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The Gold Rush is on!

Gold Panning

Gold PanningI was all settled in ready for a great night of reality television. I had my appetizers all laid out and was just about to flip on the channel that had an Alaskan Gold Mining marathon ready to start when my brother stopped in to a watch a few shows with me. A few episodes into the all day marathon we took a break, and then my brother turned to me and said “why aren’t you doing that?” I looked at him and didn’t say a word, I knew what he meant. Throughout my younger years I could always be found on some unique adventure, sometimes it was climbing the highest peaks of the Himalayas while other times I’d be diving some shipwreck in the Florida Keys, but what it really was about was the quest, or the pursuit of treasure. Prospecting for gold is something I always wanted to try but after watching some of these shows I was kind of turned off by the idea due to the extreme risk, expense, and the fact that those on the shows seemed a bit, well, off their freaking rockers! And of course the fact that I live in South Florida where the only major concentrations of gold is found either on centuries old shipwrecks or on centuries old women wintering in West Palm Beach. Well, a little research on the Internet and I had a plan all figured out to have some great fun and learned a bit about prospecting, specifically panning for gold.

After visiting some websites on the subject and watching several YouTube videos on panning for gold I decided it was time to go for it. Well, going for it as much as I could for the moment. I came across a website called that offered great paydirt and reasonable prices. Paydirt! I recognized that term from the gold mining shows, it’s the actual dirt that that one digs out of the ground in hopes it contains gold. Now I’m not a complete moron, I’m not the type to by a deed to the Brooklyn Bridge or anything so I did a bit of research and found that had done quite a bit of business on eBay and other online sites and enjoyed a very high feedback rating. I’m also not naive enough to think someone is going to sell me something that I can get rich on and not keep it for them self, but I did think that I could have some great fun, relax and learn a new hobby, and that’s exactly what happened!

Gold Flakes

Don’t expect to find this amount of Gold Flakes in one pan of online dirt! But this is about the size you may find.

I had ordered some inexpensive equipment used in panning for gold, basically, a pan, a pair of tweezers and a little glass vial to store my pickings. The shipping on my order of 20 lbs of paydirt was lightning fast and I had to wait two more days for my other order from a different vendor to arrive. Now there are no guarantees that I would find much although I had high hopes. I set up a little tub on my front porch and got right to work. Not really knowing what I was doing made the process painfully slow but I was determined not to screw up. Jonathan, the owner of, had suggested that I use a tub or large bucket to work over so I could go through the paydirt a few times to ensure didn’t miss anything. About thirty minutes into my very first pan of paydirt and down to just some black sand and…nothing! I took a deep breath and regrouped and put another scoop of paydirt in my pan and began the process all over again, dipping, swirling looking and repeat…wait! What is that shiny little thing? It was no bigger than the head of a pin but gosh darn it that was gold! I really wasn’t sure what I was looking for but when I saw it, I knew exactly what it was. All the videos I had watched and the coaching that Jonathan had given me describing the specific gravity of gold and the size and shape of what I may find was dead on.

OK, so now picture this, there I am sitting on my front porch placing scoopfuls of paydirt into my gold pan and going through the motions that I saw while watching gold mining shows like “Gold Rush” and “Bering Sea Gold.” I was having a blast! My neighbors were thinking I was a bit insane by now as every so often they’d here me shouting Eureka! Something that I learned after just a few hours of panning is that you need to find a comfortable position when bending over your pan as it took me almost as long to straighten myself out as it did to find the days gold, which by now was almost enough for a cheeseburger at MacDonald’s…on cheap burger day. But that was not the point, I was finding gold and relaxing and learning how to separate gold from dirt. I was practicing for going out and finding my own claim.

Gold Pannning

When you pan out all the dirt you are usually left with some black sand and hopefully a bit of GOLD!

Let’s be honest, the chances of you even coming close to making back what you spend on paydirt is probably better than winning the lottery but still highly doubtful. If you are going to purchase from a miner, do a bit of research on that company like I did on Check for their past feedback ratings and try and email the owner for a bit of information, most honorable miners will get back to you quickly and be happy to offer assistance. They realize that if you are anything like me, and if they treat you right, you will be a repeat customer.

So, now that I know how to pan the stuff, I started accumulating more equipment for prospecting and practicing with more paydirt and running the old dirt through various other apparatus. I have also decided to join a gold prospecting club to meet other like-minded folks and perhaps make a few new friends along the way. I hear they have some great outings!

Just a quick note about the neighbors who were so quick to look at me like I was a crazy man; well it’s amazing what putting some barbed wire around a hole in my front yard with a shovel and sign saying “claim jumpers will be shot” can do, not to mention the several phone calls I received this week about where they can get a gold pan of their own!

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