I had the most fortunate encounter with a very knowledgeable man by the name of Kevin Hoagland, who is the Director of Dealer Development for MineLab metal detectors, while I took part of the GPAA’s Alaska Expedition near Nome, Alaska (which is known for it’s very fine beach gold). After I started to pick his brain, I found out he was a well of information on metal detecting and learned quite a great deal. Kevin was instructing a metal detecting class during the week in which I received a invitation and the promise of a loaned MineLab metal detector to use the next day.
The day started out with some instruction on gold prospecting metal detecting. He explained the differences in what different models were capable or designed to do. He did not knock any of the other machines and simply said “All lot of these machines are really good machines and do what they are designed to do, if you know how to use them.” He gave a great deal of information before we headed out to the field.
We trekked seven and a half miles on four wheelers to get to our destination. “Slow Down” seemed to be the slogan all that day, after several others and myself were told by Kevin that we were swinging our coils too fast. Several targets were dug, but only iron was being found. I dug up a spent shotgun shell, with the MineLab Eureka Gold. Meanwhile, Kevin took time to teach others how to work the detector’s they brought with them on the trip. He knows how to run them all, no matter what brand.! I was impressed with his attentiveness and patience to make sure he got around to help each and every person who needed help or a lesson. We then moved on to another area. We were standing in the middle of the Cripple River, where I dug up several targets and found iron objects. After a while people were ready to leave, not finding that great golden treasure they had hoped for.
Kevin Hoagland stops to check out some geographic formations on our first day of metal detecting, as we travel to our first destination.
I wanted to know more. That evening, I picked Kevin’s brain with some one on one discussion during dinner. I learned about automatic ground balance, multiple frequency technology, a little about the pulse technology, but the most important thing he said to me was “…a small nugget can produce a very light change in sound and you really have to pay attention and take your time, as you do your detecting. Once you hear it, and find a small nugget you will never forget that sound.”
The next several days were stormy. A new area was picked to hunt. An area with many tailing piles were to be knocked down by the baco. With the storm, the river rose and we were unable to cross for several days. Finally the baco crossed the river at low tide several evenings later and we were scheduled to hunt the next day. To make a long story shorter…we eventually made it over there with the help of the big monster trucks. By that time our hunting group had grown from seven or eight to around twenty.
Me and a buddy of mine partnered up with the Eureka Gold again and took turns detecting and digging. Our first target was part of a classifier screen, and followed by the many other small pieces that had broken off in even smaller pieces. After an hour or so of nugget hunting, I was thinking…”Great another…bust!” . However, I kept taking my time, listening for the smallest of change in the rhythm of the detector’s faint hum. I started up one of the tailing piles that was not pushed down and started to work the low lying areas that laid off to one side of the pile. Then I heard it! It was a very faint sound, a very slight change in the rhythm. I looked up at Kevin who was about twenty five feet away and asked him to listen to the faint sound the detector was barely making. He immediately said “Dig it”.
I started digging as if I were at a archaeological site, taking the area apart a plastic scoop at a time. A few minutes later Kevin returned and told me to dig my hole more elongated, to cater to the size of the coil. In the process, my archaeological dig got a bit carried away as I lost the target. I relocated the sound in my own tailings around the hole. As my target drew nearer for recovery, more and more of the other people who were tired of digging up iron targets started to linger around. The camera crew for the Outdoor Channel took note and moved in to film. Somehow, I ended up with three or four helpers including Kevin, trying to help me narrow down the fists of dirt the target was in, removing the dirt without the target, making the pile smaller and smaller, until eventually a small gold nugget was found.
The Outdoor Channel camera crew were filming for a new series called "Alaskan"
Alaskan Sample Video
The excitement caused a small celebration and a minor gold rush in the immediate area. In a short time, there must have been six detectors over-charging the ground and cancelling each other out. There was a buzz around the camp about a nugget being found later that evening. People were talking and wanting to see it. It’s really funny to think that such a small nugget (1/10th of a pennyweight) would cause such a commotion. My hooch residents insisted to call me nugget man when ever they got the chance. After all it was the only nugget reported as being found in the two weeks I was there, besides the trommel and eight inch dredge, and certainly the only one found metal detecting.
This was a first…I actually paid attention in class, and it had paid off with my first Alaska gold nugget. Special thanks of coarse to Kevin Hoagland for his instruction and wisdom.
One last note…I was really impressed with the MineLab Eureka Gold. The automatic ground balance has got be one of the better options I have ever seen on a metal detector. It has the ability to hunt in three different frequencies, so you can research an area to find targets that were not found the first time around. As Kevin says…”Metal detectors are no great mystery. Higher frequencies will pick up smaller targets near the surface and lower frequencies pick up bigger targets deeper from the surface. It’s that simple.” Most of the time hot rocks are no problem for this machine. The Eureka Gold is a prospecting machine and a good one at that. The only thing, in my opinion, that could make the Eureka Gold better would be a water-proof coil. It’s a great piece of equipment. It’s on top of my Christmas list, after all it’s easy enough for me to use.
Kevin was right when he said “Once you hear that sound, you will never forget it.” I don’t think I ever will forget it, that’s for sure!