Arizona Detecting


I usually am able to get away to spend two or three weeks during the spring detecting in Arizona.  I have found that late March to early April is the perfect time for moderate temperatures and enjoying the beauty of the desert flowers in bloom.  Base camp tends to be a light-weight pop-up camper parked on BLM land as close to where I intend to detect as possible.

In this case, our base camp is setup on the side of an abandon dirt runway strip.  I have found a Suzuki Samurai to be the best choice for me, over ATV’s, for commuting from the base camp to where we detect.  It has a heater so I can get started early in the morning and return late at night, without freezing my, you know what off.  It gets great fuel economy, carries up to 4 people with gear, is about the same size as a UTV, is small enough to run on ATV trails, doesn’t require off road stickers and can be used to resupply the base camp with runs to the nearest town.

I have the most success commuting to a remote location in the Samurai, working up and down, small, narrow washes like the one pictured above.  When I get to the head or foot of the wash I hike up over the ridge between washes and work the opposite direction.  This method is not strenuous, if you take your time and carry plenty of water.  After a day or two you learn what elevations the gold is found at and concentrate, for example, between 3,500’ and 4,200’ in each drainage before hiking over the ridge to the next one.

I travel as light as I can with enough battery capacity to last about 12 hours.  A full up 100 ml Camelbak mixed with 25% (rather then 100% strength) gatorade and water along with a few energy bars and a sandwich gets me through the day.  On an average day I will cover between 2 and 8 miles depending on how far a walk it is from the Samurai to the area I have chosen to detect.

This is usually the size of the gold I find. One to two pennyweight nuggets or so.  Sometimes I get lucky and find a piece approaching an ounce.  I learned a long time ago, not to set my expectations too high, but rather consider the exercise and scenery as the reward, not the gold.  That way I never go much more then an hour without achieve two out of the three expectations.  That kind of mentality allows me to detect day-after-day without getting discouraged.  The number of hours you spend swinging a detector is directly proportional to the amount of gold you find.  If you are meeting your expectations, you don’t easily get discouraged and quit.

In the upper left corner of the picture you can see an ATV trail that we drove the Samurai up to get to the spot the picture was taken from.  This spot did not produce any gold nuggets but it did produce lots of nice copper nuggets in the 1/4 to 1 ounce category.  The gold nuggets were found in a major drainage at lower elevation in the upper right corner of the picture.

This is my latest Arizona transportation.  I installed a Sidekick 1.6 liter 16 valve Fuel Injected engine with air-conditioning.  Plush riding 2” lift with 29” tires that provide 10” of ground clearance at the differentials.  4:1 Tranfercase, Air-conditioning.  ARB selectable, locking differentials with tire inflation kit.  The Tin Top Samurai provides a little more security then the convertible Samurai too.  This little machine is averaging 34 mpg and can cruise at 65 all day long on the highway.  The only place an ATV can go that I can’t is through narrow places along the trail.