold to do this full time? If I start buying claims that would be richer than public areas, how much could I really pull out of the ground working without any machinery and just shoveling gravel manually? I'm only 34 right now too so I'm still young enough to rough it out there and work the entire day. Should I also have to worry about the law if I buy a claim and do this full time, just living on it with a van? At the bare minimum I would be just fine with getting $500 a month worth of gold. Serious advice would be welcome, thank you.
    gold tramp, Nitric and Louie D like this.

  2. #2
    Northern California

    Aug 2007
    Southern California
    XLT, GMT, 6000D Coinmaster
    4549 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Realistically, there are no answers to your questions. Hunting for gold has way better odds than the lottery but just like you've found, just because you are in the Sierras there are times when you find zero gold and then not much.

    There is a great deal of learning to do before one starts finding even a dribble more gold. Being in the right place increases one's odd's of finding gold but not the chances of finding a lot of gold.

    Out searching w/GMT & friend under my arm

  3. #3
    Jan 2012
    Oregon Coast
    White's V3i, White's MXT, and White's Eagle Spectrum Cleangold sluice & prospectors pan, EZ-Gold Pan, and custom cleanup sluice.
    2154 times
    Beach mining, Metal detecting, Trading.
    Best advice........ Don't quit your day job................
    We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Thomas Jefferson

    Which is also why we have the second

  4. #4

    Dec 2014
    Bodfish and Marin county CA
    Garrett , Whites keene puffer drywasher , Keene A51 Sluice
    1005 times
    Drywashing , Sluicing , Panning
    Well if you can find .5 gram every day 7 days a week.
    Here's the math .5 gram is about $20.00 a day at spot price.
    $20.00 x 30 days = $600.00 at spot price
    Minus lets say 20% of spot = $480

    I try to set a gram a day goal -- It has happened but but not very often.
    I usually wear out first -- I think I could make more money looking for aluminium cans but I just don't get excited when I find one.
    For me It's about the GOLD not the money.
    Cheers Mike
    Stay thirsty my friends

  5. #5
    Nov 2014
    Northern California
    White's TDI SL, Fors Gold+, Gold Monster 1000, 36" Bazooka Prospector, 30" Bazooka Sniper.
    468 times
    I know someone that makes a living doing it, only uses metal detectors and has permission on great ground. Unless you find great ground I wouldnt quit working.
    Bejay, et1955, 63bkpkr and 6 others like this.

  6. #6

    Mar 2014
    Central Oregon Coast
    Whites GMT Garret fully underwater
    2401 times
    I have been doing it for 40 years in the Western US. I have numerous claims. No way could I have quit my day job. But I was a prospector hoping to hit it big. But I do know someone who did and they have done more than well. 1st they are Canadian and sold their business and had enough money to acquire some big equipment and acquire a Canadian claim. They lived and worked their claim...and they are hard workers....husband and wife. They extracted a lot of gold....just like Parker and Beets...but they kept it simple and did it all themselves. They were younger back then. They also went to winter in Az each year and ended up hooking up with a guy who had good Rich Hill Az Patented Placer....and he wanted it they did that in the winters and worked their Canadian claim in the summer. They did it full time and did not mess around with the prospecting...they instantly became miners. He often told me I should head to Canada....cause that is where you can mine without a lot of Gov interference...just abide by the rules and you can get er done. He is a big equipment handyman and can fix any big equip himself. Plus I think he is part Scotish….he finds great deals on equipment. He always did a trommel operation. Unless you were to acquire great ground in the US you better not go er full time. The fever has been had by many a guy and it is a tough line of work for a little pay.


  7. #7

    Feb 2014
    2125 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Based on your OP I would say you are not ready to go. You aren't asking the pro question but the basics. If you don't know the basics yet learn them and then come back to the idea
    Last edited by ratled; Jan 27, 2019 at 10:24 AM.
    Never confuse motion with progress

    Illegitimi non carborundum

    ███ ████ everything ████ ███ ███████ ██ is ███████ fine █████.
    ███████ ██ ████ trust █████ your █████ ███ government.

  8. #8
    bug is offline

    Jun 2008
    Nor Cal
    338 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    The guys I know that do it full time been doing it for years. Sniping in wetsuits moving yardage of overburden in cold water, also detecting with high end minelabs gets it done. best bet is have a side business to keep the gold business funded. Gold streaks are up and down and no guarantees ever. Sometimes you're on it, sometimes your off it and cant force it out of the ground for nothing. It ill play with your emotions hard when you are on a dry streak.

  9. #9
    Apr 2014
    SW Oregon
    569 times
    Step one (kinda...HA!) is to find out or make a plan so you can remain on your claim more than 14 to 30 days without moving. I'm not sure if you want to move onto your claim year around. It's got it's good points and my life is low key, low budget, few neighbors and really can be a reality. But I say that from a two person retired low income budget. We go to town twice a month and spend just under 200 dollars a trip for fuel. (off the grid with a generator and propane heat). "RENT" is dirt cheap but you have to appease BLM. Sure would be nice to say go for it but without a washplant or a big boy dredge your chances are diminished. And we all know what the States have done. On a weather standpoint those spring and summer months are a piece of cake.....but winters (snow or not) takes it's toll. Anything that can break will break and parts are ten days in shipping....etc. I set a "rust" budget for PCBlaster yearly cause of that dang Oregon damp thing in the winter. Even in a shed/tent. You only live once and towards the greyer days in life I can say I've done alot....some good, some,eh, "different" than the normal. I wish I had more get-up-and-go but dang, at 35 years old I did.
    63bkpkr, et1955, winners58 and 4 others like this.

  10. #10
    Charter Member
    Jul 2012
    Blackfoot, Idaho
    White's GM2, GM3, DFX, Coinmaster, TDI-SL, GM24K, Falcon MD20, old Garrett Masterhunter BFO 'Way Too Cool' dual 18 Watt UV light
    3254 times
    How to become a millionaire.....start with ten million dollars, and take up gold prospecting.

  11. #11
    Charter Member
    Ed Tracy

    Jan 2015
    Equinox 800
    934 times
    Best way to make a living threw goldmining, sell mining equipment or invent something that all miners need yet really doesn't work.

  12. #12
    Jan 2019
    527 times
    I cannot give you an answer either.

    I had a chance to get out of working at age 42 and so I retired being a welder at a shipyard. I cannot say I regret it; it has really been nice to be with my wife and four daughters at ages 5, 12,13,14. But it has not been easy.

    For me, I did not work a claim at prospecting, but worked my farm doing gravel/logging/farming. The two things I did not expect was property taxes to double, and my health to go. For two years now I have battled cancer and still have a LONG ways to go.

    What does that mean? I have no idea. I want to call myself an idiot for not fully planning, but who can predict the future, and rest assured if I die tomorrow, the time spent with my wife and kids will have been well worth it. And as tough as it has been, we are making it. They say people who have cancer basically take a year off their life due to health, hospital visits, and finances. I have been getting by for two years, so how bad is it?

    I have found no matter what it is someone wants to do, 20 people will say it can never be done. Myself, I encourage people to look at things from a different point of view. Since I would never want to see someone lose everything and end up divorced and homeless, really the question is; what is the worst that can happen? For me, it is returning to a job (shutter). It is scary, especially prospecting, but is it any different than farming? We all might eat, but the statistics are not great for beginning farmers.

    The greater the risk, the greater the potential reward, but only you can decide if you want to pull the trigger on that.

  13. #13
    Gold Tramp

    Dec 2012
    1987 times
    3 ounce hardrock, 4 grms placer, a years worth of work, shovel, pick, lots of diggin, hiking, toten much heavy rock, the only free gold was 4gr placer, still had to walk a mile n Digg n wash much rock n dirt to get that.

    My hard rock had to be found , chisel n sledge to get at it, can't forget shovel work and hauling bags of ore to my truck most of the time it's much uphill walkin, then its gotta be brought to the mill crushed, ground, washed across the shaker table(concentrated) smelted, then I gotta find a buyer or sell to the refiner.

    Got no trophies to show had to sell all my gold as I was doing it for a livin,
    And the wife didn't think she should pay my way, as she says after all your a gold miner,
    Her hand out for the yellow.

    Explain that when its empty bottle days.

    Anyways all this was done eating n livin in the bush on the skinny, dealing with much heat n killer bees, rattle snakes, and trying not to crack my skull or break a leg falling down the mnt.

    I was a gold miner.

  14. #14
    Jul 2004
    Angels Camp,Ca.
    754 times
    ....And every rock one breaks by day,becomes one's heart by night...ftom the ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde.
    gold tramp and wildminer like this.

  15. #15

    Mar 2016
    3201 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Even back in the California Gold Rush of 1849, most miners did not necessary mine full time.
    They moved around a lot and didnít stay in one place very long. They trapped, cut wood, sawed lumber, packed goods, ran micro businesses, raised animals, grew vegetables, ect. all to supplement the money they did make mining.

    Mining was usually seasonal - either the rivers were high, ground was frozen, covered in snow, or it was hot and dry and there was no water.

    Point being, even when there was lots of virgin ground, it was a tough go.
    Forest Rangers drive the roads daily and have a pretty good idea who is doing what.
    Expect trouble if you plan on living in a van on public land. You too would have to move around a lot.

    You have money saved up and you love the mountains. My suggestion is to move. Take that money and put it down on a piece of property that has gold on it. Work a full time job and mine every weekend.

    I used to mine on my lunch break. Had a sweet spot going so I would come back to work with nuggets most days.
    Last edited by IMAUDIGGER; Jan 27, 2019 at 10:35 AM.
    Jim in Idaho, MrHF, Nitric and 1 others like this.
    All treasures found with permission on private property or on active mining claims.


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