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The Pothole Patch

by: Lunk

  Nevada Gold Nugget Country In Pershing County, Nevada, nestled in the shadow of the Majuba Mountains there lies a well-known placer gold mining district.  The weather is perfect here in early November, and having recently been laid off from my seasonal job in Idaho I was nugget hunting in the vicinity with my good friend Smokey.  We were searching around old placer diggings with our Minelab GPX 5000 metal detectors in hopes of finding that elusive yellow metal, gold.

   The first few hours of detecting were uneventful, yielding only a handful of trash targets - wire, nails, bits of corroded old tin cans - but a few nonferrous items such as lead bullets were also unearthed, so there was still hope of finding a nugget.  After lunch and a brainstorming session with Smokey trying to decide on a new area to detect if no gold showed up soon, we fired up our GPX machines for one last try for the day.  The monotonous routine continued as before; the detector would beep, I would scratch at the target zone with my pick and pass a rare earth super magnet through the soil.  Waving the detector coil over the target zone again, the target would be gone and I would retrieve the bit of corroded tin can, boot tack or piece of wire from the magnet and drop it into my trash pouch.  After quickly filling in the dig hole, I was off to search for the next target, etc.

 Lunk Holding a nice Nevada Gold Nugget  It was just about time to call it quits for the day when it finally happened: I dug up a shallow target that would not stick to the magnet on my pick.  "It's probably just another small bullet fragment," I muttered to myself as I crouched down to isolate the target in my plastic scoop.  Waving the scoop of soil over the coil produced a beep from the detector, and quickly halving the material a few times revealed a small, gleaming yellow bit of crystalline gold.  "Suh-wheeet!" I exclaimed as I sprang to my feet and quickly pumped my detector coil high overhead to alert Smokey that I had just found a nugget.

   As Smokey drove his pickup truck up the hill to where I had just unearthed my golden treasure, I began a slow and careful grid search of the area.  Within a short time I had located another small gold nugget, officially making the area a nugget patch.  "Since you found the first nugget, you get to name the patch," Smokey pointed out as we headed back to the sleepy, rustic western town of Lovelock. After giving it some thought, I turned to Smokey and said, "Well since there are several old timers' "pothole" diggings in the area, I'll call it the Pothole Patch."  "That's a great name, Lunk!" Smokey exclaimed.

  Nevada Gold Nuggets The next couple of days were spent carefully and slowly grid searching the patch, listening intently for any nuance of a signal from the detector.  The search coil was kept flat on the ground and passed over the tops of small brush, while being shoved as far under the taller bushes as possible.  The nuggets were small and widely scattered throughout the area.  As I maneuvered  my Minelab 12"x15" Commander mono coil in the midst of a group of bushes towards the end of the third day on the patch, my GPX 5000 responded with a subdued yet obvious warble over a very narrow target zone.  Knowing that this type of signal response is typically made by a boot tack or small nail at a depth of a few inches or so, I proceeded to excavate a wide shallow dig-hole with my pick about 4 or 5 inches deep.  As I  swung the coil back over the hole, the target produced a broad and mellow inverted signal.  I realized at this point that the target was a deep, solid and dense metal object; 99 times out of 100, this type of an inverted signal turns out to be from a rusty iron bolt or chunk of steel, or perhaps a large bullet such as a 50 caliber.  Always being optimistic however, I yelled over to Smokey,"get the camera, Smoke...if this is a nugget, it's going to be a nice one!"  Bringing his camera and a pick with a long handle, Smokey listened intently to the signal response as I swept the coil once more over the target zone.  He excitedly handed me his pick and I got to work and removing 4 or 5 inches of soil at a time and dipping the coil into the hole resulted in a stronger response from the detector each time. 
 1 Ounce Nevada Gold Nugget  The dig continued this way until placing the tip of the coil vertically on the bottom of the hole produced a very strong overload response, indicating that the target was now only an inch or so from the coil.  I carefully thrust the pick point into the bottom of the hole and off to one side, and prying the compacted soil exposed the tip of the target in the bottom of the hole.  "I see gold!" I exclaimed triumphantly as I reached down and plucked the nugget from its earthly resting place.  Smokey looked on in amazement as I hefted the solid, half-dollar sized chunk of gold in my hand.  As we gleefully examined the new found treasure, Smokey said, "That's got to be about an ounce, huh?"  I heartily agreed, remarking that I hadn't found a nugget this size in a few years, and it sure felt good to dig one up.  As the sun set on the weary nugget shooters on the road back to Lovelock, they wondered what other golden treasures were in store for them the next day at the Pothole Patch.

 - Lunk -