While out in the field, we have the opportunity of meeting all sorts of individuals, some of whom are seasoned pros and some who are not.
Here is a field guide for gold prospectors and how to spot the people that know what they are doing and those that do not. All characters are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons is coincidental.
Mr. “What did you get?”
This prospector goes around all day asking “what did you get” in the hopes that you will ask him the same question. This gives him the opportunity to pull out either a piece that he discovered with beginners luck, or a piece you threw away two hours ago or a piece that he picked up at the mineral store down the road and now he claims to have found it. This prospector is often new to prospecting and has not been humbled by collecting next to real prospectors.
This is a real prospector. Did you ever wonder how these locations we visit were discovered? It is this guy. He searches out old locations or breaks ground at a new location, a true prospector. They can be spotted because they have the right tools for the job and know what they are looking for in advance. You can spot them on a dig because they are not talking, and have their head in a hole. They have been in pockets that they could stand in. You never know until the end of the day what they have found because they don’t advertise their finds out of fear that a claim jumper will try to move in.
This person is using the trip to get out of the city and doesn’t really care about gold prospecting. He thinks the prospecting club is a travel agency to arrange his vacation. Often the loudest complainer, the first to suggest quitting for the day, and most likely to get lost because he was wandering away from the prospecting location.
This is the biggest and baddest (in the good sense) of all prospectors. He swings the biggest shovel you ever saw. You are not worthy of carrying his equipment. He cannot walk by a construction site without dreaming of a pneumatic jack hammer, back-hoes and 100 ton hydraulic jacks. No boulder is too large to tackle, even if there is no gold. This collector plays the odds, knowing that one trip in ten he will break into a good pocket and the pocket will have twenty times the quantity and quality of the gold the rest of us are getting. At night this prospector can be found at the nearest pizza parlor with a large supreme pizza and a six-pack of beer planning out the next days work.
This prospector thinks that the list of tools prepared for each trip is a multiple choice. He brings only half of them. Can usually be spotted adjacent the pro so that he can borrow his tools. Has a habit of quickly disappearing after breaking a shovel handle or bending a crow bar. Chronic amnesia causes this prospector to never offer to pay for damages, never remembers what tools he needs to get for the future, and always forgets to say thank you.
Always the youngest person on the trip and always the one to get the best specimen, usually lying on the surface where it was kicked by all or the other members on the trip.
Total lack of preparation and research causes this prospector to have no idea what he is looking for or what he has found. Walks around all day with different rocks he has picked up asking “what’s this?”
This prospector has many years of prospecting experience and they were all better than the trip he is on now. At least that what he thinks. He is fond of talking about prospecting locations that are now built over by condominiums or super-highways. Does not recognize the passage of time. Never looks at his gold that he has boxed up in his garage to see if it really is as good as he remembers.
He has a backpack filled with credit cards used to purchase gold at the local rock shop. Breaks into a sweat easily at the thought of swinging a shovel. His criteria for a good field trip is a pool and remote control TV at the motel.
Again, this prospector has not been humbled by digging next to a real pro. He walks around and, without you asking, will pull out to show you all the gold he has found. Can often be heard saying “well it’s not much, but it counts”. The braggart thinks he is in a competition, but in a real competition, he would not last until lunch.
Motto is run silent, run deep. Slow and steady. He starts in at one spot and sticks to it throughout the day. If there is gold to be found he will get it.
Expects the location will be littered with 1 ounce nuggets. After the inevitable beginners luck discovery, he finds it is all downhill. Becomes a poker.
Plants himself on the ground and pokes around usually with a stick he found at the site. Always comes away empty handed and is usually the most vocal about what a lousy location this is.
Got it, Done it, Been there
This is truly the hardest type of prospector to spot because he seldom actually goes prospecting. He was there twenty years ago and prospected then. It was crap then and he does not need more crap, even if there was a major recent discovery. When the Plumbago mine discovery was made, you could hear a collective “Ha, there ain’t nothing up there!”. When confronted with specimens from new discoveries exclaims loudly that they were better in the old days.
This is the guy that that looks over your shoulder and tells you that you are using the wrong equipment or working the wrong area. Often has odd theories about pocket zones involving the Coriolis Effect, left hand quarks, or cold fusion. No amount of factual articles can sway this guy from his theories. And he never actually does any prospecting, he prefers to direct others.
This prospector attaches himself to the side of any successful prospector in the hopes of benefiting from their hard work. Can easily spotted saying “Let me squeeze in here”. This prospector never actually finds anything except Leaverites (as in “leave it right there”). His bad habits comes from being used to parallel parking in the city.
The Claim Jumper
This guy can usually be spotted right away. When confronted, he replies that he didn’t know this was a claim. He claims to be just collecting black sand for a science project. There are quite a few of this type of “prospector” and most of them probably have more gold than you do.