For Centuries, prospecting has been one of the most important commercial activities to have shaped the way of the modern world. For a number of years, during the 19th century, prospecting was the main means of getting rich quick. While that need to get rich may not be the reason why people look at prospecting today, there is always the possibility that someday, somewhere, we may all find that little shiny object that makes our hobby more enjoyable.
Prospecting is generally considered as the way of the "old". We normally associate the exercise with old men standing knee-deep in water, holding their gold pans and looking for that elusive sign that gold exists in that region. They all, normally, had long beards, wore crazy hats and had tattered clothing, no doubt from their persistent adventures out in the wild.
We have all, at some point of time, experienced the thrill that comes from finding something hidden in the ground or lying around. Whether a small coin, a little shiny piece of coloured glass or just some coloured stones, we all had our treasures and we all had our reasons to spend hours, digging through our parents' backyards, looking for these wonderful little tidbits.
Trawling through mud and grinding our way through junk was quite a common occurrence, in our childhood.
Even today, we can continue with that entire line of thought, enjoying ourselves as we go back to prospecting, taking it up as a hobby that not only reminds us of our childhood, but also gives us plenty of time amidst the beautiful creations of mother nature.
How to Start
To begin prospecting and to take it up as a hobby, you have a couple of options to start off. The first is to find a company or organization that organizes guided tours to specific locations for day-long prospecting sessions. There are plenty of such organizations in almost every city, offering not just tourists, but locals even, an opportunity to experience this age-old technique of finding gold reserves.
The other option is to head out yourself, with friends, family or just alone, and hit the wild outdoors with your trusted gold pan. This can be as much fun as a guided tour but only if you know where to go. If you are really looking to find something and not just making the trip for the outdoor-time, then you need to do your research before you leave.
What you Need
Effectively, you can begin prospecting with as little as a gold pan or as much as a full-fledged dredging machine. If you are looking to start off, then a simple gold pan should do the trick. Gold pans are nothing but simple pans made of plastic, tin, aluminium or steel, about 10 to 14 inches in diameter and may have screens or uneven bases to hold onto the gold that you may find, while letting all the non-essential substances flow out.
If you are hoping to find nuggets, then panning isn't the way to go. The most common thing you'd probably find is gold dust - good only as a souvenir. The chances of finding a nugget, by panning the banks of a river, or even its shallows, are highly unlikely. That is the main reason why panning is mostly used as a part of prospecting, to find out if there is the possibility of finding more gold in the area.
The other way to get started is to get a Sluice Box. The box is, basically, a channel made of metal, wood or plastic, and contains riffles along with screens and other devices to catch gold in running water. The mouth of the box is placed facing upstream, allowing the water to flow through it. The box is set with a slight downward tilt, allowing the water to flow through fast enough to wash away the lighter sand & gravel.
There are as many sizes, shapes and materials used in making Sluice boxes as there are to make gold pans. Both techniques are extremely common and as beginners, offer the simplest way to actually start off in this hobby.
Then there's the View
Most of these prospecting sites are placed in the heart of beautiful countryside, flowing rivers and towering mountains. The idea of spending a day or even a weekend out in heavenly surroundings, with or without your loved ones, is just too hard to resist. Whether your sole purpose is to hit the rivers with your gold pan or just laze around, occasionally dipping into the prospecting scene, you cannot find a better hobby.
With all the natural beauty creating the perfect setting for you to spend hours hunched over your little gold pan, giving this wonderful little hobby a go, why would anyone refuse to spend a few hours of their lives, indulging in the art of prospecting gold?