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The day looked like it was going to be hot and the humidity levels even at this time of the morning were already on the rise, I was loading my truck getting ready for an early bird assault on an old surfacing area that has been productive for me over the years and wanted to make sure I hit the ground running with everything ready to go before things got too uncomfortable.
Summer gold detecting tends to be a run and gun exercise in the Southern Hemisphere, especially way up here on the Tropic of Capricorn, so I generally plan my trips for an early start with an eye to getting out before the midday suns zenith causes my brain to get too mirage affected.
The first guys into this area with the GPX 5000s using the Fine Gold Timings and small Monoloop coil’s had a whale of a time plucking hundreds of little water worn nuggets all over the place, so I decided to go with a which way bet and use the Commander 15 x 12-inch Mono. For me the Fine Gold Timings were of course the order of the day, but I was quite prepared to sacrifice some of the smaller pieces for the chance of getting my coil over a larger lump or two hidden at depths in the undulating clay base layer where the bulldozers of yesteryear had not gone deep enough. Bulldozed ground is much better to detect than excavated ground, as the blade of the dozer tends to run flat across the ground leaving any low parts and clipping the tops off humps, perfect for leaving nuggets at the drop offs of those humps, where as an excavator can follow the bottom not leaving very much at all.
I was also on the lookout for any blood red ground that seemed more mineralised that other areas, this was for two reasons. One was the Timings allow me to work these areas very effectively in the hopes that a good signal or two might still be lurking in the noisy ground. But secondly and probably more importantly for me on this occasion, due to amount of other operators pounding the area with smaller Mono coils, I was wanting to take advantage of the larger Mono coils ability to run quieter. Less windings (in a larger Mono) means they have slightly less sensitivity than the smaller coils used by the other operators, which also means less ground noise to deal with. The Commander 15 x 12-inch Mono fits this niche perfectly. They have excellent sensitivity to smaller gold, but also run nice and quite thanks to their larger size with the added bonus of getting much better depth than smaller coils.
Three hours later and a lot of sweat pouring out of every pore I was starting to wonder if my theories were flawed, I had tried every trick in the book and other than some steel off the dozer blades I had zero gold for my troubles.
Working my way back to my 4x4 I got a weird signal over some chunky quartz. Giving the quartz a kick produced a squeal of disapproval from my big toe as the quartz rock refused to budge. This is a good sign as it meant the rock was still locked into the clay, which meant any metal object under the quartz could very likely be gold. Sweat soaking into my eyes I levered and dug my way around the rock until with a huge amount of effort it rolled out of the hole. Steadily swinging the coil into the hole along with a whispered prayer for the signal to improve I heard a delicious warble that can only mean one thing, GOLD!
30 minutes later and with me now swimming in sweat, the signal was still in there and I was fast running out of puff, the clays were so compacted that every tiny bit I managed to remove from the hole took massive amounts of exertion to break out, something that is not good on a stinking hot muggy day in full sunlight.
By this stage the signal was booming and I found myself silently cursing the fact I had not included my PRO-FIND 25 on my belt, this meant I had to guestimate where the signal actually was, which was very hard to do, because the signal was so loud! I had two choices, either enlarge the hole, which would require huge amounts of extra effort, or keep pounding at the by now pinching bottom of the hole. Lifting the pick up high above my head I swung with all my force driving the point deep into the quartz and clay hard pack, scooping out the resultant spoils I waved the coil over the pile and had the pleasure of the detector overloading on a target at the top of the pile.
That’s right you guessed it, I now had the mashed remains of what was once a beautiful 19-gram slug with a huge jagged pick head gouge out of one side, re-checking the hole I found the piece that had broken off.
I took my time refilled the hole after rechecking then dragged my sorry sweaty bones to the vehicle and got the air-con going ASAP. If only I had brought along my pin pointer, it had been invaluable on the 6-ounce nugget I found earlier this year at 2 ½ feet, you would think I would have kept it handy not sitting back at home on a shelf.
If I’d had my PRO-FIND 25 on hand I would now have a nice bright shiny unmarked 19-gram nugget to show off, instead I have a mangled chunk of scrap gold that is only good for smelting... Still at today's gold price it was a good day out with my Minelab.
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I have since remedied this problem by shouting myself two more PRO-FIND 25s for Christmas, one for my gold detecting gear and the other two for our coin shooting outfits, I got sick and tired of my boys commandeering the PRO-FIND 25 leaving me hundreds of metres away trying to locate coins and such without it.
Its funny how you get used to a device, I remember locating coins very easily in the PRE-PRO-FIND 25 days but now I feel absolutely naked without it, to the point I would rather not detect at all than go without it.