Wow! What a meeting. Larry Sallee, a Denver native, was our featured presenter at our Gold Prospectors of the Rockies (GPR) meeting during July, 1997. Those of you who are metal detector users have heard of Larry's book, Zip Zip: Mastering Your Metal Detector, and know that is like a metal detectorist's bible. The tips and tricks help everyone find gold, from the beginner to the pro.
When Larry asked the members how many had detectors, around 70 hands went up. When he asked how many had found gold, about 5 went up. That emphasized the importance of learning how to use the detector and how important it is to practice using it.
Two things were high on Larry's list of importance: knowing how to set the ground balance and coil control. It is also important, however, that as ground terrain conditions change, you need to make sure you tune your detector to the changing conditions. If you move from sandy to hard ground, re-tune.
The use of test nuggets, in a variety of sizes, is absolutely important when in the field to make sure you have the confidence that the detector will find gold. You have to believe in yourself and in your detector to be successful in finding gold. The surest way to build confidence is paractice. Practice a couple of hours every day until you do believe. Use your test nuggets at varying depths. Larry uses bright colored poker chips with about a two-inch two-part Velcro strip glued to them between which he sandwiches gold nuggets. This way, he can easily swap his test nuggets of varying sizes when he wants to tune his detector. Larry uses nuggets from one quarter grain up to ten grains. Practice until recognizing the sound becomes second nature to you.
When you sweep the coil of your detector keep it at the same height above the terrain and sweep smoothly and without hurrying. The example Larry gave was that you should sweep at the same pace you do in successful practice. If you are finding the test nuggets in practice, use the same technique in the field. If you are not finding your test nuggets, you should make sure the detector is tuned, then work on your pace and, most importantly, concentrate. Remember those sounds when you find your test nuggets. When you begin to find your test nuggets consistently at varying depths, and in different terrain with outside noises distracting you, then you are ready for the field.
Practice with the test nugget below six inches in depth. The shallow nuggets are in areas that are well worked are mostly gone. Learn to work deep. Keep the coil close to the ground--an inch or two at most or as close as the terrain will allow. The coil should be scraping the ground occasionally in overlapping sweeps.
One of Larry's important points was that the only thing you should be concentrating on, once you begin sweeping your coil, is the sounds you are receiving from the headphones. Ignore outside influences. Your practice sessions and pre-sweep tuning should give you the confidence you need to concentrate only on the sounds for which you are listening.
If you are there, then you must believe that gold is there also. Your attitude must be that you fully expect to find gold. If you do not believe, then move to someplace else.
According to Larry, "Gold finds gold," meaning that once you find the first piece, do not abandon the search. There will be more. Larry has found over 4,000 pieces of gold in eight years, and only on the rarest occasions (100 or so) has he not found gold in groups. So, stick with it and scour the area.
Larry said it took him nine months to find his first piece of gold. He said that it can take a year of experience and practice before you can expect to find gold regularly.
The subject of headphones was raised during the question-and-answer period. Larry said you should buy the best you can get, the higher the impedance, the better--not less than 60 ohms for the really good headphones. Also, find headphones with volume controls or get an external control.
Asked about the larger coils, Larry said that they worked well but not in confined spaces, such as between rocks or in bushy terrain. Also, being heavier, they sometimes can be too much weight for a full day's work (unless you can separate the controls or use a support harness).
A very important point: when you decide on which detector to purchase, forget about all others. Get to know your detector. With practice, you will know every intimate beep, groan, and zip. Once you know the sounds of your detector, it will serve you well.