Sniping Techniques

How to be more productive on your prospecting trips

Sniping is a inexpensive way to evaluate a claim

By Scott Chiara

Scott Chiara is a seasoned propsector and sniper. You can check out his website The Bucket Diggerfor more sniping techniques.

In this article I cover some of my sniping techniques, and why sniping is a good approach for prospecting new areas.

Why Sniping?

Sniping for gold is easy, inexpensive, and requires very little equipment. It's an easy way to quickly check for gold in an area. If you suspect the area you are prospecting has been dredged, then snipe the shallow bedrock. You may surprised how much the dredgers missed.

I call this waters edge gold. It's usually missed by the dredgers and the old time high bankers, because its too shallow for the dredges and too low for the high bankers. So many times I've sniped out a nice paystreak along the waters edge. In fact I'm working on a decent one now with over an ounce of gold collected in my past five outings.

When sniping I use a GPS to map the coordinates of the paystreak and then plot these coordinates each time I return. Over time I can build a pretty detailed map of an area and where the gold is running.

Some Helpful Hints

A good pair of gloves is important for protecting your hands from the sharp rocks and cold water. Without them you'll wear your fingers to the bone. I also recommend a short handled hoe for quickly removing overburden from bedrock cracks.

Scuba Mask versus Scope

I sue both a scuba mask and a scope. I switch back and forth depending on how deep and swift the water is. For those of us who need reading glasses I've found stick on lenses to attach to the mask for close up viewing. You can buy them at Walgreens for about $10.

When sniping the main idea is to see the gold before you retrieve it. This may sound odd, but you can't always see the gold. Many times the gold is in dark nooks and crannies on or in the bedrock, making it difficult to see even if the sun is shining on the area of the bedrock you are working.

An underwater flashlight will allow you to see more gold. I have used a waterproof flashlight for years, and I can tell you, without a doubt it has increased my gold finds by at least 50%, especially when I'm working an area where the trees are shading the creek. Even if the sun is shining, some of the crevices are deep and narrow and it's hard to see the bottom of them. I prefer to use a brand of flashlight called Princeton. Its a small durable flashlight with a halogen bulb.

Dig, Then Dig Deeper

Dig Deep. Often people working the bedrock will do a quick cleanout then move on. Many times I've done the same thing and even abandoned a crevice to only come back later and find gold. Don't assume the crevice has been dug until you actually get to the bottom. This can be slow, painstaking work where you're only removing teaspoons of material, but many times this will pay off.

Learn to follow the gold. The gold usually runs in streaks, and can produce nicely when you reach the head of the paystreak. The heavier gold is usually at the top of the streak. Patiently follow your streak, then double check yourself. You'll be surprised how much you can miss.

The same techniques you use above water are just as important below the water. For those who are experienced dredgers you know the smallest cracks can hold a lot of gold. Too often when dredging we focus on moving a lot of material, but then pay little attention to the bedrock itself. We just vacuum it clean, then move on.

Working slowly, and paying attention to the small stuff pays off when sniping. There's an awful lot of gold out there which has literally been passed over. Take your time, enjoy the day and go find some nice gold.