In addition to a good quality metal detector, there is also some gear that you will need to carry with you when you are out prospecting. These are simple items that will help you in your search. You don’t need to get carried away here; there are a lot of gimmicks on the market that really won’t help you find gold. Keep it simple and carry the basics.
A good mining pick is a must-have item that you will need to carry with you while you are metal detecting. Obviously, this is used to dig metal targets out of the ground. There are a few different commercially produced picks on the market, and many prospectors make their own to suit their needs.
The important thing to consider when buying or making a pick is to make sure that it is stout enough to hold up to heavy use. You don’t want your pick to fall apart on you when you get out to the goldfields, so make sure it is heavy duty enough for the task.
Something you may want to consider is the length of your pick handle, and the overall weight. There are benefits and drawbacks with a large, heavy pick. While they are great for digging holes and recovering targets quickly, it can get very tiresome to carry them around all day.
On the other hand, a smaller lightweight pick may not be adequate for your needs. If you are using a PI detector and anticipate digging deep holes, it will probably be worthwhile to carry a bigger pick. If you hunting shallow bedrock areas with a VLF detector, then a smaller pick will probably work just fine.
Regardless of the size, you do want a pick that has a pointed end for chipping at cemented ground, and a wide end for scooping material out of the hole. The typical geologist rock hammer will work poorly in most metal detecting situations since they don’t have a side to scoop dirt with.
Just about anywhere to prospect for gold, you can anticipate finding a lot of metal trash targets. In some areas it is not uncommon to find several hundred pieces of trash for every gold nugget that is recovered. You need some way to hold onto the trash that you dig up.
You could just fill your pockets with junk, but a simple trash pouch works well, plus it will comfortably hold larger pieces of iron that wouldn’t fit comfortably in your pockets anyway. These can be obtained from treasure hunting suppliers, or you can also use a simple nail pouch like those commonly sold at places like construction suppliers like Home Depot.
A nugget scoop will increase target recovery speed, and is really a must-have item just like a mining pick. The most important consideration is that it is non-metallic, so that your metal detector won’t detect it. You can get them in a few different shapes and made out of high-impact plastic. They often are a dark green color, but I like to spray paint mine red so that they are easy to see (and harder to leave behind).
If you are successful in your prospecting endeavors, then you will need some way to safely carry your gold finds. You don’t need to get too carried away here, since most nuggets are pretty small, most prospectors just carry a small plastic vial that comfortably fit in their pocket.
Another thing that most prospectors like to carry with them is a test nugget. The purpose of a test nugget is nothing more than tuning your ear to the sound of gold and reassure yourself that your detector is set up and working properly. When you get your detector properly ground balanced and you are ready to start detecting, place the test nugget on the ground and listen to the signal. Adjust your detector to the ideal settings where the nugget gives a nice, crisp response while at the same time keeping the ground noise to a minimum.
Your test nugget should not be big. Actually it should be on the smaller end of what your detector can find, maybe something around ¼ to ½ grams. This will ensure that you get your detector set up ideally for the ground conditions where you are using it and you will be able to hear other small nuggets when your coil passes over them. If you can find the small nuggets, then hearing the bigger nuggets will be easy.
Some prospectors like to use handheld pinpointers to aid in target recovery. If you are fairly small coil, then a pinpointer might not save you much time. They will sometimes speed up target recovery though, especially if you are using a PI detector with a large coil. This would be considered an optional accessory, since most nugget shooters don’t use them.